Turkish Superman (Supermen Dönüyor) (1978)

Turkish_Superman_(1978)‘Look son, someday while coming back home with your father, we found you inside a rocket-like machine in our garden.’

One day Tayfun’s parents tell him that he’s adopted and probably an alien. Meanwhile a top scientist has found a meteorite, but one of his colleagues wants to use it to turn things into gold and rule the world.

The complications of copyright law in the 1970s and 1980s meant that big Hollywood films weren’t released in Turkey, so the resourceful Turks just made their own versions of them instead. On budgets virtually non-existent by comparison. Here we have what begins as a virtual re-hash of the original ‘Superman’ (1978) which then branches off into a story with somewhat smaller financial consequences.

Early scenes feature interaction between the adult Tayfan and his parents. All the interior doors of their home look like belong in an office what with the large panes of glass in them, but no matter! When he gets the news of his otherworldly origins, Tayfan leaves to find himself, and gets the word from his Dad in the ‘Fortress of Solitude’ just like Christopher Reeve did when he met up with a projection of Marlon Brando. Only this ‘Fortress’ is actually a gloomy cave and this Brando appears to be green for some reason. Anyways, Tayfan goes to the big city and lands a job (somehow) as a journo on a big city newspaper, which seems to have a staff of four. One of these is beautiful reporter Avel (Güngör Bayrak) whose father just happens to be that top scientist with the alien rock, which turns out to be Kryptonite (do top scientists ever have ugly daughters?)

By this point, Tayfan has realised his destiny as Superman. Suddenly, he has all sorts of amazing powers! To superimpose himself on mismatched aerial footage of cities, tall buildings, and waving couples on yachts! To walk slowly into the camera lens! To break through doors made of balsa wood! To engage in terribly staged random fight scenes with the supervillain’s faceless goons! To make typewriters work on their own, although it does look like a lot of the keys are getting pressed down in groups, rather than individually! It’s a mixed bag of superpowers to be sure, but what the hell! Sometimes you just have to play the hand that’s dealt you.

Turkish_Superman_(1978)

Wow. Just wow.

Our gormless big chap with huge round glasses is Tayfun Demir, but when he takes them off and dons the Superman costume (and yes, it’s identical – copyright be damned!) he actually does look the part. Supervillain Yildirim Gencer is somewhat less impressive and his gold making machine does bear an unfortunate resemblance to a projector, the kind that people of that era used to bore neighbours with slides of their holiday in Torremolinos.

We do get the original John Williams ‘Superman’ (1978) music though, as well as the James Bond theme(!), and other flourishes on the soundtrack that seem suspiciously familiar. Unfortunately, from an entertainment perspective, this is just a basic rerun of any old superhero tale and there’s none of the wild and wacky sensibility that made ‘Turkish Star Wars’ (1982) such a riot. But it is hard to ignore the majesty of those flying sequences. As an aeronaut, this Superman is even less convincing than our old buddy ‘Puma Man’ (1980). Mind you, you have to give credit where it’s due, sometimes he’s even flying to the left! lt’s a masterclass in SFX.

You won’t believe a man can fly!

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