Margot Kidder Christopher Reeves Superman IIIChristopher Reeves Superman III Snow Chalet in ManhattenRichard Pryor and Christopher Reeves Superman IIIChristopher Reeves Superman IIITime Magazine Christopher Reeves Superman IIIPamela Stephenson  and Robert Vaughn Superman IIIChristopher Reeves Superman IIIChristopher Reeves Superman IIIPamela Stephenson Superman IIIAnnette O'Toole Superman IIIPamela Stephenson Superman IIIChristopher Reeves Superman IIIChristopher Reeves Superman IIIRobert Vaughn Superman IIIPamela Stephenson Superman IIIPamela Stephenson Superman IIIChristopher Reeves Superman IIIChristopher Reeves Superman III

Superman III

Superman III Poster

Superman Fights Technology and Enormous Computers

Warner Brothers released June 17, 1983
Opening weekend earnings: $13,352,357 (USA)
Total gross: $59,950,623 (USA)

Directed by Richard Lester

Superman Frustrated and angry

Superman III is either an atrocious train-wreck of a movie or it's a strangely brilliant series of goofy sketches.

The critical opinion since the film's release in 1983 is that it is a pretty bad movie: disconnected story-telling, filler scenes that do not do anything vis-a-vis the plot and then trapped in all of this are good actors doing what they do as if it could overcome the shroud of lousiness pervading the movie.

Not that the film is not highly watchable: there are many story ideas here which get mangled up in the telling (or maybe just didn't belong, adding to the krazy-quilt story structure) but create a Plan 9 from Outer Space feeling to someof the proceedings..

The budget on this superhero film must've been massive: there are gigantic scenes and 1983-circa special effects that are impressive in that context. Richard Pryor is funny and earnest; Christopher Reeve plays Superman like nobody else (in fact he plays two Supermen in this movie - - one good and one gone bad which brings about a strange duel with himself in a junkyard); and then there's all the other eye candy director Richard Lester throws up on screen, especially the scene of a snow-villa penthouse with ski-ramp atop a skyscraper in summer-time Metropolis, the lair of villain Ross Webster (played by Robert Vaughn).

Vaughn doesn't have much to do except play a kind of reversioned Lex Luther, and Pamela Stephenson and Annie Ross are more or less replacements for the same type of roles that were done by Valerie Perrine and Maria Schell in the earlier Superman films from director Richard Donner.

Chris Reeve Superman III

[Below] Superman II has Christopher Reeve getting soused in a bar.
Superman Goes Bad

[Below] By Superman III Chris Reeve was an old pro with hanging suspended from wires, but I wonder how Richard Pryor took to it?
Richard Pryor and Christopher Reeve

One of the features in this 1983 film is the meant-to-impress computer technology. It's museum stuff now, but at the time of the film's release it was a peek at an ultra-modern high-tech universe most people had little to do with. Large buttons, whirring reel-to-reel tape, and an undefined ability of the equipment to do just about anything via electric computation has more of a 1950s feel that later 20th century. The limitations of computer technology has become the 21st century experience of nearly everyone since the advent of personal computers in the later 1980s, but in this 1983 film, though, the computer was still an unlimited idea with god-like powers.

After the (relatively) high standards set in Superman and Superman II, seeing Superman III it is a revelation in how a movie studio can lose its head. So many of the elements are the same, yet handled so badly.

Margot Kidder and Chris Reeve Superman 3

[Below] Superman faces off with actress Pamela Stephenson.

Superman III Pamela Stephenson

Pamela Stephenson

Pamela STephenson and the Critique of Pure Reason

Richard Pryor Superman III

Get a good look at Pryor's wrist-watch in the first image of technology images from the film here.

Margot Kidder Superman III

Superman III CHristopher Reeve

[Below] Christopher Reeve fights a bad "super" computer in Superman III
Superman versus a computer

Mad Magazine Superman III

[Above] Mad Magazine Superman III Parody Cover

[Below] Christopher Reeve fixes the Tower of Pissa in Superman III
Tower Pissa Superman III

The Money

For comparison: Superman III made a great deal of money in 1983 terms. Here's a list of the top twenty movies from 1983 (based on the Box Office Mojo records online):

  1. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi - Lucasfilm/Fox $475,106,177
  2. Terms of Endearment - Paramount $108,423,489
  3. Flashdance - Paramount $92,921,203
  4. Trading Places - Paramount $90,404,800
  5. WarGames - MGM/UA $79,567,667
  6. Octopussy - MGM/UA $67,893,619
  7. Sudden Impact - Warner Bros. $67,642,693
  8. Staying Alive - $64,892,670
  9. Mr. Mom - Fox $64,783,827
  10. Risky Business - Warner Bros. $63,541,777
  11. National Lampoon's Vacation - Warner Bros. $61,399,552
  12. Superman III - Warner Bros. $59,950,623
  13. The Big Chill - Columbia Pictures $56,342,711
  14. Never Say Never Again - $55,432,841
  15. Jaws 3-D - Universal Studios$45,517,055
  16. Scarface - Universal Studios $44,668,798
  17. Blue Thunder - Columbia Pictures $42,313,354
  18. Yentl - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $40,218,899
  19. Silkwood - 20th Century Fox $35,615,609
  20. Psycho II - Universal Studios $34,725,000

