- General Zod (Final appearance; dies)
- Lex Luthor
- Non (Final appearance; dies)
- Otis (Final appearance)
- Eve Teschmacher (Final appearance)
- Ursa (Final appearance; dies)
- Rocky (Single appearance)
- French Terrorists (Single appearance) (Theatrcal Cut)
- Maximum Security Prisoners
- President of the United States
- French Police (Theatrical Cut)
- Astronauts (First appearance; dies)
- East Huston Sheriff (Single appearance)
- East Huston Deputy (Single appearance)
- United States Army
- Secret Service
- Daily Planet Employees
- Metropolis Police Department
- Rao (Star) (Mentioned only)
- Earth's Moon
- North Pole
- France (Theatrcal Cut)
- United States of America
- Australia (Mentioned only)
- Terrorists' Nuclear Bomb (Theatrical Cut)
- 500 Megaton Nuclear Warhead Missile (Richard Donner Cut)
- Molecular Chamber
- Kryptonian Crystals
- Hot Air Balloon
- US Army Helicopters
Superman II was released as two somewhat different movies with similar actions going on in their storylines. The original theatrical version released in 1980 was directed by Richard Lester, with material originally filmed under the direction of Richard Donner. In 2006, a "Richard Donner cut" version was released with material that he originally intended for the release of the movie, including some Richard Lester-filmed scenes for story cohesion.
In both versions of the movie, Superman deals with the exposure of his secret identity to Lois Lane, his growing relationship with her in the light of this exposure, and the threat of the three Phantom Zone criminals who have been loosed from imprisonment by a nuclear explosion shattering its gateway. As they now have powers that equal Superman, General Zod along with Ursa and Non use them to terrorize the world and to force the President of the United States to surrender all governmental control to Zod. Meanwhile, Superman is temporarily stripped of all his powers and abilities and attempts to live the life of a normal mortal human being, only to realize what danger he put his adopted world into with the appearance of the Phantom Zone criminals. Lex Luthor escapes prison and becomes an ally to the rogue Kryptonians to help them find and destroy Superman. With Kal-El's powers restored, a massive battle takes place in Metropolis between him and the three criminals, who end up endangering the humans that Superman protects. He moves the fight into the Fortress of Solitude where he strips Zod, Ursa, and Non of all their powers and sends them plunging into the abyss. Luthor is again turned over to the authorities, and Superman and Lois Lane are left figuring out how they are going to handle this revelation and the relationship they have together.
Original Theatrical Version
A year or so after the events of Superman: The Movie, Lois Lane goes on assignment to cover the story of a terrorist threat in Paris to detonate a nuclear bomb on top of the Eiffel Tower. Being the kind of reporter that she is, Lois hides herself underneath the elevator car as it rides up to the top of the tower to overhear what the terrorists are planning to do when an incident causes both the car to plummet and the bomb to start ticking away. Superman comes to the rescue at the nick of time, saving Lois and then flying the elevator car with the bomb deep into outer space where it detonates safely. However, the shock waves of the explosion causes the gateway to the Phantom Zone to shatter as it passes toward that direction, freeing the three criminals Jor-El had imprisoned in it.
Soon with the liberty they now possess, General Zod along with Ursa and Non also discover as they head towards the moon and kill the three astronauts sent on a joint space mission from the United States and Russia that they now possess powers and abilities that they haven't possessed before. Heading towards Earth and landing near a small town called Houston, Idaho, the three of them use their newly-discovered powers to terrorize its citizens to no end, eventually bringing them to their knees and demanding obedience unto Zod for their continued existence. This brings them to the attention of both the television stations and the military, who attempt to stop them with all means short of a nuclear missile, only to find them as impervious and powerful as Superman.
Meanwhile, Lois Lane and Clark Kent are sent to Niagara Falls to do an undercover piece about honeymoon hotels exploiting newlyweds, posing as newlyweds themselves, when they take a walk near the falls and see a young boy playing near the fence who falls off. As the people gather around to see what will happen, Superman immediately shows up, catches the boy, and brings him safely back to his mother. Lois begins to suspect something as she notices that whenever Superman shows up, Clark somehow disappears, and so makes a daring test to Clark to prove whether he's Superman or not: she throws herself into the raging river on purpose right in front of Clark. Instead, Clark secretly uses his heat vision to cause a big branch to fall into the river and calls out for Lois to grab onto it so she can swim to shore. Lois looks at Clark in disbelief and starts to feel embarrassed.
At the same time, Lex Luthor breaks out of prison with the help of his aide Eva Tessmacher flying a hot-air balloon, and uses his "little black box" to track the location of Superman's secret place at the North Pole -- the Fortress of Solitude. Inside the place, Luthor uses one of the crystals to activate a hologram of Superman's mother Lara, who tells "her son" about the three evil Kryptonians placed inside the Phantom Zone. Realizing that those criminals could be on Earth and that they would need help finding Superman, Luthor quickly heads back south.
