Superman, often promoted as Superman: The Movie, is a 1978 American superhero film directed by Richard Donner. The film explores the origins of Superman's life and features Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman with Christopher Reeve as Superman. It was released on December 15, 1978 and became a box office success. The film received an Oscar for Best Visual Effects at the 51st Annual Academy Awards and was nominated for Best Music, Best Sound, Original Score, and Best Film Editing.
Due to the film's success, it was followed by four sequels: Superman II (1980), Superman III (1983), Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), and Superman Returns (2006). The film series rebooted by Warner Bros. in 2013 with Man of Steel.
The film begins with a young boy reading a June 1938 issue of Action Comics. In a courtroom on the planet Krypton, General Zod (Terence Stamp) and his emissaries, Ursa and Non, are being charged with treason against the planet. The Kryptonian Council finds them guilty and the judge, Jor-El (Marlon Brando), makes the final vote needed to send the outlaws to the Phantom Zone, an eternal punishment of his own design. Before being put in the Phantom Zone, Zod vows to one day have Jor-El or his heir bow down before Zod. Later, Jor-El, is critical of some of his fellow scientists who do not agree that they need to leave the planet to avoid some unspecified disaster. After this, Jor-El is advised by a council not to leave Krypton or to spread his disaster theory, to which he obeys that neither he or his wife will evacuate the planet. However, Jor-El places his infant son, Kal-El, in a ship. He blesses his son and places a green crystal into the ship. Eventually, the planet begins to destruct and Jor-El activates the ship to take off as he and his wife Lara remain behind and perish along with Krypton.
Three years later, Kal-El lands in a cornfield in Smallville, Kansas. His ship landing is witnessed by Martha Kent (Phyllis Thaxter) and her husband Jonathan Kent (Glenn Ford). The ship's landing causes Jonathan to pop a tire on his truck. When they get out to look at their vehicle, they see Kal-El's ship. Martha shows great joy in taking care of the young child inside the ship and has hope of keeping the boy, saying she had prayed for such a miracle for years. During this conversation, the truck slips from the jack, and Jonathan tries to get out of the way. Before anything happens, though, the two discover that Kal-El caught the truck and is supporting it all on his own. They decide to name him "Clark" after Martha's maiden name and claim that he is an orphan from Martha's cousin in North Dakota.
Years later, Clark (Jeff East) is the equipment manager for the Smallville High School football team and seems to be enamored with one student in particular, Lana Lang. He doesn't use any of his powers when his classmates are around, and it is evident that this is likely the reason he does not fit in with other students. Lana invites Clark over to another student's house to listen to some records, but Lana's boyfriend, Brad, makes Clark stay behind to clean up the football gear. Clark then uses his super speed to catch up with them and in the process passes a train (which boards a young Lois Lane who witnesses Clark running by featured in the extended cut of the film).
Clark returns home to which his father believes he was showing off. Jonathan tells Clark that even though with all the things he can do he was sent to Earth for "a reason." Moments later, Jonathan dies of a heart attack. Clark is devastated by his death believing that with all the power he has, he couldn't save his life.
On morning of his eighteenth birthday, Clark feels drawn to the barn. Clark searches under the floor boards and discovers the space ship he arrived in as a baby along with the glowing green crystal. By sunrise, Martha calls Clark for breakfast, but he does not arrive. Instead, she finds Clark standing alone in a the fields. He tells Martha he is leaving and heading north. Martha tells Clark that she knew this day would come and reminds him to always remember her. At the North Pole, he throws the green crystal into the ocean and it grows into build the Fortress of Solitude. There, Clark meets Jor-El and over the next twelve years learns about his origins, his powers of flight, and gets his suit.
In Metropolis, Clark (Christopher Reeve) takes a job as a reporter at the Daily Planet. He meets reporter Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) photographer Jimmy Olsen (Marc McClure), and chief editor Perry White (Jackie Cooper). Lois thinks Clark is sweet at first after he tells Mr. White to send half of Clark's salary to his mother, but begins to have different thoughts after learning he is bumbling and uses the word "swell." Later, while Clark and Lois are walking together after work, a mugger corners them both in an alley and demands for Lois' purse. Clark tries to set the mugger straight, which fails. Instead, Lois drops her purse and as the mugger bends down to receive it, she kicks him in the face causing his gun to fire at them and he runs away. Lois, unharmed, sees Clark slouched against the building, but he awakes telling her that he fainted when in reality he caught the bullet in his hand.
