Superman, the grandfather of all superhero movies, soars back into Cineworld this April. Incredibly, Richard Donner's groundbreaking comic book adventure is celebrating its 45th anniversary. If you're looking for an exhilarating way to celebrate the big screen experience this Easter, we've got you covered at Cineworld.
However, like Superman himself, the movie isn't hanging around for long: this is a one-day engagement on April 10th, so be sure to snap up your tickets swiftly. Here are five reasons you need to witness Superman on the big screen again in all its glory.
1. It invented the superhero movie template
If you've been gorging on the recent likes of Ant-Man and Shazam, you have the original Superman to thank for that. It set the present-day superhero craze in motion, and it all started back in 1978. It's remarkable to think that big-screen comic book epics were a rarity at one point, but the blockbuster template of Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977) expedited the commercial potential of the Man of Steel.
Both of those movies hit upon the notion of a high-concept movie released in a prime summer release slot, complete with extensive merchandising. Superman continued the trend, later giving rise to the likes of Tim Burton's Batman in 1989 and, beyond that, inspiring the creation of the original X-Men movie (2000) and Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy (2002-2007).
2. Christopher Reeve is still the definitive Superman
Many actors have played the Man of Steel over the years, but Christopher Reeve's iteration still captures our hearts. It's perhaps augmented by the tragedy that blighted Reeve's own life – off-screen, he embodied the courage that Superman distills in the movie.
What Reeve nailed so beautifully was the dichotomy between Superman and his Earthbound alter-ego Clark Kent. If the latter allowed for gently bumbling and precision-tooled comic timing, the former was the dynamic and thrilling contrast: the essential embodiment of truth, justice and the American way.
We absolutely believe in both halves of the character, which plays directly into Superman's tortured identity crisis. Reeve never over-eggs the performance but gauges the heroism and the comedy just right to give us a sense of the soul beneath the 'S'.
3. John Williams' score continues to astound
Superman was quick to capitalise on composer John Williams' success with Star Wars (although composer Jerry Goldsmith was originally lined up, having won an Oscar for Richard Donner's horror The Omen). By the late-1970s, Williams had triumphantly resurrected the symphonic idiom, reconnecting audiences with the swashbuckling spirit of adventure that had distinguished the Hollywood epics of the industry's Golden Age.
Superman remains a jewel in Williams' crown. Director Donner recalls sitting at the back of the orchestral sessions in awe at Williams' ability to formulate musical stanzas around the name 'Superman'. Certainly, it's hard to deny the spine-tingling impact of that unforgettable brassy main theme during the immersive opening, not to mention the endearing love theme 'Can You Read My Mind' for Clark Kent and Lois Lane (Margot Kidder).
Put simply, the movie would not be what it is without Williams' majestic input. It's the godfather of the superhero film score in the way that the movie is the godfather of the genre.
4. The flying sequences are revolutionary
Nowadays, we have a small army of CGI artists who make us believe a man can fly. But it was clearly a very different story back in the analog days of 1978. That's what makes Superman's achievement all the more extraordinary. In line with the joyous tactility of Reeve's facial expressions, the flying sequences remain palpably physical in spite of the limitations placed on them.
For the time, the set pieces were truly groundbreaking. Ultimately, several techniques would be employed, including filming the actor on wires and a mechanical arm, and using bluescreen compositing and front projection. The hard work undertaken by technicians Colin Chilvers, Derek Meddings and others eventually resulted in a Special Achievement Academy Award for Visual Effects.
5. The movie contains the note of optimism we need right now
If the long old dreary winter has got you down, allow the perennial warmth of Superman to blow away those cobwebs. From the unerring spirit of Reeve's portrayal to Donner's spirited direction and Williams' exuberant score, it does away with designer darkness and instead has us believe that there are forces for good in the world. And if nothing else, it's ideal prep for James Gunn's Superman reboot, set for release in 2025.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's your limited-time opportunity to rewatch Superman on the big screen at Cineworld.