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The planet Krypton is doomed. Only one man, Jor-El, knows it, and rockets his infant son to refuge on a distant world called Earth. As Jor-El's son grows to manhood, he learns he possesses super-powers he must hide from the ordinary mortals around him. And so, he disguishes himself as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter.
Unable to convince the ruling council of Krypton that their world will destroy itself soon, scientist Jor-El takes drastic measures to preserve the Kryptonian race: He sends his infant son Kal-El to Earth. There, gaining great powers under Earth's yellow sun, he will become a champion of truth and justice. Raised by the Kents, an elderly farm couple, Clark Kent learns that his abilities must be used for good. The adult Clark travels to Metropolis, where he becomes a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet...and a caped wonder whose amazing feats stun the city: Superman! Meanwhile, Lex Luthor, the world's greatest criminal mind, is plotting the greatest real estate swindle of all time. Can't even the Man of Steel stop this nefarious scheme?
Superman tells the story of a planet called Krypton. Its sun is going to explode, destroying the planet. Before this can happen, two parents send their son to the planet Earth in a rocket ship. Due to his alien biology, he finds himself instilled with great powers on Earth, and he uses them to become Superman, a flying hero dedicated to truth, justice, and the American way. Now, his abilities are put to the absolute test when he has to go up against maniacal genius Lex Luthor, who plans to destroy the west coast, and claim what's left as his own.
Before 1978, the only comic book related things you could see on the screen were cartoons, serials, and movies like Batman (1966), which were meant as parodies. No one had made an accomplished, serious comic book film before. This is why Superman was such an ambitious project. However, Richard Donner pulled it off. He managed to work with the best special effects of the time and a great script, and he pulled off a work of art. Superman is amazingly close to comic book lore. It establishes his origin, his journey to become Superman, and his change into the geeky Clark Kent. The movie manages to stay serious, and yet action packed as well as really funny at some points. Donner was the right man for the job, because he tackled the first American icon and made it into an awesome movie.
The acting was really really good. Christopher Reeve was the best choice for Superman. With his iron jawline and his jet black hair, he looks as if he stepped right out of the comic book. Gene Hackman gives a great and hilarious performance as Lex Luthor in a role that's both funny and evil. And of course, Marlon Brando, one of the greatest acting talents, taking on the short but sweet role of Jor-El, Superman's doomed Kryptonian father.
Overall, Superman got the world interested in superheroes again, and it made Hollywood realize what a hot property comic book films can be, and it paved the way for more spectacular comic book films, and for that reason above all, Superman gets my respect.
Superman: The Movie is a terrific adaptation of Siegel and Schuster's immortal comic book character. However, despite its solid acting, incredible SFX, and great sets, it is overlong, boring in some places, and really drives home the point that even a Superman can be flawed. Why is that last part bad? Because we see that Superman would sacrifice the Earth for a woman, the annoyingly nosy Lois Lane, portrayed by Margot Kidder. Marlon Brando's expensive cameo as Jor-El, Superman's Kryptonian father is also well placed and acted, but Glenn Ford as Jonathan Kent is the better of the two performances.
There's no doubt that it's a flawed movie, but it's one of the most wonderfully entertaining flawed movies made.
The movie Superman (1978) located the fictional U.S. town where the baby Kal-El was found and raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent in the state of Kansas. This tradition has carried through into subsequent Superman comic-book stories, animation, and television series. Earlier comics however placed Smallville in the north-eastern United States, somewhere near the eastern seaboard. Also, some comics-related sources in the 1970s and '80s placed Smallville in the state of Maryland. In the TV series Smallville, Smallville has been established as being located in the state of Kansas and also close enough to Metropolis that on clear days, one can view it in the distance. Metropolis is a fictional port city located somewhere on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Where exactly varies depending on the source. The four superman movies made in 1978, 1980, 1983, and 1987 staring Christopher Reeve, do not specify its location, but based on the existence of various real-life landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, it must be a stand-in for New York City. In the DC Universe, it is considered to be in New York State (which also is said to be geographically larger than its real-life counterpart). Some sources had previously placed Metropolis on the shore of Delaware Bay in the state of Delaware, across from Gotham City (from the Batman universe). However, this has been superseded by more recent continuity. In the latest Superman movie, Superman Returns, when Lex Luthor unveils his plan on a series of maps, Metropolis can be seen located on a Northeastern U.S. map exactly where New York City would be. (Also, on a side note, Long Island is not present at all.) In the TV series Smallville, Metropolis must be located either in Kansas, or close by in a neighboring state, as the show has established that (1) Smallville is in Kansas and that (2) Metropolis can be seen from town on clear days in