Superman (1978)

A- SDG Original source: National Catholic Register

A classic tribute to an American pop-culture icon, Superman is the first great comic-book movie and a nostalgic ode to the ideals of a more innocent time. Combining epic, portentous 2001-style sci‑fi mythmaking and Adam West "Batman"-style camp, the Mario Puzo-scripted movie embraces both the Christological resonances implicit in the Superman myth and the over-the-top cartoon villainy of Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor and his buffoonish henchman Otis.

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1978, Warner Bros. Directed by Richard Donner. Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Glenn Ford, Margot Kidder, Valerie Perrine, Phyllis Thaxter, Susannah York.

Artistic/Entertainment Value

Moral/Spiritual Value


Age Appropriateness

Teens & Up

MPAA Rating


Caveat Spectator

Recurring peril and action violence; disaster mayhem; minor profanity and suggestive dialogue.

Originally intended to be filmed back-to-back with Superman II, which would provide more formidable villains and super-powered action, this first film is largely concerned with establishing the fundamental constants of the Superman mythos: his escape as an infant from the doomed planet Krypton; his all-American upbringing by a Kansas farm couple; his move to the big city and a great metropolitan newspaper; the dual relationship that develops between Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) and Clark Kent / Superman (Christopher Reeve); his vulnerability to krytonite.

Superman’s debut in Metropolis is handled with whimsy, excitement, and nostalgia; a simple sight gag — Clark looking bemused at a kiosk-style payphone — suggests how much has changed since stories of Superman were first told. Dialogue and storytelling choices emphasize the echoes of the Christian story — a father in the heavens sends his only son to earth; the son’s earthly father dies; the son leaves home to do the work he was meant to do, to become a savior — while John William’s swashbuckling score completes the grand experience.

Action, Adventure, DC Comics, Superheroes & Comic Book Movies, Superman, Top 5 Superhero Movies