The following night, Clark reveals himself to the world as Superman to save Lois' life from a helicopter accident. He later stops a jewelry-store burglar and takes him to the police, and rounds up a gang by tying them up and leaving their ship in the middle of the street, rescues a cat from a tree, and brings Air Force One to a safe landing. The next morning, Mr. White puts all his staff on an assignment to get an interview with Superman. That evening, Superman arranges an initial interview with Lois and states his mission: to fight for truth, justice, and the American way. The interview ends with Superman taking Lois flying with him. Lois publishes the interview as “I Spent the Night with Superman”.
Meanwhile, Lex Luthor, criminal mastermind living underground in Metropolis, becomes aware of Superman. Lex is assisted by his two henchmen, Otis and Eve Tessmacher, for his scheme for "land". Lex plans to steal two XK-101 rockets from the US military and to deploy one of the rockets to fault lines California in an attempt to create a new shoreline of property that he has purchased. The other missile will be launched to Hackensack, New Jersey, in the opposite direction making it harder for Superman to stop both at the same time. To ensure that Superman doesn't interfere, Lex summons him to his underground lair by stating he has a gas mine ready to destroy Metropolis. Superman arrives to find out Lex had lied and explains his real plan to Superman. Lex explains that the only way to stop the rockets is from a detonator hidden in a lead chest, but when Superman opens only to discover kryptonite. Lex knew that Superman couldn't see through lead because it was disclosed in his first interview with Lois.
Miss Tessmacher, after discovering that Lex has the second missile heading towards her mother's hometown of Hackensack, rescues Superman from Lex's swimming pool that he recently pushed him in to drown with the kryptonite necklace, but before she frees him of the necklace, she kisses him first. She later tells him that she only kissed him because she feared he wouldn't let her later. Superman promises to save Miss Tessmacher's mother first, and does so before heading west to stop the rocket heading towards the San Andreas fault-line.
By the time he makes it to California, the rocket has already struck and he must stop the effects of the explosion. Lois, who had been in California doing a story about the land scheme, becomes trapped in her car during the earthquake and suffocates to death. Superman is heartbroken by her death and in anger flies into the sky to set things right, but is instead stopped by Jor-El telling him not to change human events. Superman also then comes to remember the last words Jonathan Kent told him: "You are here for a reason." In making his final choice, Superman flies around the world, making time go in reverse, and erases Lois death from happening (although the earthquake still took place as because Lois remembers it). Superman arrives back at Lois' car glad to see her alive and finally attempts to kiss her, but is interrupted by the presence of Jimmy running towards them. Superman tells them both goodbye and flies away. Jimmy wishes that Clark was here to witness everything and Lois ponders to think that Clark might be Superman, but then quickly doubts it. The film closes with Superman taking Lex Luthor and Otis being taken to prison. Lex finally removes his wig, revealing himself to be bald, and vows that the prison walls will not hold him for long.
- Marlon Brando - Jor-El
- Gene Hackman - Lex Luthor
- Christopher Reeve - Superman / Clark Kent
- Ned Beaty - Otis
- Jackie Cooper - Perry White
- Glenn Ford - Jonathan Kent
- Margot Kidder - Lois Lane
- Valerie Perrine - Eve Teschmacher
- Marc McClure - Jimmy Olsen
- Terence Stamp - General Zod
- Phyllis Thaxter - Martha Kent
- Susannah York - Lara Lor-Van
- Sarah Douglas - Ursa
- Jack O'Halloran - Non
- Jeff East - Young Clark Kent
- Kirk Alyn - Sam Lane
- Noel Neill - Ella Lane
Sequels and spin-offs
Superman II (1980)
Superman II is the first sequel released in 1980 in the U.K. and 1981 in the U.S. The sequel is a continuation of Superman: The Movie about the three villains from Krypton attempting to rule over Earth. Meanwhile, Lois Lane discovers Clark Kent's secret that he is Superman while he makes the mistake of giving up his powers to be with her. Hackman, Reeve, Stamp, Kidder, Beatty, Cooper, Douglas, McClure, O'Halloran, York and Perrine all reprise their roles from the first film.
