Richard Pryor Double Feature Part 1: Superman III

Superman III

BRAD: So after the epic and highly entertaining Superman II we get this silly and lackluster third film. Who’s big dumb idea was to make this a comedy with Richard Pryor? Sure the first two films had some humor to lighten the action-packed spectacle but Superman III really tried to make this a comedy for some reason. And while Richard Pryor was flying high (pun intended) career-wise putting him as both the villain and aid to Superman was one wacky idea. And the wrote him as a genius computer programmer which when you think of Pryor that’s probably the last choice of skill one would think of. And he learns to be a computer genius within 10 minutes of the film and is suddenly a prodigy at it.

Looks like Gus has found a MATCH for his hidden computer skills!

Looks like Gus has found a MATCH for his hidden computer skills!

BRIAN: Yeah it didn’t make a ton of sense that they brought in Richard Lester, a guy known for dry comedies, to finish up Superman II, and a disaster to let him have complete control of Superman III. Even from the long opening slapstick sequence, you know that it’s going to be a totally different vibe, and not in a good way. I guess Lester just wanted to cast one of the biggest names in comedy at the time, and since Pryor needed freebase money, he signed up. But Pryor isn’t even the biggest problem with the movie. Actually, I’m glad he’s in it and not like Chevy Chase or Jamie Faar or something. Besides just a dumb plot, the three biggest problems are:
1. Awful villains
2. Completely useless Smallville subplot
3. Superman is barely f*cking in it

Robert Vaughn’s character is basically a carbon copy of Lex Luthor without any of the charm. And he’s like banging his sister while a big-boobed blond watches (although, good casting there). The entire Smallville thing could have been cut out without missing a beat, and was only shoehorned in there because Margot Kidder didn’t want to do the picture. And besides the industrial fire and the ending, the only thing Superman does is get drunk, bang that blond and try to kill Clark Kent.

If you close your eyes, you really can't tell the difference between him and Lex Luthor.

If you close your eyes, you really can’t tell the difference between him and Lex Luthor.

BRAD: But we do get a Superman vs. Clark Kent fight. In an auto wrecking yard. Easily the most entertaining scene in all 5 Superman movies.

It also baffles me how condescending and how much the filmmakers thought the kids who watch this movie wouldn’t be able to handle an evil Superman. When he touches the kryptonite laced with tar he actually doesn’t become evil but more of a douche-bag jerk-face. He “fixes” the Leaning Tower of Pisa, blows out the torch of an Olympic-style game event and gets sloppy drunk on cheap whiskey and breaks liquor bottle with beer nuts. The worst thing he did (besides try to kill Clark Kent) was bang Robert Vaughn’s girlfriend and that was part of the plan. When I was a kid it didn’t know much about the birds and bees so I probably just assumed he hugged and kissed her all night. But why didn’t they make Superman act worse? I don’t mean kill people but they could’ve shown a robbery taking place and Superman doing nothing about it while he ate a cheeseburger and flirted with the waitress. Fix the Tower of Pisa? Are you kidding me?

"You know what all the kids really want to see? Superman getting a blowjob from a whore." - Richard Lester

“You know what all the kids really want to see? Superman getting a blowjob from a whore.” – Richard Lester

BRIAN: He did try to murder Clark Kent. A few times. “You always wanted to fly, Kent!” Uh, he could fly, dummy. He’s Superman.

But yeah basically he just becomes Super Asshole. Which is actually a fantastic idea. Some superpowered dude just going around the world and messing with stuff. I would totally watch an entire movie about that. It reminds me of our Timebastards idea, where jerkoffs travel back in time to ruin historic events.

He can survive the crushing vacuum of space, breathe underwater and be blasted with missiles, but choking is a major weakness.

He can survive the crushing vacuum of space, breathe underwater and be blasted with missiles, but choking is a major weakness.

BRAD: I totally forgot about our Timebastards idea!! But couldn’t they just go back to caveman times and screw up something important, like steal their first wheel or burn the group who first discovered fire which in turn would ruin the entire time/space continuum for good? What I’m saying is, they only need to f*ck up one thing really.

Can Superman even get drunk with alcohol? I would think he would need to drink Kryptonite-laced alcohol to feel any effects of booze. Or he would have to consume the whole bar’s worth of booze before he feels anything.

Anyway, even as a kid I hated the fact that Superman freezes an entire lake and somehow picks it up, without it cracking, and drops it over the factory fire, making it rain thus putting out the fire. Can we discuss the logic and physics behind how effing stupid that is? How would that create rain? Wouldn’t that kill every single firefighter and worker at that factory? He dropped a huge sheet of ice—a sheet so large and thick that Superman carried it from one end with out it breaking! Superman flies down after dropping the ice and finds dozens of crushed and icicle-impaled people. Thanks Supes!

"This should work..." BullSHEET!

“This should work…” BullSHEET!

And why would anyone have a 40-foot ski ramp on the top of a skyscraper?

I’ll let you begin a rant on the whole super-computer the villains build in the Grand Canyon. My brain hurts now.

BRIAN: Yeah but what’s the fun in just f*cking up one thing?

