Long before superhero movies dominated the box office and just about every comic book franchise was getting some kind of adaptation, the idea of adapting a comic book to the big screen was a pretty massive undertaking. So it was that in 1978, Richard Donner’s Superman changed everything.
Starring newcomer Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel himself, Marlon Brando as his father, Jor-El, Gene Hackman as his arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor, and Margot Kidder as the love of his life, Lois Lane, the movie was a massive box-office hit and spawned an entire movie franchise. It still holds up today, but we have a feeling that even fans might not know these facts about it.
The bodybuilding routine Christopher Reeve underwent was supervised by David Prowse
You might know him best as the man in the Darth Vader suit
He worked out so much during filming they had to reshoot his earlier scenes
He’d gained so much muscle that the older footage didn’t match the newer footage anymore.
Reeve had lots of female admirers on set… when he was in his Superman costume
When dressed as Clark Kent, apparently nobody noticed him.
Richard Donner tricked Gene Hackman into shaving his mustache
He told Hackman he’d shave his own if Hackman did. As it turns out, Donner, didn’t have a mustache; it was a fake that he removed at the last second.
Marlon Brando refused to learn his lines ahead of filming
He read his lines off the baby Kal-El’s diaper. According to Donner, Brando said the only way to ensure his lines weren’t over-rehearsed was to record his first reading.
He also sued Warner Bros. for $50 Million
He felt his contract didn’t award him an amount appropriate to how successful the movie was. This is why footage of him never appears in Superman II.
The facts about Superman just get crazier from here…
Steven Spielberg was asked to direct the movie
The studio thought he asked for an absurd amount of money and decided to see how Jaws did at the box office instead. We all know how that went.
Clark Kent and Superman’s hair part on opposite sides
Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood, and James Caan were all offered the role of Superman
Redford wanted too much money, Eastwood had other commitments, and Caan said “There’s no way I’m getting in that silly suit.”
Jor-El wearing the same “S” symbol as Superman was Marlon Brando’s idea
It has since become canon in the comics that the “S” is a Kryptonian symbol, and the insignia of the House of El.
The film’s opening credits sequence cost more to make than most movies at the time earned
The football a young Clark Kent kicks into orbit was actually shot out of an air cannon
Pre-production in Italy cost over $2 Million before being abandoned
Nearly all of that was spent on failed attempts at making Superman look like he was flying. It was abandoned because Marlon Brando couldn’t enter Italy; there was a warrant for his arrest due to obscenity charges from filming Last Tango In Paris.
The movie topped the box office for 13 weeks
It went on to make over $134 Million.
There’s a version of it most of us haven’t seen!
A 3-hour long cut of the movie has existed for years (it was broadcast on ABC) but has never been released on home video. Warner Archive is officially releasing it on blu-ray on October 3, 2017!