Though the film is credited to be directed by Richard Lester, around 25% of what is seen in Superman II was filmed by director Richard Donner during the 1977 production of Superman: The Movie. Donner, who had roughly completed around 75% of Superman II, was taken off the project in 1979 over a dispute between him and the Salkind's. Lester, an uncredited supervisor on Superman: The Movie, was hired as the new director, who then re-shot and re-vised many scenes in order to complete the film for its theatrical release. Hackman, Perrine, Beatty, E.G. Marshall, and Marlon Brando are the only actors who did not participate in the film's reshoots. Lester used body doubles in place of the original actors. Brando's scenes were excised entirely, due to the high fee the actor had demanded for the use of his footage in the film. Richard Donner briefly appears in a "walking cameo" in the film. Despite its troubled production, Superman II was still a commercial success, ranking as the #2 highest grossing picture of the year.
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
In 2006, a re-edited director's cut of Superman II was released as The Richard Donner Cut. It is director Richard Donner's vision of what Superman II could have been with his rough cut footage containing deleted scenes with Marlon Brando as Jor-El that were cut from the original version. The film still follows the same story as the theatrical release with the exceptions of a new alternate beginning along with the deletion of many scenes filmed by Richard Lester. The music is now credited to John Williams, and some cues by Ken Thorne. The film is re-edited by Michael Thau, who restored the extended-cut of Superman: The Movie in 2000.
Superman III (1983)Lana Lang. Reeve, Cooper, Kidder and McClure all reprise their roles from the previous films. Annette O'Toole joins the cast as Lana Lang, with Richard Pryor, Robert Vaughn, Annie Ross, Pamela Stephenson and Gavan O'Herlihy also joining all to portray original characters specifically created for the film. Despite the film's poor reviews from fans and critics for its strong use of comedy and campy tone, as well as the casting and performance of Pryor, Superman III was still a box office success but it was less successful than the first two Superman movies. Moreover, Reeve was praised for his much darker performance as the corrupted Superman.
Supergirl (1984)Jeannot Szwarc, who also directed several episodes of Smallville. It stars Helen Slater as Kara Zor-El/Linda Lee/Supergirl in her first motion picture in the title role. Faye Dunaway (who received top billing) played the primary villain, a power-hungry would-be witch named Selena, an original character specifically created for the film. Marc McClure reprises his role as Jimmy Olsen from the previous Superman films. Simon Ward and Mia Farrow portray Kara's parents, Zor-El and Alura In-Ze, respectively. Maureen Teefy also portrays Lucy Lane, Lois Lane's younger sister, whom Kara befriends at an all-girls school she enrolls in. Peter O'Toole, Hart Bochner, Brenda Vaccaro and Peter Cook conclude the primary cast, all portraying original characters specifically created for the film. Christopher Reeve was slated to have a cameo as Superman, but bowed out early on. His non-appearance in the film is explained via a news broadcast stating that Superman has left Earth on a "peace-seeking mission" to a distant galaxy. The film does contain some expansions on the Superman movie mythology, such as taking the viewer into the Phantom Zone itself (in the first two Superman films, it was merely represented by a spinning black pane of glass). The movie performed poorly at the box office and failed to impress critics and audiences. Helen Slater, however, was nominated for a Saturn Award for her strong performance by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. Supergirl's performance at the box office caused the Salkinds to sell the Superman rights to Cannon Pictures.
