Before I go through The Pros & Cons about Superman, let’s go back in time on why The Man Of Steel became a game changer in both comics and adapted media.
During The Great Depression, two friends named, Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, published a short story called, “The Reign Of The Superman” about a diabolical bald man, who takes an experimental drug which gains him telekinetic abilities who uses them for profit. I know what you fanboy/fangirls are thinking, this was the pair’s failed attempt to portray a sympathetic villan, resulting in not making enough money for them. As an after thought, the duo decided to heavily rewrite the character as a good guy.
Both Jerry & Joe were influenced by John Carter Of Mars, (Krypton) swashbuckling heroes such as Zorro & Robin Hood, Greek Mythology most notably Hercules, (superhuman abilities) Popeye, circus costumes, (the outfit) & Harold Lloyd. (as a visual reference to come up with Clark Kent)
After five years of struggling to look for a publisher, the duo found one under the name, “National Comics Publication.” This allowed Jerry & Joe to officially published Action Comics #1 featuring the first appearance of Superman. It became an instant hit among readers paving the wave of “The Golden Age Comics” superheroes including Batman, Aquaman, Captain America, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Plastic Man etc.
Over many decades, Superman spawned a franchise consisting of short theatrical cartoons from The 1940’s, a TV show from The 1950’s starring the late George Reeves, cartoons such as Superfriends, Bruce Timm’s Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, video games & another TV show called Smallville. Don’t forget merchandise like action figures, t-shirts, lunch boxes, silverware, furniture among countless items.
Now that we’ve covered some of the history involving the character, let’s begin with the history surrounding the 1978 film starring the late Christopher Reeve.
Development began in 1973 when father & son producers, The Salkinds, wanted to make a superhero film for movie goers to believe that a man can fly on the silver screen and become a cinematic achievement in motion picture history and make a boatload of money. It took them nearly a year to purchase the film rights to Superman with DC Comics. The company approved, thus a five year long journey begins.
In 1975, The Salkinds hired The Godfather writer, Mario Puzo to write the screenplay. Mario finished his he script, The Salkinds approved unless they cut half of the script into a sequel. Mario agreed as he realized that audience members aren’t gonna stick around forever inside a screening room.
Directors, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Sam Peckinpah, William Friedkin & Francis Ford Coppola, we’re all considered to direct the picture, but all of them turned it down due to their busy schedules. Richard Donner (The Goonies, Lethal Weapon produced the X-Men films) fresh from the success of The Omen, signed on to direct.
Before Christopher Reeve won the part, several big name stars like Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, Al Pacino, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, James Caan, Christopher Walken, Nick Nolte, Jon Voight, Charles Bronson & Arnold Schwarzenegger were the following contenders to play the title character.
Marlon Brando & Gene Hackman signed on to play Jor-El & Lex Luthor. Marlon was paid a hefty amount of $3 million plus a percentage of the profits. Ironically, he’s the only cast member to earn more money than his onscreen son, who only made a quarter million! Gene on the other hand, was paid $2 million.
Filming commenced in 1977 around the same time Star Wars: A New Hope came out. After a year of non-stop production to add in the final touches, Superman was distributed worldwide.
Superman was released in 1978. (same year Grease came out) It became a critical and commercial success among critics, viewers and fans alike.
Superman is considered the marker of superhero films that paved the wave of future filmmakers to replicate the success on what the superhero genre can do. Superman spawned three sequels only the second film was descent. a retcon film called Superman Returns is perhaps a proper third installment if you remove Superman III & IV.
Now that Krypton aired The Sci-Fi Channel & Nicolas Cage has signed on to voice Superman in the upcoming god awful Teen Titans Go To The Movies. I want to show you what’s good or bad about the superhero film that encouraged Hollywood to make a handful of pictures.
The following review doesn’t contain any massive SPOILERS. Feel free to read this article, if you’ve never got a chance to watch it.
Strong: Christopher Reeve did an excellent job on his iconic portrayal as Clark Kent/Superman.
Other Cast Members such as, Margot Kidder, Ned Beatty, Valerie Perrine, Jackie Cooper, Gene Hackman, Terrence Stamp & Marlon Brando all did a great job on their respective performances.
Action Sequences were entertaining with Superman protecting innocent lives during The Climatic Sequence.
