I LOATHE that Scene: Flying Makes Lois Feels Poetic in Superman

There are film scenes that we love, and there are scenes that we loathe (or hate). As such, we like to celebrate the good ones and shame the bad ones. Today, it’s time to talk about a bad one. This is the scene from Superman that causes us to involuntarily exclaim “I LOATHE That Scene!” whenever it is brought up in conversation, and that’s only if we’re being nice.

THE FILM: Superman (1978)

THE PLOT:

You will believe a man can fly, or at least be horizontal in front of a moving backdrop in Richard Donner’s Superman, the film that showed Hollywood that superhero films could dominate the box office. It was a kinder, gentler time, when superheroes were hardly the safe bets they are today. How quaint it must seem for there to have been a time in which cigar-smoking, Hollywood moguls didn’t see instant dollar signs when presented with the latest tights-sporting, wunderkind. I don’t want to be too hard on the film. I like it fine, although I think Superman II is better. For 1978, the special effects were ground breaking, and both Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder are perfectly cast as the titular Superman and plucky reporter/ love interest, Lois Lane. The film works best when it allows these two incredibly charismatic leads room to charm the viewer, which they seem capable to do almost effortlessly, and play their roles like they’re in an old-fashioned romance.

"So, your Fortress of Solitude or mine?"

“So, your Fortress of Solitude or mine?”

The main plot revolves around Lex Luther and his plot to make a fortune in real estate (truly, the most insidious of venues) by sinking parts of California, through physics best left unexplored. The threat’s barely an issue, though, when you can just fly around the world really, really fast and reverse time.

(FOR EVERYTHING BELOW: SPOILERS AHEAD. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.)

THE CONTEXT OF THE SCENE:

Superman has come to Lois Lane’s apartment for an exclusive interview, allowing Kidder and Reeve to do what they do best: act as though they’ve been cast in a screwball comedy. Eventually, though, Superman decides the only way to cap an interview is to take your interviewer for midnight flight, leading to Lois’s iconic line, “you’ve got me. Who’s got you?”

"And, what's going on down there?"

“And, what’s going on down there?”

If that was where the spoken dialogue ended, all would be well and it would be a lovely, charming sequence. Alas, what follows is a sequence so mind-numblingly awkward it defies all logic and inspires embarrassment in fan that ever proclaimed a comic book poetry.

THE SCENE:

WHY I LOATHE IT:

Where do you want me to begin? Let’s put aside that Superman simply holding Lois’s hand, while it would keep her from liquefying on the pavement below, would really just mean she’d really just be dangling below him, not flying side by side.

"Wow, you can fly too?! Huh? Oh no, I'm not doing this."

“Wow, you can fly too?! Huh? Oh no, I’m not doing this.”

That’s a problem that defies all physics, but in a film with a flying, omnipotent God-like being at its center, science waved “bye-bye” long ago. No, the problem is we have a sodding poem, via voice over, spoken by our favorite cynical, hard-boiled reporter, Lois Lane. She shifts from a hardened, career woman to a swooning, giggly, teeny-bopper in the span of a few moments. What’s worse, and this is critical, is this a terrible, terrible poem. Sample dialogue: “I don’t know who you are, just a friend from another star.” and “Here I am, like a kid out school, holding hands with a God. I’m a fool.” If Superman could have heard this, he’d probably have dropped her in disgust, because this schlock is enough to make “roses are red, violets are blue” sound like Keats and Byron and Dickinson all rolled into one.

"Yeah, I've gotta drop you now. That was dreadful."

“Yeah, I’ve gotta drop you now. That was dreadful.”

I know it was originally meant to be a song, sung by Kidder herself, which is even more horrifying. All it took for Donner to nix that idea was actually hearing Kidder sing, and he decided that the only solution was to have the song’s lyrics spoken. Why he didn’t just decide to, I don’t know, not have anything sung or spoken at all is anyone’s guess. As lyrics they’re dreadful, but as a poem, they’re hide your face in the sand humiliating.

