The Headless Motor Car

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is the final package film Disney released in the wartime era. Even though the war was already over. It was all worth it to finance feature films again. The most straightforward packaged release is definitely The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. As it’s not just several stories pieced together by music like Melody Time or Walt Disney’s other budget friendly films. It’s still a musical, but the main connecting factor is that both stories are based on famous literary tales. Both ended up being too short to warrant feature films. So instead they were given the final package treatment as Disney’s eleventh animated feature.

The Wind in the Willows – The opening story is based on the children’s book The Wind in the Willows. With an anthropomorphic toad, badger, water rat, and mole as main characters, it only made sense to be given the Disney treatment. It was originally pitched as its own movie, but Disney apparently thought it was too corny. He eventually came around and we very nearly ended up with the movie released right after Bambi. Yet the The Wind in the Willows still proved too light on material. So that’s how it ended up being part of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.

The story itself involves a wealthy British toad named J. Thaddeus Toad (Mr. Toad for short). His mania for fads nearly costs him his estate, but his good friends MacBadger, Ratty, and Moley keep him in line. At least until he sees a new fangled motor car. His obsession gets him in trouble with weasels and the shady Mr. Winkie. Farcical hijinks ensue that leave you laughing as well as singing. Although I wouldn’t consider it the most memorable of the two, “The Wind in the Willows” nevertheless gave life to likable creatures in a way only Disney could…

16. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

The Headless Horseman

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – The closing story is based on well-known gothic tale “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Unlike the previous story, the idea for a movie was always Disney’s intention. It just came up short just like The Wind in the Willows. Despite the darker source material, Disney still managed to keep the tone relatively consistent. When arriving at Sleepy Hollow, new schoolmaster Ichabod Crane makes a name for himself. He’s portrayed as a tall lanky very exaggerated dandy with a big nose and ears. Somehow the ladies fall for him. But Katrina van Tassel is the one he wants.

Surprisingly Ichabod is kind of a jerk who only wants her money. The macho Bram Bones actually isn’t all that bad. However, the true villain appears Halloween night. The Headless Horseman appears in a terrifying sequence that ranks high for scary Disney moments. The Horseman’s cackle will send chills down your spine. With the throwing of a jack-o’-lantern, the story ends on an ambiguous note. It’s the spooky atmosphere and the creepy music filled animation of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” that make it stand out the most.

In conclusion, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was something I remember fondly as a kid. Even when it creeped me out. The movie feels like two separate stories that complement each other surprisingly well. Both The Wind and the Willows and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” were already established classics that don’t feel artificially put together. That’s why people only remember “Mickey and the Beanstalk” in Fun and Fancy Free. It also helps that both Ichabod and Mr. Toad recieve stories that are each about 30 minutes. With no unnecessary padding in between. Just the opening of the books and narration by late 40’s stars Basil Rathbone and Bing Crosby. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad feels far closer to Disney’s Golden Age material than anything he made in the Package era.

17. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

Mr. Toad presents a document

The Legend of Johnny Appleseed and Pecos Bill

Melody Time is the last of Disney’s packaged anthology films. Since the next Disney film more closely resembles Fun and Fancy Free. As Walt Disney’s tenth animated feature, Melody Time is yet another attempt at Fantasia on a smaller scale. Like Make Mine Music, the only connecting factor is popular lyrical music. Only with a far more reasonable 7 animated stories. One of which features the last movie appearance of Donald Duck for over 40 years.

Once Upon a Wintertime – The first segment is a romance set in a winter wonderland. It follows a young couple named Jenny and Joe. They ride in a horse drawn carriage to go ice skating. Although it ends in disaster, nothing could keep apart this loving couple. At the same time, an adorable rabbit couple has a date of their own. The simple animation perfectly captures the snowy setting.

Bumble Boogie – The second segment is based on an unused idea from Fantasia. One that uses the well-known Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov tune “Flight of the Bumblebee.” The surreal visuals are of a purple bumblebee trying to avoid creatures made out of music.

