Today in Pop Culture History: Honoring 45 years of Superman: The Movie

Posted on December 18, 2023

by Eric S

With a plethora of superhero options today in both movie and television form, it can be easy to forget that the genre was not always so pervasive on the big screen. While Adam West as Batman is a standout from early live-action superhero roles, he was preceded by Kirk Alyn in the Superman theatrical serials from 1948 and George Reeves in 1951’s Superman and the Mole Men—not to mention films featuring precursors to our current heroes, like The Shadow, Dick Tracy, and of course Zorro. However, things took a huge leap forward 45 years ago today with the wide American release of Superman (or Superman: The Movie, if you prefer) in 1978, and superhero cinema has not been the same since. With an all-star cast of Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman, and Marlon Brando, Superman would impart the Man of Steel with a sense of humanity and realism not seen in movies with spandex-wearing heroes up that point. Sure, later films in the genre would take superheroes in more sophisticated directions and explore more mature themes, but few can match Superman’s sincerity—of which I think we could all use a little more.

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