Friday, November 05, 2010


As I'm sure anyone who follows this blog knows quite well, I have a particular soft spot for the superhero movie genre, having stuck with it from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.  When you get right to it, that lifelong affinity all comes down to the singular impact of one movie -- 1978's Superman. Few films have had a more profound effect on my life, whether professionally or personally, and the passage of years (and countless subsequent viewing) hasn't dented its appeal for me in the slightest.

Superman is one of those rare examples of everything just working -- even the stuff that shouldn't.  From concept to completion, that alchemical mix of fun, fantasy, and verisimilitude -- envisioned by director Richard Donner, envisaged by star Christopher Reeve -- set the template for every superhero to parade across the big screen in the decades since, ensuring that its influence will continue unabated as long as the genre has life.  In inducting the film into his "Great Movies" series, Roger Ebert reminds us again why the Donner classic endures:
The wisdom of the comic books and the movie is that no attempt is made to explain too much. The device of the deadly Kryptonite is necessary because a superhero must have at least one weakness to give him interest. Other astonishments are simply designed to be accepted, as children do when told a story. He is Superman, he fights for Truth, Justice and the American Way, and that's that.
That it is.  And it's something that I certainly hope director Zack Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan will keep in mind as they get all their tights together for the planned Superman reboot in 2012.  The very simplicity that typifies Superman as a character is deceptively difficult to "get," as borne out by the many movie misfires that followed Donner's entry (from the creatively-questionable theatrical cut of Superman II in 1980 right down through 2006's ambitious-but-ponderous Superman Returns).  More from Ebert at the link, and after you finish reading it, I defy you not to want to pop the original flick into your player and take to the skies all over again.

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