The Legend of Johnny Appleseed – The third segment is the official Disney version of the classic tale of Johnny Appleseed. A pioneer with a cooking pot on his head who planted apple seeds all across the Midwest. This is the second longest segment, so it’s meant to be one of the central stories in Melody Time. I was definitely familiar with Johnny Appleseed, but there were things I wasn’t aware of. Like I didn’t know how strong his faith was. Not only did he plant apple trees, he spread the gospel as well. It’s actually refreshing to see a Disney movie with such a strong Christian theme. Since apples are such a universal food, Johnny’s mission is a success. The songs only help to enhance the fruitful message.

Little Toot – The fourth segment is a cartoony retelling of a children’s book with the same name. It’s about an anthropomorphic tugboat named Little Toot who just wants to have fun. Until his troublesome ways get him sent away. Only for him to discover a way to prove himself to his father. It’s a cute, if a little dated story with nice musical storytelling.

Trees – The fifth segment is a poem about a tree. It may seem simple, but it’s actually quite beautiful. The song and revolutionary art style give great importance to something we take for granted.

Blame it on the Samba – The sixth segment is basically a continuation of Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros. Since it features Donald Duck and José Carioca (in non-speaking roles) dancing along to the Samba. Along with the Aracuan Bird. It’s just as bizarre as before with more trippy visuals and Ethel Smith as yet another live-action singer.

Pecos Bill – The seventh and final segment is also the longest. At a whopping 22 minutes, it’s the most memorable of all the stories. Pecos Bill is one of the three major tall tale characters. Although raised by coyotes, Pecos Bill went on to become the greatest cowboy who ever lived. With his trusty steed Widowmaker, rattlesnake lasso, and pistols by his side, Pecos Bill did many wonders. Including roping a tornado while lighting a cigarette. Something you couldn’t even see for a long time due to smoking censorship. The folk song continues to tell of the cowboys love life with cowgirl Slue Foot Sue. The circumstances she gets into are unusual and they really make you hate his horse. The larger than life hero’s story is told by live-action pioneers around a campfire. It’s one of the reasons this story is the lengthiest.

In conclusion, Melody Time is another smooth musical package film that I saw at least once as a child. All I really remember was the “Pecos Bill” segment. Since it was such a sad way to end the movie. Unlike the other package films though, the two longest segments are at least considered tall tales. So it feels a bit less random than before. Really there’s something for everyone in the song filled movie. So I’d consider Melody Time to be one of Disney’s more well thought out collection of thematic stories.

15. Melody Time

Pecos Bill rides

Mickey and the Beanstalk

Fun and Fancy Free is a package film, but it only features two separate stories. Unlike Make Mine Music, which was made up of many unconnected shorts. The reason being that the stories, “Bongo” & “Mickey and the Beanstalk,” were both intended to be full length films. Walt Disney loved the ideas, but a lot of movies had to be put on hold during the war. Until Disney realized neither story warneted separate movies. So instead they were repackaged as Disney’s ninth animated feature.

Bongo – The first story is adapted from a short story published in Cosmopolitan magazine titled Little Bear Bongo. “Bongo” is strangely introduced by Jiminy Cricket himself. While singing a song cut from Pinocchio, Jiminy explores a house, then plays a record about Bongo. The story itself contains no dialogue. Just narration from Dinah Shore. She recounts the adventures of a little circus bear named Bongo.

The unicycle riding bear can do it all, expect be free. So Bongo runs away into the wild. Only to discover the forest is fraught with danger. At least until he meets and falls in love with a lady bear named Lulubelle. “Bongo” is obviously the more forgotten story between the two. The songs aren’t all that memorable and nobody remembers the character. Maybe it would have worked better as a Dumbo sequel.

Mickey and the Beanstalk – The second story on the other hand, is really the main attraction. “Mickey and the Beanstalk” is the official Disney adaptation of beloved fairy tale “Jack and the Beanstalk.” The primary difference was the use of Mickey, Donald, and Goofy in the main role. Making Fun and Fancy Free the first feature film with the full Disney trio. This was also the last time Walt Disney voiced Mickey Mouse. The film, originally titled The Legend of Happy Valley, was meant to repopularize Mickey. So although “Mickey and the Beanstalk” is the more memorable story, it has a really weird storytelling device.

