Supergirl is a 1984 British superhero film directed by Jeannot Szwarc and written by David Odell, based on the DC Comics character of the same name and serves as a spin-off to Alexander and Ilya Salkind's Superman film series. The film stars Faye Dunaway, Helen Slater as Supergirl, and Peter O'Toole, with Marc McClure reprising his role as Jimmy Olsen from the Superman films. He was the only actor to do so.
The film was released in the United Kingdom on July 19, 1984 and failed to impress critics and audiences alike. Dunaway and O'Toole earned Golden Raspberry Award nominations for Worst Actress and Worst Actor, respectively. However, Slater was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Actress. The film's failure ultimately led the Salkinds to sell the Superman rights to Cannon Films in 1986.
The first DVD release was by the independent home video company Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2000, under license from StudioCanal. Warner Bros. acquired the rights to the film and reissued it on DVD late in 2006 to coincide with the release of Superman Returns. Although it is canon with the Christopher Reeve Superman films, it is not included in any of the Superman DVD or Blu-ray box sets by Warner Bros.
A book adaptation of the film was written by Norma Fox Mazer and this was released in paperback form in 1984.
Kara Zor-El lives in an isolated Kryptonian community named Argo City, in a pocket of trans-dimensional space. A man named Zaltar allows Kara to see a unique and immensely powerful item known as the Omegahedron, which he has borrowed without the knowledge of the city government, and which powers the city. However, after a mishap, the Omegahedron is blown out into space. Much to the distress of her parents, Kara follows it to Earth (undergoing a transformation into "Supergirl" in the process) in an effort to recover it and save the city.
On Earth, the Omegahedron is recovered by Selena, a power-hungry would-be witch assisted by the feckless Bianca, seeking to free herself from her relationship with warlock Nigel. Whilst not knowing exactly what it is, Selena quickly realizes that the Omegahedron is powerful and can enable her to perform real magical spells. Supergirl arrives on Earth and discovers her powers. Following the path of the Omegahedron, she takes the name Linda Lee, identifies herself as the cousin of Clark Kent, and enrolls at an all-girls school where she befriends Lucy Lane, the younger sister of Lois Lane who happens to be studying there. Supergirl also meets and becomes enamoured with Ethan, who works as a groundskeeper at the school.
Ethan also catches the eye of Selena, who drugs him with a love potion (which will make him fall in love with the first person he sees for a day); however, Ethan regains consciousness in Selena's absence and wanders out into the streets. An angry Selena uses her new-found powers to animate a construction vehicle which she sends to bring Ethan back, causing chaos in the streets as it does so. Supergirl rescues Ethan and he falls in love with her instead while in the guise of Linda Lee.
Supergirl and Selena repeatedly battle in various ways, until Selena uses her powers to put Supergirl in an "eternal void" known as the Phantom Zone. Here, stripped of her powers, she wanders the bleak landscape and nearly drowns in an oily bog. Yet she finds help in Zaltar, who has exiled himself to the Phantom Zone as a punishment for losing the Omegahedron. Zaltar sacrifices his life to allow Supergirl to escape. Back on Earth, Selena misuses the Omegahedron to make herself a "princess of Earth", with Ethan as her lover and consort. Emerging from the Phantom Zone through a mirror, Supergirl regains her powers and confronts Selena, who uses the Omegahedron's power to summon a gigantic shadow demon. The demon overwhelms Supergirl and is on the verge of defeating her when she hears Zaltar's voice urging her to fight on. Supergirl breaks free and is told by Nigel the only way to defeat Selena is to turn the shadow demon against her. Supergirl quickly complies and begins flying in circles around her, trapping her in a whirlwind. Selena is attacked and incapacitated by the monster as the whirlwind pulls Bianca in as well. The three of them are sucked back into the mirror portal, which promptly reforms, trapping them all within forever. Free from Selena's spell, Ethan admits his love for Linda and that he knows that she and Supergirl are one and the same, but knows it is possible he may never see her again and understands she must save Argo City. The final scene shows Kara returning the Omegahedron to a darkened Argo City, which promptly lights up again.