I wouldn’t think alcohol would have any effect on him unless it was out of a Kryptonite bottle.



That ice lake makes no sense. There’s no guarantee it would all melt by the time it got to the fire, and even if it did, it would only be a short splash, probably not enough to put everything out, and definitely wouldn’t make it rain like it did in the movie. And what good would it do for the fires on the inside? Couldn’t Superman have just used his breath on the fire, or pissed the fire out?

Because a 40-foot water slide would have been ridiculous.

Ok, I’m going to have to break this down in bullet points:

    • First of all, why the Grand Canyon? Couldn’t it have been built in any remote location, preferably one without tourists?
    • How did Gus, who was unemployed at the start of the movie, suddenly turn into a super-genius capable of designing the world’s most advanced computer? And it’s never really explained why. It seems like he was doing just fine without it, controlling oil tankers and the f*cking WEATHER.
    • Who built it? Did Webster hire a contractor to build a giant machine in the middle of the Grand Canyon and outfit it with missile turrets with no questions asked? Where do you find help like that? He was a dick in the beginning of the movie but he wasn’t an evil mad villain yet.
    • Why would the “game” where they shoot missiles at Superman be in cartoon video game form? Wouldn’t it just be like a satellite image of Superman?
    • They knew nothing about Kryptonite a few days earlier, and Gus had to guess was the missing element was, but they’re able to build a Kryptonite ray? How did they perfect the formula for Kryptonite then?
    • And what about that ray that shoots a metal ball that hovers and hold you in place??
    • How exactly does the supercomputer become sentient and turn on its masters, and turn that weird sister into a cyborg, and why?
    • And HOW and WHY??????
Super Manio Bros.

Super Manio Bros.

BRAD: It turned sentient in a matter of minutes too which is hilarious. It became self-aware and turned on its creators within a span of 10 minutes. That’s one SUPER computer.

And why would Superman suffocate in that spherical plastic/metal ball if he can fly in outer space?

"I'm in a plastic ball of emotion!"

“I’m in a plastic ball of emotion!”

And how would Kryptonite light hurt Superman? Is any form of Kryponite lethal? Like if someone ate a Kryponite burrito and farted on Superman’s face would that hurt him?

Also remember the ridiculous scene when Superman turned good guy again and blew all the oil back into the tanker in the ocean and then sealed the metal tanker walls back up with his laser-vision?

BRIAN: 10 minutes worth of bullshit was all it could take.

I assume that plastic ball was made of the same material as the “S” on his chest when he threw it at Non in Superman II.

The fart would sting him a little but it would be weakened by going through the digestive tract.

Yeah it’s amazing how he blew only the oil back into the tanker but none of the seawater. If he has that ability then it makes the fire scene all the more stupid.

Are we going to discuss the subtle racism of Superman sending Gus to work in the coal mine at the end?

BRAD: Here African-American computer-genius with previous criminal activity, including trying to kill me, I will drop you off in the middle of nowhere in this coal mine AND hope these fine white workers will have a job for you. Good luck!

Thanks Superman!!

Did they create that super computer for anything other than trying to kill Superman? And if so, why didn’t they make the computer out of Kryptonite so Superman couldn’t destroy it?

The super computer quickly calculated that the movie must end as soon as possible.

The super computer quickly calculated that the movie must end as soon as possible.

BRIAN: Do you have any idea how much it would cost to build the computer out of Kryptonite?? No, really, how much?

WHY did Superman need that vial of gloop to destroy the computer? Couldn’t he have just used his laser vision or punched it a lot?

BRAD: If they can create a huge super computer within a matter of weeks, armed with thousands of missiles, a Kryponite light ray and a synthetic bubble net why can’t they afford Kryponite paneling?

Even as a kid I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the hell that gloop was that reacted so violently to heat. And why that one factory in middle America had hundreds of them in one room. But when you’re a kid and you’re a Superman fan, the last thing a kid wants to see is Superman destroy a computer with hot acid and not his bare hands or any super-powers whatsoever. The only thing worse would’ve been if Superman stopped the computer by pulling the plug on it.

And with that, let’s pull the plug on this review.

Brian Kid Score: 7.5 – Adult Score: 3 (out of 10)

Brad Kid Score: 7 – Adult Score: 3 (out of 10)

You always wanted to see more dumb Superman III screengrabs, Kent. Well now’s your chance…

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11 thoughts on “Richard Pryor Double Feature Part 1: Superman III

  1. “SUPERMAN II” Remains My Favorite Superhero Flick Of Allllll-Time…
    …But I Oddly Never Had A Problem With “SUPERMAN III” hahahaha
    I Guess It’s Because Of The Year It Came Out.
    1983 Remains My Favorite Year In Movie History!!!
    “Krull”, “Blue Thunder”, “Lone Wolf McQuade”, “Return Of The Jedi”, Need I Continue?!?! 😉


  2. Oh man, great write-up. There is just so much wrong with this movie it’s hard to know where to start. I’m definitely keeping an eye on this site, good luck in the Lammys, I think you sold me on funniest writer, though I have to choose which one of you to vote for.


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