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About the movie
Superman the Movie
Christopher Reeve as Kal-El / Clark Kent / Superman: After
discovering his roots and origins from the planet Krypton, he sets
himself to fulfill his destiny and help those on Earth. In his wake, he
finds the villainous Lex Luthor which sets dire consequences. As a means
to protect his identity, he works as mild mannered reporter Clark Kent
at The Daily Planet. The producers previously failed to sign an A-list
actor for the role before Richard Donner's hiring. It was decided to
cast an unknown actor, and casting director Lynn Stalmaster first
suggested Christopher Reeve, but Donner and the producers felt he was
too young and skinny. Over 200 unknown actors auditioned for
Superman,including Christopher Walken and Nick Nolte. "We found guys
with fabulous physique who couldn't act or wonderful actors who did not
look remotely like Superman," creative consultant Tom Mankiewicz
remembered. "Jon Voight had signed a deal to play Superman for a lot of
money if we couldn't find anyone else." Neil Diamond and Arnold
Schwarzenegger were interested but ignored. The search became so
desperate that producer Ilya Salkind's wife's dentist was screen tested.
Stalmaster convinced Donner and Ilya to have Reeve screen test in
February 1977. Reeve stunned the director and producers, but he was told
to wear a "muscle suit" to produce the desired muscular physique. Reeve
refused, undertaking a strict physical exercise regime headed by David
Prowse. Prowse had wanted to portray Superman, but was denied an
audition by the filmmakers because he was not American. Prowse also
auditioned for Non. Reeve went from 170 to 212 pounds during
pre-production and filming. Many have felt Reeve was typecast in the
role during his career. However, Reeve felt, "'Superman' brought me many
opportunities, rather than closing a door in my face." Jeff East
portrays Teenage Clark Kent. East had his voice overdubbed by Reeve. "I
was not happy about it because the producers never told me what they had
in mind," East commented. "It was done without my permission but it
turned out to be okay. Chris did a good job but it caused tension
between us. We resolved our issues with each other years later." East
also tore several thigh muscles when performing the stunt of racing
alongside the train. He applied 3 to 4 hours of prosthetic makeup daily
to facially resemble Reeve.
Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor: A villain armed with an excessive amount
of money and various knowledge of science. His only counterparts are
bumbling henchman Otis and gorgeous girlfriend Eve Teschmacher.
* Margot Kidder as Lois Lane: A reporter at The Daily Planet who becomes
a crush of Clark Kent.
She is madly in love with Superman
and often ignores Clark. Over 100 actresses were considered for the
role. Margot Kidder (suggested by Stalmaster), Anne Archer, Susan
Blakely, Lesley Ann Warren, Deborah Raffin and Stockard Channing screen
tested throughout March through May 1977. The decision was paired
between Channing and Kidder, with Kidder winning the role.
Marlon Brando as Jor-El: Kal-El's father on Krypton. He has a theory
of the planet exploding, though the Council refuses to listen. Jor-El
dies as the planet explodes but successfully sends his infant son to
Earth as a means to help the innocent. Brando sued the Salkinds and
Warner Bros. for $50 million because he felt cheated out of his share
for the box office profits. This stopped Brando's footage from being
used in Richard Lester's version of Superman II.
Glenn Ford as Jonathan Kent: Clark Kent's father in Smallville
during his teenage years. Jonathan is a farmer who teaches Clark ideal
skills that will help him in the future. He later suffers a heart attack
that changes Clark's philosophy on life.
Toddler Kal-El picks up the Kent's truck!
* Phyllis Thaxter as Martha Kent: Clark's faithful mother. Thaxter was
producer Ilya Salkind's mother-in-law.
* Jackie Cooper as Perry White: Clark
Kent's tempering boss at The Daily Planet. He assigns Lois to uncover
the news of an unknown businessman purchasing a large amount of property
in California. Keenan Wynn was originally cast, but dropped out shortly
before filming because of heart disease. Cooper, who originally
auditioned for Otis, was cast.
* Marc McClure as Jimmy Olsen: A teenage photographer at The Daily
Planet. Jeff East, who portrayed teenage Clark Kent, originally
auditioned for this role.
* Valerie Perrine as Eve Teschmacher: Lex Luthor's girlfriend. She falls
in love with Superman's charms when Luthor nearly kills him with
Kryptonite and walks away. She saves and kisses him. Goldie Hawn and
Ann-Margret turned down the role because of financial disputes.