Jiminy leaves the house to go to a little girl’s birthday party. Live-action child actress Luana Patten is being entertained by ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his puppets Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. It’s just as weird as it sounds. Luckily the story makes up for it. They tell the tale of a beautiful harp whose kidnapping causes a great famine. Which leads to a disturbingly dark sequence of Donald Duck experiencing extreme starvation. After Mickey sells their cow for magic beans, a mighty beanstalk grows. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy climb the beanstalk and find a bountiful feast. Only to discover the famous giant is actually a loveable dimwitted giant named Willie. He may be funny, but he’s still a short-tempered threat with magical powers that the trio must overcome. “Fe Fi Fo Fum” this is a story that’s second to none.

In conclusion, my childhood memory of Fun and Fancy Free only recalled “Mickey and the Beanstalk.” As well as the confusing live-action puppet stuff. “Bongo” is just that unmemorable. Compared to the rest of the package films, Fun and Fancy Free does little to justify the two completely unrelated stories being put together. Aside from them being unfinished films. The title doesn’t really have any significance either. But that doesn’t mean Fun and Fancy Free isn’t a fun musical with fancy animation for anyone free to enjoy classic Disney.

14. Fun and Fancy Free

Mickey, Donald, and Goofy in the Beanstalk

Peter and the Wolf

Make Mine Music is the third Disney package film and the eighth animated feature overall. Unlike Saludos Amigos or The Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music wasn’t made with any specific purpose. Other than keeping the studio alive during the war. Since Walt Disney’s plans for multiple Fantasia films fell through, Make Mine Music is the closest thing to that. With a staggering 10 animated shorts all set to music. Whether instrumental or lyrical. Unlike the previous films, it’s just the shorts without anything in between tying them together.

The Martins and the Coys – The first segment is also the hardest to find. It’s a rustic musical about feuding mountain folk families. The Martins and the Coys (a take on the Hatfields and the McCoys) are gun happy hicks with a feud that ultimately ends in the deaths of all but two. A girl Martin and a boy Coy that fall in love and end the feud. The segment was censored out for its gun based humor, but I did managed to find it.

Blue Bayou – The second segment is actually a leftover from Fantasia. It features an egret flying around a blue bayou, finding a mate, and that’s about it. You can tell its from Fantasia, because the animation is more polished. The only change was the music that was used.

All the Cats Join in – The third segment is the most modern. As it depicts the average lives of American teenagers. A “cat” actually refers to a hip person. The animation is more like a sketch book and the music is jazzy. Teens flock to their local diner just to dance. The segment was also a victim of mild censorship. This time it was because of nudity. Specifically a scene where a teen girl showers and gets dressed.

Without You – The fourth segment is a quick emotional ballad about lost love set against a rainy window which reveals lonely trees.

Casey at the Bat – The fifth segment is the most colorful, cartoony, and exaggerated. It’s a direct adaptation of the famous titular poem. This time mostly set to music. In the town of Mudville, Casey is a beloved baseball player known for his perfect winning streak. Something he definitely let’s get to his head. Until Casey ultimately strikes out. So the moral of the story is to stay humble.

Two Silhouettes – The sixth segment is simply a male and female ballet dancer performing in animated silhouettes accompanied by abstract visuals.

Peter and the Wolf – The seventh segment is probably the most memorable. As it’s a visual rendition of the famous musical story of the same name. Peter is a Russian boy who wants to prove himself to his grandfather by hunting the wolf that lives in the forest. Along the way, Peter makes friends with a bird, a duck, and a cat. Together they track down the vicious wolf and put an end to him. The segment most stands out for its use of characters represented by instruments.

After You’ve Gone – The eighth segment really plays up the music with anthropomorphic instruments playing in a musical wonderland.

Johnny Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnet – The ninth segment is an adorable love story between two anthropomorphic hats. A male fedora named Johnny and a female blue bonnet named Alice. The song tells their story in full detail. They met in a department store and it was love at first sight. When separated, Johnny stops at nothing to find his sweetheart once more. I never thought animated hats would melt my heart.

