Supergirl (1984) Movie Review

details
Title: Supergirl.
Rated: PG.
Director: Jeannot Szwarc.
Screenplay by: David Odell.
Release Date: 1984.
Runtime:  124 min.
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi.
Cast: Helen Slater, Faye Dunaway, Peter O’Toole, Mia Farrow, Brenda Vaccaro, and many more!
Budget: $35,000,000 (estimated).
Opening Weekend (US & Canada): $5,738,249.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

Within the Christopher Reeve’s Superman saga:
Superman Extended TV Cut (1978).
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (2006).
Superman III (1983).
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).

thoughts

Who wouldn’t be tempted to expand on an iconic superhero’s lore by creating a spin-off for another superhero? Even more so when the success of the first two movies could justify the wild idea of a whole universe where multiple superheroes could co-exist together? Although the idea of a universe, and later, that of a multiverse, would only truly come to fruition in the next millennium, Alexander and Ilya Salkind sought to the purchase of the rights to Supergirl who would thus go on to receive her own spin-off under the direction of Jeannot Szwarc to Christopher Reeve’s Superman saga. Although set after the disastrous Superman III (1983) movie, only Marc McClure would reprise his role as Jimmy Olsen. Unfortunately, one could not expect this latest super-adventure to be up to par with Superman (1978) or Superman II (1980) but a demonstration of a catastrophic degradation first observed with Superman III (1983) and epitomized by Superman IV (1987).

What is Supergirl (1984) about? On Argo City, in a pocket of trans-dimensional space, lives a small colony of Kryptonians who survived the infamous disaster that their home planet had encountered. There lives Kara Zor-El, cousin of Superman, who discovers the purpose of the Omegahedron, which assures the survival of their city. A reckless accident, however, sends the power source straight to Earth, bringing Kara to carelessly follow after it on the only ship available. On this journey, she transforms into Supergirl and lands near an all-girl school where she uses her new secret identity as Linda Lee to befriend humans, including Lucy Lane (younger sister to Lois Lane), and tries to track down the orb that is now in the hands of a negligent witch.

helen slater gif Tumblr posts - Tumbral.com

You’d think that they put in more effort into the screenplay to avoid creating a blasphemous spin-off that could never take off without help (help otherwise seen in the very visible suspension cords that they didn’t bother hiding with Supergirl despite twice the budget allocated to this movie than Superman III). If the prelude set in Argo City wasn’t a warning for what was to come, rest assured that there is a myriad of instances throughout this movie that would urge you to dig your nails deep into your thighs trying to comprehend the direction of this movie. While there’s a clear crisis pointed out from the beginning with a whole community on the brink of extinction due to Kara and a man named Zaltar’s foolishness, the story dramatically shifts its tone to neglect the problem at hand to explore inconsequential subplots, whether it would be her séjour in a high school context or her ridiculous love story with a man who turns out forcefully (through magic) in love with her.

On one hand, looking at this movie as an attempt to explore a feminist agenda, it is clear that it fails beyond measure as the core narrative falls backward, into a pile of nonsense, where women senselessly use their powers to gain control over one man. On the other hand, looking at this movie as an origin story like any other, it messily puts together a series of uninspiring events that haphazardly forces Supergirl to try and save the day. Nevertheless, her naive and thoughtless behaviour leaves numerous plot holes unresolved within this story where, oftentimes, she puts her identity at risk and could have easily flipped the world on its head and ruined everything in place for Superman (which would have probably forced him into flying around the world to reverse time for the third time in another movie that never saw daylight).

1984 dc comics kara GIF - Find on GIFER

Given that this movie isn’t a comedy, it does effortlessly become a perfect guide of how to make a box office bomb. As much as one would love to say that Jerry Goldsmith’s score might have helped constrain criticism towards this movie, the task is insurmountable. It can be argued that Helen Slater (who later ends up playing Supergirl’s mother in the CW Arrowverse show) was a visually excellent choice for the titular Supergirl role, there is no way that anyone could defend the terrible acting performances by most of the main actors in this movie, with Faye Dunaway and Peter O’Toole delivering some of the worse performances out there. If anything, we at least know that the movie’s budget was mostly retained to get these actors rather than to work on the editing or CGI that this movie required. No wonder this spin-off is usually best left alone, isolated from everyone’s memory, banished in the dark corners of the multiverse.

Supergirl (1984) is a foolish, disgracious, and pointless origin story lacking raison d’etre, narrative reasoning, and heart.


EXHIBITA
Supergirl (1984) is available for purchase and on select streaming services.

Have you read any Supergirl comics?
Have you seen Supergirl (1984)? Will you? What did you think about it?
Share your thoughts with me!

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33 comments

  • I’ve never seen this movie but I do remember reading the “book” WITH MOVIE PICTURES (and yes, that actually in caps on the cover) that was an abridged version. Even my young self could tell this was an abomination, so I was never tempted to try it. And after Superman IV I just didn’t have the heart to even try just to complete the cycle.