* Ned Beatty as Otis: Lex Luthor's bumbling henchman. Peter Boyle and
Jackie Cooper auditioned for the part.
Otis and Lex Luthor
Susannah York has a small role as Lara Lor-Van.
Terrance Stamp (General Zod), Sarah Douglas (Ursa) and Jack O'Halloran
(Non) appear in the opening scene before being banished to the Phantom
Zone. This set up their roles in Superman II. Kirk Alyn and Noel Neill
have cameo appearances as Lois Lane's father and mother. Alyn and Neill
portrayed Superman and Lois Lane in the 1948 serial and Atom Man vs.
Superman. Neil continued her role in the 1950s TV series. Larry Hagman
and Rex Reed also cameo.
On the planet Krypton, using evidence provided by scientist Jor-El, the
Ruling Council sentences three insurrectionists, General Zod, Ursa and
Non, to "eternal living death" in the Phantom Zone for attempting a
totalitarian rebellion. Although the Council widely respects him, Jor-El
is unable to convince them of his belief that the Kryptonian sun will
shortly explode and destroy their planet. As a result, Jor-El launches a
spacecraft containing his infant son, Kal-El, towards Earth, a distant
planet with a suitable atmosphere, and where Kal-El's dense molecular
structure will give him superhuman powers (since all Kryptonian
life-forms gain superpowers from exposure to a yellow sun, such as
Earth's sun). Shortly after the ship launches, Krypton is destroyed.
Three years later, the ship reaches Earth, crashing near an American
farming town, Smallville, Kansas, where Kal-El is found by Jonathan and
Martha Kent and raised as their own son, Clark. Eighteen years later,
after the death of Jonathan, Clark hears a psychic "call", discovering a
glowing green crystal in the ship. Compelled to travel north, Clark
heads to the Arctic Circle, where the crystal builds the Fortress of
Solitude, resembling the architecture of Krypton. Activating a control
panel inside the fortress, a vision of Jor-El explains Clark's origins,
educating him in his powers and responsibilities. After twelve years,
with his powers fully developed, Clark leaves the Fortress and finds a
job at The Daily Planet in Metropolis. He meets and develops a romantic
attraction to reporter Lois Lane, but the feelings are not returned: she
regards him as merely a friend. Lois becomes involved in a helicopter
accident where conventional means of rescue are impossible, requiring
Clark to use his powers in public for the first time in order to save
Later, he visits her at home, takes her for a flight over the city, and
allows her to interview him for a newspaper article in which she dubs
him "Superman." Meanwhile, criminal genius Lex Luthor has developed a
cunning plan to make a fortune in real estate by buying large amounts of
"worthless" desert land and then diverting a nuclear rocket from a
missile testing site to the San Andreas Fault. This will destroy
California and leave Luthor's desert as the new West Coast of the United
States, greatly increasing its real estate value. After his incompetent
henchman Otis accidentally redirects the first rocket to the wrong
place, Luthor's girlfriend, Eve Teschmacher, successfully changes the
course of the second missile. Knowing Superman could stop his plan,
Luthor lures him to his underground lair via a supersonic greeting and
exposes him to Kryptonite. As Superman weakens, Luthor taunts him by
revealing the first missile is headed to Hackensack, New Jersey, in the
opposite direction, knowing Superman could not stop both impacts.
Teschmacher is horrified because her mother lives in Hackensack, but
Luthor does not care and leaves Superman to a slow death. Teschmacher
rescues Superman on the condition that he will deal with the New Jersey
missile first. He is consequently too late to stop the second impact,
causing a massive earthquake which he battles to correct. While he is
busy saving others, Lois' car falls into the ground as a result of an
aftershock, and quickly begins to fill with dirt and debris, which
suffocates her to death. Distraught at being unable to save Lois,
Superman ignores Jor-El's warning not to interfere with human history,
preferring to remember Jonathan Kent's advice that he must be here for
"a reason", and travels back in time in order to save Lois, altering the
historical timeline so that her car is never caught in the aftershock.
Superman then delivers Luthor and Otis to prison, where he knows they
will be secure until they receive a fair trial.
Buy Superman - The Movie (Four-Disc Special Edition)