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What makes a Great Superman Film?
More Superman Articles

I originally wrote this way back when  we Superman fans were all waiting for Superman Returns to hit the big screen. I haven't really changed my mind since writing this back then on what I think makes a great Superman movie. If the magic could be bottled from Superman the Movie starring Christopher Reeve, and added to the special effects of today's movie makers then Warner Bros would have the biggest film of all time on their hands. Anyways here's some what I had to say back then.

What makes a great Superman Film?

Here's my humble opinion on what absolutely has to be in a Superman movie to be great success. 

1. American spirit - This is the biggest key point. Superman will be successful if it can capture just a small portion of the American spirit.  There's more to the love and appreciation of the Man of Steel than his ability to fly. It's his character that's important.  Superman is Clark Kent, an American farmer from Kansas. That's who he is in his essence. That's the perspective he sees the world through.  He's not a redneck, but he's got small town ideals. He's an old fashioned but educated farm boy with a super mind.

The movie itself needs to inspire and make people feel good about America, especially in these cynical times.  It's time for something different. Maybe people like the dark brooding heroes, but be honest, how many people are willing to pay 7 bucks a seat to be depressed. I can turn on the news for that and it's free. Batman makes a good movie as a dark guy because that's his character, but Superman has to be a feel good movie, something you can take your kid to see and makes you feel like a kid again yourself.

The Smallville scene in the first movie is a great example of Americana. Those scenes of the blowing wheat fields as the music of John Williams plays are pure inspiration, a work of art. Yes, it's also sad, but not dark and brooding sad.
 

Superman should not be depressed half way through the movie. Intense, determined, joyful, and even angry sometimes, but please, as much as I love Smallville the TV show, he's not a teenager. All that teenage angst and depression is ok for the tube but there's no time for it in a movie. I know Spiderman 2 was great, and Peter Parker  was depressed most of the movie, but that's his character. He's playing someone barely out of his teens. Superman should be too self assured for that.

2. Good music! Everyone expects to hear the familiar John Williams Superman theme or at least a very close facsimile.  Whenever Clark is about to change into Superman you've got to hear the familiar note that lets you know Superman is on his way.  Anything less in musical quality would just take away from the total movie experience.  I would love if John Williams was brought on board to make some new music.  A new Superman movie needs to have a combination of new and old Superman themed music with the new music not venturing to far from the original classic themes. Let's face it the music is one of the main things that people remember from the original Superman movie. If I have to buy the soundtrack as soon as I leave the theatre they've done a good job.

3. Great believable actors are extremely important. The first had Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor and Marlon Brando as Jor-El. My favorite actor was the great Glenn Ford, who was perfect for the role of Pa Kent. If there is a  new Pa Kent he has to be believable as a farmer with traditional American values.  He's a man that's worked hard all his life and probably wouldn't know  what the words political correctness mean, but he and Martha Kent would both put the most sophisticated city dweller to shame with their warmth and kindness. 

4. It has be on a grand scale. The first movie with Christopher Reeve was one of the biggest movies of it's day. Everyone wanted to see a man fly. Now that's been done, so, Superman has fly even better with more colossal scenes than ever before. On the first movie we saw an entire planet explode and Superman went up against two nukes, and had to turn back time to save Lois. It has to be big but it needs to look as believable as possible. I for one am hoping there won't be full reliance on cgi. It can be realistic to the point where it blends seamlessly as the Lord of the Rings or it can be obviously fake as in the scene in the Matrix Revolutions where Neo is fighting all the evil Agent Smiths.

Some major special effects scenes I would like to see.

A.  Superman saves townsfolk from a twister. Scene should last more than 5 minutes. It could consist of car and truck accidents, and buildings blowing around.  Make it challenging on the Man of Steel. ( A tornado scene has been filming for Man of Steel. Have to see how that turns out)

B.  Superman confronts super powered villain and destroys half of Metropolis in the ensuing battle. Please none of that around the world in day battle we saw in Superman 4. Way too choppy and confusing.

C. Something not seen in movies before.

D. Save Lois from airplane or car accident a millisecond from crashing. I would like to see a lot of super speed stunts for Supes to pull off.

There's my two cents. Thanks for taking the time to read it. Hopefully the next Superman movie will be something we will all enjoy.

"We have the right to dream heroic dreams. Those that say that we're in a time when there are no heroes, they just don't know where to look." - Ronald Reagan, January 20, 1981

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Purchase Superman - The Movie (Special Edition) (1978) DVD
 
Superman the movie is on DVD
You can order it now from Amazon
 Color, Widescreen, Dolby
Theatrical trailer(s)
Previously unseen footage added by Director Richard Donner
4 Behind-the-Scenes Documentaries:
The Magic Behind the Cape (Special Effects)
Making Superman: Filming the Legend (Production and Release)
Screen Tests (Casting)
Taking Flight: The Development of Superman (Preproduction)
Feature-Length Audio Commentary by Director Richard Donner and Creative Consultant Tom Mankiewicz
Superman and Lois Lane Screen Tests
Audio Outtakes: Alternate Scoring for 8 Sequences
Music-Only Audio Track (Dolby 5.1) showcasing John Williams' Magnificent Score
2 Deleted Scenes

Purchase Superman II DVD