Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Classic and Subtle
There are few movies that I really enjoy that are older than I am, but when I do, I think they are among some of the best movies ever made, even for today’s standards. The first Superman movie starring the late and great Christopher Reeve was released in 1978, a good decade before I was born, and there are many reasons why I think it was done very well, but we’ll get to that in a second. First, let me explain the plot of Superman.
After introducing us to the planet Krypton, banishing Zod to the Phantom Zone, sending Clark off, and then the planet exploding, we follow Clark Kent as he lives out most of his teen years in Smallville, Kansas before his father dies of a heart attack. The death of his adoptive father really sends him away to further find himself and his heritage, and lands in the fortress of solitude (for 12 years). The next time you see Clark, he is working for the Daily Planet with Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor, the crime boss of Metropolis comes up with a plan to take over the world and kill Superman in the process. Superman must protect the ones he loves as well as take care of Lex.
The first thing you will realize with this film after not watching it for so long is that…you don’t even see Superman in suit until at least an hour into the movie. Yes, there is a moment when he flies out of the Fortress of Solitude, but that is far away and for a split second. The movie’s first half had a lot to do with going over Clark’s background, and who he really is under that suit. That’s another thing, his secret identity in the movie is Clark Kent (they even say it in the movie). While the TV Show ‘Smallville’ ultimately had his secret identity as Superman.
While we are mentioning Smallville, I might as well mention a few things connection-wise while we are at it. In the TV show, Lois Lane shows up in Smallville for the first time in the fourth season, but did you know that she actually shows up in Smallville in the movie for a split second as a child? She is the little girl in the train that sees Clark running. Also, the acting when it came to all of the actors during the Smallville scenes were strikingly believable as something you would see in an episode of Smallville. If the creators of Smallville had that in mind, they did a great job. Lex’s father also plays a big part of the show, and even Gene Hackman’s Lex talks about Lex’s father, and it sounds about…right…even though Lex’s father was not in the comic books.
Moving on…I had a problem with this Lex Luthor. It was kind of like Jack Nicolson’s Joker in a way, where the character was just too goofy, but the positive part about that fact is that it works as a goofy character because everything else in the movie is also colorful and goofy, like a cartoon (or comic). I also didn’t understand the whole wig thing, either wear it or don’t, don’t put on a swimming cap over your “bald head” to replace your wig….it just looks fake, and I can see your real hair…plus part of the iconic image of Lex Luthor is being bald. I believe his baldness gave inspiration for other villains to incorporate the bald image.
One thing that this movie got right is detrimental; the idea of hope and inspiration. This is huge for any movie or TV show with Superman, the man isn’t the only thing that is super, but the idea that this guy doesn’t lie, does everything honestly and just, that every which way, you can look up to. He is a symbol. If that isn’t seen in a Superman adaptation, it is just not a Superman adaptation. Next, they introduced core characters that aren’t even used in the movie, that was incredibly smart. Introducing us to Zod and his crew, and Lana Lang was great, because those are characters in the second and third movie. There is no way they could have known they would be using those characters again.
If you have not yet seen Superman, then I highly recommend you doing so. It’s a great movie, and out of every movie ever made about the superhero, this is the one to own if you had only one choice. Check it out!