Superman: The Movie turns 44; continues in comics

By MATTHEW PRICE 

From the Dec. 17, 2022, editions of The Oklahoman

One of the most influential superhero films made its debut 44 years ago this month. The story continues in a comic-book series, now available in collected format. 

“Superman: The Movie”’s tagline said “You’ll believe a man can fly.” But perhaps more importantly, you’ll believe one person can make a difference. When Lois Lane asks Superman who he is, he says, “a friend.” That’s something we should all aspire to as best we can.  

In these days of so many superhero films — something I couldn’t have fathomed as a kid — there’s still something special about this movie and this character.

Behind then-state-of-the-art special effects and the compelling performance of Christopher Reeve, moviegoing audiences of the 1970s were introduced to a new Superman in “Superman: The Movie,” arguably the granddaddy of the modern superhero blockbuster film. 

The Richard Donner-directed film made $300 million dollars worldwide following its December 1978 release, was nominated for three Oscars, and spawned three sequels. 

Set to a rousing score by John Williams, “Superman” features Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Ned Beatty, Glenn Ford, Terence Stamp, Margot Kidder, and Jackie Cooper among its all-star cast. 

Last year, DC Comics crafted a sequel to the film in comics form with the comic book “Superman ‘78,” now available in book format, collecting the 12-chapter series. 

To continue the Superman story begun in the Donner film, DC enlisted comic-book writer Robert Vendetti and artist Wilfredo Torres. Torres recently provided the art for “Batman ‘66,” which continued the adventures of the Adam West Batman. In the “‘78”  series, Superman is still a relatively new phenomenon to the people of Metropolis, and Lois Lane doesn’t yet know Clark Kent’s secret. “Superman ‘78” features return of Luthor as well as the introduction of a villain who didn’t make it into the live-action film series: the alien Brainiac. 

WHO IS SUPERMAN? 

Recalling elements of the Moses story, Superman was born Kal-El on the planet Krypton, but as a baby he was rocketed to earth by his father, Jor-El, to save him from the fate of his dying planet. Kal-El was found near Smallville, Kan., by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who raised the boy, who they named Clark, to always fight for truth and justice.

When on this new planet, Clark developed powers beyond those of mortal men, he used them to help the weak and downtrodden as Superman. Meanwhile, in his identity of Clark Kent, he is a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet newspaper, where he works with Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White. 

Matthew Price, matthew@matthewLprice.com, has written about the comics industry for more than two decades. He is the co-owner of Speeding Bullet Comics in Norman.

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