Superman III (1983)
Early storyboards for opening sequence

These very early storyboards for the opening sequence of "Superman III" were collected over the years from many sources and are all original pencil drawings. Most are not drawn or pasted onto "official" production storyboard templated, having been drawn in rough pencil over regular paper, and it is this lack of production markings or numbering that renders them so difficult to put in proper order. They were drawn by Mike Ploog. The earliest script I could find online was the revised version, dated April 1982, which was used here. I am happy to say that a final draft from June 1982 is part of my collection, and you can find it elsewhere on the site.

This is a sort of puzzle. What fits where is a mystery, so any ideas of the correct sequence are most welcome. Meanwhile, enjoy!


EXT. METROPOLIS STREETS - DAY ESTABLISHING SHOT -- The busy streets of Metropolis on a typical weekday morning. Hustle and bustle, PEDESTRIANS and vehicles. It's nine-o'clock and people are on their way to work. As theme music continues, the sequence begins. 1. Coming out the front door of a building is an absolute knockout of a GIRL: voluptuous, sexy, young, and healthy. Her every step casues a series of mind- boggling ripples. She is seemingly oblivious to the effect she has on passers- by. About 25 years old, this is somebody we will be seeing much more of later. LORELEI AMBROSIA.

2. As she walks AWAY FROM CAMERA, her rear end reminding us of the proverbial puppies fighting in a sack, a GUY walking down the street from the opposite direction turns to ogle at her and therefore doesn't look where he's going. He bumps into a table-top tray of TOY WIND-UP PENGUINS being sold by a VENDOR. The PENGUINS, about 20 of them, go waddling off in different directions up and down the street.

3. A split-second later, a MAN IN A CAP, also walking in the opposite direction, comes abreast of LORELEI, turns to look at her, doesn't see that right in front of him (he's near the curb) is a street-sign post. He slams into it face first.

4. Clutching his smashed nose, he recoils backwards with a great lurch, banging full-force into a GIRL ON ROLLER SKATES. 

5. Knocked off balance, wobbling erratically, she swerves and srashes into a hot dog wagon on the corner of the street. Standing there, buying a morning snack, is the DAILY PLANET photographer and cub reporter JIMMY OLSEN, on his way to the office. The HOT DOG VENDOR has put a frank on a bun and os about to squirt the mustard on it when the ROLLER SKATER crashes into the hot dog wagon. The mustard squirts on Jimmy's face instead and the wagon goes rolling away with considerable momentum. 

6. On the corner of the next street are three telephone booths, side by side. In each booth is a CALLER. The LAST CALLER, A WOMAN, holds onto a leash, which dangles outside her phone booth. On the end of this leash is a LITTLE DOG, waiting patiently outside while his mistress talks on the phoneinside. The hot dog wagon, picking up speed, hits the first phone booth with considerable impact. 

7. Causing a domino effect: the first booth tips over, with the GUY still inside it. and hits the second booth, tipping it and its OCCUPANT over, and that in turn knocks over the third booth, causing the LADY inside to lose her grip on the leash. Immediately the LITTLE DOG, startled by the crash, goes charging off down the street, trailing his leash. 

8. Further down the street is a BLIND MAN holding the handle of the harness attached to his SEEING-EYE DOG stands in a doorway. As the LITTLE DOG comes running by, the SEEING-EYE DOG gets excited and pulls free of his MASTER, chasing the other DOG. Startled, the BLIND MAN staggers out into the street, feeling for his DOG, just as:

9. A WHITE-LINE ROAD PAINTER workman is coming down the avenue, holding the handle of his motorized line-painting machine, which he is guiding precisely down the center of the street, painting, AS WE SEE a straight white line. He is distracted by the CHARGING DOGS and lets go of his machine momentarily. A moment later, the BLIND MAN staggers out into the road, reaches out and grasps what feels exactly like the handle of his Seeing-eye Dog harness. It ain't. It's the line-painting machine. 