- Helen Slater as Kara Zor-El / Linda Lee / Supergirl
- Faye Dunaway as Selena
- Peter O'Toole as Zaltar
- Hart Bochner as Ethan
- Mia Farrow as Alura In-Ze
- Brenda Vaccaro as Bianca
- Peter Cook as Nigel
- Simon Ward as Zor-El
- Marc McClure as Jimmy Olsen
- Maureen Teefy as Lucy Lane
- David Healy as Mr. Danvers
- Sandra Dickinson as Pretty Young Lady
- Matt Frewer as Truck Driver ('Eddie')
- Kelly Hunter as Argonian Citizen
- Glory Annen as Midvale Protestor
Christopher Reeve was slated to have a cameo as Superman, but bowed out early on. His non-appearance in the film is explained via a news broadcast (overheard by Selena) stating that Superman has left Earth on a "peace-seeking mission" to a distant galaxy, of which the aftermath is seen in Superman Returns. Director Jeannot Szwarc said in the Superman documentary "You Will Believe..." that Reeve's involvement in this film would have given the feature higher credibility and he admitted he wished Reeve had made a contribution to the film's production. A publicity photo of him as Superman and Supergirl, however, did appear as a poster in Lucy and Linda's shared dorm room.
Marc McClure makes his fourth of five appearances in the Superman films; he is the only actor to appear in all five films. Demi Moore auditioned for and was cast as character Lucy Lane, but bowed out to make the film Blame It on Rio. Maureen Teefy was signed instead.
At the end of the film's end credits, dedications were made to the memory of Marguerite Green, Gary Evans, and Andrew Warne. Green was the film's production coordinator, Evans was a member of the junior special effects technicians, and Warne was an uncredited production assistant. All three died during the film's production.
Upon gaining the film rights for Superman: The Movie in 1978, Alexander Salkind and his son, Ilya also purchased the rights to the character of Supergirl, should any sequel or spin-off occur. After the critical and commercial disappointment of Superman III, the Salkinds opted to make a Supergirl movie to freshen the franchise. Ilya later recounted "[It was] something different, to an extent. I thought it was a very different area to explore."
The producers attempted, and failed, to get the services of Richard Lester, who had directed Superman III and had completed the second film after their dismissal of original director Richard Donner. Robert Wise also turned down the director's chair. But French filmmaker Jeannot Szwarc, whose best-known work up to that time was in television, was ultimately chosen after a meeting with Christopher Reeve, who had complimented the Somewhere in Time director. Szwarc sought advice from Donner over some technical aspects of the production.
Hundreds of actresses tested for the role of Supergirl/Linda, among them Demi Moore and Brooke Shields. Shields was Alexander Salkind's top choice, but she and Moore were both ultimately rejected by both Ilya and Szwarc, who had both wanted an unknown actress, and they instead signed Helen Slater. Years later, Ilya Salkind stated that he thought Slater was miscast and that Shields was the better choice. Dolly Parton turned down the role of Selena before it was offered to Dunaway.
Much of the film was shot at Pinewood Studios in London. Production took place between the summer and fall of 1983.
Although the Salkinds financed the film completely on their own budget, Warner Bros. were still involved in the production as the studio owned the distribution rights to the film and its parent company, Warner Communications, was also the parent company of DC Comics, owners of all "Superman and Superman family" copyrights. The entire film was shot, edited and overseen under the supervision of Warner Bros. Warners only had a July 1984 slot open for Supergirl, but the producers insisted on opening it during the holiday season. That conflict, along with the disappointing critical and financial performance of Superman III, prompted the studio to relinquish its distribution rights of Supergirl to the Salkinds. The film proceeded to be released overseas, however, and received a Royal Film Premiere in the United Kingdom in July 1984.
Broadcast television version