Finale: The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met – The tenth and final segment is also the longest. It tells the tale of a big whale with even bigger dreams. Willie is a miracle whale who can sing opera in three different musical styles. Unfortunately, people in the city think the whale is a myth. A theater producer named Tetti-Tatti hunts the whale because he thinks he swallowed an opera singer. We then see a series fantasies where Willie’s dreams come true, but sadly this is a bittersweet symphony.

In conclusion, Make Mine Music was also something I surprisingly saw when I was a kid. I most remember the “Peter and the Wolf” segment, because my brother and I often hummed along to the iconic tune. The rest was sort of a blur. But apparently Make Mine Music is very hard to find. It seems I was lucky to find it on DVD years later. You can’t even watch it on Disney Plus. Unlike Song of the South, there’s never been any specific reason for this. Maybe it’s the gun use, maybe it’s the implied nudity, maybe it’s an offensive song. Whatever the reason, Make Mine Music is a collection of musical treats that deserves to see the light of day.

13. Make Mine Music

Peter and the Wolf

Donald, José, and Panchito

The Three Caballeros revolutionized animation combined with live-action. So even though the movie is a much more reasonable 1 hour & 11 minutes, I’m still surprised by it being considered the seventh animated Disney film. Since Saludos Amigos proved to be successful, Walt Disney decided to stick with the Latin goodwill theme. The Three Caballeros can in a lot of ways be considered Disney’s first sequel. Only this time appealing to Mexico as well as Brazil. You can tell by the inclusion of 1940’s stars only Latin Americans would recognize. Like Aurora Miranda, Dora Luz, or Carmen Molina.

Seven shorts are loosely tied together by Donald Duck celebrating his birthday. He opens a giant present from his Latin friends that contains a reel of films, a book containing his Brazilian friend José Carioca, and a piñata presented by a new friend. Panchito Pistoles is a spirited gun-toting red Mexican rooster. Together they form the titular Three Caballeros. Unlike José though, Panchito hasn’t really endured the same way.

The Cold-Blooded Penguin – The first short is seen on Donald’s film reel. It centers on a cute little forgotten penguin named Pablo. He wants nothing more than to leave his cold climate in search of warmer Latin locations. Until he realizes penguins and warmth don’t mix.

The Flying Gauchito – Before this short is a quick look at colorful Latin birds. Including a hyperactive Aracuan bird that pops up throughout the movie. It leads into the next short about a boy’s horse racing dreams. The boy from Uruguay meets a winged donkey that makes his dreams come true.

Baia – The next short is seen in the Brazilian pop-up book. José once again takes Donald through the Samba. Only this time with a live-action Bahia. The trip leads to Donald falling in love with human woman Aurora Miranda.

Las Posadas – After Panchito is introduced, he tells Donald and José all about the significance of the piñata. With a story about a Mexican tradition where children reenact the journey of Mary and Joseph on Christmas. The art is meant to resemble a story book.

Mexico: Pátzcuaro, Veracruz and Acapulco – The next segment involves the Three Caballeros touring Mexico City on a magic carpet. They learn Mexican dances and take in the music. But the strangest thing is Donald more creepily chasing after human women on a beach.

You Belong to My Heart – It’s followed by Dora Luz randomly singing in the sky. Accompanied by visuals that correspond to the song. Of course Donald once again falls in love.

Donald’s Surreal Reverie – The last segment is just as trippy as Fantasia. Donald sees colors, flowers, and dances with Carmen Molina. We also see several cacti dance. It’s followed by an explosive musical finale where Donald fights a toy bull.

In conclusion, it may surprise you to know I actually did see The Three Caballeros when I was a kid. All I really remember was the infectious signature song sung by the Three Caballeros. My brother and I had a lot of fun with the song. This is probably one of the weirder Disney movies. The animation and music at times seems to be more important than the plot. If there even is one. It’s understandable that the live-action/animated sequences are a bit rough. So even though The Three Caballeros is dated, it’s a Latin feast for the eyes and ears.

