Superman: The Movie
Directed by: Richard Donner
Produced by: Pierre Spengler

Written by:

Comic Book:
Jerry Siegel
Joe Shuster
Mario Puzo
Mario Puzo
Leslie Newman
David Newman

Music by:

Ken Thorne
John Williams


143 min.



Gross Revenue:


Previous film:

Next film:

Superman II
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

Superman, also known as Superman: The Movie, is a 1978 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. Richard Donner directed the film, which stars Christopher Reeve as Superman, as well as Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder, Marlon Brando, Glenn Ford, Phyllis Thaxter, Jackie Cooper, Marc McClure, Valerie Perrine and Ned Beatty. The film depicts the origin of Superman, from infancy as Kal-El of Krypton and growing up in Smallville. Disguised as reporter Clark Kent, he adopts a mild-mannered attitude in Metropolis and develops a romance with Lois Lane, while battling against the villainous Lex Luthor.

The film was conceived in 1973 by Ilya Salkind. Several directors, most notably Guy Hamilton, and screenwriters (Mario Puzo, David and Leslie Newman and Robert Benton) were associated with the project before Donner was hired to direct. Donner brought Tom Mankiewicz to rewrite the script, feeling it was too campy. Mankiewicz was credited as creative consultant. It was decided to film both Superman and Superman II simultaneously.

Principal photography started in March 1977 and ended in October 1978. Tensions rose between Donner and the producers, and a decision was made to stop filming Superman II and finish the first film. Donner had already shot 75% of the planned sequel, eventually giving birth to Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. Superman was released with critical acclaim and financial success. Reviewers noted parallels between the film's depiction of Superman and Jesus. The film's legacy helped create a reemergence of science fiction films and the establishment of the superhero film genre.


On the planet Krypton, foremost scientist Jor-El believes that the red Kryptonian sun will shortly explode and destroy their planet. Unable to convince the Ruling Council of Elders that he is correct, Jor-El prepares an experimental, one-man spacecraft to transport his infant son Kal-El to a small planet in another galaxy called Earth, where the inhabitants bear a close resemblance to the Kryptonians. The child would have a decided advantage on Earth since the planet's yellow sun and lighter gravity would give him extraordinary powers, making him completely invulnerable. After an emotional farewell, Jor-El launches the spacecraft which safely leaves Krypton's galaxy. Shortly thereafter, Krypton is destroyed.

After traveling hundreds of light years, the ship crashes near an American farming town, Smallville, Kansas, where the now toddler Kal-El is found by Jonathan and Martha Kent. The couple decide to take the child home with them after witnessing the boy easily lift the rear of Jonathan's pick-up truck, after it nearly fell on him as he was repairing it, saving Jonathan's life. Giving Kal-El Martha's maiden name Clark, the couple lovingly raise the child as their own son.

Fourteen years later, the now-teenaged Clark exhibits other extraordinary powers, outrunning speeding trains, and punting a football into the stratosphere. However, even with these abilities, Clark is viewed as an "oddball" by his peers and is frustrated that he cannot show them what he can do. Sensing this, Jonathan reveals that he belives Clark was sent to Earth "for a reason." Shortly thereafter, Jonathan suffers a massive heart attack and dies. Clark, who is helpless despite the powers he possesses, is devastated.

Later, Clark discovers a glowing green crystal — the last surviving remnant from the ship from Krypton, which had been safely stored in the Kents' barn. Clark is compelled by the crystal to travel to the Arctic Circle. After bidding Martha an emotional farewell, Clark begins his long journey. After arriving at his destination, he hurls the crystal at an extreme distance, causing the Fortress of Solitude, which resembles the architecture of Krypton, to appear. He enters the Fortress and finds the crystal, using it to trigger a holographic image of Jor-El, who reveals that he is Clark's true father and that Clark's real name is Kal-El. Jor-El gives Clark background into his origins, showing him how his birth planet appeared before its destruction and educating him in his powers and responsibilities - emphasizing that he must not interfere in the history of humankind. After 12 years Clark leaves the Fortress, his powers fully developed, and now wearing the familiar blue and red caped costume made with his infant swaddling cloths and emblazoned with his Kryptonian family crest.

Arriving in Metropolis, Kent dons eyeglasses and a business suit and he finds a job as a reporter at The Daily Planet. He meets and develops a romantic attraction to reporter Lois Lane, but the feelings are not returned as she regards him as merely a friend. When Lois becomes involved in a helicopter accident atop the Daily Planet building, Clark publicly uses his powers for the first time to save her. Not recognizing Clark, Lois asks him who he is, to which he simply replies "A friend."

In costume, he then patrols all over the city, thwarting robberies, capturing criminals in spectacular fashion, aiding children of getting their beloved pets from trees, and even preventing Air Force One from crashing in a severe storm. As the next morning dawns, his heroic exploits have made him a media sensation, fascinating everyone, especially Lois. Later that evening, in costume, Clark allows Lois to interview him at her apartment,for a newspaper article that would reveal to the people of Metropolis who he is and why he is there. He then takes Lois on a nighttime flight above Metropolis. As the romantic flight ends, a bedazzled Lois mutters to herself: "What a super man," and thus is inspired to dub him "Superman."

Meanwhile, criminal genius Lex Luthor plans to make a fortune in real estate by cheaply buying large amounts of desert land and then diverting a nuclear rocket from a missile testing site to the San Andreas Fault. This will destroy California killing millions of people and leave Luthor's desert as the new West Coast of the United States. After reading with interest Lois Lane's article titled, "I Spent The Night With Superman", Luthor realizes that Superman is a potential threat to his plans. Reasoning that fragments of Krypton may have traveled to Earth and may be potentially lethal to Superman, he locates one in the form of a meteorite in Ethiopia.

Luthor then lures Superman to his underground lair. He reveals his true plans involving the missiles, then exposes him to the glowing green meteorite which he has dubbed Kryptonite. As Superman weakens, Luthor taunts him by revealing that one of the missiles is headed to Hackensack, New Jersey ,in the direct opposite direction of the other, knowing that even with his great speed, Superman could not stop both impacts. Luthor's girlfriend, Eve Teschmacher is horrified because her mother lives in Hackensack, but Luthor does not care and leaves Superman to a slow death.

Teschmacher rescues Superman on the condition that he will deal with the New Jersey missile first which he does by pushing it into open space. Consequently, he is too late to stop the second impact, which causes a massive earthquake as predicted. Superman struggles to save those caught in the earthquake, while, Lois, who is in the Mojave Desert on assignment investigating the purchases of worthless desert land by an anonymous buyer (Luthor), is trapped in her car as a result of an aftershock. As the car quickly begins to fill with dirt and debris, Lois suffocates and is near death. Sensing this, Superman races to save her only to find that he is too late.

Distraught at being unable to save Lois, Superman zooms into the stratosphere. He decides to ignore Jor-El's warning not to interfere with human history, and instead remembers Jonathan Kent's advice that he must be here for "a reason." Flying at incredible speed, Superman circles the Earth, creating a force that makes time run backwards, reversing all the events that led to Lois' death. Satisfied that all has been restored, Superman returns Earth to its normal spin. After making sure that Lois is alive and well, Superman captures and delivers Luthor and Otis to prison, where he believes that they would be secure until they receive a fair trial. Superman then soars into the night sky to his next adventure.



See AlsoEdit

Superman Film Series (Lester)
Films:   Superman: The Movie  • Superman II  • Superman III   Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
Superman Film Series (Donner)
Films:   Superman: The Movie  • Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut