Superman III

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Superman III Movie Poster Image
Outdated superhero movie may interest older kids.
  • PG
  • 1983
  • 125 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 18 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie's scene-stealing guest star, Richard Pryor is thieving and helping the bad guys one minute, admiring and helping Superman the next. Rendered "sick" by imperfectly synthesized kryptonite, a surly, evil Superman commits mischief, vandalism, and causes an oil slick. There's a clear victory for the "good" half of his personality, though.

Violence & Scariness

Strenuous fighting between super-beings, but no blood. Missiles and lighting bolts are repeatedly fired at Superman. Jimmy Olsen falls, suffers a fracture. One character is turned into a Borg-like cyborg, but reverts to normal.

Sexy Stuff

A villain's girlfriend/mistress is usually in tight, revealing clothing. Superman, slightly warped by Kryptonite, spends the night with her.


A few curse words.


Tie-in to vast quantities of related merchandise. Lots of product labels appear, including Kentucky Fried Chicken. An attack on Superman literally turns into a vintage Atari video game.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The `evil' Superman gets drunk right in front of the shocked citizens of Metropolis. Another character, described as a washed-up high-school athlete, is perpetually sloshed and hostile. In both cases, these activities are disapproved of. However, Gus Gorman gets comically drunk (and tricks a guard into a drunken stupor) to gain access to a computer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Richard Pryor's Gus Gorman is as much of the main character in this movie as Superman. Therefore, expect some of the "loveable" con-artist antics that made Pryor famous in his R-rated films, including drunkenness, theft, avoiding honest work, and even letting a swear word slip out. It's all suitably rendered PG-mild, though.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJoseph Malone August 20, 2020

Criminally underated movie

Such a cruel and pedestrian review. The movie did create a careable and interesting character in Richard Pryor. His lines funny provided the comic relief missed... Continue reading
Adult Written byDarkseid March 30, 2020

A movie that makes little sense in this computer age, but ideas remain good for characters.

The movie was not great, but still a good one for he kids to learn from. SPOILERS We blamed the odd behavior on the not correct Kryptonite having a not correct... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byTwotacos2 October 4, 2019

Scarred me for life

Okay I was young like 6 or7 maybe 8. I thought I was mature enough to watch it begged my parents for days. I saw the women get turned into a robot and it legit... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old March 15, 2016

Fun Movie, But sometimes violent, goofy and cartoony.

I have mixed thoughts about this movie. The preformence from Christopher Reeve as Superman is still great, but, questionable choice making Richard Pryor in this... Continue reading

What's the story?

Computer genius Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) goes from grunt to a much higher position at a large firm when his greedy boss, Ross Webster (Robert Vaughn), promotes him. In his new position as a hacker, Gorman's job is to create worldwide disasters that will allow Webster to control coffee and oil markets. Since only Superman (Christopher Reeve) can stop this, Webster assigns Gorman to figure out a way to kill Superman. Meanwhile, Clark Kent is visiting his hometown of Smallville for a high-school reunion. He rekindles a friendship with Lana Lang (Annette O'Toole), now a divorced, struggling single mother. The two have something that looks like an incipient romance, and Clark becomes a father-figure for Lang's boy, who, of course, needs rescuing by Superman now and then. Meanwhile, Gus Gorman creates a synthetic kryptonite in hopes it will finally put an end to Superman. It's flawed, however, and instead of destroying Superman it causes personality change, bringing out Superman's selfish, morose, and evil aspects.

Is it any good?

Though it's not up to the first Superman: The Movie, this installment isn't an embarrassment, and there are some intriguing elements. Reeve, who fought a never-ending battle against movie critics over how good an actor he really was, is especially noteworthy here, hardening his eyes and tightening his jaw and making this Mr. Hyde-Superman callous, unshaven, and homicidal. Edgy comedian Richard Pryor brings his typical screen persona, a rebellious urban petty hustler, somewhat jarringly, into Metropolis.

Computer knowledge and data technology in this film are pretty much a kind of awesome, omnipotent magic, a recurring and amusing cliche in movies of this time, and viewers may wince or giggle at the inaccurate depictions of computer technology.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the splitting up of Superman's "good" and "evil" sides; who ever thought Superman would have a dark side at all? What could the Man of Steel have going on inside to be frustrated and angry about? If you're hip to DC comics, you can talk with kids about how Batman is often described as the dark version of Superman, and take the philosophizing from there.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate