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TOO TRUE TO BE GOOD

A LOOK AT THE ALTERNATE VERSION OF SUPERMAN II: THE RICHARD DONNER CUT
An exclusive analysis for CapedWonder.com by Bill Williams

“What more do you want? I can see the greed written on your face.”
“A small incentive, O Fullest One. A mere bauble to jog the memory…”
“What more?”

– exchange between General Zod (Terence Stamp) and Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman)

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INTRODUCTION

In November 2006 Warner Home Video released the Richard Donner Cut of “Superman II” on DVD, HD-DVD, and Blu-ray, giving fans and film students alike the opportunity to witness the original concept of the film as conceived by Donner, screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, and the many cast and crew members involved in its production throughout 1977. Upon its release, the film was met with enthusiasm, anticipation, and even criticism, as viewers soon discovered the many differences between the Donner Cut and the original theatrical version released in 1980-81 under the direction of Richard Lester. Some fans found it to be far superior to the original theatrical release, calling it the perfect complement to the original “Superman” film from 1978. Others found it to be an incomplete mess, a mash-up of styles, and essentially a bonus feature to the theatrical release. Twelve years later, the debate continues.

The Richard Donner Cut became the third version of “Superman II” to be released over the years, along with the theatrical version in 1980-81 and the extended TV broadcast first shown on the ABC network in February 1984. However, for the longest time, there was a fourth version of the film that had been prepared of which people had at the time been unaware: a longer alternate version of the Richard Donner Cut.

I first heard about this alternate version of the film some time in 2017 through a link shared on Facebook. This took me to an online message board in which posters had shared that a 122-minute cut of the film had surfaced on a number of digital platforms, including Amazon and Vudu. The fans commented that some of the added footage in the film included scenes set during the Phantom Zone villains’ attack in East Houston. Some time later I had come across even more footage shot by Richard Donner set during the first scene in the Fortress of Solitude, of Lex Luthor accessing Jor-El’s interactive lessons, which had been shared on Facebook.

This began a quest for me to locate this alternate version of the Donner Cut. I had invested nearly twenty years of my life studying and analyzing every known aspect of the film and its many incarnations on VHS, laserdisc, and DVD, from the theatrical release to at least three versions of the extended broadcast, to the 2004 Restored International Cut, and to the Donner Cut itself. I was determined to find this alternate version somehow.

In the late spring of 2018, I finally had the opportunity to track down the alternate Donner Cut on Vudu. The digital platform advertised the 122-minute cut of the film, which I had linked (along with Amazon) to my Movies Anywhere account, and I was now excited to see this extra footage in all its glory for the first time on my Amazon Fire smart TV. Upon viewing the preview screen, the film was advertised as the 116-minute release from 2006. I felt my excitement begin to turn to disappointment in just a short amount of time. I immediately skipped to the first Fortress sequence, and sure enough, it was the version that I had seen over the past twelve years. The footage was not there.

I immediately contacted Vudu’s customer service to inquire about the discrepancy, and the agent informed me that they had been given erroneous information from Warner Home Entertainment that they had been given the alternate version but had received the regular version instead. At the very least, if my DVD went out, I would have a digital copy as backup.

But sometimes the best miracles happen when you’re not looking.

Flash forward to early November 2018. I can’t explain how or why it happened, but for some reason I pulled up my Kindle device, which I had for a few years now. It had been a great device for books, documents, and a few games. It now served as a backup for several key apps that I had difficulty accessing on my Android (not so) smart phone, including Facebook, Messenger, Spotify, Word document creator, and email. Other features on my phone I had little or no use for. On a whim I decided to click on the video section, and to my surprise I learned that all of the movies that I had on my Movies Anywhere page were also available on my Kindle.

Including the Donner Cut. But not just the regular version. It was the 122-minute alternate Donner Cut.

I immediately downloaded the film onto my Kindle, and now I had access to this version of the film that had been making the rounds in the digital realm for at least the past three years. Now I had the opportunity to discover the differences between the two versions of the film.

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THE SAME, BUT DIFFERENT

At its essence, the alternate version of the Richard Donner Cut of “Superman II” is fundamentally the same as the released version by and large, but it also has its share of differences as well. This analysis will break down the differences between the two versions and attempt to lay bare why those differences occurred. (As I have already previously analyzed all of the footage in the previous releases of the film, I will focus solely on those differences as originally planned.)

