Posted September 07 2014 - 07:52 PM
I don't have kids but if you don't mind me answering... I mentioned to my girlfriend that if we ever had them, could I show them in one order to one child and one to another, and see who likes what more? She replied (probably rightfully so) that I'm not allowed to experiment on any future offspring!
I think I'd go for production order. A lot of what makes the prequels resonate emotionally, when they're at their best, is playing with characters and themes we're already familiar with from the original trilogy. This is just one example, but the end montage of Episode III is so powerful because it connects the dots between both films. The final shot of baby Luke being held by his adoptive aunt and uncle on Tattooine with the twin suns was emotionally satisfying because you know that that baby will grow up and right all of the wrongs that happen in the film. You feel optimism and hope and joy and I think that's how you're supposed to feel, but I'm not sure you'd feel that way if you were seeing Episode III for the first time ahead of the originals.
Also, there's really not much "mythology" in the original film about the Skywalker family, so you might feel impatient watching Luke and Leia and knowing they're siblings when they don't, or knowing Vader is their father when they don't. It ruins the Vader reveal in Empire too.
I tried once watching them Episodes 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 6, and that actually worked pretty well for me. You watch the original two movies and by the end of Empire you want to know the family history...so you watch all the prequels and then finish with Jedi to wrap the whole thing up.
For Superman, facing that dilemma cause my girlfriend has never seen those movies but wants to. I think you have to go with the Lester version of 2 first, just because it's a complete film, whereas the Donner cut is more of a sketch of what that movie would have been. It doesn't really have an ending - I'm not sure if you can ask someone new to the whole thing to watch two films that have the exact same end and get away with saying, "but the first one was meant to end differently so it didn't count the first time". I suppose you could do a sort of edit of 1 like they do in the recap at the beginning of the Donner cut, so you're not watching the same thing twice for the first time, but then you're getting into not really showing the original movie as it is. No one would have been happier than me than if the Donner cut actually could have had a unique ending, but unfortunately it doesn't. And I think it's perfectly fine as it is - a reconstruction of a movie that never got finished but would have been great if it had. But I think it has to go last.
I might do Superman I - IV and Returns in production order, and then show her the Donner cut so she can more fully enjoy seeing it the way I did, as an almost new Christopher Reeve-Marlon Brando Superman movie. I thought, we all thought, we'd never see Reeve as Superman again. Getting a glimpse, even an incomplete one, of him in that role one last time -- so that the Donner cut and not Superman IV is my last new memory of him in the role -- was one of those unexpected gifts life on rare occasions surprises you with.
Just my two cents anyway, I'd love to hear other takes on this too!