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)Lex Luthor is still in jail and his nephew Lenny Luthor comes and escapes with Lex and together they create the Nuclear Man who has the same powers as Superman. Reeve, Hackman, Cooper, Kidder, McClure and York (voice only) all reprise their roles from the previous films. Hackman also voices Nuclear Man, an original character and the main antagonist of the film, who is physically portrayed by Mark Pillow. Jon Cryer, Sam Wanamaker and Mariel Hemingway conclude the primary cast, all portraying original characters specifically created for the film. Superman IV was made very quickly with cheap special effects causing it to be a box office failure. It is considered to be the worst Superman film in the series. Even Reeve regretted his decision to be involved in the film, saying "Superman IV was a catastrophe from start to finish. That failure was a huge blow to my career."
During the film's post-production, Superman IV was cut down from a two hour movie to just 90 minutes, causing many known plot holes in the film. According to writer Mark Rosenthal's commentary on the 2006 DVD, in the gallery of deleted scenes included on the disc, there are approximately forty-five minutes of the film that have not been seen by the general public as they were deleted following a failed Southern California test screening. Cut scenes featured the original Nuclear Man (the Nuclear Man that appears in the film is actually the second Nuclear Man that Luthor created), portrayed by Clive Mantle. The character vaguely resembled in looks, and significantly in personality, the comic book character Bizarro.
Superman Returns (2006)
See: Superman V
See: Superman Reborn
See: Superman Lives
Batman vs. Superman (early 2000s)
See: Batman vs. Superman
See: Superman: Flyby
Superman Returns' sequel
Man of Steel (2013)
Following the film series hiatus after Superman Returns, a court ruling was held with Jerry Siegel's family wanting to regain the rights to Superman's origins and stating that they will sue Warner Bros. for lost revenue if a film is not made by 2011. In 2010, director Christopher Nolan stated that he will produce the reboot with a story co-written by David Goyer and himself. Zack Snyder, the director of the comic book films 300 and Watchmen, has been chosen to direct the film. Actors Henry Cavill has been cast as Superman/Clark Kent, Amy Adams (she guest starred in Season One's Craving as Jodi Melville) as Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, Michael Shannon as General Zod, Antje Traue as Faora-Ul, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Ayelet Zurer as Lara Lor-Van, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, Richard Schiff as Dr. Emil Hamilton, Mackenzie Gray as Jax-Ur and Michael Kelly as Steve Lombard. The film was released in theaters on June 14, 2013, becoming a box office success, despite a mixed response from critics. Some critics highlighted the film's narrative, acting, visuals and reinvention of the titular character, while others were critical of the film's pacing and lack of character development.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
On June 10, 2013, it was announced that director Zack Snyder and screenwriter David S. Goyer will both be returning for a Man of Steel sequel which is being fast tracked by Warner Bros. Goyer had previously signed a three-film deal, which includes Man of Steel, its sequel, and a Justice League film featuring Superman. Christopher Nolan has announced he will be attached as executive producer. Zack Snyder confirmed that the sequel to Man of Steel in 2015 will have Superman and Batman meeting for the first time in a cinematic format. Goyer and Snyder will co-write the story, and Goyer will write the script. The film is set for release in theaters May 6, 2016. On December 18, 2013, it was announced that screenwriter Chris Terrio will rewrite the script. Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, and Laurence Fishburne are confirmed to reprise their roles. On August 22, 2013, it was announced the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne. On December 4, 2013, it was reported that Gal Gadot was cast as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince. On January 31, 2014, it was reported that Jesse Eisenberg was cast as Lex Luthor and Jeremy Irons was cast as Alfred Pennyworth. Holly Hunter was cast as a U.S. Senator, while Tao Okamoto was cast as Luthor's assistant Mercy Graves. Callan Mulvey, Scoot McNairy and Jena Malone were cast in unspecified roles. On April 24, 2014, it was reported that Ray Fisher was cast as Cyborg/Victor Stone. On June 16, 2014, it was confirmed that Jason Momoa has been cast as Aquaman/Arthur Curry.
References in Smallville
Smallville has many references, as well as jokes, gags, and foreshadowing events, with the Christopher Reeve Superman film series. The production of Smallville was affected by the 2006 release of Superman Returns delaying some references, mostly about Clark and Lois' relationship, until the after the film's release. Some examples include:
- The cast's names in the main titles zoom onto the screen in a similar way as the opening credits do in Superman: The Movie.
