With The Man of Steel coming out this Friday, I thought it would be a good chance to look back at the past Superman films beginning with Superman The Movie and going all the way to Superman Returns. Lets jump right in to it and see how the worlds most well known superhero has fared on the silver screen.
Superman The Movie was the first big budget take on a superhero film. In a lot of ways its the blueprint of the modern comic book movie, and in some eyes still the standard for them. It featured an unknown actor by the name of Christopher Reeve in the title role as well as some well known actors including Gene Hackman and Marlon Brando.
Plot Summary: An alien orphan is sent from his dying planet to Earth, where he grows up to become his adoptive home's first and greatest super-hero.
The plot is pretty standard for a superhero movie and gives us the Superman story from the start. What I love about it though is how smooth and not drawn out it was on screen. Normally the character would spend most of the film building towards becoming the hero, not so here. its roughly half hour of origins, half hour as Clark Kent and then on to the action with Superman. The story is well paced and despite some things that are off (flying around the world and reversing time?) is a fun story to watch unfold.
The acting still holds up and features one of the best performances by an actor playing a superhero. Christopher Reeve was able to not only get the Superman character right, but also Clark Kent. While some might say otherwise, I do believe that the role of Clark is much harder to pull off than the Superman Role. Here Reeve did an outstanding job playing both sides and was able to make more of a defined character as opposed to say George Reeves who, in my opinion at least, did a bad job differentiating the two and acting the same in both roles.
Gene Hackman did an amazing job as Lex Luthor "the greatest criminal mind of our time". As they say the hero only looks as good as his villain and Hackman hit a home run with his performance. Managing to be a despicable, yet at the same time comedic villain to a degree, his performance as Lex was extremely entertaining to watch and is in my eyes still the standard set for the role.
The supporting actors did a great job as well and gave the film a well rounded feel. Margot Kidder as Lois Lane was a good modern performance of the character at the time. She was independent and headstrong and gave the character some real personality. Jackie Cooper gave a great performance as Perry White. Able to give the character a nice blend of seriousness and comedic elements.
Overall Superman The Movie is a great example not only of how to make a good superhero film, but also just films in general. Able to tell a story in such a clear manner from the origins to the action packed finish. Is it without its faults? No, but I wouldn't really hold it back for that. If you're looking for a great film to watch with a great story, look no further than Superman The Movie.