    I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a half-star from you before. Is this the first one?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know how you do it with movies-turned-into-books. In this case, though, I think reading it without ever having seen the movie would have actually made it better in some ways hahaha As a completionist, I wouldn’t even want to wish it upon any other completionist to check Supergirl (1984) out. I mean… sure… I did survive Catwoman, which was the only other DC-related movie that got half a star from me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ahhh, so catwomen got a 1/2star too? Funny that both are spinoffs of DC’s biggest franchises 😉

        At some point I am sure I will watch Supergirl, but I don’t know when that tipping point will be. Maybe next year, hahahahaa.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yep… They’re both blasphemous in their own way… Steel and Jonah Hex got one stars for now too. There’s still a couple more movies I need to rewatch and review but at some point I’ll probably do a recap on my thoughts on these DC movies (so far) before tackling Marvel property.

          Oh my goodness, I’d pay for a live commentary of your Supergirl viewing hahahahah

          Liked by 1 person

          • Hex WAS pretty bad. But I didn’t know a thing about the comics so the movie didn’t slap me across the face. Steel is one I “want” to watch but with all Superman mythos taken away, I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble.

            Ryders of Skaith (a blogger I follow) does these movie reviews where she records the reactions of those who are watching it with her. I almost wish I had someone who could do that for me, then you’d get your wish 😀

            Liked by 1 person

  • I think I might have watched this back when it came out, yes I am that old. I don’t remember much about it though. I bet you wish you could get that time back.

    Liked by 1 person

  • This movie had a number of ingredients that could have made for a great movie. Helen Slater could have been a good Supergirl if she had anything to work with. Faye Dunaway and Peter O’Toole were both brilliant, but the writing and directing behind their characters is disastrous. Giving Supergirl a magical villain is a great idea, since they are no less venerable to magic as anyone else. It’s not technically a weakness like Kryptonite, but they’re not immune to it by any means. The movie even gives us the first on-screen glimpse of the Phantom Zone.

    The problem is that this movie is a number of different ideas jumbled into one, with incomplete special effects (the monster Supergirl fought was not supposed to be invisible. The story features way too many coincidences to be believable, Supergirl seems to keep forgetting about the plot device. In the climax, Supergirl forgets she can fly. There isn’t really any kind of conclusion. The movie just ends. And of course the big inspirational speech by O’Toole’s character is just two words – “you can”.

    I don’t blame Christopher Reeve for cancelling his in-person cameo.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s it. It’s a huge melting pot of ideas that go in all sorts of direction and they all come with their fair share of plot holes. Just take the whole Phantom Zone sequence. How on earth did that witch even know or have a book about it, especially under that name! And for Supergirl to land there one way and exit another???? Anyway, the movie made no sense 95% of the time hahahah

      That’s an interesting detail about the invisible monster. It’s so weird that they can greenlight something like this back in the day. And same, I’m glad Christopher Reeve didn’t find himself in this one. Especially when he was on his own downward slope with Superman III and IV.

      Like

  • Is this your lowest rating so far? You’ve really piqued my interest for that possibility alone! 🙂 After watching the preview I honestly can’t remember if I ever watched this. If I did I guess that says it all, eh? Completely forgotten. And what a cast! Amazing none of them saw enough issues with the script to reject it, or perhaps the paycheck was just too good. Where do you go from here? How long is your list of movies to be watched? And are you finished with all the “Super” ones yet? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • To be fair, the half star system was introduced to WordPress a bit late but, then again, thinking back to all the DC-based movies, I think this and Catwoman are tied at half a star. Jonah Hex and Steel are tied at one star. And, if I had to rewatch those two, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d take off another half star. 😉 And yes, I think money was probably one of the main reasons they’d even embark on such an ugly project. Another reason would be to rise the Super-hype produced by the previous Superman movies…

      Yep. I’m done with all the official Super movies. I have 6 more DC movies to get through, 2 of them about an ugly green monster and 4 with the pointy caped crusader. 😉 Since I only do one of them per month, there are also unreleased DC movies that I look forward to reviewing, including my most anticipated movie of 2022, The Batman!!!!! 😀

      Like

  • Oh my goodness Lashaan half a star, you’re being too generous! Even the voice artist sounded bored in that trailer! 😂 You’re right about the special effects and the terrible acting too! Did you notice how Supergirl showed off her thigh as she was flying, really cringey!. This one should definitely be left in the vaults never to be showed again! 😂

    Liked by 2 people

  • OMG! Not even one star! But I confess that I have never seen that one before so that shouldn’t indeed be a memorable movie!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Wow! I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen you give such a low rating.
    I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever seen this movie, but I can’t. I’m must have, though, since it came out so long ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Wait, so is this a new movie or a movie from 1984? The trailer looks old, but if so, why is it playing in the theater now? It’s not a comedy? The trailer definitely makes you think it is. Half a star? Savage.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I remember always thinking that this film really needed a better villain. The witch wasn’t enough for physical fights and so the movie felt like it dragged a bit and ended up being too underwhelming. I’m sure whatever Supergirl film comes next will be way better

    Liked by 1 person

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