Superman 1978-1987 5-Film Collection Arrives on 4K Ultra HD

Christopher Reeve in Superman. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

The Superman 1978-1987 5-Film Collection is getting the 4K Ultra HD treatment as Warner Bros. celebrates its 100th anniversary.

I’ve already reviewed Superman: The Movie when the film was first released on 4K UHD for its 40th anniversary in 2018. The new collection gave me an opportunity to watch and regret watching Superman III and IV for the first time. When it comes to II, the only cut that I viewed was the Richard Donner cut. In a perfect world, he would never have been let go. Moreover, III and IV would have been completely different films altogether. Unfortunately, Superman fans did not get the franchise that they deserved. From what I hear, the Lester version of II is watchable but I can say with 100% certainty that III and IV are examples of what not to do as a filmmaker. By the time IV came out, it killed the franchise on the big screen and would take another 19 years to return.

While the press release didn’t list it, I can 100% confirm that the digital copy of Superman: The Movie contains the three-hour plus extended cut. Even though the Brandon Routh film is set in the Donner universe of Superman films, it is not included within the collection. Routh gets the short end of the stick once again but given sentiments towards both Bryan Singer and Kevin Spacey these days, not including Superman Returns might just be for the best.

Superman: The Movie

Academy Award winners Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman head an all-star cast in the fantastic, action-packed film that made Christopher Reeve an international star playing the greatest superhero of all time. From the doomed planet of Krypton, two parents launch a spaceship carrying their infant son to earth. Here he grows up to become Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for the Metropolis Daily Planet. But with powers and abilities far beyond those of ordinary men, he battles for truth and justice as Superman.

Bonus Features

  • Commentary by Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spangler
  • Extended Cut
  • The Making of Superman – vintage featurette
  • Superman and the Mole-Men – vintage featurette
  • Super-Rabbit – 1943 WB cartoon
  • Snafuperman – 1944 WB cartoon
  • Stupor Duck – 1956 WB cartoon
  • TV Spot
  • Teaser Trailer
  • Theatrical Trailer

DIRECTOR:  Richard Donner
SCREENWRITERS:  Mario Puzo and David Newman and Leslie Newman & Robert Benton
CAST:  Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Glenn Ford, Trevor Howard, Margot Kidder, Valerie Perrine, Maria Schell, Terence Stamp, Phyllis Thaxter, Susannah York

Superman II

Unwittingly released from Phantom Zone imprisonment, three superpowered Planet Krypton criminals Terence Stamp, Sarah Douglas and Jack O’Halloran) plan to enslave Earth – just when Superman (Christopher Reeve) decides to show a more romantic side to Lois Lane (Margot Kidder). Gene Hackman also returns as Lex Luthor in this sequel that features a top supporting cast, witty Richard Lester direction, and visuals that astound and delight.

Bonus Features

  • Commentary by Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler
  • The Making of Superman II – 1980 TV Special
  • Superman’s Soufflé – Deleted scene
  • Fleischer Studios’ Superman vintage cartoons
    • First Flight
    • The Mechanical Monster
    • Billion Dollar Limited
    • The Arctic Giant
    • The Bulleteers
    • The Magnetic Telescope
    • Electric Earthquake
    • Volcano
    • Terror on the Midway
  • Theatrical trailer

DIRECTOR: Richard Lester
SCREENWRITERS: Mario Puzo, David Newman, and Leslie Newman
CAST: Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, Jack O’Halloran, Valerie Perrine, Susannah York, Clifton James, and E.G. Marshall, Marc McClure, and Terence Stamp

Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

Director Richard Donner began shooting Superman II while concurrently filming Superman: The Movie, though the theatrical version of the film was ultimately directed by Richard Lester. In 2006, Donner’s original unique vision was released for the first time. Jor-El (Marlon Brando in footage cut from the theatrical version) appears in key scenes that amplify Superman lore and deepen the relationship between father and son. Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) plots more schemes to unmask Clark Kent as Superman (Christopher Reeve). With so many changes, large and small, including a different beginning and resolution, this version is an eye-opening alternate experience.

Bonus Features

  • Commentary by Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz
  • Introduction by Richard Donner – featurette
  • Superman II: Restoring the Vision – featurette
  • Deleted scenes
    • Lex and Ms. Teschmacher head north
    • Lex and Ms. Teschmacher head south
    • The villains enter the fortress
    • He’s all yours, boys
    • Clarke and Jimmy
    • Lex’s gateway
  • Famous Studios vintage cartoons
    • Japoteurs
    • Showdown
    • Eleventh Hour
    • Destruction, Inc.
    • The Mummy Strikes
    • Jungle Drums
    • The Underground World
    • Secret Agent

DIRECTOR: Richard Donner
SCREENWRITERS: Mario Puzo, David Newman, and Leslie Newman
CAST: Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, Jack O’Halloran, Valerie Perrine, Clifton James, and E.G. Marshall, Marc McClure, and Terence Stamp

Superman III

Meet Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor), a naive computer-programming natural. For him, a keyboard is a weapon – and, as a result, Superman faces the microelectronic menace of his life. Christopher Reeve reprises his signature role, deepening his character’s human side as Clark Kent sees Lana Lang (Annette O’Toole) at a Smallville High class reunion. And when the Man of Steel becomes his own worst enemy after exposure to Kryptonite, Reeve pulls off both roles with dazzling skill. Relive Superman III with all its heart, heroism and high-flying humor.

Bonus Features

  • Commentary by Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler
  • The Making of Superman III – 1983 TV special
  • Deleted scenes
    • Save my baby
    • To the rescue
    • Making up
    • Going to see the boss
    • Hatching the plan
    • The con
    • Rooftop ski
    • Boss wants this to go
    • Superman honored
    • Gus’ speech
    • Hanging up on Brad
  • Theatrical trailer

DIRECTOR: Richard Lester
SCREENWRITERS: David Newman and Leslie Newman
CAST: Christopher Reeve, Richard Pryor, Jackie Cooper, Marc McClure, Annette O’Toole, Annie Ross, Pamela Stephenson, Robert Vaughn, and Margot Kidder

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

Christopher Reeve not only dons the title hero’s cape for the fourth time but also helped develop the movie’s provocative theme: nuclear disarmament. To make the world safe for nuclear arms merchants, Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) creates a new being to challenge the Man of Steel: the radiation-charged Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow). The two foes clash in an explosive extravaganza that sees Superman save the Statue of Liberty, plug the volcanic eruption of Mount Etna and rebuild the demolished Great Wall of China.

Bonus Features

  • Commentary by Mark Rosenthal
  • Superman 50th Anniversary Special – 1988 TV special
  • Deleted scenes
    • Clark’s morning
    • Jeremy’s letter
    • Superman’s visit
    • Nuclear Man’s prototype
    • Metropolis after hours
    • Lex ponders
    • Flying sequence (extended scene)
    • Battle in Smallville
    • Battle in the U.S.S.R.
    • Nuclear arms race
    • Superman’s sickness
    • Red alert
    • By my side
    • Lark and Lacy say goodbye
    • No borders
  • Theatrical trailer

DIRECTOR: Sidney J. Furie
SCREENWRITERS: Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal
CAST: Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Jackie Cooper, Marc McClure, Jon Cryer, Sam Wanamaker, Mark Pillow, with Mariel Hemingway and Margot Kidder

The Superman 1978-1987 5-Film Collection is now available on 4K Ultra HD.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.