BSP 2014 Advent Calendar: Day 7

Welcome to Day 7 of Bam Smack Pow’s 2014 Advent Calendar!  Only eighteen more days left until Christmas, and that means eighteen more superhero films will be mined for trivia.  For Day 7, we give you …

Supergirl (1984)

After the critical failure of Superman III, the Salkinds wanted to take the franchise into a new direction.  Using their own money to finance the project, the Salkinds cast a then unknown Helen Slater as Superman’s cousin, Kara Zor-El / Supergirl.  The film opened at the top of the box office, but quickly dropped in subsequent days.  It was a commercial and critical failure, and one of the biggest bombs of 1984.

Supergirl was directed by Jeannot Szwarc, written by David Odell, and starred Helen Slater as Kara Zor-El / Linda Lee / Supergirl, Faye Dunaway as Selena, Peter O’Toole as Zaltar, Hart Bochner as Ethan, Mia Farrow as Alura In-Ze, Simon Ward as Zor-El, Marc McClure as Jimmy Olsen, Brenda Vaccaro as Bianca, Peter Cook as Nigel, Maureen Teefy as Lucy Lane, and David Healy as Mr. Danvers.


  • Melanie Griffith, Brooke Shields, and Demi Moore screen tested for the role of Supergirl.  Shields was rejected by producer Ilya Salkind and director Jeannot Szwarc.  Moore won the role of Lucy Lane, but dropped out to be in Blame it on Rio (1984).  Griffith was given consideration, but eventually rejected.  Szwarc ultimately wanted an unknown actress for the role of Supergirl, so he chose Helen Slater.  Many years later, Salkind would go on record saying that he should’ve went with Brooke Shields.
  • Richard Lester, the director of Superman II (1980) and Superman III (1983), was the Salkinds’ first choice to direct.  Director Robert Wise was also approached.  Both turned the offer down.
  • Jeannot Szwarc was chosen as the director from a recommendation by Christopher Reeve.  Szwarc had worked with Reeve on the film Somewhere in Time (1980).
  • Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Goldie Hawn were all offered the role of antagonist Selena, with Parton being offered $7 million.
  • John Travolta was offered the role of Supergirl’s love interest, Ethan.  The role was eventually played by Hart Bochner.
  • Christopher Reeve was in plans to make a cameo as Superman, but left the project before filming began.  This scene was replaced with Kara looking at a poster of Superman instead, and with the background music being a short Superman motif.
  • Five versions of the script were written: one began with the destruction of Krypton seen in Superman: The Movie (1978); another had the plot of Supergirl rescuing Superman after he falls ill from Selena’s dark magic.
  • The film’s opening credits sequence cost $1 million to create.
  • The film was originally 135 minutes, but due to test audiences saying it was too long, the film was cut down to 105 minutes.  The original 138-minute negative was then stored at Pinewood Studios in a container labeled “Do Not Use.”  After discovering what the contents actually were, the full director’s cut of the film was released as a special two-disc limited edition DVD.  Only 50,000 copies were produced.
  • This was Helen Slater’s debut and she would later go on to play Lara, Kal-El’s (Superman’s) birth mother and wife of Jor-El, in The CW’s highly successful Superman prequel series Smallville.
  • A wooden cutout of Helen Slater was used when Supergirl first arrives on Earth and flies out of the water.  In the official trailer, the suspension wire for the cutout can still be seen.
  • Helen Slater’s training regimen included practicing how to fly for three hours a day for three months.
  • Because Marc McClure reprised his role as Jimmy Olsen in Supergirl, he is the only actor to appear in all of the Salkind-produced Superman-related films.  Years later, he would also appear in The CW’s Smallville as Dax-Ur, a Kryptonian scientist whose work led to the creation of Brainiac.

Make sure to come back each day because we still have eighteen more days worth of superhero film trivia for you!

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A special thanks to Eric Dufresne for his amazing geometric superhero art that’s being used as the background for the advent calendar.