Back at the hotel, Lois discovers by accident when Clark trips over the bearskin rug and stuck his hand into the flames of the fireplace, yet didn't burn his hand doing so, that he truly is Superman. With the revelation of his identity now made known to her, Clark decides to take her to the Fortress of Solitude to tell her everything over dinner, letting her know how much he loves her. As they both felt so strongly for each other that they couldn't live their lives separately any longer, Kal-El confides with the hologram of his mother his desire to marry Lois. Lara tells him that the only way he can do that is to live as one of the humans, without any of his powers, and shows him the molecular chamber that harnesses the power of Krypton's red sun that will remove his powers forever. Believing that his love for Lois is worth the cost, Superman steps into the chamber as Lois watches it strip away the Kryptonian that he was, leaving him as Clark Kent the human being.
The Phantom Zone criminals have reached Washington, D.C. and barged their way into the Oval Office, forcing the President to bow before Zod and to concede all governmental control to him in exchange for his own life. Later on, at a roadside diner where Clark Kent gets painfully roughed up by a bully trucker named Rocky, the President goes live on television to declare the news of this surrender of control while pleading for Superman to help. Clark then realizes the danger he's put the world in with his decision to become human and heads back to the Fortress of Solitude in the hopes that he can restore his powers. By the time he gets there to find the only possible answer being the green glowing crystal that built the Fortress, Lex Luthor makes contact with the Phantom Zone criminals and offers his help for them to get revenge on the son of their jailer in exchange for being ruler of Australia.
In Metropolis, Lois Lane waits nervously in Perry White's office at the Daily Planet for Superman to show up when the rogue Kryptonians show up first, wrecking everything in their path toward the office where Luthor tells them to take Lois hostage. Soon Superman shows up outside the building, daring for Zod to step outside. The three Kryptonians engage Superman in battle, flying and fighting all around the city in the hopes of destroying the son of Jor-El. They notice Superman protecting the humans during their battle and decide to endanger them in order to weaken him enough to destroy him. Eventually Superman realizes the danger that the fight is causing the citizens and flies off, much to the disappointment of those hoping to see Superman defeat the villains.
Luthor then directs the Phantom Zone criminals to the Fortress of Solitude, where they also take Luthor and Lois in their attempt to destroy Superman. It is there that Superman, who again fights them but is unable to prevail against them, gets Luthor to trick the Kryptonians into having him be put into the molecule chamber to strip away his powers once again, as Lois sadly watches. However, as Zod made the now seemingly-weakened Superman bow before him, take his hand, and swear eternal allegiance to him, Superman crushed Zod's hand, revealing that he altered the chamber so that he would be safe while the other three Kryptonians lost their powers. Zod, Ursa, and Non all fall into the abyss, and Superman turns Luthor over to the authorities once more while he took Lois back home to her apartment.
The following day, Clark Kent checks up on Lois at the Daily Planet to see how she is doing, and finds her crying because she cannot deal with what she knows about Clark now and how to relate to him anymore. Clark takes Lois close to him and kisses her, and with the kiss he makes her completely forget anything she knew about Clark Kent being Superman, restoring her to the Lois Lane that he knew. Later on, at the same roadside diner he went to earlier, Clark Kent gives Rocky a taste of his own medicine. As Superman, he flies the replacement sky dome with an American flag on it to the White House and tells the President that he won't let him down again.
Richard Donner Cut
From a scene in the last part of Superman: The Movie, Superman is chasing after the nuclear missile that has been programmed to head toward the East Coast, catching up to just in time to push it into outer space where it will detonate harmlessly. As it does, the shock waves of the explosion causes the gateway to the Phantom Zone to shatter as it passes toward that direction, freeing the three criminals Jor-El had imprisoned in it. As in the Original Theatrical Version, the rogue Kryptonians head toward the moon to kill the three astronauts and then head towards Earth where they further discover and explore their new powers, using them to terrorize a small town in Idaho and eventually take on the military forces that try to oppose them.
At the Daily Planet, Lois suspects that Clark Kent is Superman and makes a daring test to prove that he is by throwing herself out of an office window to the city street below in front of Clark. He instead causes an awning to unfold below and then zips down to the street at superhuman speed to use his super-breath to slow Lois' fall. She bounces off the awning and lands unharmed onto a fruit stand. Clark zips back to the office and looks down from the window, asking Lois if she is all right. Lois looks at Clark rather dumbfoundedly as if what she did was really foolhardy and stupid before she faints.
