Immediately following the events of the first film, 'Superman II' sees the returns of both Gene Hackman as Luthor and Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent/Superman and is regarded by some as the last really good 'Superman' movie.
After Superman saves the California coastline from absolute destruction, he returns to his job as mild-mannered reporter, Clark Kent. When his boss sends Lois (Margot Kidder) on an assignment involving a bomb in Paris, France at the Eiffel Tower, Superman suits up, heads over, and throws the bomb into outer space. By doing this, he unwittingly releases prisoners Zod (Terence Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O'Halloran) from the Phantom Zone, referring back to the events at the beginning of the first film.
When the three Kryptonians reach the Moon, they discover that the yellow sun increases their abilities by kicking around a couple of astronauts. They then head to Earth to conquor it. Meanwhile, Luthor escapes prison and seeks out Superman's Fortress of Solitude, where he soon learns of the escaped Kryptonian prisoners. Eventually, they meet, and Luthor offers up Superman for their revenge, as he's also the only thing that could possibly stand in their way from taking over the world.
The rest of the story has everything to do with the blossoming love between Clark Kent and Lois Lane in which we see Superman make the ultimate sacrifice. I have to say, the whole thing was very enjoyable.
'Superman II' runs alongside a series of sequels that are often referred to as "better than the original". They are few and far between, but they exist, and this is definitely one of them. 'Superman' was also very good, but it kinda suffers from running too long, and even getting a little boring in some areas. 'Superman II' really feels more like I'm watching a comic book adventure come to life.
The Canuck in me also has to take a little bit of delight in the fact that the Niagara Falls scenes were shot on the Canadian side of the landmark when he's largely an American hero. But that's kinda just having the cherry on top of my sundae. Otherwise, aside from a few dated effects (that were still great for 1980) it ends up being a great story altogether, and maintains that sense of humour we got to enjoy in the first film.
Now, with these two movies out of the way, it should also be known that I'm not altogether a big fan of Superman. I always found him to be way too cheap. He's essentially indestructible unless kryptonite is nearby. But that said, I also have a certain respect for the hero. He was pretty much the first mainstream comic book superhero (that I know of), and he definitely has staying power. All that said though, these original movies kinda gave me this new perspective. I definitely enjoyed both of them, even if they were campy to watch. After all, the campiness of an older superhero movie like this is part of the fun!