Superman (1978)

Movie Title: Superman

Year Released: 1978

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 2h 32min

Genre: Action, Superhero

Director: Richard Donner

Writer: Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman, Robert Benton

Starring: Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Glenn Ford, Trevor Howard, Margot Kidder, Valerie Perrine, Maria Schell, Terence Stamp, Phyllis Thaxter, Susannah York, Jeff East, Jack O'Halloran, Marc McClure, Sarah Douglas, Harry Andrews

Review: Just before the destruction of the planet Krypton, scientist Jor-El (Marlon Brando) sends his infant son Kal-El on a spaceship to Earth. Raised by kindly farmers Jonathan (Glenn Ford) and Martha Kent (Phyllis Thaxter), young Clark (Christopher Reeve) discovers the source of his superhuman powers and moves to Metropolis to fight evil. As Superman, he battles the villainous Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman), while, as novice reporter Clark Kent, he attempts to woo co-worker Lois Lane (Margot Kidder).

The original 1978 Superman is a film that is truly ahead of its time. Nowadays, we have the DC Extended Universe and the Marvel Cinematic Universe taking the film industry by storm. These films have wild special effects, and have rejuvenated superhero movies and fandom worldwide. With all of that said, the fact that Superman still holds up to this day is a testament to how great of a film it is. Christopher Reeve is perfectly cast as Clark Kent. He has the charisma and the look to play the role, while also being exceptionally nerdy as Clark and exceptionally hulking as the man of steel. Despite the differences between Clark and Superman, both are inherently good-hearted, kind characters who truly want to have a positive effect in the world they live. Reeve is magnificent in bringing out the similarities and the contrasting characteristics of each persona. The big bad in this film is Lex Luthor, played by Gene Hackman. Hackman is great as the maniacal, villainous businessman whose plot to make himself a boatload of money puts millions of people in danger. Luthor is a bad man, but there is a silliness about him that ends up being quite funny as he deals with his dim-witted henchman and his conflicted girlfriend.

The special effects are ahead of their time despite paling in comparison to what we see in today's superhero movies. This film excels at blending sci-fi, romance, and comedy into a movie about a superhero from another planet. But what really resonates with fans and viewers is how genuinely of a good person we have in Clark Kent the man. Superman is an iconic film, featuring an iconic character, and accompanied by a classic score composed by John Williams. I'm a huge fan of the superhero genre and I applaud what we are currently seeing in that realm, but I implore anyone reading this to not forget these early films. They're brilliant, and this is perhaps the best rendition of the Last Son of Krypton that we've ever seen on film!

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: To obtain the musculature to convincingly play Superman, Christopher Reeve underwent a bodybuilding regime supervised by David Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy (Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)).


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