Superman: The Movie (1978)
JSA Classified #3
Action Comics #845
|Created by||Mario Puzo|
|Place of origin||Krypton|
|Team affiliations||Kryptonian Military Guild|
|Partnerships||General Zod, Non|
|Abilities||Powers and abilities identical to those of Superman.
(Superhuman strength, super speed, flight, stamina and freezing breath, super hearing, multiple extrasensory and vision powers, and longevity)
Ursa is a fictional supervillain appearing in the DC Comics universe. An enemy of Superman, she is a co-conspirator and accomplice of General Zod. She first appeared in the 1978 film Superman: The Movie, where she was portrayed by actress Sarah Douglas (who reprised the role in the 1980 sequel Superman II). Almost three decades later, the character made her in-continuity comic book debut in Action Comics #845 (January 2007).
Superman: The Movie
In the first Superman film, Ursa (played by Sarah Douglas) appears alongside General Zod and Non as they are being sentenced to eternal imprisonment in the Phantom Zone by Krypton's Ruling Council of Elders. The chief accuser is Superman's biological father Jor-El, who declares that Ursa's "perversions and unreasoning hatred of all mankind have threatened even the children of the planet Krypton." Ursa, Zod, and Non are imprisoned in the Phantom Zone where they should remain for all eternity and are not heard from again in the first film. Once in the Phantom Zone, she desperately screams, "Forgive me!" repeatedly.
In the theatrical version of Superman II, Ursa, Zod, and Non are freed from the Phantom Zone when a hydrogen bomb thrown into space by Superman detonates near the Zone, shattering it. The three villains encounter a group of astronauts on Earth's moon, where we see Ursa's hatred for males firsthand. She meets an astronaut, asking him what sort of a creature he is. When he replies that he is a man, Ursa tries to tear the International Space Exploration emblem off his spacesuit. The astronaut attempts to get away, but Ursa flies around and cuts him off. She then rips the emblem off his suit, decompressing it and killing him. A pleased Ursa then sends him into space with a swift kick to his rear.
Following the Lunar confrontation, Ursa and the villains make their way to Earth, which they believe is called "Houston", and proceed to lay waste to the small town of East Houston, Idaho. From there, they move to the White House, where the President of the United States (played by E.G. Marshall) is forced to kneel before Zod. When Ursa, Zod, and Non finally meet Superman, an epic battle sequence takes place in the streets of Metropolis, which ends when Ursa and Non throw a bus onto Superman and he flees the scene. Lex Luthor then tells the villains he knows where Superman has gone and suggests taking Lois Lane along because of her relationship with Superman. The villains are led to the Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic, where Ursa and Non threaten to tear Lois Lane in two if Superman does not kneel to General Zod. Superman attempts to trick the villains into a molecule chamber that will take away their powers but ends up being forced into it himself by Zod. However, Superman has actually tricked the villains: he reversed the effects of the molecule chamber so that its red sun radiation is beamed throughout the fortress while Superman remains protected inside the chamber. The villains are stripped of their powers and Ursa is last seen when Lois punches her, knocking her into a crevasse in the Fortress where she disappears into the mist.
In extended versions of the film that have screened on television, Ursa has a slightly expanded role. She is seen ripping a badge off a military officer's uniform at the White House while remarking how peculiar it is that men wear ribbons and jewelry on this planet. She easily manages to defeat one man in a game of arm wrestling, knocking him unconscious, and when another of the men challenges her, General Zod throws him through the wall into the street. In one deleted scene, a boy in East Houston attempts to escape and get help, but Non rips the light from the top of a police car and throws it like an artillery round, killing the boy and his horse in the distance. A horrified woman remarks "He was only a boy!" to which, with obvious pleasure, Ursa replies, "Who will never become a man!" Also, in some extended versions, a powerless Ursa, Zod, and Non are seen being led into Arctic Police vehicles following the final confrontation at the Fortress. The theatrical version suggests that they are dead, as they are all seen falling into crevices inside the Fortress from which they never come out.
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
In Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (a retooled 2006 version of the film as conceived by its original director, Richard Donner), Zod, Ursa and Non are released from their imprisonment when Superman redirects a nuclear missile headed for Hackensack, New Jersey into space. The resulting explosion destroys the Phantom Zone, freeing the criminals.
At the end of the film, Superman uses a time warp to reverse all the damage Zod, Ursa, and Non had done to Earth, as well as re-imprisoning them back into the Phantom Zone, as Superman is totally against capital punishment under any circumstance.
Unlike the slightly more campy portrayals in the Richard Lester cut of the film, the villains, including Ursa, in this version are portrayed as far more serious and menacing.
In the Smallville season 10 episode "Dominion", a character that may have been Ursa appears as one of General Zod's minions in the Phantom Zone. Toward the end of the episode, there is a scene that mirrors a scene in Superman II, which shows Zod, Non and Ursa stuck in the dimensional "glass," as it's represented, and floating off into space.
