MAN OF STEEL marks the sixth modern day Superman movie and the potential launch of DC's cinematic universe. If Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan pull this off, the possibilities are endless for JUSTICE LEAGUE and beyond. In honor of the new Superman, lets look back at the Top 10 moments from the history of Superman movies...and one low point. If your favorite moment didn't make the list, feel free to add your picks in the talk backs below.
This moment from the last Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve makes the list purely because of awfulness. I understand that SUPERMAN IV was a shitfest from Golan-Globus, but sweet lord this is a bad movie. When I was little I didn't appreciate just how bad the fourth movie was. But, thanks to the Honest Trailers guys, we have a nice recap of this low point in the DC film universe.
The moment that best sums up Superman on the big screen also doesn't even show the iconic superhero. A starry backdrop, some titles shooting across the screen, and John Williams immortal theme song create the perfect setup for Superman to be revealed to movie audiences. Richard Donner promised that we would believe that a man could fly and boy was he right.
Sometimes it requires showing Superman looking not so super to really sell us on how powerful of a hero he really is. When the bad guys slip Superman their artificial kryptonite (with added tar!) it begins his descent into a darker version of himself. The moment Drunk Superman appeared on screen, I couldn't understand why my favorite superhero was doing something so out of character. I related to little Ricky as he pleaded with Superman to fight his impulses. A classic first half that concludes with an even greater moment in the annals of Superman movies.
SUPERMAN RETURNS is only slightly above SUPERMAN IV on a lot of fan lists, but while the overall movie may have some holes in it, what it does get right are the little things. For example, when Superman confronts some criminals on a rooftop and walks right into their line of fire, that is the indestructible nature of the Man of Steel that we have always wanted to see on screen. While I doubt anyone would think shooting Superman in the face at point blank range would work, this is a nice scene that uses special effects to truly convey how powerful Superman is.
While this scene doesn't look nearly as impressive as it did upon the initial release of SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE, seeing the realization of Clark Kent coming to terms with his dual identities has never been portrayed as effectively. Raised with human parents, Clark is subject to emotional outbursts and is not quite the hero he will eventually become. So, what better way to use your powers than to impress some girls. A great sequence that drives home Superman's humanity.
The only way to defeat the combination of General Zod and Lex Luthor is to trick them and boy does Superman pull it off in style. Throughout SUPERMAN II, Zod seems unbeatable in every way. Superman seems to have met his match and yet he still somehow finds a way to get the trio of Kryptonian criminals and his human nemesis together in one place and level the playing field. One of the greatest moments of turning tables on a supervillain in movie history.
Remember Drunk Superman? Yeah, after straightening the Leaning Tower of Pisa and blowing out the Olympic torch, the Douche of Steel confronts his better self in this psychological battle made real. While SUPERMAN III may not be one of the better Superman movies, this fight scene is brilliant in visually representing the inner battle between Man and Superman.
When Superman elects to give up his powers to be with Lois Lane, he didn't really understand what the Nerd Side was really going to be like. Christopher Reeve always played Clark and Superman as two polar opposites, but even as Clark he was still acting. Once he is powerless and gets his ass kicked by Sea Bass, seeing him cower and moan in pain is almost too much to take. The physical beating that Superman suffers here is at once the most humbling and powerful moments in any Superman movie.
Now THIS is how Superman should look! Sure, Superman saved an airplane in SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE, but it was not until SUPERMAN RETURNS that we saw all of the technological advancements in movie effects truly make a dazzling Superman action sequence. Probably the most action in the entire film, this scene is a great reintroduction of the Man of Steel to movie-goers. Plus, landing in the baseball stadium is just brilliant.
If you were asked to quote a line from any SUPERMAN movie, you probably are quoting something from this scene. Whether it be Superman asking Zod to step outside or Zod demanding that Kal-el kneel before him or even Luthor thanking god for Superman, this scene is the perfect mix of writing and humor that makes the Richard Donner era of films so great.
As soon as the new MAN OF STEEL trailers hit showing Henry Cavill screaming with emotion, I immediately thought of this moment. For all of his heroism and goodness, there is no moment that displays Superman's humanity more than when he reverses the Earth's rotation to turn back time and save the woman he loves. Superman's rage face and actions are purely selfish in motivation and show that you can take away anything from a man but you cannot take it away from Superman.