There have been a lot of great comic book movies in the past decade, yet for me, I think my favorite will always be 1980's Superman II. The gripping confrontation between Superman and the evil General Zod blew me away at age 9, and I still think in its combination of epic action and heartfelt characterization, Superman II outshines many of the comic movies in the years since.
Yet for a long time, fans of the movie have known that the finished film was just the tip of the iceberg and that an entirely different version of the movie lurked out there, unseen. Now, thanks to the miracles of DVD, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut lives, 26 years after the original movie's release.
Donner was the director of the great Superman: The Movie, but a series of arguments with the film's producers led him to be fired midway through filming Superman II (which was being made simultaneously with the first movie). A new director, Richard Lester, was hired and much of Superman II was filmed from scratch. The final release was still a great movie, but Lester added a notably campier feeling than Donner had in the reverent Superman I, and fans of Donner always wanted to see his version (pieces of which appeared in TV airings of the movie over the years).
In a pretty amazing bit of resurrection, Donner's film has been dug out of the vaults, and pieced together with some of Lester's cut and a few digital additions to create an entirely new movie. Superman II: The Donner Cut is a fascinating piece of alternate history, more or less the same movie as Superman II but with a quite different tone. It boasts a new beginning and opening, and tons of new footage – only about 25 percent or so of Lester's cut remains, to keep the story coherent.