Superman III - Amazon Watch Now
Superman III Poster

Pamela Stephenson Promo Still from Superman III

Pamela Stephenson Superman III Promo Still

Superman III Pryor and Stephenson

Pamela Stephenson

Christopher Reeves Superman III

Pamela Stephenson Superman 3 atop the Liberty Statue



Lois Lane

Man of Steel - Superman Reboot film 2013

The Superman Copyright Wars Legal Case

Superman Movies

Movie Review: Superman III

Superman III and the Technology of 1983

Man of Steel - 2013 Zach Snyder Movie

Superman Detritus

Mad Magazine Cover Parody of Superman III

Superman 50 year Birthday Time Magazine Spread John Byrne Art

Superman 50 year Birthday Cover Time Magazine 1988

Superman USPS Stamp

Superman and Popeye and the problem of "Green"

Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman by Darwyn Cooke

Action Comics

Action Comics #1, June 1938, First appearance of Superman, Art Joe Shuster

Action Comics #409, Feb 1972, Nick Cardy Cover

Action Comics #847, April 2007, Renato Guedes Cover

Action Comics #850, July 2007, Renato Guedes Supergirl Cover

Action Comics #858, Dec 2007, Legion of Super-Heroes

Action Comics #858, Dec 2007, Gary Frank art Page A

Action Comics #858, Dec 2007, Gary Frank art Page B

Action Comics #861, Mar 2008, Gary Frank cover

Action Comics #864, June 2008, Cover by Kevin Maguire

Action Comics #869, Nov 2008, Gary Frank Page A

Action Comics #869, Nov 2008, Gary Frank Page B

Superman Comics

Superman #30, Sep-Oct 1944, Jack Burnley Lois Lane/Clark Kent cover

Superman #277, July 1974, Cover by Nick Cardy (and Neal Adams)

Superman #279, Sep 1974, Batgirl cover by Nick Cardy

Superman 23.1, Nov 2013, Aaron Kuder Bizarro cover

Limited Collector Edition

Limited Collector's Edition C-52, 1977, Superman Dying - Curt Swan Splash

Limited Collector's Edition C-52, 1977, Superman Dying - Curt Swan page 1

Limited Collector's Edition C-52, 1977, Superman Dying - Curt Swan page 2

Limited Collector's Edition C-52, 1977, Superman Dying - Curt Swan page 3

Superman Confidential

Review: Superman Confidential #5, June 2007

Review: Superman Confidential #1, Jan 2006

Superman Confidential #1, Jan 2006, Tim Sale Cover Page

Superman Confidential #5, June 2007, Tim Sale and Darwyn Cooke

Superman Confidential #5, June 2007, Tim Sale and Darwyn Cooke

Superman Confidential #11, March 2008, Tim Sale and Darwyn Cooke


Superboy #123, Sept 1965, Curse of the Superboy Mummy - Curt Swan

Superboy #194, April 1973, Nick Cardy 'Merman' Art

Countdown Arena

Countdown Arena #1, Feb 2008, Page by Scott McDanial

Superman Miscellaneous

Superman Float - Macy's Parade 1939 Thanksgiving Holiday Parade in New York City

Top Earning World Wide Superhero Films

List Updated Sept 14, 2017

Ranked by World Wide Earnings

*Currently in release in movie theatres

  1. The Avengers (2012 Marvel Studios) $1,511,757,910 Billion
  2. Avengers Age of Ultron (2015 Marvel Studios) $1.402 Billion
  3. Iron Man 3 (2013 Marvel Studios) $1,212,795,474 Billion
  4. Captain America Civil War: $1,153,294,011
  5. Dark Knight Rises (2012 Warners) 1,081,036,828 Billion
  6. The Dark Knight (2008 Warners Bros) $1,004,558,444 Billion
  7. Spiderman 3 (2007 Sony) $890.9 Million
  8. Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice (Warners 2016) $872,662,631
  9. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017 Marvel-Disney) $863,365,406 Worldwide
  10. Spider-Man: Homecoming (Sony 2017) $823,973,588

12. Wonder Woman (2017 Warners) $816,501,312 Million

55. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017 STX Entertainment) $89,362,969 Worldwide

60. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017 Fox) - $104,685,194 worldwide

Original Page October 10, 2008 | Updated Aug 2016