In 1978, I was in my late teens. I didn’t go to the movies often, but when I did, I wanted them to be special. I wanted them to be memorable. So what movie do you suppose this comic book geek could possibly want to fork over his hard-earned summer job money to see? Why, only the biggest blockbuster he could ever be interested in : Superman!
Back then, there wasn’t a myriad of media sources eagerly reporting every single little tidbit about a film before it came out. So believe me when I tell you that I was completely in the dark about what to expect except for what the posters told me : that I would believe a man could fly. Furthermore, my only references for what superhero stories could look like on the screen were the Batman television series from the 60s (great show) and the countless Hanna-Barbera cartoons I religiously watched Saturday mornings (Space Ghost anyone?). In short, nothing in my past had prepared me for what I was about to witness on the big screen.
The first third of the movie was certainly breathtaking, but then the scene happened. You know the one, where the director finally delivers on his promise. It starts out slow. You see Christopher Reeve in full Superman regalia for the first time, standing in the distance on a crystal platform in his fortress of solitude. And slowly, ever so slowly, he lifts off the ground and flies towards you, then pans right and exits the screen (at least that’s how I remember it). I was awe-struck. Whenever I think about this movie, that’s the scene that automatically pops into my mind.
Superhero movies are more ubiquitous today. Special effects are more polished, less rudimentary. But none of them bring up the kind of wonder that I experienced that summer of 1978. It’s a part of movie magic I will always cherish and, for that reason, Superman will always be one of the greats for me.