One of the all-time great comic-book films that weaves a great origins story with an excellent cast.
Comic book super heroes have been a staple in American culture for generations. These characters have inspired cartoon series’, prime-time television shows and in 1978 the motion picture Superman was released in early December just in time for the holiday theater rush. It did not disappoint, with an estimated $55 million dollar budget, the film grossed just under $135 million worldwide.
The film would also be the birth of Christopher Reeve as America’s favorite super-hero. The story follows true to the comic roots and tells the story of Superman from the beginnings, through his early years growing up on the small farm the and the inevitability of his having to leave to see the world to discover more of who he was.
This was a beautifully shot film from the openings in Krypton, the wide sweeping shots of the Kent farm to the downtown views of Metropolis. The script was well paced and able to fit in the complete story of a revered super-hero. The intro scenes set in Krypton pulls you into another world with great use of lighting and wardrobes.
I mean who doesn’t love seeing Marlon Brando as Jor-el? He felt every bit the powerful stature of who you would vision being the father of Superman. Brando delivered his dialogue with strength and confidence and did a fantastic job of pulling my interest into the story very quickly.
Within the run-time of this script it felt much more like two streamlined films. The first half does a detailed job of introducing and building the character through his early and teenage years. Captivating on its own it was enjoyable to watch the second half play out it Metropolis with Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman playing to two iconic roles.
The special-effects that were cutting-edge at the time are still fun to sit back and watch today. Every time I watch this film I can admire the seriousness that was taken into creating an entertaining saga that makes the most it can from the source material. To this day this is still one of my favorite comic-book films. I cannot count the times I have seen this one and it results always in a great rendition of the caped hero.
Christopher Reeve was perfect for the role. He was charming, both as Kent and Superman and slightly different ways which was nice for giving a solid feel of difference between the two sides of the leading character. Reeve without question filled the shoes of the role and brought a good energy to the story portraying a character you can feel you interest being drawn to.
Hackman was fun as Lex Luther. He delivered a charismatic performance and clearly enjoyed showcasing the eccentricity as one of the comic’s most well known villains. Hackman felt the part of a sinister villain and you could sense his determination and influence through his mannerisms and expressions. His great acting gave this film a viability with his name alone and along for the ride was a performance that made him to this day one of the better villains of all the big-screen adaptations of the comics.
The good thing about the movie is that it tells the full of story of how Superman came to be, rather then jumping into it, telling only a segment. There was action placed throughout that could build some suspense to the final climax and after everything wraps up and the end credits roll you can say you sat back and watched an enjoyably, detailed and captivating comic-book film.
To all the studios that are looking to create an origins story, in hopes of creating a film franchise, look at the formula of this script for how to tell a complete foundation to a hero, who he is, and the scope of the world it is set in. There is a fun-filled adventure in this film that keeps a comic-book feel and is always worth a watch.