Ursa is depicted in both films as a hater of any member of the male gender anywhere. The only exceptions to this prejudice appear to be Non and General Zod. In the first film, this aspect of her character is emphasized by Jor-El in his speech as he sentences them to the Phantom Zone. In the second film, as directed by Richard Lester, Ursa's male hating tendencies survive, but the reprise of Jor-El's speech emphasizes a different aspect of her character. In Lester's Superman II, Jor-El says "Ursa, the only feeling you showed was for your vicious general. Your only wish, to rule at his side." Lester's inclusion of this material (shot by Donner) alters the character slightly, making her softer and, at least to a degree, in love with General Zod. In Superman II footage shot by Richard Donner, Ursa is more vicious and expresses her desire to kill as many men as she can in one scene from an extended TV version. In Donner's footage, Ursa does not necessarily appear to be in love with General Zod, but is with him because they share common goals.
Throughout Superman II, Ursa collects symbols and badges as she encounters law enforcement and military officers on Earth, and she keeps these badges on her costume as symbols of those she has conquered or killed. She takes a NASA patch from an astronaut, a Sheriff's badge, a badge from a military officer's uniform at the White House, and several more badges and symbols that can be seen attached to her uniform as the film progresses.
In Kevin J. Anderson's Last Days Of Krypton novel, the character of Aethryr is analogous to Ursa in appearance and role as sidekick to Zod, although little mention is made about her attitude towards males.
Until 2006, the character of Ursa had never appeared in the Superman comic books, but a similar character, named Faora, made several appearances in the Pre-Crisis Superman comics. Faora was a Phantom Zone villain who first appeared in Action Comics #471 (May, 1977). Like Ursa, Faora hates all members of the male sex and was in fact sentenced to the Phantom Zone for "wantonly causing the death of 23 Kryptonian men in her own male concentration camp."
In JSA Classified #3, Power Girl (who was unsure about her true origins, at the time) was confronted by an escaped prisoner, from the Phantom Zone. He claimed that Power Girl's true identity, is Ursa, who had escaped the Zone with their help and promised to help the others escape. However, the prisoner was later revealed to be an illusion, created by the Psycho-Pirate.
Action Comics #845 (January 2007), which is the second part of the "Last Son" arc by Geoff Johns & Richard Donner, finally introduced Ursa to the Superman comic book canon. This version of her contains elements similar to the originally released version of Superman II (even though Donner is co-writing this arc) where she is in love with Zod. Zod and Ursa are the parents of the Kryptonian boy that Superman and Lois Lane adopted.
In a flashback in Action Comic Annual #10 a fleshed out retelling of the story told in Superman II partly aligned her story to her movie counterpart. Lover of General Zod, and part of the Kryptonian guard, she believed that Non and Jor-El were right about Krypton's final fate, and sought to rebel against the Council. When Non was kidnapped, lobotomized and turned into a brute with minimal intelligence and unable to speak, Zod and Ursa snapped, instigating open rebellion, while Jor-El surrendered to the Council, eventually using the Phantom Zone projector upon the trio during the trial seen in at has been the movie. Ursa stayed loyal to Zod, even in their "exile", and believing that Jor-El should have been able to save Krypton, or at least his lineage, agreed with Zod in pursuing and taking vengeance over the House of El.
Ursa appears in another flashback alongside Zod in Action Comics #866. Here, she and Zod encounter Brainiac, who shrinks Kandor. During this encounter Brainiac killed the whole unit under Ursa's command. This paralyzes her with fear, changes her into the more vindictive person she is now. She runs a Black Ops squad that has been living on earth in secret. After Zod's attack on New Krypton she seem to be unable focus on her work and goes to Zod's side. Superman and even Non, lobotomized, seem to know her pain and seems to want to comfort her at this time. She is along with Superman or Commander El and Commander Gor now the leader of the Kryptonian military.
Despite her initial, brief joy in motherhood, she still shows the brunt of her misandric belief on her son, Lor-Zod, who was abused on a regular basis on the account of his perceived weakness (due to his conception in the Phantom Zone, Lor ages in uncontrollable grow spurts and exhibits weaker powers than the rest of his race under a yellow sun). As a result, Ursa is now completely estranged from Lor, who arrived on Earth and was raised as Chris Kent—the foster son of Clark Kent and his wife Lois Lane. Chris, upon returning to Earth one more time, openly defied his own legacy, mercilessly beating Ursa to save Thara Ak-Var, his current paramour. Ursa no longer considers Chris part of her family, and still resents Lois Lane for her bond with her estranged son.
This version has developed a weakness to bright light and wears goggles. This apparently came about as a side-effect of being imprisoned in the Phantom Zone repeatedly.
Powers and abilities
Like all Kryptonians under a yellow sun, Ursa possesses vast super strength, speed, stamina, various sensory powers (including super hearing, x-ray vision, telescopic vision, microscopic vision, and heat vision), tremendous lung capacity, super breath (wind and ice), invulnerability, and flight.
- Ursa appeared in the Superman episode "The Hunter," voiced by Ginny McSwain.
- Ursa has only appeared in the Superman movies, comics, and a cameo with General Zod in Legion of Super-Heroes. Although a very similar character named Mala appeared in three episodes of Superman: The Animated Series. Seemingly based on both Ursa and Faora, she was played initially by Leslie Easterbrook and more notably, by Sarah Douglas herself in her second and final appearance on the series.
- Ursa can be seen as one of the many Phantom Zone prisoners attacking the Legion of Super Heroes. She is seen alongside General Zod. Drax, a character bearing a "Z" symbol similar to Superman's "S," mentions his parents throughout the episode (leading to speculation that Zod and Ursa are Drax's parents).