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Superman II



Witty, action-packed superadventure with big themes.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

Intended to entertain, not educate.

Positive messages

Good and bad are clearly defined. Superman wins the day by lying to Lex Luthor and the Kryptonian supervillains (knowing that Luthor's pledge to not reveal a secret was, in itself, a lie). Some underlying messages about love and relationships weakening a man, but this is not explicit.

Positive role models

Superman is the ultimate superhero role model -- sacrificing himself for the greater good.

Violence & scariness

Lois is nearly crushed to death. Superman undergoes a creepy-looking change (with muscles and skeleton visible) when he sacrifices his powers for Lois. Younger viewers might be disturbed when the powerless Clark Kent is bested by a roadside bully, resulting in a bloody nose. Superman has several encounters with villains, the most notable being his battle with the trio from Krypton, which leaves much of Metropolis destroyed. Not many casualties are viewed, with the exception of a snake who is burnt, and a little boy who receives the same treatment (offscreen) for trying to warn authorities about the trio's threat.

Sexy stuff

Lois and Clark consummate their relationship, but it's discreetly depicted.

Not applicable

Tie-in to vast quantities of related merchandise.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Superman II is a sequel to the 1978 live-action film and is heads and shoulders above the original. Witty and fast-paced, a playful sense of humor pervades this superhero saga. School-age kids respond to both the action and the sympathetic portrait of the nerdy Clark Kent. Although they'll be repelled by the primitive-looking special effects, preteens respond well to the flippant humor and fast pace. They're also able to comprehend Superman's "sacrifice" for love. Teen and older viewers enjoy the movie's irreverent attitude towards many hallmarks of the Man of Steel mythos, while also appreciating the "date" between Lois and Clark. This film does, however, deal with mature themes of world domination, crime, love, heroism, sacrifice.

What's the story?

In SUPERMAN II, three treasonous villains from Krypton who have been serving a prison sentence are set free by a chance hydrogen bomb blast. Meanwhile, Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) realizes that her timid coworker Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) is actually Superman. Superman takes her to his Fortress of Solitude retreat to celebrate (and consummate) their love. Per Kryptonian law, he gives up his superpowers when he consummates his relationship. Meanwhile, the Kryptonian supervillians take over a town and proclaim their dominion over Earth. Superman returns to the Fortress to restore his powers, and then battles the trio, who are now being advised by Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) who has escaped his own prison sentence. After the trio smash most of Metropolis, they are outwitted by Superman, who chooses to retain his powers despite his love for Lois.

Is it any good?


Superman II is the most entertaining and exciting live-action Superman adventure. It delivers plenty of slam-bang action, a hearty dose of amusing sight gags, and a wonderfully endearing take on our hero's love life. Top-notch scripting and direction elevate this sequel above other depictions of the Man of Steel, with the exception of the later WB animated series.

The major failing of Superman was its emphasis on preliminaries -- an extended origin story, sketching of the central characters, and a delineation of our hero's superpowers. Superman II cuts to the chase by introducing the cast of supervillains and getting Lois and Superman together right away. The key elements distinguishing Superman II are its whimsical sense of humor and excellent pacing.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what they value most in life and what they would sacrifice for it. What would they do in Superman's shoes?

  • How is this movie different from the original? Which do you think is better?

  • Why do you think Superman has to sacrifice his powers to be with Lois?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1981
DVD/Streaming release date:May 1, 2001
Cast:Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder
Directors:Richard Donner, Richard Lester
Studio:Warner Bros.
Topics:Superheroes, Adventures
Character strengths:Courage
Run time:127 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mature themes.

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Parent Written bymammabear September 5, 2010

Language is an issue!

In the Police scene there were 5 bad words and the Lord's name was taken in vain once. I was really disappointed because I looked it up and it said that language was not an issue.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old June 5, 2014


They say words like a*s, b***h, and d**n. Also, Lois and Clark having sex? No thanks.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent of a 13 year old Written byohya August 9, 2010

very good movie

never watch superman returns
What other families should know
Too much violence