Thursday, October 5, 2017

Superman: The Movie Ending

What's really going on here?
I recently re-watched Superman: The Movie with the commentary track (thanks to the new Superman Movie Minute) and something occurred to me. The premise of the ending is that Superman turned back time in order to save Lois by averting the disasters. We even see the water flowing back, the dam repairing itself, etc.

The problem is, this doesn't work. Jimmy comes up with a line about how Superman dropped him in the middle of the desert during an earthquake. Well, if the disasters didn't happen, Jimmy would still be on top of Hoover Dam. So, what really happened?

Well, what if it was only Superman going back in time? He knows that he can't be in the same place as his other self, or bad things would happen. What he can do, though, is act to lessen the impact of the explosion. He can do more work in the fault, or other underground areas, to bring the earthquake down the Richter Scale, so that the dam doesn't burst and the ground doesn't open under Lois's car.

He couldn't stop the missile from hitting, since that wouldn't give him cause to go back in time in the first place, but he can change the eventual effects. That makes it work with Jimmy's line and it keeps with the powers shown in the comics.

What do you think? Is there another explanation that I'm missing?

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  1. My personal opinion is that it was poor scriptwriting and they painted themselves into a corner. They set up Superman having to make a *very* important decision regarding people in general, or acting for himself and saving Lois.

    And then they chicken out.

    Once they do that it doesn't matter how. And, like most time manipulation stories, cause and effect will start creating paradoxes.

  2. I always saw it as Superman going back in time too. There's essentially two Supermen lessening the damage. Basically making two movies caught up to them, and they had to get the first one done to meet their release date (which was pushed back once from summer 78 to December 78 when it was released). So they took the intended ending for two and tacked it onto one.

    Most movies would crumble under this, but the movie is otherwise so wonderful, most forgive its ambiguity and lack of clear forethought.


  3. From the commentary, it was the fact that they originally had a different ending for movie in mind, but either this scene was already filmed or they didn't think to alter the dialog enough to make it fit with the new ending. It's a shame that there was this kind of rush to finish/change in directors. I would have liked to see a Three Musketeers/Four Musketeers movie series for Superman.

  4. The second Superman must have done something to prevent the road crack from swallowing Lois' car because he didn't move her.

    1. That's what I thought as well. The 2nd one reduced the quakes to the point that the telephone poles still fell over, but the earth didn't crack at all.