- The shooting location of the Smallville, Kansas seen in Superman and Superman IV is filmed in Canada around the same location as Smallville. 
- In the first season, Lana has a kryptonite necklace in which she keeps in a case made of lead. In Superman: The Movie, Lex Luthor keeps a kryptonite necklace hidden in a case of lead. Later, he places it on Superman and pushes him into his swimming pool to drown. In the Pilot, Whitney Fordman places the necklace on Clark as a prank.
- In Hothead, Jonathan tells Clark not to play football because that was not was he was here to do. The conversation is similar to the one in Superman: The Movie about the same subject.
- In X-Ray, Lex denies he robbed a bank saying that he's no "criminal mastermind." In the films, Lex always refers to himself with the statement.
- In Nicodemus, Clark states after Jonathan goes into a coma that he "couldn't have the power to save him", a statement Clark said in Superman: The Movie after the death of Jonathan.
- In Drone, Clark, in a class presidential race, claims he stands for "truth, justice, and... other stuff". Superman's completed quote is "truth, justice, and the American way", which was also mentioned in Superman: The Movie. Also, in this episode, Clark, Lana, and Lex frequently quote the movie The Godfather, which stars Marlon Brando who portrayed Jor-El in Superman: The Movie.
- The episode Rosetta includes the most references to the Superman film series including John Williams's "Superman March" heard with the introduction of Virgil Swann (Christopher Reeve). Chloe states that Swann was Time Magazine's "Man of the Year" in 1978, the year Superman: The Movie was released. The episode's purpose in the series was to have Reeve himself tell Clark who he is and where he comes from as a way of "passing the torch" to the next "Superman".
- In Spirit, Bridgette Crosby (Margot Kidder) is found dead buried in dirt, the same way Lois Lane (who was played by Kidder in the film series) was found dead in Superman: The Movie. In Crusade, it is revealed that Crosby and Swann had a romantic relationship at one time as a throwback to the film series.
- In Reckoning, Chloe Sullivan asks Clark if he traveled back in time by spinning the Earth backwards, a reference to the way Superman traveled through time in Superman: The Movie. Also, Clark only wanted to travel back in time to save Lana from a car accident; this was the same reason he did so in Superman: The Movie, after Lois' car was crushed with her in it.
- In Season Five's Arrival, the Fortress of Solitude appears for the first time and its appearance and construction are almost identical to that depicted in Superman: The Movie.
- The Phantom Zone along with its "hula-hoop" portal entrance is the same design as seen in Superman: The Movie and Superman II.
- In Zod when General Zod's spirit is released from Lex, the face and scream of Zod is of Terence Stamp (the actor who played Zod in the movies). Terence Stamp also plays the voice of Jor-El in Smallville.
- At the beginning of Season Five, Clark loses his powers and makes love with Lana. This is also seen in Superman II where Superman gives up his powers and sleeps with Lois. In the same manner, Jor-El warns his son of the dangers and consequences of doing so. In Smallville, Jor-El punishes Clark by taking the life of a loved one away from Clark in order to restore his powers. In Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, Jor-El (because Marlon Brando did not appear in the theatrical release) restores Clark's powers by giving up all his own spiritual energy that was keeping him alive in the Fortress of Solitude and dies.
- In the episode Hidden, Clark stops a missile from destroying Smallville in a similar manner to the ending of Superman: The Movie where Superman throws a missile launched for Hackensack, New Jersey into space.
- Clark once crushed a piece of coal into a diamond for Lana. He did the same thing for her in Superman III as a way to replace a diamond ring she sold.
- The character Kal-El is similar to Evil Superman as depicted in Superman III. Both versions were separated from the original Clark/Superman at sometime but at the end they were merged back together.
- In the episode Apocalypse, the footage of Krypton used was from Superman: The Movie.
- In the Season Seven episode Siren, Oliver Queen jokes that Lois will able to accept his secret identity when the "Earth cracks open and time spins backwards," a reference to the climactic earthquake scene in Superman: The Movie.
- Black kryptonite is seen in Crusade to split Clark's persona into Kal-El and Clark. In Superman III, artificial kryptonite has the same affect although it initially has the same effects as Red K.
