Superman (also known as Superman: The Movie) is a 1978 superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. Richard Donner directed the film, which stars Christopher Reeve as Superman, as well as Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder, Glenn Ford, Phyllis Thaxter, Jackie Cooper, Marc McClure, Valerie Perrine and Ned Beatty.
The film depicts the origin of Superman, including his infancy as Kal-El of Krypton and his youthful years in the rural town of Smallville. Disguised as reporter Clark Kent, he adopts a mild-mannered disposition in Metropolis and develops a romance with Lois Lane, while battling the villainous Lex Luthor.
This version was conceived in 1973 by Ilya Salkind. Several directors, most notably Guy Hamilton, and screenwriters (Mario Puzo, David and Leslie Newman and Robert Benton) were associated with the project before Donner was hired to direct. Donner brought Tom Mankiewicz in to rewrite the script, feeling it was too campy. Mankiewicz was credited as creative consultant. It was decided to film both Superman and Superman II simultaneously.
Principal photography started in March 1977 and ended in October 1978. Tensions rose between Donner and the producers, and a decision was made to stop filming Superman II and finish the first film. Donner had already shot 75% of the planned sequel, eventually giving birth to Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. Superman was released with critical acclaim and financial success. Reviewers noted parallels between the film's depiction of Superman and Jesus and particularly praised Reeve's performance. The film's legacy presaged the mainstream popularity of Hollywood's superhero film franchises.