Junk Drawer

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Katherine and I went to see Brooding Alien God Substitute Man.

I fly for your sins.

We'd been waiting thirty years for that moment. In fact, our very first date was supposed to be us seeing an earlier version of him.

This version:

Superman III

There is a significant difference between the films: In Man of Steel, the tone is serious. Oh, so very serious. Sad, sad, serious, angry people. In the earlier film, only Brooding Alien God Substitute Man appears to understand the massive danger presented by a man so powerful that he can reverse time, and even he's pretty relaxed about it.

Most of the Christopher Reeve films featured Superman dealing with significant world-threatening events, usually paired with an equal amount of personal struggle. Superman: The Movie had Lex Luthor using nuclear weapons to destroy part of California and Clark Kent's growth from a kid to a hero, Superman II had three Kryptonian criminals taking over the planet and Superman trying to balance his role as a hero with his needs as a person, and Superman IV: The Quest For Peace had Lex Luthor's use of a Superman clone in an attempt to rule the world and Superman's trying to use his powers proactively to create good instead of just negating evil. But in Superman III, Superman faces his greatest challenges: trying to get drunk while stopping a guy from taking over the world's coffee supply.


This is Ross Webster. He does not work for Starbucks. Ross is a palentologist in love with Rachel a smarmy businessman who sometimes fights THRUSH. He's not smart enough to control the coffee of the world (or really do anything) on his own. Luckily for him, he meets Gus (Richard Pryor, in the role that defined his career). Gus, with no previous computer experience, has written a program that steals the fractions of cents that happen in bank transactions. Of course, in the Superman movie universe, this isn't exactly a complex hack.

Step one:
Step One: ask nicely

Man, I hope no bad guys saw this film. Our filmsy security systems could be toppled by a lazy fifth grader.

Step two:
Step two: follow the prompts

Tell the computer what you want in plain English. I don't know what programming language they use at Webscoe (the name of his stupid company is WEBSCOE, for crying out loud), but it makes COBOL look like Assembly Language (that's an old school compunerd joke. The five guys who still use COBOL thought it was hilarious).

Side note: This is the movie that inspires Michael Bolton in Office Space to try the same trick at Initech.


After Wes catches Gus, he eventually realizes that someone who could so easily defeat the complex and subtle security systems of his sophistaced computer progam clearly has the ability to create synthetic kryptonite, because computer science and chemical science are very similar. They both even say "science" in their descriptions.

At this point you may be thinking "Synthetic Kryptonite? Why does he need that?" You may also be thinking "Am I still reading about a crappy thirty year old movie?" The answer to your first two questions: When Wes tried to corner the coffee market by using a weather satellite to destroy coffee crops, Superman stopped the storm. Instead of thinking "Hey, I can control the weather! This thing is going to legally make me much richer than any stupid coffee beans," he decides he must kill Superman, because that's a lot easier, safer, and more effective.

Gus tries to make kryptonite but he can't quite figure out the chemical makeup of the stuff. Very odd, since he's so clearly qualified. He replaces the mystery components with cigarette tar. Instead of making a useless pile of random chemical crap, this actually makes kryptonite- but instead of being green, it's black. Yes, Richard Pryor, black kryptonite, good job thinking of that joke, clever reader.

You can't still be reading this. Even I'm bored. Let's wrap up quickly, shall we?

Black Kryptonite makes Superman into a mean drunk:

Who can't finish a bottle

Supes does bad things, then splits in two and fights himself in a junkyard. It's the battle of id vs. super-ego, where id throws super ego into a car compactor, exactly as Freud described it.

Gus dresses up like a general at one point. It's very convincing.

Is that Patton?

Gus designs a computer that becomes self aware and tries to take over the world by bonding to middle aged women.

Resistance to mom jeans is futile.

Superman gets Gus to be a good guy, and together they save the day so Clark can go back to hanging out with his old girlfriend, who later becomes his TV mom.

Lana Lang


Yes, this movie was terrible, but there's a silver lining: It sure seems to have inspired a few much better movies. First there's the direct admission in Office Space. But then there's Superman's fight with himself, which clearly inspired Fight Club. The first rule of Superman III is don't talk about Superman III. And what about the robot-human hybrids? Totally Borg!

I don't know why this spinoff failed.

And before you try and say "Doctor Who had the Cybermen for decades berfore Superman III came out, " LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING LA LA LA!