By Michael P Coleman

Yesterday, for the first time in decades, I saw 1978’s Superman: The Movie on the big screen.  Fandango is hosting screenings in commemoration of the landmark film’s 40th anniversary.  Yesterday’s was the first; additional screenings will be held November 27 and December 3. 

I am not ashamed to say that I was there for the film’s premiere in December of 1978.  Most of my friends had seen the movie and loved it, but I wasn’t excited.  I’d seen a post-workout Christopher Reeve promoting the movie on late night TV, and I thought he was far too skinny and far too — normal — to portray my favorite comic book character on the big screen.  The only live-action Superman I’d seen was the B & W serials from the 1950s, with a middle-aged, paunchy George Reeves in a clearly padded leotard.  It was the best I could get, so I accepted it, but I didn’t think anyone could pull off a realistic depiction of the Man Of Steel.  

About an hour into Superman: The Movie, my little 13 year old heart had never been so happy to be proven dead wrong.  Christopher Reeve blew my mind and changed my life — my movie-going life, at least — when he caught Lois Lane, brilliantly portrayed by Margot Kidder, as she fell from the roof of The Daily Planet building.

“Easy, miss.  I’ve got you,” he calmly said.   And who can forget her follow-up:  “You’ve got me??  Who’s got you??” 

That’s just the beginning of Superman: The Movie’s classic lines.  “I never drink when I fly” has to be my favorite.  “You don’t have to thank me: we’re all part of the same team”  is the one I use when thanked for a job well done.  And then there was the dialogue spoken by Superman and Lois on the roof of her penthouse, before their flight together over Metropolis:  

Lois:  “Clark says you’re a figment of my imagination.  Like Peter Pan.”

Superman:  “Clark?  Who’s he?  Your boyfriend?”

Lois:  “Oh, no!  He’s nobody!”

Superman:  “And Peter Pan flew with children, Lois, in a fairy tale.” 

And off they went — up, up, and away! — along with every prior notion I had about what a motion picture could and should be. 

And then there’s that wonderful, thrilling score, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra!  Veteran composer John Williams wrote a masterpiece that sounds better than ever in a 2018 theatre. 

Superman: The Movie set the standard for every big screen superhero flick I’ve seen since since 1978. Yes, movie special effects have come a long way in 40 years.  The film’s $55 million budget was the largest ever spent on a movie at the time, but by today’s standards, the effects are obviously dated. 

But man on man, Reeve and those piano wires made me, and the rest of the world, believe a man could really fly back in 1978.  Superman: The Movie was a critical and commercial smash, spawning three sequels, one spin off film (Supergirl), one television series (Superboy) and an entire genre of movies that has included lucrative Batman, Spiderman, The Dark Knight, and Avengers franchises.  In fact, the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, like the entire comic book superhero genre, owes a debt of gratitude to the Last Son Of Krypton.  Superman was the one that started it all. 

Correction:  Superman was the one who started it all. 

Yesterday afternoon, sitting in a darkened theatre in Natomas, I was 13 years old all over again.  How many times do you get to experience that? 

Click here for information and tickets to Superman: The Movie’s 40th Anniversary screenings, 

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 Connect with freelance writer Michael P Coleman at, of follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP


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