When Warner Bros. received six tons of footage from the overseas film vaults, film editor and restoration producer Michael Thau (who supervised the 2001 remastered version of “Superman: The Movie” for its initial DVD release) began cataloging all of the elements pertaining to “Superman II”, including raw footage, alternate takes, sound elements, and continuity logs, among others. In a 2006 interview he stated, “Reconstructing this film is not only rare but probably unique in film history. I don’t think there is a film that had so much footage shot and not used. The opportunity of putting this back together is the best job I could ever have in my life. It was just painstaking, meticulous work. It took a long time, but we found everything.”

As early as 2001, Richard Donner had been approached by Warner Bros. executives to assemble his cut of the film, which he refused, and the studio considered going forward without Donner’s involvement at all. By this time fans began to petition Warner Bros. to release Donner’s original version of the film that he had shot back in 1977 before his firing from the project in March 1979. Petitions hosted by a leading “Planet of the Apes” website asked Warner Bros. executive George Feltenstein to seriously consider the project.

Simultaneously, work on the fan-produced Restored International Cut of “Superman II” resulted in its release on DVD in October 2004, shortly after the passing of Christopher Reeve, with the intention of freely distributing the project to fans and reminding them that Donner’s work on the film was not forgotten. Once copies began to surface for sale (it is unclear whether it was distributed on eBay or at comic book stores), Warner Bros. issued a cease and desist order to the editor, who wished to remain anonymous, halting all distribution of the project, which had ironically been his intention all along. In a 2004 interview he stated, “I had created a project that was intended to be destroyed.” The Restored International Cut would serve as a further impetus to bring the Donner Cut to life. (To this day, the RIC is still distributed through various file-sharing sites.)

In 2005 Warner Bros. announced that work had begun to bring the Donner Cut of “Superman II” to life, with Michael Thau supervising the recut without Donner’s involvement or blessing at first. The final push to make the film a reality was the acquisition of Marlon Brando’s footage for use in “Superman Returns”. Eventually, Donner soon became involved in recutting and restoring the film, as did Tom Mankiewicz. They would bring the film back to the original concept as developed in 1977, though at times it hurt Donner to see the footage that he had shot and know that significant portions had been discarded by Richard Lester and the Salkinds in 1979. Thau, however, had a fresher, more objective eye that had not been tainted by three decades of animosity.

Even down to the ending, the three men were determined to give the film its sensibility back. At one point Donner considered using the “magic kiss” ending from the theatrical release. According to Thau, “It was Tom who said, ‘Only Superman should kiss Lois. Clark should not kiss Lois.'” This led to them using the original ending of Superman turning back time (which had been moved to the ending of the first film), combining original footage of Jackie Cooper from 1977, newly shot footage of an unidentified actress as Lois Lane, recycled footage and visual effects from the first film, and new footage and effects.

At times during the assembly process, new footage was shot of an unidentified actor portraying Superman in a few brief scenes. At other times, Michael Thau’s own hands were used in close-ups. For the crucial scene of Lois tricking Clark into becoming Superman, Donner and Thau used screen tests of Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder shot in 1977, as the actual scene was never filmed. In other places, Donner and Thau had no choice but to use Richard Lester’s footage from 1979 for several crucial scenes, remixing the sound effects, music, voiceovers, and visual effects as needed.

The original version of the Richard Donner Cut came out to 122 minutes, 28 seconds in length. The film was completed, everything looked to be a go…

And then it was recut again.

It is here that we look at all of the differences between the original version of the Donner Cut and the final version.

0:00:00 – 0-00-25: The film’s opening title cards are slightly different in the original Donner Cut. The film opens with the Warner Bros. logo, followed by the two title cards, “The following film represents Superman II as it was originally conceived and intended to be filmed. Some footage was taken from screen tests of scenes that we were unable to shoot.” The DC Comics logo is not present in this version of the film. For the final film, the two title cards were moved to before the Warner Bros. logo, and the DC Comics logo was added. (In the Movies Anywhere release of the film, the first two title cards are completely removed from the film.)

0:36:47 – 0:37:12: During the first sequence set in the Fortress of Solitude, Luthor accesses Jor-El’s interactive discussion about the history of the Phantom Zone. Once Jor-El states that he had no choice but to exile Zod, Non, and Ursa into the Phantom Zone for all eternity, Luthor asks, “No possibility for parole?”

Jor-El: “We have, of course, thought long and hard about that question.”

Luthor: “I asked the right question.”

Jor-El: “The one danger we considered was that the Phantom Zone might – we cannot know – it just might be cracked by a nuclear explosion in space. I cannot say that… that I am glad you asked me that.”