12. The Three Caballeros

Donald Duck, José Carioca, and Panchito Pistoles

Greetings Friends

Saludos Amigos is the first film in Disney’s Package era (sometimes referred to as the Wartime era). The most obscure, often forgotten era of Disney’s history. Which can once again be blamed on World War II. As well as a Union strike. Both of which meant the loss of several animators. That coupled with the low performance of their previous feature film Bambi, meant Walt Disney would only produce short films until the end of the war.

Saludos Amigos was initially made as a goodwill film for Latin America. It’s basically just studio animators taking a trip to South America. Drawing what they see in a live-action documentary format. They came up with four shorts, but at a shockingly low 42 minutes, I’m not sure how Saludos Amigos counts as Disney’s sixth animated feature film.

Lake Titicaca – The first short is a Donald Duck cartoon. It features Donald as a tourist simply exploring Lake Titicaca. We learn about Latin culture, music, and wildlife. Specifically a llama that causes Donald some grief.

Pedro – The next short is about a forgotten little anthropomorphic airplane named Pedro. The Chilean plane stops at nothing to safely deliver the mail. It’s cute, but it was apparently offensive to a Latin cartoonist that created his own character in response.

El Gaucho Goofy – The next short is a Goofy cartoon. It was made as a response to native Argentinian horsemen known as Gaucho. Cowboy Goofy learns to dress the part, eat the food, and embrace the culture. He’s given his own anthropomorphic horse and plenty of hijinks ensue.

Aquarela do Brasil – The last short is easily the most memorable. As it introduces the Brazilian equivalent of Donald Duck. José Carioca is a green parrot with a passion for the Samba who enjoys a fine cigar. Apart from the smoking, the character endured mostly in Latin America. José then shows Donald around a painted Rio de Janeiro to the infectious beat of the music.

In conclusion, Saludos Amigos was probably the last Disney animated movie I saw at the time. I guarantee I didn’t see it until way later in my life. So it’s understandable that people forget it even exists. Still, with it’s appreciation of Latin culture, rhythmic music, and typical Disney standard, Saludos Amigos is a harmless way to spend 42 minutes.

11. Saludos Amigos

Donald Duck and José Carioca explore

Kamehameha!

Dragonball Evolution is the worst anime adaptation ever made. You don’t even have to be a hardcore Dragon Ball fan to know that. While my brother is a big fan of manga and anime, I’ve just never had the time. Even though I’m certain I’d become a fan if I watched it. So just a fare warning that this review is based on my very basic knowledge of the source material. I do know that Dragon Ball/Dragon Ball Z was a very big deal growing up. And that it’s the second most popular anime series in America. Since the hatred for Dragonball Evolution was over 9000, I knew I needed to see it regardless.

Dragonball Evolution is every bit the insulting Americanized adaptation you’d think it would be. For starters, the clearly Japanese Goku is played by random white kid Justin Chatwin. With nothing more than spiked hair, who can’t act to save his life. Instead of a Saiyan kid with a tail, Goku is a generic high school teenager with no friends (so Krillin is out) who just wants a girlfriend. Oh yeah, and he practises martial arts too. None of which looks convincing with its awful CGI hand farting. That they seriously refer to as air bending! His love interest Chi-Chi may be played by the Asian Jamie Chung, but she’s clearly generalized.

Same with the search for the titular Dragon Balls. Which are being pursued by the generically evil Lord Piccolo. Poor James Marsters was dragged into this. Along with Chow Yun-fat who’s clearly nothing like the elderly perverted Master Roshi. Goku’s long time traveling companion Bulma is played by the also white Emmy Rossum. With a lazy blue streak instead of blue hair. The humor is all over the place, the anime’s famous fighting sequences are poorly choreographed, and Chatwin is not equipped to wear Goku’s iconic orange blue outfit. Dragonball Evolution took a complex anime saga and turned it into a generic waste of good source material.

