Movie Review – Superman (1978)

Get Superman from
Get Superman from

Being a comic book fan, and being a bit more of a DC fan at the moment than a Marvel Fan, you would think I would have seen this movie already. Lord knows everyone else has. Well, I hadn’t until recently. So, what do I think of the Man of Steel’s most famous big screen escapade?

Note – there will be some slight spoilers, but I’ll try to keep them under the cut.

The Premise: Jor-El of Krypton sends his only son, Kal-El, to Earth to escape his world’s impending destruction. Our yellow sun gives him super strength, speed, along with X-Ray and Heat vision, and the ability to fly. His upbringing in the Midwest of the US (where he lands and is adopted by Martha & Jonathan Kent gives him moral character and a sense of justice, and the crystal recordings left by his father educate him further. He then moves to Metropolis and becomes Earth’s Greatest Protector – Superman (and also becomes, as Clark Kent, a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet).

And unless you’re currently living under a rock, you know all this already.

The Good: Gene Hackman’s portrayal of Lex Luthor is excellent, with Luthor showing a bit more competence than he’s depicted with in the second film in the series. The character is written very intelligently as well, with Luthor not monologing to Superman until not only has his plan been set into motion, but with the monologing serving a purpose (aside from exercising his ego) – to buy time, much as the employment of the Kryptonite is (though the Kryptonite is also intended to kill Superman, but it’s also intended to prevent Superman from disrupting his plans). Marlon Brando’s portrayal of Jor-El is also fantastic, as well as the brief glimpse we get of Terence Stamp as General Zod. Oh, and of course, John Williams score is excellent.

The Bad: The “Can You Read My Mind” sequence. Originally this sequence was meant to involve a song, which was written and composed by John Williams, and they’d gotten another woman (not the actress who played Lois) to record for the soundtrack album – and then they decided to try and have the actress who plays Lois to try to record it – and when that came off as silly, they decided to drop the song and have the actress do a Shatner-esque dramatic reading of it through voice-over. Either dump the sequence or use the original song. Jeez.

The Ugly: One of the main complaints people have about Star Trek TV series, particularly Voyager and Enterprise, is the use of Time Travel as a Deus Ex Machina. Well, guess what we get here. Yep. Time Travel as Deus Ex Machina. Boo. Hiss. Groan.

The Verdict: This film has aged rather well, I have to say, and I would certainly give the film an reccomendation to anyone who enjoys super-hero movies, if you haven’t seen it already.