Luthor: “I didn’t ask anything.”

For some reason this brief portion of Donner’s footage is not present in the final version, though it is clear that Miss Teschmacher steps away from Luthor and the discussion. The segment is brief, a total of 25 seconds in length, yet it is not present in the final version of the Donner Cut. It appears that this was cut to differentiate the film from the original theatrical release, which used a different take of Donner footage with Gene Hackman and Valerie Perrine, combined with Lester footage of Susannah York as Lara.

0:37:32 – 0:38:31: Once the Jor-El program ends, Luthor is left to muse about the possibility of aligning himself with the Phantom Zone villains. He then inquires about Miss Teschmacher’s whereabouts, when she responds, “I found it! I think.” We then hear a non-Kryptonian toilet flush, followed by her terrified scream to an unidentified occurrence. Luthor then simply comments, “She found it,” before he leaves.

More differences occur between the full version of the scene and what appears in the final Donner Cut. Once the program ends, the scene switches to a silent shot of Luthor at the console, followed by his thoughts, “Think of it. Three super villains. Three! Count them, three!” This long shot of Luthor was edited from the film, and the dialogue is instead placed over the shot of the disappearing program.

The end of the scene has also been re-edited in the final version of the film. First, once Luthor says, “It’s too true to be good, right?” we hear the toilet flush, then Luthor asks where Miss Teschmacher is. Then we hear her response, “I found it! I think.” End of scene.

Why Michael Thau made these cuts to Donner’s footage, and whether Donner authorized these cuts to his own footage, is unclear as of this writing. All we know is that the final version of this ending runs 56 seconds in length, with 48 seconds of Donner’s footage lost in the re-edit.

From there the majority of the cuts to the film occur in the middle of the film, centering around the villains’ arrival and attack in East Houston and Superman and Lois’ dinner at the Fortress, all of which was filmed during Richard Lester’s tenure on the film in 1979. Let’s analyze each specific scene and address the changes between the two Donner Cuts.

0:49:41 – 0:51:18 – Deputy Dwayne confronts the Phantom Zone villains – In the original version of the scene, the sheriff’s line “You gotta learn to kick a– if you want to be a peacemaker” is retained, along with the shot of the sheriff encouraging Dwayne on. Both of these clips are removed from the final Donner Cut. Much of Ken Thorne’s underscore for the scene would also be cut from the scene as well, with Donner and Thau preferring to play the exchange without music instead. The music would pick up again when Zod uses his heat vision on the rifle.

Once Zod fires the rifle, we then see Dwayne’s silent reaction – this is the same alternate shot that appears in the extended TV broadcast. It would be replaced with the same reaction from Non as in the theatrical version, along with Dwayne’s profanity-laced response.

The scene continues as in the theatrical version, but with some notable audio changes. First, when Non lifts up the car, Dwayne’s line “Just checking the tire” has been removed from the scene. New sound effects of the sheriff’s grunts and the police siren dying out have been added, while Non’s grunt and Zod’s sigh have been removed from the scene. Finally, the music has been moved up slightly to end the scene, as the original shot of Non cradling the siren in his arms has been cut from the film.

In this version of the Donner Cut, the sequence of events runs 1:37 in length. It would be substantially cut down to 45 seconds in the final version, with 52 seconds cut from the film.

0:51:13 – 0:51:48 – The next scene to be included in the alternate Donner Cut is of Superman cooking the souffle in the Fortress (which was taken from the extended TV broadcast). The main changes to the scene are a new sound effect for Superman’s heat vision and a partial music replacement with the original end notes from John Williams’ cue “The Mugger” (much of which would be dialed out from the first “Superman” film but be heard in its entirety on the 2000 Rhino CD and the 2008 Blue Box CD set). The 35-second clip would be cut from the film but included as the sole deleted scene on the 2006 “Superman II” special edition DVD.

0:51:48 – 0:55:06 – Next is the entire scene of the villains’ arrival and first attack in East Houston, which was completely edited from the final Donner Cut. In this scene, which runs 3:18 in length, numerous changes are made in terms of music replacement, sound effects, and dialogue. When Non tests his heat vision, the sound effect has been replaced, and music from “The Planet Krypton” has been added over the shot. Inside the diner, when Ursa tosses the man over the table, Zod’s sigh has been removed.

The most obvious replacement in the scene is the removal of the boy Willie’s equally obvious British accent with an American one instead. As Zod begins his attack on the townspeople, retracked music from “The Planet Krypton” is again included through the scene. Once the hotel owner points his rifle at Zod, the levitation beam has been completely removed from the film (a CGI makeover), along with its corresponding sound effect.

The scene then changes to Willie’s escape by horse and Non tossing the police siren and killing him, which was also taken from the extended TV broadcast. In addition to dialogue replacement and addition, music from “Leaving Home” and “Destruction of Krypton” is tracked over the scene. This clip would be divided into two parts and included in the “You Will Believe” documentary for the 14-disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition DVD set.

0:55:06 – 0:56:21 – The movie then cuts to the scene of Superman and Lois’ dinner at the Fortress. Only one sound effect has been replaced, that of the popping champagne cork. The scene then continues as in the theatrical release, ending with Superman and Lois holding hands, with no further changes.

The sequence runs 1:15 in length in this version of the film but is cut down to 57 seconds for the final Donner Cut, with 18 seconds cut from the final film.

The scene is further edited down for the final version, with the long shot of Superman standing up removed from the film. Once Lois says, “It’s all confusing,” the beat of Superman laughing is also cut, and the scene quickly moves to his response, “Not to me, it isn’t.” The footage from the first part of his next line, “For the first time in my life…” is cut, and the dialogue is placed over Lois’ close-up. Once he says, “…everything’s clear,” the exchange between Lois and Superman is also cut from the film, immediately jumping instead to Superman taking Lois’ hand. The dialogue to the next scene, in which the reporter says, “This is East Houston, Idaho,” is placed over the footage to transition to the next scene.

0:56:21 – 0:58:28 – The next scene, of the reporter covering the villains’ arrival and their attack on the Army, plays intact in this version of the Donner Cut, with changes to music, sound effects, and CGI flame enhancement, and no cuts in the scene, which runs 2:07 here. The introduction of the scene, when the reporter states, “Good morning America,” is cut from the final version, and the dialogue placed over the footage of Superman taking Lois’ hand.

As the attack begins, the footage of Non using his heat vision a second time is cut, along with the footage of the Army jeep crashing through the building, later replaced with a crashing sound effect and an awkward music replacement edit retracked from “The Helicopter Sequence”. After the jeep crash, the shot of the resident asking, “Are you all right, buddy?” would also be cut from the final version.

Once the Army soldiers fire the flame gun upon Zod, after the flames hit the diner, the footage continues as in the theatrical version, of Zod’s brief smile, of the fleeing patron, and the exchange between Zod and Ursa – all of this footage was cut from the final Donner Cut, picking up with the reporter commenting on Zod’s actions.

As a result of the edits, the final version of the scene runs 1:41 in length, 26 seconds shorter than its counterpart in the alternate Donner Cut or the original theatrical release.

0:58:57 – 1:00:28 – The second part of the villains’ attack on the military is identical in appearance as in the theatrical release, running 1:31 in total, and has its share of differences between this version and the final Donner Cut. The first part of the reporter’s description is dialed out during the attack, which would be entirely edited out of the film. The footage of the Army officers firing on the villains is cut from the scene in the final Donner Cut, picking up with Non in the crosshairs.

The shot of the helicopter closing in on the villains would also be cut from the scene, as is the shot of the Army officers ordering everyone to clear the area, picking up instead with the first shot upon Zod. One shot from the theatrical version, of Ursa blinking as she walks toward Zod, has been cut from the sequence. In the shot of Deputy Dwayne ducking for cover, the voiceover of the helicopter pilot saying, “The rockets don’t have any effect!” has been removed from the shot and replaced with retracked music and sound effects.

The model effects shot of the helicopter, before it crashes into the building, plays as in the theatrical release, but for the final Donner Cut the shot is electronically sped up. The shots of Ursa smiling in glee, and the second explosion, are present in this cut, but are also edited from the final Donner Cut. The cuts to the footage bring the running length of the scene down to 1:04, with 27 seconds trimmed from the sequence.

1:00:28 – 1:00:53 – The scene of Superman and Lois asleep in bed is similar in length to its theatrical counterpart, running 25 seconds long, but it also has its differences. The close-up of Margot Kidder opening and closing her eyes is the same as in the final Donner Cut, but it crossfades into an added, previously unseen outtake of Superman and Lois asleep. This outtake was trimmed from the final Donner Cut, bringing the scene down to 19 seconds in length.

1:00:53 – 1:01:44 – In this sequence, of Zod making his declaration to the townspeople, no footage has been cut from the theatrical version, and it contains the same retracked music from the cue “Destruction of Krypton”, but there is one significant difference between the version seen here and the version seen in the final Donner Cut. In this version, when the Army general states, “I answer only to the President,” the voiceover for the general is still the same as in the theatrical release. After this assembly, the voiceover would be re-recorded for the final Donner Cut.

1:57:54 – 2:02:28 – The end credits for this version of the Donner Cut are slightly different than what appears in the final version. Here, Ken Thorne’s credit is not present. It would be restored for the final film as “Additional music composed and conducted by Ken Thorne”, appearing after Peter Murton’s credit.

Toward the end of the film credits, after all of the credits for the 2006 reconstruction have appeared, a title card appears, reading, “Priceless enthusiasm and support: George Feltenstein and Paul Hemstreet”, a reference to the two Warner Bros. executives who gave their support for the commission of the Donner Cut. For some reason, this title card was cut from the final end credits.

At the end of the film, two single title cards appear: “No real fur was used in the making of this film,” and “The filmmakers do not endorse the use of tobacco.” Richard Donner would revise these statements into a final title card which reads, “Since the making of this film in the late 1970s, a greater awareness has developed regarding the cruelty to animals in connection with the fur business, and the health risks associated with smoking and second hand smoke. Therefore I do not condone the use of tobacco and fur products as depicted in this film.”

“There are questions to be asked, and it is time for you to do so….we shall try to find the answers together.”

Altogether, the cuts made to the film total seven minutes, 50 seconds in length, with 1:13 of the footage shot by Richard Donner at Shepperton Studios in May 1977, and the remaining six minutes, 37 seconds of footage shot by Richard Lester at Pinewood Studios in 1979.

It brings us to the first question: why were the cuts made to the film?

The obvious observation goes back to the difference in directors and footage. By the time shooting on “Superman II” had been halted in October 1977, Dick Donner had shot approximately 83 percent of the film at the same time (including all outtakes and alternate takes that appeared in the theatrical and extended TV versions). The remaining scenes that had yet to be filmed by that point included the final version of Lois tricking Clark into becoming Superman, the villains’ rampage through the world, any remaining scenes of Superman and Lois in the Fortress, and the majority of the showdown in Metropolis. In order to meet its release date, Donner and company worked on completing “the first “Superman” film, including moving the ending of II onto the first film. He and Tom Mankiewicz agreed that they would figure out a new ending to II once they returned to work on the sequel.

And then in 1979 came the ill-fated telegram from the Salkinds. “Beware the ides of March,” the saying goes. Richard Donner was out, and Richard Lester was taking over as director. Donner had felt betrayed by Lester, with whom he had developed a cordial friendship during filming on “Superman”. Even when Lester had volunteered to help Donner shoot scenes on the first film, Donner turned down his offer, and Lester backed off, but the two remained on good terms during shooting.

Lester would not only reshoot a number of scenes but also film a number of scenes that Donner had intended to shoot – including Lois tricking Clark into becoming Superman, the scenes at Niagara Falls, the villains’ rampage, and the battle in Metropolis. In addition, Lester and the Salkinds shelved all of Marlon Brando’s footage for the sequel, replacing him with Susannah York in two key scenes at the Fortress of Solitude. In assembling the Donner Cut, Donner and Michael Thau had to eventually deal with the Lester footage. There was simply no choice. According to Thau, “he didn’t want to deal too much with the Lester scenes that needed to be left in to make a complete story. But I realized after a while that he had been familiar with those scenes, and they hurt him. I think that was a sore spot.”

This is further reinforced by a 1998 interview with Richard Lester on American Movie Classics, at the time the network premiered “Superman II” in widescreen format, in which he referred to it as “his” film without acknowledging any of Donner’s work at all. In turn, in all interviews and promotional materials for the Donner Cut, Donner would never refer to Lester by name, referring to Lester instead as “another director” or “a fellow, I forget his name on purpose”. Even in the end credits, Lester’s name is purposely left off the credits, though the majority of the credits is repurposed from the theatrical version.

Once Michael Thau completed the 122-minute cut of the film, and once it received approval from the Motion Picture Association of America, it becomes evident that Donner requested more cuts to the film, with an apparent intention to dial down as much emphasis on the Lester footage without sacrificing coherence to the overall story. This resulted in the loss of six minutes of Lester footage in the middle of the film, leaving the final edits awkward at times, but coherent enough for viewers to enjoy the film and understand those scenes. As for the edits to Donner’s Fortress footage, one can only conclude that it was to distinguish the scene from the theatrical version and the extended TV broadcast (which had no directorial input).

