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Superman (1978)



Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 59
Fresh: 55 | Rotten: 4

Superman deftly blends humor and gravitas, taking advantage of the perfectly cast Christopher Reeve to craft a loving, nostalgic tribute to an American pop culture icon.


Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 2

Superman deftly blends humor and gravitas, taking advantage of the perfectly cast Christopher Reeve to craft a loving, nostalgic tribute to an American pop culture icon.



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Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 283,304

My Rating

Movie Info

Richard Donner's big-budget blockbuster Superman: The Movie is an immensely entertaining recounting of the origin of the famous comic book character. Opening on Krypton (where Marlon Brando plays Superman's father), the film follows the Man of Steel (Christopher Reeve) as he's sent to Earth where he develops his alter-ego Clark Kent and is raised by a Midwestern family. In no time, the movie has run through his teenage years, and Clark gets a job at the Daily Planet, where he is a news reporter.

May 1, 2001

Warner Bros. Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (60) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (55) | Rotten (4) | DVD (35)

Superman doesn't have enough conviction or courage to be solidly square and dumb; it keeps pushing smarmy big emotions at us -- but half-heartedly.

January 15, 2013 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's the simple, earth-bound quality of the film that makes this comic-book fantasy soar.

July 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film is best when it takes itself seriously, worst when it takes the easy way out in giggly camp -- as it does, finally and fatally, when Lex Luthor enters the action.

April 17, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (16)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

By keeping the spectacular possibilities open, through the opening scenes of the destruction of Krypton, and the subsequent growth to manhood of the planet's only son on the plains of the Midwest, the film allows naiveté and knowingness to coexist.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Superman is good, clean, simple-minded fun...

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Superman is a pure delight...

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comment (1)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

...a studio product, certainly, but also something that could have grown from one of Smallville's sun-kissed cornfields.

June 13, 2013 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm

The most influential, if not definitive comic book superhero origin story we'll ever see.

June 7, 2013 Full Review Source: Lyles' Movie Files
Lyles' Movie Files

Christopher Reeve makes the character of Superman his own, while also reminding us of why we love the character.

June 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Christopher Reeve essays the title role and makes it his own, combining correctly chiseled features with a likable comic humanity, while the film itself nicely balances special effects with the romance of Superman and Lois Lane.

July 9, 2012 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Superman still remains the best superhero movie ever made, full of humor, heart, and an iconic performance by Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel.

June 6, 2011 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Super-nostalgic superhero adventure still soars.

January 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

... a lot of fun, and the lot of talented people involved have managed to get a lot of their talent very enjoyably on view.

September 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

Manages to capture the pure heart and spirit of this comic book Americana.

July 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

With a triumphant score by John Williams, the searing sincerity of Christopher Reeve and a preposterous grand finale, it is impossible not to root for Superman in this most enjoyable of feel-good movies.

July 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Film4

Arguably still the most solid 'origin' and emotion-churning superhero story on the big screen.

July 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Dark Horizons
Dark Horizons

The only time in five tries that a Superman movie actually managed to capture the essence of what makes the Man of Steel such a potent, classic symbol of American optimism.

May 9, 2010 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

The film ranks among the greatest crowd pleasers in cinema history, an achievement it will surely hold for a long time.

July 10, 2007 Full Review Source: DVD Review
DVD Review

In Christopher Reeve, the casting department found someone with just the right charisma to pull it off.

November 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Vem envelhecendo bem justamente por compreender que, mais do que respeitar o espectador (e respeita), é fundamental respeitar seu próprio universo.

July 11, 2006
Cinema em Cena

...the film has aged incredibly poorly in the years since its 1978 debut.

July 8, 2006 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews | Comments (4)
Reel Film Reviews

Donner keeps his film briskly funny and exciting, with smart and spectacular action....The greatest effect of all, however, is Reeve's miraculous performance.

July 3, 2006 | Comment (1)
Groucho Reviews

This Superman has the right mix of seriousness and humor.

