Superman: The Movie (1978)

Trailer: Superman: The Movie (1978)

Starring: Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve  – Directed By: Richard Donner

Running Time: 2 hrs & 23 mins – Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi


Big JD (Host)


Synopsis:  Everybody knows Superman.  Welcome to planet earth.


The Review that will make you believe a man can fly!

Ok, seriously just get past the introduction/credits and you’ll be fine.  4 minutes plus to get through the opening credits is crazy!  But John Williams helps you with a tremendously famous theme for the old Man of Steel.  Those flying, swooping & dashing names on screen has become classic.

I’ve heard so many times that Marlon Brando gives a wooden performance as Jor-El.  I’ve never thought that though as many times as I’ve seen this movie.  I guess, I’ve just assumed that was the character of Jor-El.  Terrance Stamp gives a inspired cameo in the very beginning.  Only to lead you to the sequel.  Which is something they don’t do much anymore.  Most of the time they leave that stuff for the “end” of the movie.  Although Marlon says Krypton (Crip-Tin) instead of (Crip-tawn) so funny that I believe that he didn’t pay attention to the pronunciation.  I do love his speech he gives to his baby boy before he sends him off.  By the way it always bothered me having the glass from the ceiling fall at the screen.  I don’t know, call me weird.  It made me uncomfortable.

As for the human parents…  Glenn Ford plays a perfect Jonathan Kent.  Phyllis Thaxter played Martha Kent and I also thought she did a wondrous job.  Although they are not featured for that long it is just long enough for you to get the feeling that they raised Clark well.  Home bred.  Kansas Boy.  I can relate.  As for “young” Clark?  The Christopher Reeve voiceover was a bit underwhelming.  I could tell it was voiceover at a very young age.  It didn’t fool me!  I guess Donner did that to create synergy between young and aged?  Did you know that in the train that is “showcased” Lois’ parents are played by the original Lois Lane from the TV series and the husband has some connection to Superman as well but I can’t place him.  Ha! Just kidding.  He played the original Superman in 1948/1950 movies.  Maybe you’ve heard of him?  Kirk Alyn folks.  A nice little easter egg for all you Superman fans.

Lets talk some Christopher Reeve.  For a very long time there he was SUPERMAN for me.  Hell, he still is really.  There will never be another Superman like him.  Although Bryan Singer tried to replicate him with Brandon Routh.  Poor Routh.  Reeves performance as both Kent/Superman was so convincing that nobody else will be able to do it again.  I mean, his only disguise was a pair of glasses but Reeves made it more than that.  He transformed into Kent.  It’s actually pretty amazing when you see the transformation.  Great!  I won’t go too long on his performance seeing how so many others before me has said the same things.  You just gotta see it for yourself.

Margot Kidder played a wonderful Lois Lane.  Very hardnosed and career driven.  Fine performance and I can’t complain.  I will say though that the “extra’s” in this movie are pretty downright terrible.  Example’s being:  Most of the staff of the Daily Planet, The Mugger, The 2 cops (1 named Armis), random crowd that always watches disaster’s happen without ever taking cover, Jimmy Olsen.  And the list could go on.  Yes, I know Olsen wasn’t an extra but his acting in this movie is annoying.

Then about an hour into this movie you get to see Alexander (Lex) Luthor.  With hair.  With hair!  Yeah, Gene Hackman would not shave his head for the film.  So, this Lex wears a wig.  I’ve always been ok with Hackman’s Luthor but as I get older it frustrates me more and more because of what “could have been”.    We haven’t ever seen a “real” Lex Luthor on screen.  If I could find a place to count down for this I would but ultimately it doesn’t affect the story.

So, back when comic book movies were young they had many scenes of random acts of saving people in dire need.  Crooks, criminals, muggers and cats in trees.  That’s the way it was.  And we liked it!  It comes off a little corny now adays but, you have to let it slide.  Because I told you to.

Before I end this review, I have to bring up one major point that doesn’t make sense now anymore than it did then.  Superman rewinding time by flying around the earth.  It made for a very emotional scene with Lois which is a plus but, it felt that the writers had wrote this thinking that people are idiots and I never had liked that.  If he never did it in the comics then don’t make him do it in the movie.  Especially as a major turning point for the 2 most important characters in the movie.  AND on top of that he rewinds time but wouldn’t that bring the 2 missiles back?  No, somehow they didn’t exist in his new past.  So close to a perfect movie for me.  Not quite.  Richard Donner had gone on to film most of the sequel but was fired after this movie came out.  If you liked this movie then the sequel is just as good.  Even better in some cases because you don’t have to deal with “origin” story.  “you will kneel before me Jor-El” “…and one day your heir’s”. 

Comic Book Movie Plus: Christopher Reeve – Superman II, III, IV, Terrence Stamp – Superman II, Gene Hackman – Superman II, IV (lets just say much of the cast from this movie is/are in the sequels.)

Nudity Bonus:  n/a



 The Grandaddy of all Superhero movies, I remember this being my first full length movie my parents let me watch.

As far as I know what I love about Richard Donner’s version of the movie is it keeps fairly true to the comic books that was originally created. (I wish others would follow that same path however I know that Hollywood *cough* WB *cough* tends to make horrible decisions when it comes to the DC Comics franchise. Richard Donner stood up for his beliefs of these films, this one and the Superman 2. I think that’s why they are the better ones of the group.

Christopher Reeve the only one who was able to successfully handle donning the tights and cape without failing in the acting career, although he didn’t have much other then Superman. He plays the role very well, it’s really hard seeing some of these others play the role of Superman be it TV or Movies.

Margot Kidder did an ok job of being Lois Lane, I mean really anyone at the time could play Lois…pretty much being the love interest of Superman/Clark, so I don’t really see anything that stands out with her.

Fun Fact: Margot Kidder won the role (obviously) But  among the actresses who screen tested for the role of Lois Lane were Anne Archer, Lesley Ann Warren, Deborah Raffin,

of underwear am I wearing?”
Susan Blakely and Stockard Channing. One of the reasons Margot Kidder was chosen over them was the fact that she was the only one who saw the humor in the line “What color

Seeing Marlon Brando playing Jor-El was very well played for Richard Donner, and Gene Hackman set the bar for Lex Luthor,

Another Fun Fact: Gene Hackman flatly refused to shave his head or wear a “bald cap” to play Lex Luthor. To get around this issue, Hackman’s own natural hair was styled differently from scene to scene to give the appearance of him having changed hairpieces. Numerous hairpieces are visible in his underground complex. Hackman relented and wore a skullcap in one scene: when he is taken to prison by Superman. It is visible when he angrily rips off his hairpiece to address the prison’s warden who questions who he is.

Overall this is hard not to love and is a classic in the super hero movie lines, must see for all comic book fans.




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