In 1984 the Superman movie franchise was in full force. Superman 3 was released the previous year (June 1983) with yet another series about to debut in the Superman franchise..this time it was all about Supergirl. With the brand new 2015 Supergirl television series in production with CBS its worth a trip back to Supergirl’s first and only cinematic debut.
Satellite upload archive..generate Supergirl 1984 Motion Picture and broadcast it on the video screens in the briefing chambers of the Satellite. Our team of Heroes today need to experience the magic of the forgotten Superman Family franchise blacksheep…Supergirl.
We live in the era of the Superhero movie here in the good old 2000’s. In the 70s and 80s there were various attempts at the Superhero genre on TV and silver screen. One movie series that broke the mold was the 1970s Superman: The Movie and its subsequent sequels. In an attempt to wring every drop from the lemon Warner studios was determined to make a spinoff series…one based on another member of Superman’s heralded comic book family…Supergirl! The DC Comics Supergirl motion picture was released in 1984 and directed by Jeannot Szwarc but still under the umbrella of the Salkinds who created the original 3 highly successful Superman movies! The franchise despite somewhat negative reviews to Superman three was a cash cow at the box office and surly Supergirl was going to be the next sure-fire hit! Right? Well it didn’t really work out that was. Actress Helen Slater played Kara Zor-El aka Supergirl of the doomed planet of Argo City. Slater not only looked the part but was actually very good in her role as Superman’s long-lost cousin. The film also boasted an all-star roster at the time with Faye Dunaway (Mommie Dearest, China Town) playing Supergirl’s nemesis Selena as well as screen and stage actor Peter O’Toole (Lawrence Of Arabia) as Zaltar. Christopher Reeves (Who played Superman in the previous three films in the Salkind series if you didn’t know.) was set to make a cameo in the movie and is even addressed during the course of the film but backed out due to personal commitments. Even though Reeves was not able to make it the Salkind’s merged the Supergirl universe with the three previous Superman films by borrowing actor Marc McClure to reprise his role he made famous in the original Superman trilogy..Jimmy Olsen!
The film is notable for its very basic and silly plot that revolves around the story of Kara (Supergirl )who comes to earth in search of a very powerful cosmic tool known as the Omegahedron. This powerful device was her homes central source of power and in order to save her home world of Argo City. Kara must retrieve this device! As fate would have it the weapon is seized by the evil witch known as Selena (Dunaway) who uses the power of the Omegahedron to cast powerful spells on the weak-minded citizens of Earth. Meanwhile on her search for the powerful device Kara adopts the name Linda Lee and tries to cover her true alien nature by living amongst the humans undercover while looking for the all-powerful Omegahedron. She is accepted into an all girls school and even meets another member of the Superman’s family Lois Lanes younger sister..Lucy Lane! The plot thickens..if you will..when Kara falls in love with school groundskeeper Ethan..who is also begin seduced magically by Selena herself…thus begins a cosmic episode of Threes Company as both woman are caught in a love triangle. As Selena puts Kara into the Phantom zone to rid the Earth of Supergirl her plot backfires as Supergirls reverses the fight and is freed (By O’Toole character Zaltar) from her eternal purgatory of the Phantom Zone, regains her powers and stops Selena once and for all. With the Omegahedron, Kara bids goodbye to Ethan the love of her life and returns to Argo apparently just in time as the city comes back to life and order is restored!
Now..you may ask..was this movie any good? Well lets chat about that. In the 80s I did not get the opportunity to see Supergirl in theater. Instead I rented it much later on its original VHS release on my handy-dandy top loading RCA Video Cassette Recorder. One of the local furniture store rented the VCR as well as three walls of VHS tapes. Two walls were VHS..one wall was for Beta releases. Beta was for those who do not know, a videocassette movie that was superior in quality but became one of those new techno gimmicks that didn’t capture an audience in the face of the cheaper more economical VHS/VCR combos! I digress..I had a VHS Player (VCR) and I had Supergirl to screen on my 27 inch color TV of which the brand escapes me.
I remember being underwhelmed at the time. Supergirl was more a love story than an all out action film like Superman 2! I found myself annoyed by Peter O’Toole, Zaltar. O’Toole looks bored and even homeless at times and this character simply sucks. as well as the love interest Ethan. Both characters fail on the screen and even Lawrence Of Arabia himself cannot save his part of the film. Some parts however are pure gold. Slater herself is charming and effective as Supergirl. As Reeves became the likeness of Superman that we all relate to..I firmly believed that Slater was able to do the same thing with Supergirl. Innocent and effective Slater looked believable in not only as the costumed hero but as the likable Linda Lane. As for Faye Dunaway , she was bashed for her acting in the film even receiving an official Raspberry nomination for her work as Selena. Through the lens of a child in the 80s Selena was effective and believable for a campy 80s movie villain. She owned the screen when she was on it but delivered her unfortunately scripted lines in the most effective way possible. Goes to prove you cannot out act a bad script. Dont trust my opinion..check out this great review by Youtuber Oliver Harper.
Would I recommend this movie? Of course I would..its part of the original attempts to bring Superheros to the big screen and it was a good shot at making it work. The special effects, particularly the flight scenes, which are crude by today,s standards, held up. As for the rest it is certainly comparable to the Superman franchise special. Supergirl is just bubblegum fun and if you have 5 bucks..go find it in a discount bin at a store that sells Blu-Ray or DVD. With that said…
“Computer are you able to scour the internet for a copy of the film?”
Computer: “Search Complete sir, displaying film now..
While it’s not a VCR…Veho is just as good. Grab some Popcorn and some Soda and enjoy The Supergirl movie..maybe just maybe there’s an old hole in the wall store that rents VHS tapes that may have a copy of this movie to enjoy exactly as I did..if you find one..tell em Hero sent ya..they will know what you mean!