July 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Superman

Superman is one of the greatest superhero films I have ever seen. Filled with superb dialogue and a heart wrenching story that triumphs over any hero film out there, Superman delivers on everything possible in cinema, during it's time. The build-up of Clark Kent in act 1 of the film is incredible, telling the backstory of his life on the farm, which is something that is missing from many superhero films nowadays. The villains are not overly charismatic which I loved, because it focusses on him having powers and having people, rather than having to deal with a bad guy 24/7, which is what modern day superhero films always do. The screenplay is terrific for what it is, the acting is very good, and the direction and camerawork is great! I love everything about this film, and although the effects are now somewhat dated, I find it easy to ignore, because the story is so powerful! "Superman (1978)" is a masterpiece of a superhero film!
June 15, 2013
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

I've honestly never been a big "Superman" fan. But with "Man of Steel" set to come out next week, I figured I would break open a "Superman" blu ray box set I have and rewatch all of the movies(even though I don't remember seeing any of them except the last one). The version I watched of the original was the extended cut, so I'm not really sure what the differences are with the theatrical version, but it does feel really long at over 2 and a half hours. Also, this was made in 1978, so it's pretty dated, but not unwatchable dated. The effects don't hold up, but the story is great. It's an origin story, turned into Superman trying to stop Lex Luthor from destroying the entire west coast. The cast of this movie is absolutely amazing for the time it was released. Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Ned Beatty, Margot Kidder, and of course Christopher Reeve. Reeve really was an amazing Superman, and his performance holds up better than anything else in this movie. Also, a small piece of trivia that I didn't know. But this was written by Mario Puzo, aka the man who wrote "The Godfather" trilogy. When compared to modern day comic book movies, this obviously comes up short. But, when you consider the time it was made, and how well it's aged, it's still very good. Also, for how old the movie is, the transfer on Blu Ray is pretty darn good. Great way to get prepared for the new movie, and perfect to introduce kids to "Superman" who haven't seen any of the movies.
June 8, 2013
Everett Johnson

Super Reviewer

Richard Donner (The Omen, Lethal Weapons) set out to make 70's audiences believe that a man CAN fly. Armed with a big budget and a charismatic cast, Donner delivers the first superhero epic that recounts the Man of Tomorrow's origins and his encounters with his first nemesis, Lex Luthor. The story can be bloated, a bit un-even in tone (especially when the film turns towards a campy tone during the third act) and contains one of the most idiotic instances of a des ex machine ending ever; but delightful humor and memorable Superman moments are around every corner.

The large-scale special effects may be a tad dated (some of the models look a tad plasticy) but the flying sequences still look impressive even today, especially considering it was done before the days of CGI. However, the ultimate element that makes the affair worthwhile is the wonderful cast. Christopher Reeve makes the character leap off the comic pages with his balance of good-hearted nature and emotional depth. Margot Kidder plays Lois Lane and she has a fantastic chemistry with Reeve. Gene Hackman's interpretation of Luthor may not be the most literal, but he nails every comedic note to the point that this can be forgiven (enough to make you excuse the villain's underwhelming and ridiculous real estate scheme).

The legacy of this movie should not be underestimated; it established to a wider audience that superhero movies could be more than silly camp-romp like the Adam West Batman TV show.
June 5, 2013
Christopher Heim

Super Reviewer

    1. Jor-El: Your name is Kal-El. You are the only survivor of the planet Krypton. Even though you've been raised as a human, you are not one of them. You have great powers, only some of which you have as yet discovered.
    – Submitted by Adam O (20 months ago)
    1. Jor-El: They're a good people, Kal-El. They need only to be shown the way.
    – Submitted by Brock W (21 months ago)
    1. Clark Kent/Superman: Actually she's silver haired....
    – Submitted by Dan K (23 months ago)
    1. Lois Lane: Thats Clark nice....
    – Submitted by Dan K (23 months ago)
    1. Clark Kent/Superman: Is that how a warped brain like yours gets its kicks? By planning the death of innocent people?
    2. Lex Luthor: No, by causing the death of innocent people.
    – Submitted by Lucas M (2 years ago)
    1. Lex Luthor: [to Otis] Do you know why the number two hundred is so vitally descriptive to both you and me? It's your weight and my I.Q.
    – Submitted by Lucas M (2 years ago)
View all quotes (18)

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