When we think of superheroes, the most iconic one that comes to mind is Superman.
He can fly, dodge bullets, and has amazing super strength.
In 1938, when Simon and Shuster released him into the world on the pages of Action Comics, little did they know the cultural impact Superman would have on the world.
He was heard on the radio, seen on movie serials of the ’40s and the George Reeves television series in the 50s, but never on the big silver screen until 1978. For many people, seeing Superman fly onto the big screen for the first time was phenomenal.
The icy planet, Krypton, is dying. Jor-El (Marlon Brando), a brilliant scientist, tries to convince the council of elders that they must evacuate the planet immediately or die along with the planet.
The council dismisses Jor-El’s warning, leaving him with no alternative but to send his only son, Kal-El, to Earth in a crystal spaceship which crash lands in a field near Smallville, Kansas.
Years later after his father Jonathan had passed away from a heart attack, the now teenaged Clark (Christopher Reeve) feels something drawing him to the barn where he discovers a green crystal, the same crystal Jor-El laid onto the ship.
Knowing what he must do, Clark travels to the North Pole and and throws the green crystal into the ice which creates a Fortress of Solitude where he learns who he is and where he is from through holographic recordings from his father. Clark then moves to Metropolis and becomes a reporter for the Daily Planet newspaper, meeting Jimmy Olsen the photographer, Perry White the Editor-in-Chief, and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Lois Lane.
After saving Lois from a helicopter incident and rescuing Air Force One, the legend of Superman grows, catching the attention of criminal mastermind, Lex Luthor, who devises a plot to make a fortune in real estate by buying up vast amounts of desert and then diverting a missile test flight to the San Andreas Fault in California.
Superman mesmerized me as a child. Seeing Reeve take off — it truly made me believe that a man could fly.
The cinematography is superb, especially in the scene when young Clark talks with his mother about leaving to find himself. The use of the 2:35 aspect ratio gives us the sense of isolation in that scene out in the wheat field, letting us in on Clark’s feeling of being alone. That first image of the curtain lifting and the words June 1938 as a boy reads the first issue of Action Comics — the first appearance of Superman — was a really interesting and awesome addition that brings us into the film. To me, it gives the viewer insight into the long history of the world’s first superhero.
This film is just amazing even by today’s standards of digital technology. Richard Donner, the film’s director, gave us a phenomenal superhero film that was nominated for three Academy Awards in Best Editing, Best Music, and Best Sound Mixing. The film was also given a special award for its amazing special effects.
Superman was also Reeve’s breakthrough film which gave him major fame.
If you are a comic fan, Superman fan, superhero fan, or have never seen this film before, it is a must.
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Directed by: Richard Donner
Written by: Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman, Robert Benton, and Tom Mankiewicz
Starring: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, and Gene Hackman