Gus Gorman is a down-on-his-luck unemployed person in Metropolis who just found out that his unemployment checks have been stopped. He comes across a matchbook that advertises a school that teaches computer programming, promising that he will earn big bucks from his skills, and so he attends, astoni
Gus Gorman is a down-on-his-luck unemployed person in Metropolis who just found out that his unemployment checks have been stopped. He comes across a matchbook that advertises a school that teaches computer programming, promising that he will earn big bucks from his skills, and so he attends, astonishing everyone with his surprising aptitude for program design. He then goes to work for Webscoe Industries, where he finds that the pay for his work isn't as promising as he hoped for, particularly the multiple taxes that take a bite out of his paycheck. After learning the concept of how interest is generated and fractions of a penny are left over, Gus uses his skills to direct all those unaccounted pennies to him, causing him to get a check for over $85,000. However, Gus is not very savvy about his plot, and gives himself away by driving to work in an expensive roadster, gaining the attention of the CEO of Webscoe, Ross Webster, a man looking for ways to use technology to rule the world, albeit financially and from the shadows as opposed to the villians of the previous films. Together with his sister Vera and his "psychic nutrtionist" Lorelei Ambrosia, Ross blackmails Gorman into helping him.
Meanwhile, as Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane goes off to Bermuda for a vacation, Clark Kent attends his Smallville High class reunion party where he meets his high-school sweetheart Lana Lang. He finds out that she now has a young son named Ricky, and Lana is dealing with both being a single mother and fending off the unwanted affections of her former boyfriend Brad, who is now a drunk working as a security guard. As Clark spends time with Lana and her son on a picnic, Superman comes to Ricky's rescue when he lies in the wheat fields injured and about to be run over by threshing machines.
As Ross Webster's plan of having Gus Gorman reprogram the weather-reporting satellite to create a hurricane to destroy South American coffee crops has been foiled by Superman's interference, he now has Gorman come up with a way to create Kryptonite, which is known to weaken Superman unto death. However, in the computer's analyzing the elements that go into the formation of Kryptonite, it fails to recognize the "unknown" element, so Gorman substitutes tar in its place. With the synthetic Kryptonite now produced, he presents it to Superman at a homecoming celebration in Smallville as a gift, posing as a U.S. Army Lieutenant General, using the recent fire at the chemical plant to praise Superman. Superman, considering it some kind of jewel, thanks Gus. Gus is disappointed to see it has no immediate effect on Superman. However, the corrupted Kryptonite changes Superman gradually, causing him to forget about rescuing others and acting lewd towards Lana. Superman becomes increasingly sullen, and instigates immature pranks such as blowing out the flame of the Olympic torch and straightening the Leaning Tower of Piza.
With Superman out of their way, Ross moves on to another financial plot: monopolizing petroleum. He has Gus redirect all oil tankers to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean until further notice. However, the captain of one tanker continues with his orders to proceed to Metropolis, so Lorelei seduces Superman into attacking the tanker and offering to sleep with him.
Superman's immorality comes to a head following a drinking binge when he lands in a junkyard and splits into two personas: the evil selfish Superman and the good moral Clark Kent. Though his Superman self seems to have the upper hand over his Clark Kent self in the physical confrontation, eventually his Clark Kent self overpowers and defeats the evil Superman self until it vanishes. With Superman's goodness restored, he goes forth to restore all the damage that his evil self has caused and then goes to confront Ross Webster, who is now with his sister, Lorelei, and Gorman at the site of the newly-constructed supercomputer.
Seeing Superman coming, Ross runs Superman through a gauntlet of missile attacks, then traps him within an energy bubble to suffocate him until he manages to rip a hole to destroy its generating mechanism. Finally, he causes a beam of pure Kryptonite to be aimed at Superman, weakening him. Realizing that he is now being credited as the man who destroyed Superman, Gorman turns against his boss and manually shuts down the computer's power core. However, the computer repowers itself and continues to fire the Kryptonite beam at Superman. Gorman takes an ax and destroys the beam's projector, but the computer is now self-aware and attacks him with a repulsion beam. Seeing how powerful this computer has become, Superman flees from the site, and Ross and his cohorts also attempt to do the same, only for his sister Vera to be captured and turned into a cyborg zombie, who immobilizes and weakens both Ross and Lorelei. Meanwhile, the computer is sucking power from all across the nation, causing blackouts in major cities.
Soon Superman returns, this time with a cannister of seemingly inert chemicals that he places within the core of the supercomputer as he allows himself to be captured. The chemicals then heat up and become acidic, destroying the computer from within until it finally explodes, releasing Ross, Vera, and Lorelei from its control. Superman then takes a grateful Gorman away to a West Virginia coal mine where he is offered a job as a computer programmer, leaving the other three for the authorities to deal with, then returns to Metropolis where he finds Lana Lang has moved there and is now employed as Perry White's new secretary. Lois Lane returns from her vacation, which has turned into an adventure that will make front-page news.
The sound effects used in the "video game sequence" of Ross Webster launching missiles at Superman, which was created by Atari (formerly owned by Warner Communications), come from the Atari 2600 Pac-Man game, also created by Atari.
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