Posted in Movies

REWIND: Superman: The Movie (1978)

I’ve always loved super hero movies, mostly for the moral certainty that they provide. While our world is complicated, full of shades of grey morality-wise, super hero movies typically have an Evil Villain and a Great Hero. Our Hero does the Right Thing, and stops the Villain from his antagonistic actions, usually against innocent people and cute little girls. Do not take from any of this that I dislike these movies. I kinda resent the fact that Wonder Woman hasn’t had her own screen time since the late seventies, and we’ve had approximately seven billion Batman, Spiderman and Superman reboots since, plus the latest developments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I love super hero movies. So I thought I’d watch an oldie but a goody, and I pulled out the original Superman movie, starring Christopher Reeve.

Here we go.

Zod & Co being arraigned.
Zod & Co being arraigned.

Firstly, after approximately seven minutes of credits, our first look at Zod & Co. has them imprisoned by weird magnetic Hula-Hoops? The criminal prosecutor (who happens to be Jor-El) also sounds a bit British, which has me wondering if that’s just how Kryptonians sound, or if it’s an affectation.

 Honestly, aside from possibly starving to death (which obviously can’t happen, they’re basically invulnerable) this seems like a lame punishment. They’re basically just bored and trapped. Unless they all actually hate each other and an eternity in space would just be interminably awkward. Sentence for plotting to overthrow the government, being an unreasonable brute, hating children and being a feminist: trapped through the looking glass.

“I will abide by the council’s decision. Neither my wife nor I will leave Kyrpton.”

Annoyed Eye Roll animated GIF
Annnnd you all see the loophole here, he didn’t promise not to evacuate his newborn son.

The council forgot that tiny loophole.

 

This whole thing looks very child-safe, they definitely baby-proofed their rocket.

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Doctor Who Karen Gillan animated GIF
           
Parenting! Everyone complained about how long the Krypton introductory sequence took in Man of Steel, but in this movie it takes over twenty minutes for the planet to explode. Both movies, incidentally, have the same running time, 143 minutes.
Martha: How I've prayed for a child!
Martha: How I’ve prayed for a child!
Jonathan: Hand me a rag?
Jonathan: Hand me a rag?

 

 

 

 

 

This exchange where Martha thanks God for finally sending her a baby (although not the traditional way) and Jonathan deflects is much funnier now than when I was ten. Of course, it is swiftly followed by some heart attack foreshadowing.

Benedict Cumberbatch Not Okay animated GIF

Then, off to build the Fortress of Solitude! Which is apparently located in the polar bear exhibit at the Chicago Zoo.

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Encountering the Jor-Elgram, Clark proceeds to A Brief Study of the Universe by Dad, which somehow takes only twelve years? These pass in half a minute.

Christopher Reeve Comics animated GIF
Look at that face!
So, while many disparaged Man of Steel for too much exposition, this movie has 45 minutes of Krypton, Kansas, and Kal-El education before we actually get to Metropolis and The Daily Planet. We finally meet the delightfully awkward adult Clark Kent, and the apparently spelling impaired Lois Lane, and he is immediately interesting to her, which is adorable and funny.
Bieber Weed Duh animated GIF
We see a bit of Lex Luthor and his comic relief (or, the other function they serve, inept side-kicks), but only enough to ascertain that his crime du jour will be real-estate related, and he has daddy issues.

 

Then, Lois blows off Clark to do a journalist thing because she’s super career driven, and gets into a bit of an accident with a helicopter, giving Superman the perfect opportunity to save her.

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 4.55.12 PMScreen Shot 2014-06-16 at 4.55.51 PM

Of course, she promptly faints, having just falling out of a helicopter and being saved by a flying man in quick succession.  We get a cool scene where Superman adds another power to his list: quip machine. He stops a criminal climbing up the side of a glass building, which, in retrospect, seems pretty easy to catch. He foils a few more petty crimes, and saves a cat from a tree. He hands the ugly cat off to its young, pigtailed owner, who responds with the usual “Gee, thanks mister.” And he flies off. The girl is then slapped by her mother off-screen for “telling lies” about a big flying man. Hehe! Classic comedy with the domestic abuse.

He saves a few more broken flying things, then we cut to Lex Luthor and his minions swimming in the sewers.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 4.57.00 PM
Gross.

Back to the romance of the century!

Superman invites himself over to Lois’ place, they talk, it’s adorably awkward on her end, for a change.

Lois: How big are you?
Lois: How big are you?

This, for the curious viewer, brings the total of dick jokes to two. Pretty subtle ones, but definitely dick jokes. Read into that what you will.

Lois and Clark go on a flying date, with a lot of meaningful looks and some Lois voice-over. She says her goodbyes to him in a daze, only to be awoken by loud knocking on her door. Clark is here to pick her up for a date!

Note the comic amount of locks on Lois' door.
Note the comic amount of locks on Lois’ door.

 

Meanwhile, Dumb, Dumb and Dumber, figure out Superman’s legendary weakness. Double L lures Superman down to his sewer hideout by pretending to be about to murder a ton of people. And then proceeds to explain his plan to murder a ton of people in an entirely different way.

 

Superman does not deal with minions. This look is all sass.
Superman does not deal with minions. This look is all sass.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 5.06.33 PM

 

Lex tricks him into opening a lead box with Kryptonite in it, and throws him in the pool. You know, just to add insult to injury. Of course, before leaving Superman to drown, Lex makes a terrible pun. Lex’s minion (the female one) helps Superman get free, and he flies off to SAAAAVE THE DAY!

Bill Nye Bowtie animated GIF
He saves a bunch of school kids and somehow keeps the crust of the earth from falling in?
He also turns back time to save Lois’ life, and throws Lex and the accomplice who didn’t help him escape in prison. Then he does the usual flying in space with a smile ending, followed by ten minutes of credits. Fin.

While the new movie is good, and Henry Cavill is dreamy, there’s something to be said for the classics. I love the over-the-top villainy, the weird outfits, and every expression on Christopher Reeve’s face, ever. He is Superman.

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