On the eve of a new Superman movie, is it too late to tinker with an old one? Long story short: In 1977, director Richard Donner began filming Superman and Superman II simultaneously, but after the first film premiered, Donner was let go. New director Richard Lester used some of Donner’s scenes for the 1981 sequel — in which Zod and his gang of evil ABBA rejects try to take over the earth — but the movie infuriated fans, who demanded that Donner’s vision be restored. Which it kind of was, in the ’80s, when Warner Bros. put together an extended international TV version containing extra Donner footage.
Now — thanks to a team led by a man who refused to reveal his true identity to EW — that broadcast has been reconstructed from videotapes (collected from fans worldwide) and packaged into the ”Restored International Cut,” a DVD available for free through Superman Cinema (www.super mancinema.co.uk). ”It’s not about me, it’s about the film,” the remastering bandit told us. ”When you get down to its core, it had a great story that even Richard Lester couldn’t screw up.” But isn’t this whole thing sort of, you know, illegal? ”It’s a violation of our copyright,” responds an attorney for Warner Bros. Another Warner rep adds, ”Warner Home Video is known for listening to its fans. But taking somebody’s property and doing what you want to it and giving it away is not the way to go.” No arguments from our mystery man. ”We would all prefer to pay and get the footage properly,” he says. ”I’m really asking them to make my project obsolete.”