AKA Superman: The Movie
Starring Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, Margot Kidder, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Valerie Perrine, Glenn Ford, Phyllis Thaxter, Jeff East, Marc McClure
Directed by Richard Donner
Expectations: I’m so excited.
The tagline for Superman was, “You’ll believe a man can fly,” a boast inferring that the film would not just provide superhero entertainment, but believable superhero entertainment. And tonight, while watching Richard Donner’s Superman for the first time in probably 15 years, it was this quality that amazed me so. The level of believable, pure fantasy that is achieved in Superman is astounding. Star Wars may have exploded people’s minds with its never-before-seen special FX in space, but Superman had the harder task of doing similar things within our own world. This inherently puts Superman at a disadvantage, as we know definitively that these things aren’t possible in our world. But Superman does the impossible, making literally anything seem completely plausible, yet still grounded in reality. This was the first movie to show the potential of the superhero genre, and it’s still one of the best.
I decided to watch the Director’s Cut assembled by Richard Donner in 2000, and even at almost 2½ hours, it just flies by. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, it’s an awesome movie! There’s only a few scenes added, totaling about eight minutes, but within the context of the film they add so much value. I had already decided to watch Richard Donner’s re-cut version of Superman II based on a good hunch, but now I’m plumb fascinated by what it might contain. For those that don’t know, the two films were shot back-to-back and Donner had completed shooting about 75–80% of the sequel when he was fired. The producers then had most of the sequel re-shot, resulting in the theatrical release version of Superman II only containing something like 25% of Donner’s footage.