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Superman on the Web

The Man of Steel is soaring on the Net

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Christopher Reeve, Superman
Christopher Reeve: Gunther/Warner Bros./MPTV.net

It’s been 22 years since Superman first flew onto the big screen, but he’s as popular as ever online, where fans have collected enough stories and photos about the ”Super” flicks to fill a Sunday edition of the Daily Planet. At Superman Cinema, scene-by-scene analyses of all four film installments plus ”Supergirl” point out inconsistencies and flubs, while articles and interviews provide eyebrow-raising insight into the turmoil that often plagued the productions. Among the more intriguing items: set photos and stills of scenes from ”Superman II” shot by Richard Donner and later excised or reshot when the beleaguered director was replaced by Richard Lester. ”I keep getting e-mails from people who want to do a Richard Donner ‘Superman II’ campaign,” says the U.K.-based webmaster, who, in true superhero fashion, prefers anonymity. He says fans were disappointed that none of Donner’s footage was included on the DVD released with the other ”Super” movies in May.

Donner, who helmed the first ”Superman” in ’78 and went on to direct the ”Lethal Weapon” films, says the door’s still open for a reedited version. ”Somewhere in the archives of Warner Bros. are scenes for ‘II’ that are better than what are in ‘II,”’ he says. ”Hopefully, someday we’ll put them back and show the audience what they could’ve had.”

For now, only the upcoming WB series ”Smallville” promises to keep Supe on screen, big or small. But not all the sites focus on film or TV. Computer programmer Mark Semich’s Superman Through the Ages! pays tribute to the 1938 comic-book character who started it all. ”England has King Arthur and America has Superman,” he says. Still, Arthur never had to put his crown on in a phone booth. Some sites sure to satisfy Superfreaks:

SUPERMAN CINEMA Only with X-ray vision can you absorb all the info in a single visit. Dissections of the incarnations of ”II” are so thorough that they identify differences between the Canadian and Australian TV broadcasts. Also included: several versions of the screenplay (missing: the original Mario Puzo script) and storyboards. A?

SUPERMAN WEB CENTRAL BEYOND Originally created by fans campaigning for a theatrical rerelease of ”Superman,” this site has matured into a valuable resource for information about several aspects of the films, most notably John Williams’ exhilarating score. And while you’re here, have a go at the ”Super” quiz. B

SUPERMAN-THEMOVIE.COM Mark Semich has created a depository for content he thinks belongs on an official site. Though not nearly as comprehensive as his Ages! site, this does offer a novelization of the first film and a message board that carries on the debate over who looks better in tights: Christopher Reeve or Dean Cain? C+

MY DVD COVERS More proof that fans know best, here you’ll find downloadable alternate cover art for the DVD boxes. There’s just one catch: These covers will work only with standard plastic cases. The Super DVDs were released in cardboard cases. No doubt another of Lex Luthor’s diabolical plots. C