I fell in love with a superhero in 1978. He was totally out of my league, but that did not hold me back. I was hopelessly hooked. I longed for this hunk of a hero to look deep in my eyes so I could stare into his baby blues. I dreamed of being wrapped in his arms and held close. I longed to be saved by his strength and courage. I listened for the John William’s musical score that would follow us wherever we went. I could hear those powerful, soaring notes in my head. Each measure more recognizable than the last. I couldn’t imagine anyone feeling so much angst at my death and in agony, flipping back time. I wanted to be called his “friend.” I needed to fly across the Galaxy holding his hand. I utterly ached for this man… this super species. I understood what values and morals he believed to be true so that everyone “was on the same team.” In the deepest recesses of my body and soul, I was truly filled with lust and desire. I know it was noble that he fought for truth, justice, and the American way.” Can I fly now? Move over Lois Lane…I am here for the one true Clark Kent. Christopher Reeve embodied SUPERMAN, and even though there have been several more actors portraying this Superman, he is the only one for me now and forever more. Excuse me a moment while I quell my heart, so I can continue writing.
SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE was nominated for three gold statues but only came away with a Special Oscar for Visual Effects. It boasted a budget of 55 million dollars. This was unheard of at that time. It became the number-one-grossing movie for the year and set off a franchise that would change the future of superhero movies. Warner Brothers took a huge chance, but it paid off in the end. Richard Donner directed the first and second films of this story. He was almost filming two movies at a time.
Christopher Reeve was cast as SUPERMAN in a cattle call audition of over 200 hopeful actors. He was a mere 170 pounds when cast, but on the first filming day, he had bulked up to 220. He spent his days in the gym with a special trainer who created a visual image of our hero, which was sheer perfection. Those bulging, massive muscles made audiences swoon. Me included. When Christopher Reeve went into the commissary for lunch as Clark Kent, no one gave him a second look. But when he ate in his SUPERMEN costume, he had a huge following of star-struck women. It was all in the glasses, and both characters parted their hair on different sides.
SUPERMAN oozed star power. Marlon Brando portrayed Jor-El. (Superman’s father) He was paid over five million for his role plus movie percentages. Marlon wanted everything filmed, including any rehearsal scenes. The director used many of his rehearsal takes in the movie. Marlon was also the one who suggested placing a huge letter “S” on his own costume. It added to the look and continuity. Gene Hackman played Lex Luthor, “the world’s greatest criminal mind.” He did not want to shave his head or his mustache. They decided to use weird wigs in different colors so it would give the impression he was wearing a toupee. In the end, the studio forced him did shave his mustache.
Lois Lane was Margot Kidder in real life. She gave her character the depth necessary to showcase a strong powerhouse of a woman who was not afraid or timid to speak her mind or say what she wanted. The only exception was around SUPERMAN. She was putty in his eyes. I loved how she stammered and stuttered around him and how she turned to mush when she was in his arms. I must admit there were moments her screaming drove me crazy, but overall, they were a great match. When they flew together across New York City, and she spoke the words CAN YOU READ MY MIND, it was dripping with gooey chemistry. Lois made most women jealous…me especially.
The entire ensemble of SUPERMAN helped to create the ease of suspending disbelief. Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Glen Ford, Trevor Howard, Valerie Perrine, and Susannah York gave audiences memorable characters for all time. The Daily Planet or the City of Metropolis could basically be any city in America. Crime is, after all, everywhere.
John Willians created one of the most legendary and iconic musical scores. The second you hear the opening notes, there is no doubt in your brain SUPERMAN will be soaring through the sky. The visual effects were amazing for the times. I believed a burglar was plunging his way up a skyscraper. The helicopter falling off the roof was scary and realistic. SUPERMAN changing his clothes in mid-air was a hoot, and I will forever see those red-hot pants and cape. A man must be very sure of his machismo when walking or flying in a SUPERMAN costume.
So many visual gems in SUPERMAN continually pushed this epic story forward. Starting at the beginning on planet Krypton, setting up the plot of the sequel with the judgment of the General and his co-hurts, seeing Clark as a four-year-old lifting a car, as well as a teenager outrunning a train, and of course, witnessing the delicate, power-driven crystals that forged the Fortress of Solitude.
SUPERMAN also contains many satirical one-liners that are filled with humor. “I hope this doesn’t put you off from flying. It’s still the safest way to travel.” (As the helicopter almost crashed to the ground). “What color is my underwear?” After Lois moves away from a lead-based plant, SUPERMAN yells, “Pink.” Or, at one point, nonchalantly catching a bullet to save Lois’s life during a robbery, and at another point, checking out Lois’s lungs for cancer. The movie’s last frame has “the man” looking directly into the camera as he flies by, thereby breaking the fourth wall. Priceless and sexy. The dialogue was always sharp, fast, witty, and fresh, even all these years later.
SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE is pure escapism. Christopher Reeve, in my opinion, was the best Superman of all time. He captured the strength and core of what it is to be a superior being. And he was able to show the naïveté and awkwardness of Clark Kent. What a combination. The movie was explosive. It made everybody dream of a better time. This super classic film gave the world hope during very hopeless times. It entertained people worldwide and made them believe that a simple man of steel could be the answer to all our global problems. Watching this movie Filled my heart with magical moments. It is a part of our past. And as Jar-El said, we should never interfere with the history of our planet.
SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE is available on TCM.