Superman III Trivia

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In his autobiography, Richard Pryor admitted that he thought the screenplay was terrible, and he only accepted the role because of the $5-million salary.Interesting? Yes No | Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  PermalinkAfter Margot Kidder expressed her disgust about the firing of Richard Donner to producers Alexander Salkind and Ilya Salkind, her role was cut to 12 lines and less than five minutes of screen time. In the film’s 2006 DVD commentary, Ilya Salkind says there was little need for Lois Lane in this movie because her relationship with Superman ended at the end of “Superman II (1980).”95 of 97 found this interesting | Share thisChristopher Reeve threatened not to return for this film, to protest Richard Donner‘s firing and because he hated the script. With the film already in pre-production, the producers scrambled to find an actor to play Superman. John Travolta was approached, but declined. Jeff Bridges and Kurt Russell were also considered, but they weren’t interested. A few days before filming was set to begin, the Salkinds settled on Tony Danza as Clark Kent/Superman. Richard Lester was mortified with the casting of Danza, and pleaded for Reeve to return. Reeve eventually agreed, if he was allowed to change the script. The producers agreed.85 of 87 found this interesting | Share thisWhen it was first revealed to producers that Lana Lang would be a single mother, a comic book was quickly written explaining how Lana came to be in that situation.66 of 68 found this interesting | Share thisThis is first time Christopher Reeve had top billing in a Superman movie. In “Superman (1978)” he was behind Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman. In “Superman II (1980)” he was behind Hackman.78 of 81 found this interesting | Share thisChristopher Reeve was not happy with the film, and often expressed in interviews that he hated how it turned out. He initially swore never to play the role again. He was persuaded to make “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)” in exchange for more input on the script.48 of 49 found this interesting | Share thisRichard Pryor was said to have been cast because of comments he made during an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962).” During an interview segment, Pryor told Carson that he wanted to be in a “Superman” movie. He later claimed that he was joking, but the film’s producers thought that he was serious about it.58 of 62 found this interesting | Share thisThe character of Mister Mxyzptlk was going to be in the film, with Dudley Moore in the role.40 of 42 found this interesting | Share thisAugust “Gus” Gorman steals money from his company by collecting fractions of a cent from other accounts and depositing them in his personal account. In computer crime terminology, it’s called the “salami technique”.48 of 51 found this interesting | Share thisThe firefighters in the chemical plant were all real firefighters, except for the black firefighter, an actor named Al Matthews. He also narrated the documentary “The Making of ‘Superman III’ (1985).”39 of 41 found this interesting | Share thisAccording to Ilya Salkind, an earlier version of the script included the comic book villains Brainiac and Mr. Mxyzptlk teaming up, and Superman meeting his cousin, Supergirl, which would lead to the potential Supergirl spin-off.54 of 58 found this interesting | Share thisA routine of Richard Pryor‘s, often included in “best of” CDs, is a skit called “SuperNigger” about a black Superman who is disguised as a janitor working for “The Daily Planet”.50 of 54 found this interesting | Share thisRichard Donner originally planned for Tom Mankiewicz to direct the film, as he had written outlines for two more “Superman” films. After Donner was fired from “Superman II (1980),” Mankiewicz could no longer be involved with the franchise.27 of 28 found this interesting | Share thisAnnette O’Toole (Lana Lang) later played Martha Kent in “Smallville (2001).”67 of 74 found this interesting | Share thisThe scenes in which Superman straightens the leaning tower of Pisa and then leans it back in the end were originally planned for “Superman II (1980).”36 of 39 found this interesting | Share thisThe video game Ross Webster plays was created for the film. It originally looked so life-like that the creators were asked to make it look more computer-like.41 of 45 found this interesting | Share thisThe video game that Ross Webster plays was created for the film for the Atari Corporation. Atari had also made a “Superman III” video game, based on the film, for the Atari 5200, but it was never released.40 of 44 found this interesting | Share thisAccording to the producers’ commentary on the Deluxe Edition DVD, this film was not a flop. Critics and fans generally expressed disappointment with it, and its $60-million gross fell short of the previous two movies’ $100-million+ gross. It still made an impressive profit, despite competition from “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983),” which opened three weeks earlier, and “Octopussy (1983),” which opened ten days earlier.43 of 48 found this interesting | Share thisThe original title was “Superman vs. Superman”. The producers of Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) threatened to sue, refusing to believe the Salkinds’ explanation that it was intended as a play on various “Superman vs. . . .: ” comic stories. Eventually Pierre Spengler suggested that “Superman III” would be a more sensible title anyway, and the issue was dropped.31 of 34 found this interesting | Share thisThe tar-laced kryptonite that Superman is exposed to has the effects of both red and black kryptonite. Red, particulary in the show Smallville (2001), releases all of Clark’s inhibitions. The persona-splitting scene was inspiration for the first appearance of black kryptonite in Smallville (2001). It could seperate Clark from his darker side. The battle in the junkyard is considered the most iconic scene of the movie.46 of 52 found this interesting | Share thisAccording to the writers, the original choice to play Ross Webster was Alan Alda. They wanted an actor who could be ruthless without losing any charm. Executive producer Ilya Salkind said in the DVD commentary that his choice was Frank Langella. Langella starred as Perry White in “Superman Returns (2006).”24 of 26 found this interesting | Share thisSuperman/Clark Kent’s hair in this movie is obviously brown and not black as seen in the first two films. That’s because Christopher Reeve is wearing a wig throughout the entire movie, unlike the first two films where he dyed his natural hair black.37 of 43 found this interesting | Share thisThis movie was originally going to involve Supergirl’s origin story, and a battle between her, Superman and Brainiac.10 of 10 found this interesting | Share thisThe ski slope outside Ross Webster’s penthouse took three months to build at Pinewood Studios, and 17 tons of salt was used as snow.24 of 27 found this interesting | Share thisFilmed in Calgary, Alberta, home of Canada’s first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. It includes multiple KFC references: the Metropolis computer school payroll is handed out by a man in a Sanders-style goatee, Gus walks past a Smallville display with Kentucky Colonel outfits, Gus drags the intoxicated Brad past a closet whose open door shows a bag hanging full of KFC items, and Gus uses a “chicken in the bucket” recipe to explain to Ross why the fake Kryptonite didn’t kill Superman.23 of 26 found this interesting | Share thisSuperman creates a diamond by squeezing a lump of coal in his hands, a reference to some earlier Superman comic book stories in which he performed the same deed.31 of 37 found this interesting | Share thisDowntown scenes were filmed in Calgary, Alberta. Smallville scenes were filmed in High River. Calgary Fire Department and Police Department were used in filming of this movie.17 of 19 found this interesting | Share thisPamela Stephenson modelled Lorelei Ambrosia after Marilyn Monroe.24 of 28 found this interesting | Share thisThe musical tones from the video game Ross Webster is playing are from the Atari 2600 version of “Pac-Man (1980).” This would be used again in “My Blue Heaven (1990).”19 of 22 found this interesting | Share thisA poster for “Blade Runner (1982)” can be seen in the background of the junkyard fight scene, when Clark is throwing the tires at Superman.22 of 26 found this interesting | Share thisAlthough Lana is hired by “The Daily Planet” at the end of the film, she does not return in “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).” Her absence from that film is left unexplained and she is not mentioned.18 of 21 found this interesting | Share thisThe tanker that leaks oil into the Atlantic is the British Reliance, owned by BP Amoco Shipping. It was built in 1975, flew the Bermudan flag, and was demolished in December 1999.16 of 19 found this interesting | Share thisPamela Stephenson signed on to the film after the cancellation of her popular sketch comedy show Not the Nine O’Clock News (1979), on which she was a regular performer.10 of 11 found this interesting | Share thisAccording to the Vulcan weather satellite, the chemical composition of Kryptonite (shown on Gus Gorman’s computer) is: 15.08% Plutonium, 18.06% Tantalum, 27.71% Xenon, 24.02% Promethium, 10.62% Dialium, 3.94% Mercury, and 0.57% Unknown (Gorman replaced this with Tar).22 of 28 found this interesting | Share thisThe song “Earth Angel” by The Penguins is played during the Smallville High School reunion dance attended by Clark Kent and Lana Lang. It was also played during the “Enchantment Under the Sea” dance at Hill Valley High School on November 12, 1955, in Back to the Future (1985). Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen) also appeared in that film as Marty McFly’s elder brother Dave McFly.39 of 53 found this interesting | Share thisFrank Oz played a brain surgeon in a deleted scene from the montage of the supercomputer causing a nationwide power outage. It’s included in the extended television version of the film. He also worked on puppet sequences, which were also deleted, and not included in any version. Director of photography Robert Paynter previously shot An American Werewolf in London (1981), in which Oz appeared, and shot The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) (Oz’s directorial debut) and The Little Shop of Horrors (1986).18 of 23 found this interesting | Share thisChristopher Reeve wore wigs throughout this movie and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).18 of 23 found this interesting | Share thisThe film was released in the year of Superman’s 45th anniversary.22 of 30 found this interesting | Share thisAnnette O’Toole and Margot Kidder meet for the first time in this movie. The two actresses were reunited in the Smallville episodes Smallville: Crusade (2004) and Smallville: Transference (2004). O’Toole played Martha Kent and Kidder played Bridgette Crosby. The character was a supposed love interest for Dr. Virgil Swann. Although “The Daily Planet” hires Lana at the end of the film, Lana does not return in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987). Her absence is left unexplained.20 of 27 found this interesting | Share thisIn the final scene, a photograph of the U.S. President, who was played by E.G. Marshall in Superman II (1980), can be seen in Perry White’s office.10 of 12 found this interesting | Share thisAlthough the teenage Clark Kent was played by Jeff East in “Superman (1978),” a teenage image of Christopher Reeve is seen hanging in the gymnasium during the Smallville High reunion scene.10 of 12 found this interesting | Share thisThe Beatles cover of “Roll Over Beethoven” plays during the Smallville High School Reunion dance. Richard Lester also directed the Beatles’ first two films, A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965).16 of 21 found this interesting | Share thisThis is the only Christopher Reeve “Superman” film not to feature Lex Luthor. It is also one of three live-action theatrical “Superman” films in which Luthor does not appear. The others are Superman and the Mole-Men (1951) and Man of Steel (2013).21 of 29 found this interesting | Share thisRobert Beatty (Tanker Commander) played the U.S. President in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).13 of 17 found this interesting | Share thisChristopher Reeve (Superman), Margot Kidder (Lois Lane), Jackie Cooper (Perry White) and Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen) are the only actors to appear in the first four “Superman” films. Of these, McClure was the only one to appear in Supergirl (1984).16 of 22 found this interesting | Share thisGus steals half a cent from every employee. If he collects around $85,000 every time, the company must have around 17 million employees. Considering Gus mentions his first paycheck is for a week, its unclear how many of the employees receive their paycheck weekly, or monthly, and it may well be a larger portion of the partial cent he’s “acquired”.23 of 34 found this interesting | Share thisJennifer Jason Leigh was originally set to star as Lana Lang. She turned down the role because she was too young.15 of 21 found this interesting | Share thisPamela Mandell, who played Mrs. Stokis, was also the diner waitress in Superman II (1980).8 of 10 found this interesting | Share thisGordon Rollings, who plays The Man With Cap during the opening slapstick credits, also appeared briefly in Superman II (1980) as The Fisherman who sees the three Supervillains land in the lake.8 of 10 found this interesting | Share thisWhen the film was broadcast on ITV in the UK in the late 1980s, a deleted scene of a brain surgeon, played by Frank Oz, about to operate on a patient in the sequence where the supercomputer drains Metropolis and most of the US of its electricity in the final battle between Superman, the Websters, Lorelai Ambrosia, and the supercomputer, was reinstated.6 of 7 found this interesting | Share thisEnid Saunders character Minnie Bannister (in one of the Smallville sequences) is a very obscure in-joke by Richard Lester. He had a long association with the cast members of the BBC radio show “The Goon Show.” Minnie Bannister, voiced by Spike Milligan, was a recurring character.13 of 19 found this interesting | Share thisWhen Gus lists his “impossible” program, it’s a series of PRINT statements.14 of 21 found this interesting | Share thisFollowing the use of Lex Luthor in the previous two films, some consideration was given to using Brainiac in the third installment.11 of 16 found this interesting | Share thisThe year the film is set in is very inconsistent. The year on Gus Gorman’s cheques/certificates read 1983. The 20th high school reunion makes it appear to be 1985 (as it reads “Class of ’65). The Olympics (appearing to be summer) should be happening in 1984.3 of 3 found this interesting | Share thisThe film office space utilized the storyline of taking a fraction of a penny from employees for their own gain stating that they saw it work in the movie Superman 3.3 of 3 found this interesting | Share thisIn the kitchen scene of Lana Lang’s house when she decides to leave Smallville, and calls the airport, a Superman pencil case is clearly visible on the kitchen table.8 of 11 found this interesting | Share thisPeter Whitman, who played a larger role in “Superman II (1980),” that of a Sheriff’s Deputy, has a minor role here.10 of 15 found this interesting | Share thisThere are three attributes that make this film unique amongst the Christopher Reeve Superman movies:

  • (1) The only one not to have opening credits in space.
  • (2) The only one without any nuclear weapons. In Superman (1978), Lex Luthor steals nuclear missiles with the intent of detonating one at the San Andreas Fault; in Superman II (1980), an atomic bomb frees the villains from the Phantom Zone, and the plot in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) is about Superman ridding Earth of nuclear weapons.
  • (3) This is the only one in which Gene HackmanSusannah York, and John Hollis do not appear.

11 of 17 found this interesting | Share thisThe signature in the bottom right-hand corner of Gus’ embezzlement check reads “Vincent Winter”. Vincent Winter was the film’s production manager.6 of 8 found this interesting | Share thisWhen Superman is drunk at the bar and flies off, the Calgary Tower can be seen in the upper left.4 of 5 found this interesting | Share thisIn both this film and I Love Lucy: Lucy and Superman (1957), Superman is asked by a mother to attend a birthday party for a boy named Ricky.14 of 25 found this interesting | Share thisThis is the only one of the four Christopher Reeve “Superman” films in which Gene HackmanSusannah York and John Hollis do not appear.12 of 22 found this interesting | Share thisIn this film, the villain Ross Webster is portrayed as a wealthy industrialist and philanthropist publicly, but a conniving villain who wants to destroy Superman secretly. When the Superman mythos were revamped in the mid-1980’s and Lex Luthor was changed, he was given many of the same characteristics as Ross Webster.2 of 2 found this interesting | Share thisAaron Smolinski who plays baby Clark Kent appears uncredited in ‘Superman III’ as a little boy waiting outside a photo booth while Clark Kent is changing into Superman.2 of 2 found this interesting | Share thisRobert Vaughn, who plays Superman’s nemesis, Ross Webster, in this film, became a television superstar in the 1960s with his portrayal of suave secret agent Napoleon Solo in the classic series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964). In the film version of the series, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), Napoleon Solo is played by Henry Cavill, who gained fame playing Superman in Man of Steel (2013), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), and Justice League (2017).3 of 4 found this interesting | Share thisFuture Superman Henry Cavill was born 2 months before the movie was released in the United States.4 of 8 found this interesting | Share thisSandra Dickinson (Wife) would later play the Pretty Young Lady in “Supergirl (1984).”6 of 14 found this interesting | Share thisFilmed between April 1982 to September 1982.2 of 3 found this interesting | Share thisGeoffrey Steele’s final film.2 of 3 found this interesting | Share thisThere is a spelling error in the computer when the satellite receives the weather command. The computer shows the message “Message Recieved” instead of “received”1 of 1 found this interesting | Share thisGus drives a red Ferrari 308 into the parking lot after his first big paycheck, similar to the one Magnum drives in “Magnum P.I” which was a very popular show when “Superman III” was made.1 of 1 found this interesting | Share thisSuperman III was produced during the Bronze Age era of comics. It was very common in comics of that vintage to showcase a guest star (in this case, Richard Pryor‘s Gus Gorman) who would propel much of the plot. He would serve as a device to get other elements of the plot moving rather than acting as a villain. Here are just a few examples:

-Superman v1 #253 (Billy Anders) -Superman v1 #261 (Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire) -Superman v1 #262 (Paul De Meo) -Superman v1 Annual #09 (Curt Swan)

Each of the above characters take center stage in their respective issues and drive a huge percentage of the plot and the conflicts. So the notion of a guest character like Gus Gorman sharing the spotlight with Superman is not without precedent in the source material.Is this interesting? | Share this

Cameo 

Paul Weston: accidentally breaks off the door handle in an attempt to rescue the drowning driver from the car. The stunt coordinator was Terence Stamp‘s double in “Superman II (1980).”9 of 12 found this interesting | Share this

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.The movie ends with Lana getting a job at the Daily Planet, hinting that she may have a future career in journalism. In the Bronze Age comics, Lana moved to Metropolis and worked as a television reporter for WMET-TV. She’s also worked for Perry White in the comics, as seen in ‘Lana Lang, Superwoman’ (Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane #17, May 1960).Is this interesting? | Share thisEarlier treatments of the Superman III script featured Brainiac as a primary villain. The supercomputer at the end of the film is perhaps a reference to this plot point. One earlier outline of the story is said to have revealed that Gus Gorman himself was Brainiac in disguise. If the audience examines the supercomputer from that perspective, it can be seen as a variation on the Pre-Crisis villain Computo.

Computo was a supercomputer constructed by Brainiac 5 in ‘Computo the Conqueror!’ (Adventure Comics #340, January 1966). Like Gorman’s computer, Computo is constructed with good intentions. But it quickly becomes self-aware and turns on its creator.

Computo is able to keep the Legion of Superheroes at bay by exploiting their individual weaknesses. This includes using a kryptonite ray to fend off Superman.

The idea of kryptonite radiation being channeled through a beam has been used in the comics many times like in ‘The Death of Superman!’ (Superman #149, November 1961) for example.Is this interesting? | Share thisThe main love interest in the film is Lana Lang. Lana is typically associated with Clark’s early years living in Smallville. But she did show up in Metropolis as an adult in later comics. This led to a rivalry developing between Lana and Lois for Superman’s affections during the Silver Age. Curiously, neither of them was too interested in Clark, whereas in the movie Lana is more attracted to Clark than she is Superman. This reflects the changing dynamic between the characters during the Bronze Age era. In the following example from Action Comics #543 (May 1983) Lana describes how her feelings of friendship towards Clark are maturing into feelings of a romantic nature. Clark in turn realizes that Lana is finally more interested in his civilian alter ego than his costumed persona. The film presents a similar take on their relationship.Is this interesting? | Share thisThe synthetic kryptonite Gus Gorman gives to Superman induces the same unpredictable effects as red kryptonite does in the comics.

The sequence where the kryptonite causes Superman to split into two separate beings – one Superman, the other Clark – is adapted from ‘The Splitting of Superboy’ (Adventure Comics #255, December 1958). In both stories Superman is exposed to kryptonite radiation that has the strange effect of dividing him into two. In the comic it is the Clark doppelganger that is evil, while in the movie it is the Superman version.

In both stories the good and evil versions end up fighting each other in a junkyard. Red kryptonite caused Superman to split into two people a second time in ‘The Feud Between Superman and Clark Kent!’ (Action Comics #293, October 1962). This time is was the adult Superman that was afflicted. The Clark Kent version is the good half in this story, while the Superman version is bad.

The bad Superman displays an increased libido. His misguided super-activities have a negative impact on the people of Earth.

Interestingly, this story also features a scene where the bad Superman tries to impress Lois by making the Earth spin faster. This has the effect of making time pass more quickly. A possible influence on the time reversal scene from the first film?

There are several other issues where red kryptonite splits Superman and Clark into two different people. Usually the Superman version is the bad one, and typically he ends up fighting the good/Clark side of his personality before the two of them finally remerge. So this is one aspect of the movie that has many precedents in the comics.Is this interesting? | Share thisTowards the end of the film Superman crushes a piece of coal to turn it into a diamond. He first did this in the comics in ‘The Wish That Came True’ (Action Comics #115, December 1947). The bad Superman also did this in the aforementioned Action Comics #293.

In the movie he uses the diamond to make a ring for Lana. Lois is jealous when she finds out about this. This can be compared to Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane #7, February 1959.Is this interesting? | Share this