10. Which now continues down the road guided by a BLIND MAN, and the white line being painted curves, zig-zags, and bends so that any motorist trying to follow it would go berserk. 

11. In the meantime, strolling down a side-street, with the characteristically springing step, affable smile for the world, neat suit, hat, and glasses comes none other than CLARK KENT. He suddenly jumps back as the LITTLE DOG comes whizzing by and instinctively reaches down with super-speed to grab the leash. This he does, but if the leash stops, the DOG doesn't. Instead the leash pulls free of the collar, leaving a bemused CLARK standing there holding an empty leash. 

12. The DOGS whiz by the MAN IN THE CAP (fellow who keeps banging into things and getting hurt). As he leaps back to avoid them, he falls into an open manhole. 

13. In the middle of the street, the white-line maker "guided" by the BLIND MAN, is heading for the area of the street where the open manhole is. The BLIND MAN loses control of the white-line painter and is about to step into the open hole, when:

14. The now-capless bald head of the MAN IN THE CAP emerges from the manhole, just in time for the BLIND MAN to step right on it (like a man crossing a pond by stepping on the stones). The BLIND MAN, busy whistling for his missing dog, never noticed how near to disaster he came, but the bald head of the poor MAN IN THE CAP is now imprinted with a black sole mark.

15. The white-line roller, with nobody steering it, crashes into a little barrier that has been set up on the other side of the open manhole. Customary smudge pots mark the barrier. The white-line roller hits a smudge pot.

16. The smudge pot goes rolling across the gutter, stops. From another direction comes one of those TOY PENGUINS. It hits the smudge pot and is immediately set on fire by the flame.

17. The now flaming PENQUIN continues walking across the street, towards a newspaper stand. Stacked on the curb beside it are a bundle of as-yet-unopened newspapers. The burning toy comes to a stop against the stack, which begins to smoulder.

18. Further down the street is a bank. And just at this moment, running out of the bank, a gun in one hand, a sack of stolen money in the other, comes a BANK ROBBER. A BANK GUARD races from the bank and gives chase. The BANK ROBBER doesn't see:

19. A MAN removing a ladder (the kind which hooks onto clamps from the side of a van truck). As the MAN and ladder turn, the ladder hook grabs the ROBBER'S hands. The MAN WITH THE LADDER, never realizing what he has done, swings round 180 degrees with the ladder and the money bag is pulled off the ladder by:

20. The wires of a scaffold where some BUILDING REPAIRMEN stand, just about to go up the side of a building. A second after the sack is deposited on the platform, the scaffold starts to rise.
[Here we can perhaps add another non-filmed point in the sequence, as one of the
storyboards had the annotation "meter maid?", suggesting that it might take
place before or after it. I offer that it may have been before, as there really
is no good place afterwards -- which might explain why it was deleted.]

A preliminary sketch of the storyboard below.
21. The BANK GUARD fires at the ROBBER, but his shot misses and hits the windshield of a passing car. The windshield shatters and the DRIVER crashes into a fire hydrant on the curb. 

[Another difference from the filmed version, here the man in the car is distracted by Lorelei and the dog and crashes into the fire hydrant.] 

22. Water gushes out of the hydrant, filling up the interior of the car like a goldfish bowl, the DRIVER trapped inside. 

23. Across the street, the flaming newspapers have set the entire kiosk on fire.

24. Hearing the screams and shouts, CLARK KENT looks down the street and sees what's happening. Quickly, he looks around for a place to metamorphose sees none.

25. HE dashes down the street, pausing for a regretful look at the three phone booths on their sides (no way for him there). He spots an open storefront with one of those Photomat Booths inside, enters it, behind the curtain. We hear a coin drop in the slot; the OCCUPIED sign goes on; the lights flash. A moment later, bursting out of the booth. . . SUPERMAN!

