Superman agrees to sacrifice his powers to start a relationship with Lois Lane, unaware that three Kryptonian criminals he inadvertently released are conquering Earth.


Richard Lester, Richard Donner (uncredited)


Jerry Siegel (character created by: Superman), Joe Shuster (character created by: Superman) | 4 more credits »
3,689 ( 407)
3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Gene Hackman ... Lex Luthor
Christopher Reeve ... Superman / Clark Kent
Ned Beatty ... Otis
Jackie Cooper ... Perry White
Sarah Douglas ... Ursa
Margot Kidder ... Lois Lane
Jack O'Halloran ... Non
Valerie Perrine ... Eve Teschmacher
Susannah York ... Lara
Clifton James ... Sheriff
E.G. Marshall ... The President
Marc McClure ... Jimmy Olsen
Terence Stamp ... General Zod
Leueen Willoughby ... Leueen
Robin Pappas Robin Pappas ... Alice


Picking up where "Superman: The Movie" left off, three criminals, General Zod (Terence Stamp), Ursa, (Sarah Douglas), and Non (Jack O'Halloran) from the planet Krypton are released from the Phantom Zone by a nuclear explosion in space. They descend upon Earth where they could finally rule. Superman, meanwhile, is in love with Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), who finds out who he really is. Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) escapes from prison and is determined to destroy Superman by joining forces with the three criminals. Written by Keith Howley <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Man of Steel is back, and better than ever! See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for sequences of action violence, some language and brief mild sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Henry Fonda was the front runner for the major cameo role of the U.S. President. Instead, his 12 Angry Men (1957) co-star, E.G. Marshall got the role. See more »


The villains are supposed to be impervious to pain, but Ursa flinches and grabs her hand when bitten by the snake. See more »


[first lines]
Krypton guard: Alert, alert, alert.
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Crazy Credits

Opening credits incorporate an extensive amount of footage from the first Superman movie. See more »

Alternate Versions

The Canadian version has scenes not in the ABC version:
  • A little girl watching the destruction of East Houston by the Kryptonians on TV.
  • Longer conversation between Lois and Superman after he destroys the Fortress of Solitude.
  • Lex Luthor taking Perry White's coffee during the Times Square battle.
  • Lex and Eve Teschmacher admiring the Fortress of Solitude.
  • Lex's negotiating with Superman after they leave the fortress is longer.
See more »


Version of Superman (1978) See more »


Pick Up the Pieces
Written by Roger Ball, Hamish Stuart and Average White Band (as The Average White Band)
Performed by Average White Band (as The Average White Band)
Courtesy of Atlantic Records
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User Reviews

A strange and uneven mix of a film that is entertaining if you can forgive the fact that it is a bit messy and shoddy at times
4 August 2006 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

His close relationship with Lois Lane as both Clark Kent and Superman is putting strain on our hero; she has feelings for him and he has feelings for her although she only likes one half of his personality (although she doesn't realise this). However one thing Lois can rely on is the Superman is always there to help her. So when she is looking into terrorists with a hydrogen bomb Superman comes to the rescue and throws it into space where it safely explodes. Unknown to him though, the nuclear blast frees the prisoners imprisoned in Krypton and blasted into space for eternity. So while Superman and Lois are making cooing noises at one another, General Zod and his colleagues arrive on Earth with crime on their mind to find that have super powers thanks to the power of the Sun.

I'm not sure why this film is such an uneven affair but I assume that the change of directors far into the film's production is the cause of the majority of this film's problems. By this I am referring to the messy delivery the whole film has. On a narrative level we seem to jump around between threads and themes – an effect not helped by the poor continuity across the whole (caused by bits being shot much later than other bits). More than the narrative jumps is the problem with the tone of the film. It veers wildly throughout; one moment being a tragic bit about Superman becoming human, the next a load of funny lines in a comic scene. It has a weird effect on the film as a whole because it did make me feel like I was watching two different movies rammed together into one (which in essence I suppose I was). Despite the mix not really working, individual moments are generally good. The comedy, drama, "humanity" and action are mostly fun and enjoyable even it is hard to overlook the mess of them all being rammed together.

The cast deal with it quite well because most of them are put into boxes for each scene. Reeve has the hardest job because he must cope with comedy, drama and action. Despite me never being a big fan of his, he does well with his individual scenes even if he cannot hold them together into one flow. I've never liked Kidder that much and she isn't that good here even if she does do the job. Stamp is marvellously camp and OTT throughout the film and his performance is enjoyable (albeit maybe not for the reasons he meant it to be). He is support by Willoughby (sexy when I was a child) and O'Halloran (fun and contributes with a good presence and comic touch). Hackman exists in the comedy part of the film and he loves it – producing a performance that genuinely uplifts the film with only a few scenes and effortlessly produces a feeling of fun that such a film needs.

Overall then this is not a great film but it is a generally entertaining one. The mishmash of tones and material is jarring but individually they sort of work. The cast helps because the serious bits are carried by the performances but it is hard not to wiggle with pleasure when Stamp and Hackman come onto the screen to liven things up with some silly fun.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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USA | UK | Canada | France


English | French | Russian

Release Date:

19 June 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Superman II See more »

Filming Locations:

London Underground See more »


Box Office


$54,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$14,100,523, 21 June 1981

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (Richard Donner Cut)

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (MegaSound encoding) (70 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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