Humor felt appropriate for its jokes without anything cringeworthy. One of the funniest moments of the film, is when Lex shouts “MISS TESCHMACHER!” I’m totally gonna give this an Extra Point!
In both the comics and adapted media, Perry White is a precursor to J. Jonah Jameson from Spider-Man.
Lex Luthor’s secretary, Miss Teschmacher, (hubba hubba) is a prototype to Mercy from Bruce Timm’s Superman: The Animated Series.
Mario Puzo, co-wrote the screenplay.
Composer, John Williams, orchestrated the soundtrack for the movie including the title character’s unforgettable instrumental theme. If you play any LEGO related video game featuring Superman, try using his ability to fly which will play the theme song.
Costume Design for Superman’s outfit is taken straight outta the comics lookin’ bright and colorful reflecting Superman’s “Boy Scout” image.
Special Effects at the time, were groundbreaking.
Opening Credits makes you feel like you’re flying into space. To put the icing on the cake, the theme song plays. This calls for another Extra Point!
Set Pieces like The Fortress Of Solitude, Planet Krypton, Lex’s Hideout, were built by set decorators.
The Story is divided into three sections. One with The Destruction Of Krypton. Two with Clark Kent growing up in Smallville. Three Clark moves to Metropolis and becomes Superman.
Cinematography looked normal without any Shaky Cam or Dutch Angles used heavily.
Chemistry between Superman & Lois felt normal. When they go on their first date flying into the skies, you know you want them together.
Superman once said, “I don’t drink when I fly.” Thirty Years Later, Will Smith, portrayed an alcoholic superhero named Hancock.
Superman also said, “Peter Pan is a fairy tale.” John Williams went on to compose music for Steven Spielberg’s Hook, starring Christopher Reeve’s real life best friend, Robin Williams as Peter Pan.
At the 1:57:41 mark. Look at the top left corner of Lex’s blueprint involving his proposed island. One of the planned islands is labeled, “Teschmacher Peaks.” No one wonder Lex has an infatuation for Ms. Teschmacher.
Weak: Towards the end of the film, a Plot Hole is unintentionally brought up by fans of Superman & Doug Walker/Nostalgia Critic, pointed this out as the dumbest moment in the Superman film series. If you’re familiar with the The Plot Hole, you’ll probably know what I’m talking about. I have no choice but to Double Down this flaw, because this was never used in the three sequels and Superman Returns if you scratch out Superman III & IV from its continuity. EGADS! This predates The Plot Hole towards the end of Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban!
A Blue Screen Effect didn’t age so well. I’m giving this flaw a pass, because C.G.I. never existed back then.
The film is sort of dated. Typewriters are shown at The Daily Planet and some exterior shots of The Twin Towers are shown in the background.
Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent, never felt like an illusion for a person wearing glasses and a different hairstyle. In real life, he would’ve been stalked by paparazzi. Clark Kent went on to become the butt of jokes from various parodies like Mystery Man, because it poked fun at Captain Amazing’s alter ego, who’s based on Clark Kent. What convinces me to wear something to protect a person’s face is to wear a mask or apply a heavy amount of prosthetic makeup. Working as a vigilante without covering your face will result in dire consequences.
As a guy, I was easily distracted by Ms. Tessmachner. I’m gonna let this flaw slide. Let’s be honest male viewers, we’ve all have a weakness involving beautiful sexy women. If I stumble upon a Time machine, I would definitely go on a blind date with Valerie Perrine!
The Final Verdict: B, FOR BREATHTAKING!
Despite its flaws, Superman remains as an influential groundbreaking movie that went on to encourage filmmakers to come up with their own success commercial & box office hit of superhero films including Christopher Nolan, (The Dark Knight Trilogy) Sam Raimi, (Spider-Man Trilogy) Tim Burton, (Batman & Batman Returns) Bryan Singer (X-Men series) among many others.
Famous people such as Kevin Smith, Jerry Seinfeld, Shaquille O’Neal, Howard Stern, Hugh Jackman, Joe Vargas/Angry Joe & Nicolas Cage stated they are huge fans of Superman.
R.I.P. Christopher Reeve, thank for your timeless performance as The Man Of Steel, it’ll never be forgotten by fans across the globe.