the distance. At this point in Clark Kent's life, he has not yet fully developed, super-power wise. He has varying degrees of some of his powers, while others not at all, including the ability to fly. That is why he runs super fast home, instead of simply flying. The effect was achieved by dangling the actor just above the ground with wires, and having a fast moving rig pull him across the intended path. In some shots, it was clearly blue-screened though. Once he turned back time, he then had the time to stop Lex Luthor's guided missles, and in effect, prevented the earthquakes, etc. The controversy surrounding the time-reversal theme of the movie has been a discussion point since the film came out. Most viewers see it as a cheat, others see it as a ridiculous way for Superman to save Lois. Either way, Richard Donner has commented very little on his choice to include it. We have to assume that, although he turned back time to a point before the dam really breaking through (as is clearly seen being reversed), he did not take it back further than that, to before the explosion (crucially, we do not see that being reversed). Presumably, he is only prepared to defy Jor-El's warnings to a certain extent, otherwise why not reverse the whole thing and save all those killed in the nuclear blast and quake, messing seriously with "Earth history"? So, he simply had a little bit more time, which he used to save Jimmy a bit earlier (it is clear that he still did so and deposited him on the road, because Jimmy says so when he arrives at the car at the end) and also to deal with the damaged dam, perhaps not needing to stop the deluge because this time he has enough time to repair the damage before it bursts completely. He also somehow prevents the crack that reaches Lois' car, though she has still experienced the quake/aftershocks and the exploding gas station (she says as much). And of course, Luthor's huge crime has still taken place and so he must go to jail and for trial. She asks him about this during their interview: "Is it true that you can see through anything?" He then states specifically that he can see through anything but lead (when she steps out from behind the lead plant box she has on her terrace, he says "pink", giving an answer to her question about what color underwear she'd had on). Lois is primed with a lot of questions, though we are not privy as to how she knows to ask this one. Also, the printed article Lex Luthor et al. read the next day, "I spent the night with Superman", contains details about him that we do not see Lois and Superman discussing. So, we must simply assume that various rumors and facts had leaked out prior to the interview, during Superman's first few appearances, somehow (we do see him talking to Jor-El about his having been "showing off" and now being "revealed to the world") and a lot more putting the record straight must have taken place off-camera, while Lois is interviewing (flying with) Superman. In the original Superman comic book universe, it is safe to assume some, if not all, characters have trouble coming to this conclusion. In real life, although it is possible for a person to recognize Clark Kent, or Superman vice versa, there are numerous people who found they could conceal their identity from at least strangers with a single facial detail like Harold Lloyd (who was an inspiration for Clark Kent) with his glasses or Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx with their artificial mustaches. This was probably left out for plot reasons, and to allow a longer running series.
If the comic book series bordered too close to real life, with rational and smart characters, Superman would never have survived this long. His identity would have been deduced very early, and his closest friends and relatives would have been systematically killed. In the modern comics, the disguise has been supported by the fact that the public does not know that Superman have a secret identity since he does not wear a mask, suggesting he has nothing to hide. Furthermore, he has had the help of shapeshifters like the Martian Manhunter who have posed as Clark Kent with Superman in public appearances to make it seem obvious they are two separate people.
More than the glasses, the Clark Kent disguise consists of a completely different personality. Christopher Reeve was chosen, in part, because of his ability to play two completely different characters. Kal-el takes Jor-el's advice that his secret identity is absolutely necessary to heart and develops the Clark Kent persona in order to keep humans from over-relying on Superman and to protect those he loves. Clark Kent is a bumbling, "mild-mannered reporter", easily dismissed by Lois and everyone else; Superman is confident and charismatic with a witty sense of humor. Lois even considers the possibility that they are one and the same and then, considering Clark's personality, dismisses the notion as ridiculous. The skill of Reeve in portraying the identities is demonstrated in this film when Clark is tempted to confess in Lois' apartment; the sight of him simply taking off his glasses, straightening his back and speaking with unexpected timbre has a convincing effect of suggesting another person. In the year 2000, the Director's Cut of Superman was released. Most of the new material are smaller sequences with plot extensions, but there are two bigger sequences added as well. The first one shows Superman in the Fortress of Solitude, talking to his father Jor-El about the advantage of his supernatural powers. The second one shows Luthor trying to stop Superman by the use of heavy arms, fire and ice. The 4-Disc Special Edition is a Must Have for each fan of this film because it's the only DVD release including the Director's Cut and the theatrical cut as well.
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