Throwback Thursday: Superman The Movie
The summer blockbuster season is upon us, Furious 7 got things off to a fast start but the movie world is already looking forward to May 1st and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Superhero movies have become synonymous with summer blockbusters, but there was one movie that started it all and that movie is the subject of this special edition of Throwback Thursday.
Superman The Movie is the grand daddy of all superhero films. I was four years old when Superman flew into theaters in December of 1978. I had superhero toys. I saw superhero cartoons on TV. I read superhero comic books. I saw the old Superman and Batman TV shows. Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk were on TV too… but no superhero had ever been on the big screen in living color like Superman. As a kid I was mesmerized. This movie not only captured my imagination, it changed my world.
But what I didn’t know at the time was just how arduous a task it was to get Superman into movie theaters. The film was in the planning stages for three years. And then there was an additional two years of filming.
Then there’s the all important casting. I can’t even imagine if Twitter were a thing back in the 1970’s and names like Paul Newman, Robert Redford, James Caan, Burt Reynolds, Warren Beatty, Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson got out as possibilities for the role of Superman. The Internet would be on fire! Ultimately the role went to an unknown, Christopher Reeve, who in my opinion has still done the best job of portraying both Clark Kent and Superman.
To add to the challenges of the film, they got Marlon Brando to play the all important role of Jor-El. Brando had long had a reputation of not being the easiest actor to work with. He had a strict time table, a huge price tag and he refused to memorize his lines.
And while in today’s movie world a good portion of superhero movies are made via computer, Superman was done the old fashion way… through man power. At the height of production there were over 1000 full time crew members. There were 11 units spread over three studios and working in 8 different countries. In total over a million feet of film was used. Those numbers are staggering.
You can’t argue with success and you can’t argue with the results. Superman earned over 134 million dollars at the box office. Mind you the average movie ticket price back then was under 3 bucks. I won’t say many movies are almost perfect, but Superman, is in my opinion, a near perfect movie.
I can honestly say, I love this movie now as much if not more than I did as a kid. Don’t be surprised if you see me post a “10 Things You Didn’t Know” about Superman The Movie down the road as I have gathered so many interesting tid bits from reading, listening to the great commentary by Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz on the initial DVD release and watching many Making Of documentaries.
And speaking of those docs, if you have about an hour to kill, check out the video below for one of the many Making Of documentaries on this movie masterpiece…