Thoughts on the Original "Superman" (Reeves, 1978)

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Mike-M, Jul 12, 2004.

  1. Mike-M

    Mike-M Stunt Coordinator

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    This film was before my time just a bit, so I never saw it until yesterday on TMC. It is interesting to take a look at it now with all the super-hero movie craze Hollywood has going.

    Anyway, Superman was never my fav superhero, but I found the movie pretty interesting. It was better than I thought it'd be, and the special effects were better than I thought they'd be, too (considering this is the 70's.). I don't know Superman comics well at all, so therefore, what did people think of Hackman's Luther? Was that faithful to the comics?

    I thought some of it was campy, but that was fine and to be expected. It really reminded me of the Spider-man movies, but maybe that's just because the characters are similar in that they work for a newspaper, have boses that yell, try to balance their double lives and save the girl, etc.

    So, thoughts on this movie. I think it's considered a classic and the best superhero movie by many.

    On a side note...geeez, is Superman ridiculously powerful. I knew this obviously growing up, but I think I forgot that the guy is pretty much invincible. I knew he was incredibly strong and fast, but I was surprised to see he also had X-ray vision. I know it's a superhero movie and the hero will always win, but, isn't it hard to ever get worried for him? You can't really have him do one on one fights like a Spider-man or Batman film, can you? I suppose the villians could always carry around kryptonite, but that would get old quick.
     
  2. chris winters

    chris winters Second Unit

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    I love the old superman. It is texbook for how to do a superhero movie right. It takes itself seriously, but not too seriously. Has real action, and lots of heart and humor. Much of this comes from Reeves whos nearly perfect. Those are large shoes to fill, although smallville's tom welling does a nice job. I never cared that much for hackman's luther. He was too campy for my taste, and most of the slapstick comes from him and his cronies. I prefer my super villians menacing and competent.

    Superman is nearly indestructable, however kryptonight, along with other very powerful beings does leave the door open for solid drama. I think much of the suspence with superman comes not from wether he will live or die, but wether he will remain pure, and wether or not he will save the ordinary humans constantly in jeapordy etc.. A lot of the crisis he faces are moral crises, rather threats to his health. Keeping his secret etc...One of the classic cliches in comic books is that the villians that the heros inevitable faces match surprisingly well against his own powers. I.e. the punisher would not face magneto, he fights thugs and crime bosses, and superman fights evil geniuses armed with super weaponry and kryptonite, or other equally powerful foes. Just makes for better story telling.

    There are many redundant themes in comics, so its no surprise that superman and spiderman overlap in some regard.
    I hope the folks behind the new superman remember what made the first 2 origionals classics, and do'nt make idiotic decisions regarding tone and story. I wont hold my breath, however, with the way things seem to be going.
     
  3. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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    I thought he was pretty faithfully done, except for the way he constantly wears a wig in the movies. "Is this how you get your kicks, Luthor? By plotting the deaths of innocent people?!" "No, by causing the deaths of innocent people." [​IMG]

    I love the original Superman movie. I think it does a wonderful job of balancing the mythic aspects of the characters with good fun. The occasional campiness and comic relief of the movie doesn't bother me at all since the truth is that Superman always was pretty cheesy in the comics. Not nearly as goofy as Captain Marvel (the boy who says "Shazam!"), but definitely high up there [​IMG] But yet when the movie gets with the action, it always feels very weighty (the part where Lois gets buried alive nearly traumatized me when I was a kid), much like the two Spider-Man movies now.
     
  4. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I am not much of a Superman fan. I liked the movie as a kid, haven't seen it in at least 5 years, but it didn't really do it for me last time.

    Same here. However, Smallville has made him far mroe interesting than I would have thought. The "mythology" around his origin and his relationship with Lex is quite amazing.

    I do find it fascinating that the nemesis of the most powerful superhero should be a simple man.

    --
    H
     
  5. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Producer

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    The only low point for me was Ned Beatty's Otis - right up there with Jar Jar as far as the annoyance factor goes.

    OTOH the score for the movie is one of my all time favourites.
     
  6. Grant H

    Grant H Cinematographer

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    First off, Excuse me for picking my jaw up off the floor when you talked about your lack of familiarity with Superman's powers.[​IMG]



    I always saw the drama in Superman as being derived from just how super his feats actually were. The old comics and any well-done production contsantly test his astounding abilities and make him invent new ways to employ them. Superman faces calamities of such scope that Spider-Man and other lower-ranking superheroes would literally be powerless to stop. Typically, Supes must push his speed, strength, indestructibility, other abilities, and most importantly his intelligence to the absolute limit in order to save as many people as possible.

    The end of Superman: The Movie was a good example AFTER the Kryptonite thing. Two nuclear missiles headed in opposite directions, endangering millions.

    Even Superman IV has some excellent classic Superman moments ripped right from the comics (think about his solution to an erupting volcano). More often than not it's not a one-on-one conflict he faces, but the peril of others. As the comics point out, Superman's biggest weakness (besides Kryptonite) isn't physical, it's his compassion for humans. He cares about humans, all of them. In Superman II, he faces three supervillains, each nearly equal to him physically, but even then, it's people who are used against him. An evil genius then who can endanger people and accomplish something sinister and profitable at the same time is, then a formidable foe. Keep in mind, Superman is also mindful of human laws. If he suspects the mastermind, but can't prove it he won't simply kill him or even hand him over to authorities without first having proof or first-hand knowledge of his wrong-doings.