Dragonball Evolution

Goku challenges Piccolo

Freak and Max

The Mighty is a tale of adolescent nobility. Like so many other people my age, I was introduced to the book Freak the Mighty in my 6th grade Reading class. The book stood out for its relatable coming of age story. We were also assigned a project where we had to make a sequel to the book. Since I used to create comic books when I was younger, I made my own comic book sequel (I got an A++ for project). Of course like most school books, we watched the movie as well. The Mighty was made 5 years after the book was published. It tells the tale of two outcasts who couldn’t be more different.

Max is the narrator who’s picked on for his enormous size, low intelligence, and father in jail. Freak (Kevin) is highly intelligent, but struggles with a condition known as Morquio syndrome. Where his body is too small for his heart. They form an unlikely bond where Max benefits from Freak’s brain and Freak benefits from Max’s legs. Freak’s fascination with King Arthur gives them a greater sense of purpose. They face bullies, return belongings, and eventually deal with their problems. With an all-star cast, it’s possible The Mighty was written off as Oscar bait.

It features the likes of Harry Dean Stanton and Gena Rowlands. Along with odder choices like Gillian Anderson and Meat Loaf. James Gandolfini is pretty much proto-Tony Soprano. But it’s actually Sharon Stone who gives a surprisingly strong performance as a struggling single mother. Elden Henson fits Max’s description, but Kieran Culkin is probably too big. He also shares several similarities to at least three of his brother’s characters. He’s named Kevin (Home Alone), wears glasses (The Pagemaster), and the role will definitely make you cry (My Girl). The Mighty is an underrated gem that shouldn’t be forgotten.

The Mighty

Max carries Freak

The Island of Kryptonite

Superman Returns is aptly named. For this was truly a return for the Man of Steel on the big screen. The awful Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was enough to end the original franchise on a bad note. Leaving TV series Lois & Clark as the only live-action Superman in the 90’s. While Smallville kept Superman relevant in the early 2000’s. Yet a new Superman movie was always in the works. In fact, there were a record 5 different Superman movies we could have ended up with.

There was the more direct sequel Superman V. The bizarre sounding Superman Reborn. The infamous Tim Burton directed, Kevin Smith written, Nicolas Cage starring Superman Lives. An early 2000’s Batman vs. Superman. And finally a much more straightforward reboot titled Superman: Flyby. Each project morphed into the next, until we finally ended up with Superman Returns. The most unoriginal project of the bunch, but I finally realize that was the intention. DC had already successfully rebooted Batman the year before, so it was Superman’s turn. Even if it meant director Bryan Singer leaving his already successful superhero franchise in the dust (more on that later)…

8. Superman Returns

Superman lifts a car

Superman Returns nevertheless managed to spark excitement in me. I was 10 at the time and luckily I already saw the only Superman movies that count. The teaser had me the second I heard the iconic John Williams theme. At my age, I was hopelessly confused by this. My child brain thought that made Superman Returns a direct sequel to Superman: The Movie and Superman II. Then again, I think a lot of people were confused. Superman Returns is actually meant to be an homage to the original films. A tribute to Richard Donner and the late Christopher Reeve. Which is all well and good, but it’s just not what we wanted. Not that I didn’t enjoy Superman Returns when I first saw it.

As is tradition, another unknown actor was cast as Clark Kent/Superman. Brandon Routh fit the look of Christopher Reeve and wore the costume well. The costume is mostly the same, only with darker colors and a smaller symbol. Unfortunately, he’s not really given a lot to work with. Which is a shame considering how big Routh’s personality is (especially as another DC superhero on TV). Routh’s Superman is a bit more quiet, while his Clark Kent is more geeky than comical. Which is probably why Superman Returns dedicates a lot less time to Superman than you might think. This is the thinking man’s Superman movie. With the question of whether or not the world needs a savior like Superman.

