I was talking to someone about a subject I've brought up earlier, how unfortunate it is that Richard Lester is now widely considered a hack solely on the basis of the Superman movies. (Though it may not matter much: anyone who would consider Lester a hack must be someone who knows him only from Superman, and the opinion of someone who hasn't seen anything except the Superman movies isn't hugely valuable.) The thing is, though, that while it's absurd to talk as if Richard Donner is a better director than Richard Lester, Donner was a better director for this particular franchise.
Donner is not a great director, and from the '90s on he wasn't even an effective one, but with Superman and his sections of Superman II, he figured out a style and approach that would make this character work on the big screen. No one else who made a Superman movie seems to have been able to do that as well, including people like Lester who are usually better directors than Richard Donner.
I think it sometimes happens that a director who isn't usually all that interesting will just prove to have the right touch when it comes to one particular franchise. The James Bond franchise provides two memorable examples. Terence Young directed three of the first four Bond films, taught Sean Connery how to be James Bond, and created the movies' combination of brutality and comedy. He was the greatest James Bond director. But outside of that franchise, he wasn't even a very good director, He made a couple of other hit films, but he was a hack, and not even a particularly successful hack.
Martin Campbell has a better non-Bond track record, but still, from his other films, you'd hardly guess that this is the guy who seems to have a special talent for Bond movies: he's re-booted the series with new Bonds not once but twice, and both times, the directors who followed him weren't able to do as well with the templates he helped create.
As movies become more and more franchise-dependent, I think we may see (or maybe we're already seeing) still more examples of this: directors who do extremely good jobs launching a franchise, and then prove to be uninteresting directors in their non-franchise work. And that's because adapting a franchise character to the screen takes a somewhat different set of skills than making a completely self-contained movie. Dick Lester had the skill to make a good self-contained movie (even The Three Musketeers, which the Salkinds probably thought might be a franchise, was really just one interesting movie split into two). But the very things that made him good at bringing a personal touch to movies made him less than good at working on the Superman franchise. Franchise moviemaking is a strange thing; there's some artistry involved -- because obviously good franchise movies are better artistically than bad ones -- but a lot of it is different from what we normally think of as art. Maybe "art" is even the wrong word for it.