Arguably the best of the Superman films, Superman II is darker than its counterparts, with a more foreboding, mythological atmosphere that's arguably closer in tone to the original comic book. High-energy director Richard Lester (A Hard Day's Night) lends the franchise a verve the first film lacked. He retains the best aspects of that film -- the sharp performances and impressive visual effects -- and adds a snappier pace and a more sardonic wit. Christopher Reeve is even better than he was in the original, adding more complex shadings to the character's dilemma between his obligations as Superman and his life as Clark Kent. The supporting cast is particularly strong: Terence Stamp is humorously cocky performance as the diabolical Zod, and Gene Hackman is as sleazily entertaining as he was in the first film. Much of the sequel was shot at the same time as the first Superman (by Richard Donner, who was denied a directing credit on this film), enhancing the feeling of continuity between the two.