Which brings us to the next question: what happened to this print of the film, and why was it never released on DVD and Blu-ray?

Once the final edits were made to the main and end title credits, and once the final version of the film was prepared for DVD and Blu-ray release, it obviously became clear that it would was not necessary to release a second cut of the film at the same time. (A similar situation occurred in 1984 when “Supergirl” was released in the United States with a running length of 105 minutes, while at the same time a 124-minute version of the film was issued on videotape in Japan.) Because Donner did not approve of this version of the film, it was shelved in the vaults at Warner Bros.

On 18 February 2021, Michael Thau was interviewed by Jay Towers and Jim Bowers for the CapedWonder Superman Podcast (Episode #33), and he addressed the questions about the Vudu version of the Richard Donner Cut. He explained that he had been unaware of the Vudu version. “I guess Warner Bros. decided it was worth it spending a little more money to do that,” Thau stated, “but it’s kind of an insult to Dick (Donner). Dick’s name is on that cut. That’s not the Donner Cut. They added that stuff back. I’ve not seen it or heard about it. I’m flabbergasted that they would do that.”

Richard Donner himself had been unaware of the longer cut of the film on Vudu as of 2016, which included the additional Richard Lester footage and the added footage of Lex Luthor and Miss Teschmacher in the Fortress. At one point in the podcast, Thau commented, “No, it was not an early part of the Donner Cut of the film. Someone’s going wild over there at Warner Bros. But that was a number of years that it was put together… gotta be somebody at Warner Bros. It could be a different department than home video, it could be, you know, the streaming department that ordered it, paid for it, or something like that, I don’t know.”

However, by 2015, with the advent of digital streaming services, this 122-minute cut of the film soon became available on Amazon and Vudu and would eventually follow on Fandango Now, Google Play Movies, and Microsoft Movies and TV. Only iTunes and Movies Anywhere would not follow suit, streaming the 116-minute version instead. (On Movies Anywhere, the title cards appearing before the Warner Bros. logo would be omitted from the film.) Why Vudu would alternate between the 116-minute version and the 122-minute version is beyond me. As of this writing, Vudu currently carries the 122-minute cut, as does Prime Video (Amazon).

Since the release of the Richard Donner Cut of “Superman II”, no less than three films in a consecutive three-year period have also experienced changes in directors, resulting in much of their original footage being shelved in favor of the final version of each respective film. There was “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” in 2016, with a significant portion of Gareth Edwards’ original cut reshot by Tony Gilroy. The following year, Zack Snyder would leave “Justice League”, Joss Whedon would take over, and the final film was a critical and commercial disaster. And in 2018, we had “Solo: A Star Wars Story”, in which Ron Howard had reshot over 80 percent of the film originally shot by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, which was also a commercial box office failure. The original footage of the two “Star Wars” films remains locked away in the respective studio vaults, and fans have called for the studios to release the original directors’ versions of each film.

Thanks to social media, petitions soon went online, and a Twitter movement followed that showed extensive photographs from Zack Snyder’s original footage which confirmed that his version of “Justice League” had developed more than was believed. In March 2021, Snyder’s version of “Justice League” premiered on HBOMax in a four-hour version that allowed him to finally bring his film to completion.

In recent years we have seen multiple versions of films released in comprehensive collections for fans to enjoy and compare. It is not uncommon for two or three versions of a film to be collected on DVD or Blu-ray in a single package. Films such as Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”, Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil”, Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, and Orson Welles’ “Mr.Arkadin” (aka “Confidential Report”) immediately come to mind. Other films like Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” and the original “Star Wars” trilogy have had multiple versions released on disc, but in separate releases. Even the first “Superman” film has seen all of its versions issued on disc but in separate individual releases. Perhaps one day we will see a comprehensive collection of all four versions of “Superman II” gathered together in one complete package.

For now, another piece of the mystery that is “Superman II” has been confirmed, giving film students and fans further reason to study and research both Richard Donner’s and Richard Lester’s footage, and to appreciate the film for what it is, pluses and minuses included.

Special thanks to Brad Day and George Noriega for valuable information, and many special thanks to Jim Bowers for your friendship and assistance in this research.

Article © 2021 Bill Williams and CapedWonder.com, and is not to be reproduced or excerpted without prior written permission. All Rights Reserved. Every effort has been made by the author to make the above information as accurate and true as possible.