It picks up after Superman has been gone for over 5 years. Just to make sure Krypton was actually destroyed. Followed by Kal-El crash landing in Smallville where he’s reunited with Ma Kent. Then Clark is brought back to Metropolis where his old job at the Daily Planet is waiting for him. Sam Huntington is a fine Jimmy Olsen and Frank Langella is an okay Perry White. Really the only unusual choice was Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. Especially if she’s meant to be the same as Margot Kidder. Although she has great chemistry with Routh, she was just too young to convincingly play the fearless reporter. Not to mention the fact that she’s also a mother. With a son that may or may not be Superman’s. Yet another original character was created in the form of Richard White. Perry White’s nephew and Lois’ fiancé who was approximately the third romantic other guy that James Marsden played.

On the villainous side, we have Lex Luthor for the 4th time. I know he’s Superman’s greatest enemy, but there are so many other villains to choose from. Regardless, Kevin Spacey is actually one of the better Lex Luthor’s. Along with actually being bald, he manages to be ruthless while at the same time tapping into Gene Hackman’s enthusiasm. Best shown when he screams “Wrong!” But Luthor is once again after real estate. His new diabolical plan is to create his own island using crystals from the Fortress of Solitude mixed with Kryptonite. Parker Posey acts as a replacement for Miss Tessmacher.

Actually most of Superman Returns plays out in a similar way to the original movies. With plenty of reused dialogue that’s fine for nostalgia, but feels a bit hollow the second time around. Except for Jor-El, who’s literally a CGI recreation of Marlon Brando. Seeing the movie years later, I finally realized Superman Returns feels more like a disaster movie than a superhero movie. Superman doesn’t throw a punch in the entire nearly 3 hour movie. Instead Superman rescues a plane in an epic (scientifically accurate) sequence. As well as saves a lot of people, takes a bullet in the eye, recreates the iconic Action comics #1 cover, stops multiple disasters in Metropolis, and lifts a boat out of the ocean.

Ending in a climax that’s both devastating and ridiculous. Devastating because they finally utilize the “Death of Superman” storyline. Ridiculous because Superman actually lifts a gigantic island made out of very toxic Kryptonite into space. Something that would never happen in the comics. If you just want to see Superman fight an enemy of equal or greater power, then this isn’t the movie for you. However, if you’re fine with a love letter to the old fashioned days of the Man of Tomorrow, then Superman Returns just might be worth a second chance.

9. Superman Returns

Superman leans in to kiss Lois Lane

The Quest for a Better Movie

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is one of the worst DC superhero movies ever made. Which is an unfortunate end to Christopher Reeve’s series of Superman movies. Every problem made with Superman III is somehow even worse. So I also avoided seeing Superman IV growing up. The Quest for Peace refers to Superman randomly deciding to remove all of Earth’s nuclear weapons. Everything else is either an overly 80’s exercise commercial or a cheesy metaphor for nuclear war. Maybe because the director Sidney J. Furie never directed anything notable. The film had half the budget of the originals and it shows. From the awful green screens to the constantly reused flying shots.

Despite the entire original cast being present, none of them look like they want to be there. Reeve is sadly phoning it in and Margot Kidder looks like she’s struggling in every scene. Their storyline recycles the romantic flight and Superman once again wipes Lois Lane’s mind with a kiss. Jimmy Olsen and Perry White are still there, but Mariel Hemingway steal’s Lois’ spotlight as White’s daughter Lacy. Not in the comics! Just like the equally terrible completely made up central supervillain. Gene Hackman returns as Lex Luthor, but he’s overshadowed by his also made up son Duckie (I mean Lenny). Ironically Jon Cryer would later become one of the best iterations of Lex Luthor.

Anyway, Luthor’s new plan is to steal Superman’s hair, attach it to a rocket, and somehow create a clone of the Man of Steel. Only this golden monstrosity is named Nuclear Man. He’s got a glorious mullet, scratchy claws, and the voice of Lex for some reason. Their fight is one of the worst superhero fights ever put to screen. Where Superman once again has random ridiculous superpowers that were never in the comics. Like rebuilding the Great Wall of China with his eyes or lowering people with his mind. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace did a great disservice to Superman’s legacy. But even confined to a wheelchair, Christopher Reeve remained the best actor ever to play Superman.

7. Superman IV The Quest for Peace

Superman vs. Nuclear Man

Preceded by: Superman III