- In the Season Eight episode Bloodline, Kara goes to look for Kandor after hearing it still existed. In Superman Returns, Superman left for five years to search for krypton after scientist said they found it.
- In many of the episodes that showed General Zod or Major Zod as a primary villain, he has uttered the phrase "Kneel" or "Kneel before Zod", a phrase made famous in Superman II.
- Jonathan Kent's death in Reckoning was as a result of a heart attack, just as it was in Superman: The Movie.
- In Season Five's Exposed and Season Ten's Homecoming, Clark has rescued Lois from a helicopter paying homage to Superman: The Movie, the famous rescue sequence and Lois first meeting with The Man of Steel.
- In Season Eight's Committed Clark's quote "Statistically speaking, this is the safer way to travel" is from Superman: The Movie after Lois' helicopter rescue.
- In Season Ten's Abandoned, Lois and Clark watch a holographic message from Jor-El and Lara in the fortress, A similar event occurred in both cuts of Superman II (In the original, Lara appeared in holographic form and in the Donner Cut, Jor-El appeared in holographic form.)
- In Season Ten's Dominion, Oliver sarcastically states that Clark can't super-speed them back in time to escape the Phantom Zone, a reference to Superman: The Movie.
- The Superman suit from Lazarus is the same costume which was used in Superman Returns.
- Finale, Part 2 features many homages to Superman: The Movie, including:
- The bookends featuring Chloe reading her son the Smallville comic is reference to the opening scene to Superman: The Movie with the boy reading Action Comic 1 to the theatre audience.
- In both the episode and the film, the first time Clark takes flight in the Superman suit is when he officially finishes his training and departs the Fortress of Solitude.
- Lois's mission to contact the President is reference to Lois's assignment in Superman: The Movie to interview the President on the same night Clark becomes Superman
- In both the episode and the film, Superman rescues Air Force One in mid-flight during his first night as Superman.
- Superman moving the planet away from Earth was similar to Superman throwing Krypton II into space in Superman Returns.
- During the Daily Planet sequences with Lois and Clark in 2018, Lois Lane's love theme "Can You Read My Mind?" composed by John Williams is featured.
- The episode ends with the "Superman March" composed by John Williams along with the famous blue-colored credits zooming on the screen.
- The episode concludes in 2018, forty years after the 1978 setting of Superman: The Movie.
- Tess Mercer was in part inspired by Miss Eve Teschmacher.
- Lex's assistant Otis was referenced in part by two other characters with their first name:
- Kirk Alyn and Noel Neill also portrayed Superman and Lois Lane in the film serials Superman (1948) and Atom Man VS Superman (1950). Neill took over the role of Lois Lane again in Adventures of Superman.
- In the Season 3 episode "Relic", Joe and Louise McCallum (Clark and Lana's respective ancestors) dance to Earth Angel, the same song that Clark and Lana dance to in Superman III.
- In the Season 4 premiere, "Crusade", Annette O'Toole and Margot Kidder appear onscreen for the first time since the end of Superman III.
- When Lex is telling Kitty Kowalski of Prometheus during Superman Returns, the song Flower Duet can be heard. The same song is also heard during the Season 4 episode "Gone".
- Sam Huntington (who played Jimmy in Superman Returns) stars in the US remake of the show Being Human along with Sam Witwer.
- ↑ http://www.deadline.com/2010/10/zack-snyder-directing-superman/
- ↑ http://collider.com/henry-cavill-superman/73495/
- ↑ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/27/amy-adams-lois-lane-in-superman_n_841169.html
- ↑ http://insidemovies.ew.com/2011/03/02/diane-lane-martha-kent-superman/
- ↑ http://www.slashfilm.com/kevin-costner-officially-jonathan-kent-zack-snyders-superman/
- ↑ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/michael-shannon-set-play-villain-176799
- ↑ http://www.movieweb.com/news/man-of-steel-gets-antje-traue-as-faora
- ↑ http://insidemovies.ew.com/2011/08/02/laurence-fishburne-perry-white-man-of-steel-exclusive/
- ↑ http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=80088