Superman (1978)

When the planet Krypton is destroyed, the only survivor of the destruction lands on Earth. This alien orphan becomes Superman (Christopher Reeve).

Director: Richard Donner

Cast: Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Jackie Cooper, Ned Beatty, Glenn Ford

MPAA Rating: PG for peril, some mild sensuality and language

Fun Fact: To play a convincing Superman, Christopher Reeve went through a training regimen developed by David Prowse, who played Darth Vader.

At this point in comic book film history there wasn’t much out there. All that was really known was Batman: The Movie that was released in the 60’s that was based off the television series. Superman had his own television series as well and at that point in time who knew if a film like this was going to work. There was a lot on the line when Superman went into production.

Just look at that cast list. That’s an all-star lineup for sure and there are even more well-known actors in the film. Bring in Richard Donner to direct and you have a highly influential film that showed the public that comic book films can work and even have a franchise to them. Superman was the first superhero to have his own franchise. This is important because if it were not for this franchise then we probably wouldn’t have that influence to have comic book franchises and universe’s galore.

Now let’s talk about what makes this film work. It’s visually impressive and it brings the viewer into a world of excitement and wonder. From the planet Krypton to the Artic the viewer will be impressed with what’s on screen. The special effects for the time are impressive as well. While some might find them cheesy in this day of age, back in the 70’s those were good effects and the studio set aside budget money for them. We also get fantastic and clean editing from cinematography that’s well focused. The even better part while you are watching the visuals John William’s fantastic score is playing in the background. The Superman theme is one of the greatest cinematic themes in film history. This package of visuals and soundtrack are the perfect mix and it sets a great mood for the viewer.

Richard Donner was handed a loaded cast and he directs them perfectly. From what I have heard over the years is that Marlon Brando had been difficult to work on certain products. Brando didn’t rehearse his lines and instead read them off. He wanted his performance shot on one take, so it felt more genuine. Gene Hackman is a serviceable Lex Luthor and as I progress in the original series of films, I’m interested in what else he brings to the table. The best performance though goes to Christopher Reeve. To me it’s one of the greatest and still holds up today in superhero performance’s. His comedic timing is on point, how he goes from mild manner Clark Kent to Superman is flawless, and his chemistry with Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane is perfect. I wanted to see them on screen together and they played off each other well. When I think of Superman I instantly think of Christopher Reeve and that’s how much of an impact his performance had on the character.

Overall, Superman is a fantastic comic book film and an influence on what comic book films are today. It’s a visually stunning film with everything working for it. What we see on screen still holds up and it will make the viewer wanting to see more of it as the film progress’ on. On top of that the editing and cinematography are clean and well organized, so it isn’t a mess. The thing though that drives the film is the performance of Christopher Reeve and the other actors. You want to see them on screen together and it was the perfect cast. I will admit that I was smiling through most of the film because if you can sum up this film it would be fun.

Verdict: Hit

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