When DC Comics published the first Superman comic strip in 1939, it’s clear they would not have imagined the magnitude of such a blockbuster motion picture. Superman Movie 1978. A movie like the one which came crashing onto the screens in the late 70s. A film that set new box office records. One that left the movie reviewers speechless. A picture that would be followed by sequel after endless sequel. A “Super” blockbuster born of that “super” little comic strip character of theirs.
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Superman: The Movie, directed by Richard Donner is, to this day, considered one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. It had an enormous budget for its time of $55 million, as compared to the usual $20 – $30 million that most big budget films spent on production at that time. Superman:The Movie grossed an astounding $300 million at the box office that year, second only to Grease, The Movie.
The movie won three Academy Awards, best film editing, best original score and best sound. It also won a special achievement award for visual effects.
Superman Movie 1978 CAST
- Both Superman and Clark Kent were played by a little known (at the time) Christopher Reeve.
- Jor-El, the young Kal-El’s (Superman while living on Krypton) father was played by Marlon Brando.
- Pa Kent , Clark Kent’s father in Smallville, Kansas was played by Glenn Ford.
- Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet where Clark Kent works was played by Jackie Cooper.
- Lois Lane, both Superman and Clark Kent’s object of affection was played by Margot Kidder.
- Lex Luthor, the arch villain of Krypton who tries to complete one of the most horrendous real estate swindles on Earth was played by Oscar winner Gene Hackman.
The beginning of the movie takes place on the planet Krypton. Jor-El and his wife, Lara are not able to convince the elders of the planet about the dangers approaching because of three villains who are moving in on the people of Krypton. As a result, Jor-El and his wife agree to stand by the people of Krypton, but they opt to send their infant son, Kal-El to earth where they hope he will be safe.
Three years later baby Kal-El’s spaceship crashes down in Kansas, USA, in the middle of a town called Smallville. He is adopted by a farmer couple named Johnathan and Martha Kent. Ma and Pa Kent take the baby to their farm, named him Clark, and raised him as their own.
As Clark begins to mature he realizes he is not like the other kids. He is stronger, quicker, more agile. His mother tells him to hide his strength, so no one will start asking questions about where he came from. Clark adopts a mild-mannered nature in the hopes of not being noticed.
The Fortress of Solitude
In the second part of the movie Clark goes to the Arctic to learn about where he is from and his greater purpose in this world. He builds an ice castle and spends 12 years inside the castle listening to Jor-El whose voice he can hear coming through a mysterious green crystal which he found in the Kent’s garage. When he emerges he is wearing a blue suit and red cape, with the El family symbol strewn proudly across his chest. It is at this point we see Superman fly for the first time.
The last part of the film takes place in Metropolis where Clark secures a job at the Daily Planet Newspaper and becomes smitten with a coworker, Lois Lane. Still, it is clear to Superman that he has criminals to fight and innocent people to save, so the movie ends with Superman fighting arch criminal Lex Luthor, preventing him from pulling off “the greatest real estate swindle of all time”.
On a final note, both Clark Kent and Superman are clearly infatuated with Lois Lane. Lois Lane, on the other hand, only has eyes for Superman. In one point in the movie she even refers to him as a “super man”, hence the name is coined.
Superman Movie TRIVIA
- To look the part of the well built and well sculpted Superman, Christopher Reeve worked with well renowned bodybuilder and trainer, David Prowse.
- Superman is the oldest of the classic Golden Age superhero characters.
- “You will believe a man can fly” , the tagline for the 1978 Superman:The Movie poster was one of the most popular in history.
- The movie, Superman:The Movie, was filmed and produced at the same time as the 1980 sequel.
- In its initial run, the film topped the box office charts for 13 consecutive weeks.
- Marlon Brando’s salary made him the highest paid movie star in the world at the time
- Paul Newman was offered the role of Superman, Lex Luthor and Jor-El but wasn’t interested.
- Christopher Reeve does not appear on the screen until 48 minutes into the movie.
Superman Movie 1978 Cast
- Marlon Brando – Jor-El
- Gene Hackman – Lex Luthor
- Christopher Reeve – Clark Kent
- Jeff East – young Clark Kent
- Ned Beatty – Otis
- Jackie Cooper – Perry White
- Glenn Ford – Jonathan Kent
- Trevor – the First Elder
- Margot Kidder – Lois Lane
- Jack O’Halloran – Non
- Valerie Perrine – Eve Teschmacher
- Maria Schell – Vond-Ah
- Terence Stamp – General Zod
- Phyllis Thaxter – Martha Kent
- Susannah – as Lara
- Marc McClure – Jimmy Olsen
- Sarah Douglas – Ursa
- Harry – the Second Elder
Interestingly, Christopher Reeve landed the role after auditioning alongside hundreds of other actors, with many of them being well-known names in Hollywood. Also, the movie’s budget was an astounding $55 million, making it one of the most expensive films ever made at the time. However, it all paid off as the movie became a critical and commercial success, grossing over $300 million worldwide. Lastly, moviegoers loved John William’s iconic and memorable score, which has since become synonymous with the superhero genre. All in all, the Superman movie of 1978 deserves its place in cinematic history as a groundbreaking and unforgettable film.