Luthor breaks out of jail with the help of Eve Tessmacher in a hot-air balloon, then travels the rest of the way to the Fortress of Solitude on a snowmobile before hopping across several ice floes to its entrance. Luthor uses the holographic crystals and learns from Jor-El, Superman's father, about the three rogue Kryptonians in the Phantom Zone while Eve looks for a bathroom.
Clark and Lois travel to Niagara Falls to do an undercover story about their honeymoon suites when they go walking around the falls, seeing a young child fall into the raging waters. Instantly Superman comes to the boy's rescue and returns him safely to his mother, departing before Lois can get his attention. Later on at the hotel, Lois again attempts to have Clark Kent reveal himself as Superman, though this time with a gun. Clark tries to reason Lois into not doing anything foolish, but it is of no use: the gun goes off, and Clark isn't affected by it, which makes him realize it is best to end the charade with Lois. Of course, Lois reveals that the gun she used only fires blanks.
As in the Original Theatrical Version, the three Phantom Zone criminals now head to Washington, D.C., this time causing part of the Washington Monument to topple. They overpower the Secret Service and military staff stationed outside the Oval Office and force the President of the United States to bow down on his knees before Zod and surrender all governmental control to him in exchange for his life.
Superman then takes Lois to his Fortress of Solitude where he confesses his love for her before they spend the night together. He later confides with the hologram of his father Jor-El his desire to be with her. Jor-El criticizes this desire as being selfish, but Kal-El asks how much good has he done would be good enough to allow him some form of happiness with someone else. Unable to sway his son to think otherwise, Jor-El tells him that the only way he can do that is to live as one of the humans, without any of his powers, and shows him the molecular chamber that harnesses the power of Krypton's red sun that will remove his powers forever. Believing that his love for Lois is worth the cost, Superman steps into the chamber as Lois watches it strip away the Kryptonian that he was, leaving him as Clark Kent the human being.
As in the Original Theatrical Version, Clark gets into a fight with a bully trucker named Rocky and ends up learning that the three Phantom Zone criminals have escaped and are taking over the world, with the President pleading for Superman to come to the rescue. Realizing how much the world needs him as Superman, Clark returns to the Fortress alone and pleads with the spirit of Jor-El his father to restore what he had given up. His father's spirit appears again and this time merges with his son, fulfilling what Jor-El had said before he sent his son to Earth: "The son becomes the father, and the father the son."
Lex Luthor comes into contact with the rogue Kryptonians, revealing to them that Superman is the son of Jor-El, their jailer, and that he will help them get their revenge in exchange for his being ruler of Australia. He directs them to the Daily Planet, where as in the Original Theatrical Version he tells them to take Lois hostage. Soon Superman shows up outside the Daily Planet building, and the Kryptonians engage in a fight all around Metropolis that ends up putting its citizens at risk and almost kills Superman. He flees to the Fortress of Solitude, and Lex Luthor directs the Phantom Zone criminals to go there, taking Lois and himself with them. Superman tricks Luthor into having them put him into the molecule chamber to strip away his powers again, though after he comes out and bows before Zod, he crushes the Kryptonian's hand, making Luthor realize that the chamber kept Superman safe while the other three were stripped of their powers. They soon fall into the abyss, and Luthor is handed over to the authorities while Superman takes Lois to her apartment where she begins writing an article about Superman.
However, just as she starts typing, Superman again causes time to take a backward spin by spinning the planet in reverse, undoing all the damage that was caused and reimprisoning the Phantom Zone criminals. When he causes time to go forward again, Lois is totally without any knowledge of Clark Kent being Superman, and Perry White has a moment of deja vu. Lois greets Clark as he enters the Daily Planet office and tells him to get a pizza for her, which he obliges.
To close out the story, as in the Original Theatrical Version, Clark returns to the diner to give Rocky a taste of his own medicine.
- Christopher Reeve as Superman
- Margot Kidder as Lois Lane
- Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor
- Terence Stamp as General Zod
- Sarah Douglas as Ursa
- Jack O'Halloran as Non
- Jackie Cooper as Perry White
- Marc McClure as Jimmy Olsen
- Valerie Perrine as Eve Teschmacher
- Ned Beatty as Otis
- E.G. Marshall as the President of the United States
- Pepper Martin as a Rocky
- Clifton James as the Sheriff
- Peter Whitman as Deputy Dwayne
- No special notes.
- Richard Donner makes a cameo appearance as a man walking past a diner.
- Actor John Ratzenberger has a small role as a NASA controller in the beginning of the film. Ratzenberger is more popularly known for playing the role of Cliff Clavin on the television series Cheers.
- The original DVD cover art, as well as several shots from the film itself show the World Trade Center towers and the Empire State Building, indicating that the Metropolis of the movies is analogous to New York City.
- Characters from Superman II (Movie)
- Other things related to Superman II (Movie)
- Movie Gallery: Superman II (Movie)