THE MYSTERIOUS DR. SATAN is the first movie serial I remember seeing and it’s still my favorite.
It was supposed to be the first SUPERMAN film, but DC backed out of the rights negotiations at the last minute, and the first on-screen Superman was replaced with The Copperhead, a guy in a business suit and a full-face Cobra-Commander-style copper mask and Batman’s last name, who (SPOILERS) gave up being the Copperhead at the end of his heroic adventures on celluloid before Bruce Wayne gave up being Batman by about 72 years.
The plot is simple: the eponymous Dr. Satan, as embodied by Eduardo Cianelli, is going to take over the world with his army of robots and amass untold wealth as soon as he gets the remote control device created by Professor Thomas Scott (played by the go-to good guy scientist actor with the awesome name, C. Montague Shaw) and guarded by the Copperhead and Professor Scott’s daughter, Lois (Republic had six weeks to change the script from Superman to the Copperhead and clearly didn’t care about names).
And why, one may ask, does Dr. Satan want to take over the world with an army of robots and amass untold wealth? Because why the hell not. Who needs to know motivation when ROBOTS? Okay, one robot: Republic’s special effects department didn’t have the money for an army of “hot water boiler” robots.
This begs a question: why does deeper meaning have to be found in everything these days, from comics to films to video games to books to a good meal? Have we forgotten how to have fun without irony or political correctness, without grandiose statements of the human condition, without nitpicking the tiniest of the tiny, or without masking our enjoyment in self-conscious bullshit masquerading as intelligence and opinion? What’s wrong with saying “it made me feel like a kid again” without the devil-tail of adult justification?
Oh, who cares. ROBOTS. Seriously. Pick it up, sit back and feel like a kid again. Enjoy yourself. You’re allowed.