Instead, we’re left with the knowledge that at one point it was going to be perfectly fine for a musical number (A musical number! We’re grasping at reality straws as it is like they’re precious, golden nuggets. Why rip them from our hands?) to suddenly rear its singing head in a Superman film, and the knowledge that Lois can apparently spout poems at the drop of a hat. Isn’t it a shame they never went back to that Lois Lane skill again?

"'...when we're out together, flying, cheek to cheek.' Sorry, I don't know what came over me."

“‘…when we’re out together, flying, cheek to cheek.’ Sorry, I don’t know what came over me.”

Superman is a hard enough character to take seriously as it is, what with his boy scout ideals and near-invulnerability (except for kryptonite, a rare substance that still seems pop up every day). Adding a musical number or a freakin’ poem takes a campy premise and dolls it up in fishnets and a corset. We’ve already got a guy flying around in a cape and underwear. Is it too much to ask that he not inspire literal poetry from the women he meets?

So, what do you think? Am I being too hard on this scene? Do you hate it as much as we do? Is there another scene/ film you’d like us to cover? Let us know in the comments!

About Julianne Ramsey (115 Articles)
Oh you know, I'm just your typical wallflower, high school theatre nerd who minored in film studies, attained her M.A. in English Literature,works as a substitute teacher, and decided to go to nursing school, but really wants to be a writer who blogs about pop culture, and then have people who. . .wait for it. . .actually read/ look forward to what she writes. In my spare time (when it's there), I watch one of my many blu-rays or DVDs (about 800 now), reading my kindle (one of the greatest inventions ever), playing my ipod (another one of the greatest inventions ever), obsess over b=Broadway musicals and horror films, and play my guitar (badly). In other words, I have no life that doesn't revolve aroung pop culture or school. Sigh.

6 Comments on I LOATHE that Scene: Flying Makes Lois Feels Poetic in Superman

  1. Yes you are. The reason turns into a little school girl around Superman is that no man ever meets up to her standards. Lois has always been bigger than life and men are always intimidated by that. She is described as a super model who does not care that she looks that way. She is the daughter of a General who raised her to be like a boy. So when Superman shows up, he is the alpha male of the planet. The only man to catch her eye at all. In canon, they instantly fall in love with each other on first sight. So, during that flight, it is the first time in her life she lets the woman out. And in canon, she gets week kneed around Superman and lets the woman in her out. The lines of the poem are what is going through her head as she is flying with him as she is falling head over heels for him. And yes it was supposed to be sung by Kidder, and Donner she did sing it and had a great voice. But he had her red the lines instead as the singing pulled you out of the scene, where her saying the lines gives you an insight into what is going through her mind at the moment. Also the line “you’ve got me. Who’s got you?” does not come at the end of the interview. It comes during the helicopter scene after she thinks she is falling to her death and this man grabs her in mid air and tells her “Don’t worry Miss. I’ve got you.” and that is when she says “You’ve got me? Who’s got you?”

    • You’re right about the placement of the iconic “you’ve got me” line. I should have researched the film, but I found sources that have said Donner didn’t like her voice, that’s why it was made spoken word. I’m glad you like the scene, & I get what you’re saying about Lois & her Superman encounter, but that’s no reason for her to rhyme. I still think it’s more absurdity than a film about a flying man in tights can take. We all have our own opinions, but I still think the scene sucks.

  2. Meant rewatched, not researched.

  3. Worst doggerel ever committed to paper/celluloid. This is supposed to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and writer… and THAT’S what she’s supposed to have come up with. A touch of voice-over dialogue expressing her thoughts could have worked, maybe, but that god-awful poem is the utter low point of the movie and had everyone in the audience grimacing and shaking their head.

  4. As a complete Superman fanatic c’mon guys Superman is a fantasy and a great one for all times and all of us. Isn’t is just plain fun to suspend all rationality and just enjoy the ride? I mean, does anyone really think all Superman has to do is put on a pair of glasses and no one will know who he is? I can’t speak for others but its always fun to be spoofed! I want to believe Clark Kent and Superman are 2 different people even though I know they aren’t…lol.

  5. I know I’m more than 3 years fashionably late to this party but, does anyone have a clue who the female newscaster is played by right before the “who’s got you?” Line? Btw, I hate lois’s poetry too.

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