Top 10 Moments in Superman

Top 10 Films takes a look at the original Man of Steel’s best bits in Richard Donner’s 1978 classic Superman. Relive saving Lois Lane, the romantic flight, and the helicopter escape!

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I’m not afraid to admit my favourite superhero movie is Richard Donner’s Superman from 1978. So with all the Man of Steel excitement among film fans right now it seems fitting to celebrate one of the greatest superhero achievements in cinema.

Based on the DC Comics character, Superman was a movie that took several years to move from development into production. Many writers and directors were attached to the project – such as Guy Hamilton and The Godfather writer Mario Puzo – but the film stalled until 1977 when Richard Donner took directorial duties alongside Tom Mankiewicz in the writer’s chair and Christopher Reeve playing the man of steel.

Not only did Superman precede the superhero craze, it recognised the potential of sequelisation with Donner filming both Superman 1 and 2 at the same time. Of course, one of the great Hollywood stories tells of disagreements between the studio and Donner, eventually forcing the director to abandon Superman II when it was about seventy-five per cent finished. The sequel would later be released sans Richard Donner’s name; Richard Lester would be credited as the director. Nevertheless, despite the tension between Donner and the producers, the original film was a massive hit with audiences and critics.

Donner’s “Man of Steel” sees Superman crash land on earth to be raised by the Kent’s. Initially an origins story, we see the young Superman learn of his obvious strength and otherworldly powers before heading to the city disguised as reporter Clark Kent. There he falls in love with Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) and does battle with megalomaniac Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman)

A boyhood Superman surprises his adoptive parents by lifting their car after the jack fails

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A teenage Superman exerts his frustration at being marginalised in school by running alongside a speeding train

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Superman learns of his past as well as his purpose in life from his biological father

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Superman, in blue and red suit, is revealed

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Superman, as Clark Kent, catches a bullet to save Lois Lane’s life

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Superman saves Lois from a stricken helicopter

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While standing on the side of a building, Superman scarpers just before an office clerk looks out the window and thinks he sees the man in the red suit but shakes his head in disbelief

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A police officer claims he saw Superman: “I swear! Flying, with a big red cape! And bright red boots as well! Flew up into the air like a big blue bird.”

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Lois Lane and Superman take a starlit, romantic flight

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Superman reverses time to save Lois Lane’s life – again!

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Bonus “moment”! Who can forget this…

“Fly. Just fly. We got… something. I ain’t saying what it is. Just… trust me.”

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Written and compiled by Daniel Stephens.

More on Top 10 Films you might like: Top 10 Superhero Films | Top 10 Scariest Villains in Children’s Films | Top 10 Comic Book Film Villains | Top 10 Superpowers

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Sir Phobos Reply

    No way is liking this movie an “admission.” It would be an admission if you DIDN’T like it. IMO, the only real thing wrong with this one and the Donner cut of II is the flying around the world crap. Other than that, it’s golden the whole way through.

  2. Dan Reply

    Thanks for the reassurance Sir Phobos but there is a generation of superhero fans whose history begins with Raimi’s Spider-Man.

  3. Chris Reply

    Best moment for me is when we see Clark Kent ripping open that shirt to reveal the superman suit!

  4. Fogs' Movie Reviews Reply

    I’m with Sir Phobos, Dan, not really a big fan of the flying around the world turns back time moments in the first two movies 🙁

    That said, it’s a classic, and this is a nice way to look back on it. I’d have had the two flights with Lois (the helicopter rescue and the romantic one) #1 & 2 in some order! 😀

  5. Mark Reply

    Hate to say it, but I preferred number two – Beatty and Hackman were hilarious in it. Plus, for some reason, I took umbrage at the opening credits of I – it was like watching a 5 minute toothpaste commercial.

    Nevertheless, my fave moments in I were:

    (1) The incarceration of Terence Stamp and the villians by Brando at the start, and;

    (2) Rex Reed’s cameo.

    From memory there was also a moment in one of the films where Reeve runs to a phone box to change but someone is in it malking a call. Was that I or II?

    As an aside, the shot of Richard Prior playing with his yo-yo in the dole office at the start of III was pretty groovy on the big screen.

  6. Pete Turner (@ilovethatfilm) Reply

    I love the stuff of Superman as a kid. They were also some of my fave scenes in Man of Steel.

  7. Louise Reply

    I’ve never been a fan of the “romantic” flight – always hated the cloying voiceover. Totally agree with most of the list, especially the bonus moment. Not enough Gene Hackman here though:

    “When I was six my father said to me…”
    “Get out.”
    “Ha. Before that”

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