Movie Cereal: Superman – Chapter 7: Into the Electric Furnace

When we last left Metropolis, or the outskirts of Metropolis, Lois Lane was unconscious at the wheel of a car that was headed straight for a nose dive off a high cliff. Clark Kent is lying by the side of the road, having been overpowered by some of the Spider-lady’s goons. Ugh, I’m still struggling with that one! How will he ever save Lois in time? Let’s find out in chapter 7 – Into the Electric Furnace!

Unshown to us in the previous installment, Clark Kent actually composes himself pretty quickly after the attack by Spider-lady’s henchmen. He quickly changes into Superman and zooms off to the house where he left Dr. Hackett tied up. A quick search reveals the house is empty, so he zooms off again and quickly spots the car containing Lois. He then swoops down and grabs the car by the back fender (a favorite move of Superman’s) and stops it from going over the cliff. He then pulls the still snoozing Lois out and flies her back to town.

We now cut back to Perry White’s office at the Daily Planet, where Lois explains that she remembers nothing except waking up in a doctor’s office. Lois, Clark, and Jimmy all get to feel Perry’s wrath as he’s none too happy about them dropping the ball on the Dr. Hackett story. Meanwhile, at the Spider-lady’s lair, she is briefing Dr. Hackett on the possibilities of creating a kryptonite weapon to use against Superman. The doctor decides they need to lure Superman to them using someone he is close to…Clark Kent. 

The Spider-lady’s goons phone in a tip to Clark’s desk, but the call is intercepted by Lois. So, instead of Clark being lured into the trap, it’s Lois and Jimmy headed for danger again. The result is the goons grabbing poor Jimmy Olsen, thinking he’s Clark. Dr. Hackett realizes the mistake after Jimmy is brought to the hideout, but he decides they can use this bungle to their advantage. So, he calls Clark and tells him to get word to Superman that they have kidnapped Jimmy Olsen. Clark cleverly asks Hackett to prove they have Jimmy, so the two arrange to meet so Clark can see for himself.

Clark heads off to the rendezvous and meets up with Hackett. He tells the doctor that Superman will show up if they agree to let Jimmy go. The goons then take Clark back to their lair. Of course, Lois, always out to get into trouble, has followed Clark.

At the hideout, the goons get frustrated that Superman is a no-show. Clark reminds them that the deal was to let Jimmy go, then Superman will come. The crooks are having none of this, though. They haul Clark off to another room. Meanwhile, Jimmy has loosened his bonds and decides to try and take out the crooks. They quickly overpower the meager photographer, though, and soon Jimmy finds himself lying unconscious on a conveyer belt, about to land in a blazing furnace. With Clark tucked away in another room, how will he even know Jimmy is in danger? You’ll have to wait until next time to find out.

Once again, we have an episode of Superman with very little Superman! Just like with the previous episode, the last son of Krypton shows up for the resolution of the cliffhanger and then vanishes for the rest of the chapter. It doesn’t help that the cliffhanger resolution feels like a huge cheat this time around. I mean, all the cliffhanger resolutions are cheats in one way or another, but this one goes a bit overboard. We have tons of footage we didn’t see before where Clark Kent composes himself after being shoved around by the bad guys, runs off to change clothes, then goes to the house to see Dr. Hackett has escaped, and THEN zips off to rescue Lois. Oh, and when Clark goes to change into his cape and tights he ducks into some bushes but emerges as Superman a few seconds later from behind a rock!? Plus, when he rescues Lois, it’s a technique we’ve seen him do at least twice already in previous chapters…he grabs the back bumper of the speeding car to bring it to a halt. Maybe one time jump in front of the car to stop it! Or better yet, catch it in mid-air after it drops off the cliff! With the way the filmmakers use animation or the special effects in this serial, surely they could’ve pulled that off.

Now, it was kind of cool that we got to see Superman fly off with Lois in his arms after the rescue. However, after they zoom off we very quickly cut to everybody having a powwow in Perry White’s office back at the Daily Planet. I grew up on the 1978 version of Superman, and so help me, the scene with Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder flying around Metropolis on their “date” is one of my favorites in the film. So yeah, I wanted to see Lois and Superman have a romantic midair moment here. Alas, it was not to be. Strangely, though, there is a bit of a moment between Lois and Clark later on. After the two have both been ripped a new one by Perry White, they have a brief exchange where it seems like Lois is letting her guard down a bit and not feeling quite so threatened by this new reporter on the staff. Clark doesn’t seize the moment and ask her for a date, though.

Sadly, most of this chapter is pretty humdrum, but we do get a nice surprise toward the end when Jimmy Olsen, of all people, steps up to try and be the hero. The feisty photographer manages to free himself from his bonds and rather than just making a run for it, he tries to take out the Spider-lady’s goons all by himself. Jimmy is, of course, played by Tommy Bond, who as a kid played the part of Butch in the Our Gang series. I guess he’s returning to his tough guy roots, trying to throw punches like he did alongside The Woim back in those old shorts. It’s good to see him get a chance to shine here, as so far Jimmy has been just kind of tagging along in this serial.

Jimmy may wish he’d not tried to take down the crooks, though, cuz now he’s lying unconscious on a conveyor belt, about to be flame-broiled. How will Superman save him? Super cold breath? Smash the furnace to smithereens? You’ll have to wait until next time to find out. Join us for Chapter 8 – Superman to the Rescue.

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