    It helps the story that Superman is NOT human, because he's entirely too perfect. He's an ideal humans have yet to evolve into. His unbelievable devotion and love of humanity, his innate goodness, is why we care about him so much and why we really do worry on the rare occasion something physically endangers him. Most superheros we are made to love because of their underlying humanity. With Superman, we love him because he is un-humanly good. This in it's own is enough for those with even the slightest evil to despise him at times.

    I did always think it was kind of funny though that Batman (and other DC Comics characters) were friends with Superman since many of the opponents they face could have been disposed of with one quick call to Superman. I guess we're supposed to figure that Superman is VERY busy in Metropolis (though he services the entire world). I imagine most of his coffee breaks at the Daily Planet are spoken for.
     
  7. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    I simply LOVE this film.

    I wouldnt say its campy, more lighthearted, but this is Superman not Batman or Grendel. This film has a almost dreamy quality anyway.

    Its #13 in my all time favorites list.Not only the greatest superhero/comic book movie ever but a epic piece of filmmaking as well. Im still suprised the way they made some of the movie work considering the time it was done.

    And yes the score is beyond amazing[​IMG]
     
  8. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    What JonZ said.[​IMG]

    And at least Christopher Reeve's Superman wasn't 75% computer generated like Spider-Man (or should that be CG-Man?) [​IMG]
     
  9. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    Yup. The only superhero thus far that can also be labeled an American classic. It might just be my favorite movie of all time.
     
  10. Dennis Pagoulatos

    Dennis Pagoulatos Supporting Actor

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    Yikes. I loved it when I was a kid, but man, it hasn't aged well at all.

    The bad:
    Hackman is too campy.
    Otis IS Jar Jar.
    Margot Kidder looks like she was beaten with an ugly stick.
    Special effects are a joke (though I never bought them as an 7 year old either.) [​IMG]

    The good:
    Christopher Reeve is perfect, and that's no small feat. [​IMG]
    Marlon Brando is always fun to watch (say bequeath one more time you crazy bastard! [​IMG])
    Overall production values are pretty high.
    Script is excellent, execution is very good.

    -Dennis
     
  11. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    While that's somewhat true, looking at the other options on the DVD, weren't that much better. Really, Margot was the best they could get for the role.

    The unfortunate part of this film is that the camp level was way too high in some cases. It kinda undercut Hackman's Luthor by having these dolts around as assistants.

    That being said, nobody will quite embody Superman better than Reeves did.

    Jason
     
  12. Dennis Pagoulatos

    Dennis Pagoulatos Supporting Actor

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    Carrie Fisher had the right amount of tough-chick spunk, and looks to spare for the role of Lois Lane...obviously she was busy with other projects at the time though... [​IMG]

    -Dennis
     
  13. Britton

    Britton Supporting Actor

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    Superman has that epic, EPIC quality that other comic book adaptations have failed to capture. The score is my favorite of all time, and the fact I've have the 2 disc set from Rhino spinning in my car's CD player on a semi-regular basis for the past 4 years is testament to that.

    It really all boils down to Christopher Reeve though. He was and still is Superman. And he actually almost makes you believe that people don't realize Clark and Superman are the same person because of his impeccable use of body language. When he's Superman, he really captures the goodness, honesty, and nobility of the character. When he's flying, he really looks like he's moving fluidly through the air instead of just posing and looking stiff. And of course, he and Margot Kidder just had an amazing chemistry.

    My only complaint is Kidder's voiceover when Clark takes her flying. Her lines are extremely clunky. I really think that Williams' score alone was enough to convey the emotions of that scene.

    Superman II has him fighting the villians who were imprisoned in the Phantom Zone by Jor-El, so the scales were balanced in favor of evil. The movie in its finished form definitely shows signs that it could have been better than the first flick, and I firmly believe if Donner hadn't been fired, it would have been the greatest comic book movie of all time.

    I'd also like to add that ANYONE who says Dean Cain was a better Superman than Christopher Reeve should be shot on sight.
     
  14. Grant H

    Grant H Cinematographer

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    Another good one.
     
  15. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Producer

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    Superman: The Movie is an American classic, IMO. For 25 years, its been the only comic adaption to get it right - until, perhaps, Spider-Man/Spider-Man 2 and/or X-Men 2. Still, as someone said, Donner's film (and John Williams' score) is an epic that the others haven't matched yet. Still #1 in my book.
     
  16. Shawn_KE

    Shawn_KE Screenwriter

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    I think the movie has aged just fine. Look past the 70's special effects and the cloths style, and you have a movie that could be released today.

    The best comic movie period, they got everything right. Yea, Luthor could have been a bit more serious, but that doesnt detract from the film.

    While part 2 is flawed, I would still rank it as second best. Would love to see a Donner cut sometime though.
     
  17. DougFND

    DougFND Second Unit

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    I first saw it when I was seven. I think I was nine when II premiered and I liked it better then. Now, I much more appreciate the original. I think it's aged very well.
     

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