26. He's just about to take off, when he does an "Oops!" as he remembers: the four photos drop into the receptacle. AS he turns to go back and get them, a KID wanders by and SUPERMAN grabs them out of his hand. ON THE PHOTOS: They show the change. PHOTO 1" Clark. 2. Clark with glasses off, shirt unbuttoned. 3. Further along. 4. SUPERMAN. Quickly he tears off the fourth picture and hands it to the astonished KID.

[Here we have another full sequence which was not filmed. As the car fills with water, the roller skater approaches and passes by Lorelei. A police-woman approaches the car and notices it is filling with water. A large mirror is being taken out of a moving truck and the skater is on a collision course.]

[Now, as the policewoman is figuring out how to open the car, the
skater is approaching, on a collision course with the large glass. Superman lands, stops the skater from colliding and moves toward the car.]

27. SUPERMAN lands on top of the car . . . now totally filled with water. Quickly, he rips open the sun roof, reaches inside and hauls the soggy DRIVER out. Then, jumping to the ground, he lifts the car off the hydrant, sets it down, then jams the broken hydrant back into the sidewalk, thereby stopping the gushing water.

28. Across the street, the kiosk is engulfed in flames. SUPERMAN lifts the car, flies across the street with it and turns it upside down over the fire. The water gushes out and douses the flames.

29. JIMMY OLSEN, watching from the sidewalk, sheers: JIMMY Way to go, Superman!

30. Up high on the outside of the building, the WORKERS on the scaffold turn to look down at what's happening on the street. ONE OF THEM kicks the sack of money over the side as he turns to look.

31. In the playground of the park on the next street, a YOUNG MOTHER (or a NANNY)  lifts a little TODDLER from a baby carriage and sets him on one of end of a see-saw. Now she starts to walk around it to the other end so that she can give the little  fellow a gentle see-saw ride. But before she gets there, the falling money bag lands full force on the (up) end of the see-saw.

32. Which causes the other end to fly upwards, catapulting the TODDLER straight up in the air. The YOUNG MOTHER screams.

33. The BABY lands in the topmost branches of a tree and howls.

34. SUPERMAN sees the problem, flies down and rescues the TODDLER. He hands him to the YOUNG MOTHER and flies off.

[This scene was actually filmed and you can find it on YouTube]
35. THE TWO PAINTERS are on a scaffold, about two stories up on the side of a building. One of them turns abruptly as he spots SUPERMAN flying by:
                                FIRST PAINTER
                               (to CO-WORKER)
                           Mike, looks who's here!
And as he turns, he inadvertently kicks over one can of paint on
its side, Paint slowly starts to drip out and over the side.
the window of a posh Art Gallery. Inside, a DIGNIFIED GENTLEMAN
is paying a large sum of money to the OWNER as his purchase, a 
large oil painting in gilt frame, is being moved toward the door
37. The DIGNIFIED GENTLEMAN exits the gallery first. As he steps out,
the first drops of paint from the tipped-over paint can above starts
to fall. He automatically opens his umbrella at the first sign of 
falling moisture.
[The storyboard below suggests a competely new moment in the Rube Goldberg
sequence: the gentleman (in the film he has an umbrella) has just bought a car and is waiting for the paint drip to fall before advancing. Sadly, this is the only storyboard I have for this. We can only imagine the rest.]

38. After a pause, there seems to be no more precipitation. He closes up his umbrella. A second later, the entire can of paint falls on his head.

39. He reels backwards from the blow and crashes into a penny gumball machine on the sidewalk (outside an adjacent candy store).
40. The gumball machine crashes to the ground, the glass globe breaks and a hundred little gumballs roll onto the sidewalk. 

41. Way down the street, the BANK ROBBER is fleeing from the pursuing BANK GUARD, constantly looking over his shoulder to see if he's gaining on him.

