Supergirl is a 1984 superhero film directed by Jeannot Szwarc, and stars Helen Slater in her first motion picture role in the title role of the DC Comics superheroine Supergirl. Faye Dunaway (who received top billing) played the primary villain, Selena. The film was a spin-off from the Salkinds' Superman film series which starred Christopher Reeve. The movie also featured Marc McClure reprising his role as Jimmy Olsen from the Superman films.
The film failed to impress critics and audiences. Helen Slater, however, was nominated for a Saturn Award for her performance by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. The film does contain some expansions on the Superman movie mythology, such as taking the viewer into the Phantom Zone itself (in the first two Superman films, it was merely represented by a spinning square mirror). The story uses sorcery (a noted Superman weakness, but less commonly utilized than kryptonite) as a counter attack on Supergirl.
Released on video over the years by different companies, the film's first DVD release was by the independent home video company Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2000, under license from StudioCanal. Warner Bros. recently acquired the rights to the film and reissued it on DVD late in 2006 to coincide with the reissues on DVD of the other Superman films. Although it is related to the Superman films produced between 1978 and 1987 with Christopher Reeve, it is not included in any of Warner Bros.' Superman DVD box set collections released in 2006.
Kara Zor-El (Slater) lives in an isolated Kryptonian community called
, in a pocket of trans-dimensional space. Zaltar (O'Toole) allows Kara to see a unique item known as the Omegahedron, which he has borrowed without the knowledge of the city government, and which has immense power. However, after a mishap, the Omegahedron (which also powers the city) is sucked out into space. Kara follows it to Earth in an effort to recover it and save the city, which will die without it. Argo City
On Earth, the Omegahedron is recovered by Selena (Dunaway), a power-hungry would-be witch, who quickly realizes that it can be used to allow her to perform real magical spells. On the radio, Selena hears that Superman has just left on a peace-seeking mission to another galaxy. Kara, now dressed as Supergirl, arrives on Earth and discovers her powers. Following the path of the Omegahedron, she takes the name Linda Lee, identifies herself as the cousin of
Clark , and enrolls at an all-girls school. Supergirl and Selena are both enamored by Ethan, who works as a groundskeeper at the school. After Selena misuses the Omegahedron to make herself a "princess of Earth", she drugs Ethan with a potion to make him love her and serve as her consort. Supergirl rescues Ethan and he falls in love with her instead. Kent
Supergirl and Selena repeatedly battle in various ways, until Selena uses her powers to put Supergirl in an "eternal void" known as the Phantom Zone. Here, stripped of her powers, she wanders the bleak landscape and nearly drowns in an oily bog. Yet she finds help in Zaltar, who is also in the Phantom Zone after going into self-imposed exile for losing the Omegahedron. Zaltar sacrifices his life to allow Supergirl to escape. Back on Earth, she regains her powers and defeats Selena. Ethan admits his love for Kara, but knows it is possible he may never see her again and understands she must save
. The final scene shows Kara returning to a darkened Argo City , which promptly lights up again. Argo City
- Faye Dunaway as Selena
- Helen Slater as Kara Zor-El / Linda Lee / Supergirl
- Peter O'Toole as Zaltar
- Mia Farrow as Alura
- Brenda Vaccaro as Bianca
- Peter Cook as Nigel
- Simon Ward as Zor-El
- Marc McClure as Jimmy Olsen
- Hart Bochner as Ethan
- Maureen Teefy as
- David Healy as Mr. Danvers
- Sandra Dickinson as The Pretty Young Lady
Christopher Reeve was slated to have a cameo as Superman, but bowed out early on.Director Jeannot Szwarc said in the Superman documentary "You Will Believe..." that his involvement in this film would have given the feature higher credibility and he admitted he wished Reeve had made a contribution to the film's production. A publicity photo of him as Superman, however, did appear as a poster in Lucy and Linda's shared dorm room.
Marc McClure makes his fourth of five appearances in the Superman films. He is the only actor to appear in all five films. Demi Moore auditioned for, and was cast as character
Lucy Lane, but bowed out to make the film Blame It on Rio. Maureen Teefy was signed instead.
Upon gaining the film rights for Superman, Alexander Salkind and his son, Ilya, also purchased the rights to the character of Supergirl, should any sequel or spin-off occur. The first major casting choices for the movie were Dolly Parton as Selena, and Melanie Griffith or Brooke Shields as Kara/Supergirl. These were Ilya Salkind's top choices but they were ultimately rejected by both Alexander and the film's director, Jeannot Szwarc, who wanted an unknown actress. In an interview taped to promote the original Anchor Bay DVD release of the film, Ilya Salkind stated that he thought Shields was the better choice. Dolly Parton turned down the role of Selena and a reported $7 million dollar salary, later stating that she couldn't play a witch no matter what amount was being offered. Goldie Hawn and Jane Fonda turned the role down before Faye Dunaway accepted.
Dudley Moore had been offered $4 million to portray Zaltar, but turned the offer down. However,
found himself working with the same producers and director the following year on Santa Claus: The Movie. At Moore 's suggestion, his former TV partner Peter Cook was cast in the movie as Nigel. John Travolta was approached to play Ethan, as was former Spider-Man actor Nicholas Hammond. Moore
Although the Salkinds financed the film completely on their own budget, Warner Bros. were still involved in the production as the studio owned the distribution rights to the film and its parent company, Warner Communications, was also the parent company of DC Comics, which held the original copyright. The entire film was shot, edited and overseen under the supervision of Warner Bros. However, shortly before the film's original Summer 1984 premiere date, Warner Bros. dropped the film in the
due to the disappointing critical and financial performance of Superman III the year before. The film proceeded to be released overseas, however, and received a Royal Film Premiere in the U.S. in July 1984. United Kingdom
The whimsical, soaring score for Supergirl was composed and conducted by veteran composer Jerry Goldsmith, who had been the initial interest of director Richard Donner to compose for the first Superman film. Goldsmith used a number of techniques to identify the music to the film, such as synthesizers simulating the sounds of take-off during the main theme. The soundtrack has been released twice, through Varèse Sarabande in 1985 and an extended version through Silva Screen in 1993. It has also been referred by critics as one of the only redeeming qualities of the movie.
1985 Varèse Sarabande Album
- "Main Title" ()
- "'Where Is She?'" ()
- "Black Magic" ()
- "First Flight" ()
- "The Butterfly" ()
- "'Where Is Linda?'" ()
- "The Monster Tractor" ()
- "The Bracelet" ()
- "Monster Storm" ()
- "A New School" ()
- "The Flying Car" ()
- "The Map" ()
- "9M-3" ()
- "End Title" ()
1993 Silva Screen Album
- "Overture" ()
" () Main Title & Argo City
- "Argo City Mall" (0:56)
- "The Butterfly" ()
- "The Journey Begins" ()
- "Arrival on Earth/Flying Ballet" ()
Lights/Street Attack" () Chicago
- "The Superman Poster" (0:52)
- "A New School" ()
- "The Map" ()
- "Ethan Spellbound" ()
- "The Monster Tractor" ()
- "Flying Ballet - Alternate Version" ()
- "The Map - Alternate Version" ()
- "The Bracelet" ()
- "First Kiss/The Monster Storm" ()
- "'Where Is She'/The Monster Bumper Cars" ()
- "The Flying Bumper Car" ()
- "'Where's Linda?'" ()
- "Black Magic" ()
- "The Phantom Zone" ()
- "The Vortex/The End of Zaltar" ()
- "The Final Showdown & Victory/End Title - Short Version" ()
In the U.S. Supergirl was later picked up by TriStar Pictures for holiday release in November 1984, though Tri-Star executives decided to edit the film for its North American release, cutting it from 124 minutes to 105 minutes. Critical reviews in the U.S. were poor, and although the film took the #1 slot at the North American box-office during its opening weekend, it is widely considered to be a box office bomb after making only $14 million in North America.
The film has since been released several times on home video, laserdisc, and DVD. In 1990, the 105 minute version of the film was re-released on VHS by Avid Home Entertainment. By the mid-1990s, the rights to the film were acquired by Pueblo Film Licensing (successor-in-interest to the Salkind production company) and French production company StudioCanal and Anchor Bay Entertainment had assumed the video rights. For their DVD release in 2000, two versions were issued. The first of these was a 2-disc "Limited Edition" set (limited to 50,000 copies only) featuring the 124-minute "International Version" (never seen in the U.S.), along with a 138-minute "director's cut", which had been discovered in StudioCanal's archives. The second version was a single-disc version featuring the 124-minute "International Version". The "Director's Cut" DVD was made from the last print known to exist of the cut, which was apparently prepared for release before the film was edited into its various versions. In 2002,
re-issued the 138 minute "Director's Cut" separately. Anchor Bay
Material that was cut for the 105 minute version of the film included the
opening, which was originally longer. Another cut scene is known as the "flying ballet". As Supergirl arrives on Earth, she is surprised to find herself capable of almost anything, especially flying. She can use her super-strength to crack rocks into dust, and use her heat-ray vision to help flowers grow. Argo City
Scenes concerning Selena, Bianca, and Nigel were also trimmed. In the
version, Selena's introduction was merely a few lines long when the Omegahedron lands on Earth, and Selena takes it for use of magic. The full introduction establishes Selena as an impatient witch, who is sick of her mentor and lover, Nigel, who is himself, a warlock. Later scenes not seen before the 2000 DVD release from Anchor Bay Entertainment, include Selena using the Omegahedron for the first time, and realizing that she has no control of herself when under its influence. Selena later throws a party for all her followers, and deleted material shows Nigel insulting Selena after being dismissed. Nigel then gets friendly with another party member, whom Selena pulls a vicious magical prank on. U.S.
Other scenes involve Linda Lee making a temporary home in the city of Midvale, Illinois, an extended version of the tractor sequence in which the possessed machine runs amok on the Midvale streets and kills a civilian. Another cut scene was a clarification that proved Supergirl possessed her cousin's known vulnerabilities and limitations as well as his known superhuman powers: she cannot see where the Omegahedron is hidden because Selena keeps it in a container made out of lead. The Phantom Zone scenes are also longer.
The 2006 DVD release by Warner Home Video, whose parent company, Warner Bros., is the current rights holder to the Superman movies, is the International Edition, also called the "European Theatrical Edition".
The original 150 minute version is rumored still to be out there, in the vaults where all the Superman movie elements are (where they found lost footage which was used in Richard Donner's version of Superman II as well.)
Much of the deleted material appeared in DC Comics's one-shot comic book adaptation of the film, primarily the scenes that fleshed out Selena's character.
Broadcast Television Version
As previously mentioned, the American theatrical cut for Supergirl ran at 105 minutes. Supergirl originally ran at 124 minutes in its European version. HBO, who was unhappy with the pan-and-scan transfer that U.S.A. Home Video had done, ordered distributor TriStar Pictures to create a new pan-and-scan print for its cable showings. After it reached network television in 1987, ABC edited the movie down to 92 minutes. The 92 minute version that aired on ABC would become the version aired in syndication (as well as superstations such as TBS and WGN) by Viacom (as part of a Superman movie package that had included Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace until Warner Bros. took back the rights). Syndicated TV versions, though said to be the 105 minute version, includes the full "flying ballet" sequence from the international version.
The broadcast television version has a scene not seen in either laserdisc edition: After Selena's defeat, Nigel is standing on the street. He bends over to pick up the Coffer of Shadows, now restored to its original, small size and decides to keep it as a memento. In another broadcast-only scene, after Supergirl flies off to return to
, Ethan gets into his truck. He then, stops to say goodbye to Lucy and Jimmy. Argo City
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