Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut is a superhero film directed by Richard Donner. It is a re-edited director's cut of the 1980 film Superman II by restoring a significant amount of lost footage originally shot by Donner in 1977 before he was taken off the project and replaced by director Richard Lester, who completed the film for its theatrical release. In 2000, during the DVD restoration of Superman: The Movie, editor Michael Thau became interested in completing Donner's version of Superman II. In 2006, Donner's footage of Marlon Brando was discovered and used in Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, finally creating the possibility of restoring Donner's cut.
The cut was re-edited by Thau under the supervision of Donner and creative consultant Tom Mankiewicz. Unlike many "special edition" and "director's cuts", The Richard Donner Cut is an alternate version of the theatrical film in an attempt to closely follow its original script. It features its original opening and ending, alternate takes and camera angles, and deleted scenes featuring Brando whose character was replaced by Susannah York in the theatrical release.
Since Donner never completed Superman II, certain scenes filmed by Lester along with newly created visual effects shots by Thau, had to be added to the film in order to finish it closely to Donner's vision as possible. An early screen test of one pivotal scene featuring Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder was added to the film as Donner never got around to shooting it.
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut was released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2006, coinciding with the release of Superman Returns.
On the planet Krypton, criminals General Zod (Terence Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O'Halloran) are sentenced to eternal banishment inside the Phantom Zone by Jor-El (Marlon Brando) for insurrection and murder, amongst other crimes. Later, the shockwaves resulting from Krypton's explosion change the trajectory of the Phantom Zone, causing it to set on the same course as Kal-El's starship to Earth. Thirty years later, Superman (Christopher Reeve) diverts an XK-101 missile into outer space and, unknowingly, destroys the Phantom Zone as it drifts towards Earth and frees its captives.