42. On the other side of the art gallery, PATRONS in a sidewalk café are being entertained by one of those STREET PERFORMERS seen everywhere lately . . . a second-rate Marcel Marceau, i.e. a white-faced, black leotard-garbed MIME. The MIME is doing the classic routine of a man climbing a hill against a strong wind. He doesn't see the gumballs rolling toward him until it is too late. Desperately trying to maintain his routine, his feet start going out of control, faster and faster. he loses balance completely and falls ungracefully on his ass.

43. The BANK ROBBER dashes down the street, COPS giving chase, and trips on the fallen MIME. The sudden halting of his rapid forward motion sends him falling straight forward just as:

44. The oil painting is being carried out of the gallery to a nearby car. The BANK ROBBER goes head-first right through the painting.

[According to these early storyboards, an old man is kicked out of a deli and it is him who crashes through the painting, as seen below. In the final draft and in the film, it is the blind man. Strangely, the old man as drawn here is wearing the same earphones as the blind man
(see storyboard further up).]

45. On the other side of the painting, a TEENAGER dribbling a basketball is knocked down by the ROBBER. The basketball bounces and goes flying through the air.

46. It lands in the cooker of a Hot Fog Wagon, which has finally come to a stop against the side of a building. The heat causes the basketball to swell . . . and swell . . .

47. CLARK KENT, in civvies again, comes out of a doorway. 

48. ON THE BASKETBALL which swells to the bursting point and explodes. Pieces of rubber and strings of hot-dogs go flying into the air. 

49. On street level, LORELEI AMBROSIA comes jiggling down the street, still having no idea of the events she set in motion. 

50. Ahead of her, halfway down the block, a panel truck, its doors open, is parked in front of a bakery. A DELIVERY MAN emerges from the bakery, carrying a tray of custard pies. 

51. The bakery's DELIVERY MAN doesn't see the hot dogs rolling on the sidewalk. He steps on them, trips. This causes: 

52. A custard pie to fly up into the air, heading right for the unsuspecting kisser of LORELEI, who is walking the other way. 

53. CLARK spots what is about to happen and, with a very deft move, slides in front of the momentarily startled girl and, in the same motion, reaches one hand up and catches the pie neatly just when it was inches away from her face. Still in one smooth motion, CLARK whisks it away and out of sight like a very clever waiter, as LORELEI, who never noticed, continues on. 

54. What CLARK doesn't notice, though, is the bruised battered MAN IN THE CAP who turns the corner exactly at this second and walks smack-on right into the custard pie in CLARK's outstretched hand. CLARK Oh! Sorry about that. 

55. As the MAN IN THE CAP stands there wiping pie off his face, CLARK steps to the curb and waits for the light to change so he can cross. 

56. NEW ANGLE -- A big truck comes down the street. There's a large puddle on the gutter, the residue of an early morning rain. The curbside tires run through the water, causing it to splash CLARK. AS the big splash hits him, this is THE FINAL FREEZE FRAME and the FINAL (DIRECTOR'S) CREDIT. 

ON CLARK -- He looks down in mild dismay. His pant legs are soaking wet. Quickly, he turns and walks into the park entrance. FOLLOW HIM as he sits down on an unoccupied bench. Trying not to call attention to himself, he opens his newspaper, pretends to read it. It is today's DAILY PLANET. CLOSER ON CLARK -- He looks around to make sure nobody is noticing him. Nobody is. Satisfied, he raises his glasses and looks down at his wet pants. 

EFFECTS: The red rays of Heat Vision emanate from his eyes, aims at his pants as he extends his legs on the park bench. In a second, the pants are magically dries and re-pleated. 

                    (to himself)
                   Neatness counts.

Satisfied, he continues to walk to work. As CLARK walks OUT OF FRAME, PAN UP to the second floor of a small building, the kind where there's a store on the ground floor and a few offices above it. PAN STOPS on the window, on which is lettered:

Where the storyboards above were mostly from deleted scenes, the ones below match
almost perfectly the sequence as filmed.

You may also enjoy these props from the collection:

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