Ranking the Superman Films

I’m not trying to be controversial or anything, this list only represents the amount of fun and enjoyment I got out of each Superman film. I’m going to exclude Hollywoodland from the list, though, as it’s not really a Superman film. So, with that out of the way…

12. Superman (1987)
Directed by B. Gupta


The Hindi-language Superman was by far the worst, even considering the all-female, motorcycle-riding karate squad and a young, breakdancing Clark Kent.

11. Supergirl (1984)
Directed by Jeannot Szwarc


A B-Movie all the way, Supergirl is also a complete misfire.

10. Superman and the Mole Men (1951)
Directed by Lee Sholem


Even if this one feels more like a TV episode than a real movie, I enjoyed this very early take on the character.

9. Superman Returns (2006)
Directed by Bryan Singer


Overall, I did enjoy Bryan Singer’s take on Supes, but this doesn’t change just how misguided and flawed Superman Returns is.

8. The Return of Superman (1979)
AKA Turkish Superman
Directed by Kunt Tulgar


The Turkish knock-off of Richard Donner’s Superman is a horrible, hilarious, awful, wonderful piece of work.

7. Superman II (1980)
Directed by Richard Lester


Superman II should have been a total home run, but the Salkinds mismanagement of the franchise turns it into a largely underwhelming film with a fantastic super battle.

6. Superman III (1983)
Directed by Richard Lester


I know this isn’t much of a Superman movie, but I thoroughly enjoy it and I don’t care who knows it.

5. Man of Steel (2013)
Directed by Zack Snyder


I want to put Man of Steel a lot lower, as I didn’t have much fun watching it, but I can’t deny that it does effectively bring the character into modern times and sets up what could be an incredible DC cinematic universe. I’m hopefully placing it at #5, although my first instinct was to place it at #8, just above Superman Returns.

4. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Directed by Sidney J. Furie


Superman IV is a fantastic piece of B-Movie entertainment, unfortunately I seem to be one of the few that thinks so! Whatever… your loss!

3. Superman (1980)
Directed by V. Madhusudhana Rao


This was easily the biggest surprise of the Superman series; this Indian mash-up of Superman and the classic revenge-driven film entertained me to no end.

2. Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (1980/2006)
Directed by Richard Donner


Even as a reconstruction of what might have been, it’s better than just about every other Superman film. It’s well-worth your time, Superman fans.

1. Superman (1978)
Directed by Richard Donner


Unsurprisingly, Richard Donner’s original film is still the one to beat. I’d say it’s probably an insurmountable task to overcome the power of this one, but I look forward to watching them try. 🙂

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this series run-through of all the Superman films I could muster up (as well as the animated films — here, here and here — that Stephen reviewed!). It’s been a lot of fun revisiting the old favorites, and discovering some new ones too. I can’t imagine that anyone else has the films in this order, so please feel free to leave your thoughts and lists below in the comments!

8 comments to Ranking the Superman Films

  • I know I’ve enjoyed reading all of your Superman posts. It’s hilarious to see some of the Indian Superman knock off films rated so high! Good job on completing this blog marathon of yours. I would have thought Superman II (Donner Cut) would have taken the top spot.

    • Thanks! I do love me some foreign knock-offs! I’m still sad that I didn’t think to do the Batman ones last year. Oh well. I definitely won’t forget the Turkish ET (titled: Badi) whenever I get around to ET. 🙂

      Donner’s Superman II and Superman I are tied together in their success, and if Part 2 had been completed as planned instead of in 2006, it may have surpassed the original. It’s a definite improvement over the original Part 2, though, that’s for sure.

  • Dan

    Great list Will! It is incredible to see so many films featuring Superman. I’ll gladly admit to not seeing a few of these (some of which I’ve never heard of). I suppose I’ll have to check out 1980’s Superman since you rate it so highly.

    Can’t argue with one and two though. The first is the my favorite superhero movie of all time.

    …however, as you mention, I think you’re the only person who rates Superman IV that highly…incredibly above Superman III which has one of the scariest bad guys ever – the lady robot thing at the end!

    • Thanks, Dan! I did dig up some obscure ones for my series! Hunt down 1980’s Superman only if you like B-Movies. I imagine anyone else would scoff at its high placement if they saw the film, but it offers a world of delights for a B-Movie fan.

      I love that robot lady at the end of Part 3! That was one of my favorite Superman moments growing up, but it can’t stand up to the reckless fun of Nuclear Man!

  • Well, I can’t fault you on originality. 😀

    Since you’re approaching by the stance of how much enjoyed them, with an eye towards B-movies, I think it’s a fairly reasonable list. Though I have yet to see III & IV myself, so I’m not sure where I’d really rank those.

    I still like Supergirl in a B-movie way myself though.

    • Hahahaha, yeah, you definitely won’t see a list like this elsewhere! 3 & 4 are the ones most people hate, so I can understand why you’d avoid them. You gotta go into them with the right expectations to enjoy them.

      Supergirl’s alright, but it pales in comparison to the rest of the lineup. I did watch it quite a lot growing up, though.

      • I haven’t actually been avoiding III & IV, I just haven’t gotten around to them yet. They weren’t available to me growing up (my Dad’s more apt to be watching westerns), so I just didn’t see them. They’ll get their day eventually, and I’ll be watching them with an open mind.

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