DC History Club: Superman The Movie (May 2020) Quiz, Polls & Discussion

Superheroes have conquered the movies, selling $3.2 billion dollars’ worth at the U.S. box office in 2019, accounting for nearly 20% of ticket sales. The road to that dominance began on December 15th, 1978 when Superman: The Movie made audiences believe that a man could fly. Although the road to superheroes ruling the screen would be a long one, it begins here with the stirring score of John Williams, the vision of Richard Donner, camera and special effects innovations, and the charm and talent of a cast led by newcomer Christopher Reeve.
This month, the DC History Club will explore the two stories involving this movie, first the introduction of the last son of Krypton on the modern screen, and second the behind the scenes talent and drama of putting this movie together. Each week, we will focus in on a different portion of the film to help us examine everything from the title sequence, score, special effects, direction, actors, and more. And, as always we’ll of polls and a quiz. Please, join me @msgtv and our senior historian @TurokSonOfStone1950 for what should be a great month.

Week 1: Introduction and Krypton

Week 2: Smallville and Fortress of Solitude

Week 3: Superman and the Daily Planet

Week 4: Superman vs Lex Luthor

History Challenges:

-Research wiki: Add articles, videos, interviews and more from credible sources concerning anything to do with the making of Superman: The Movie. Senior Historian @TurokSonOfStone1950 has found a ton of good stuff, but there’s more out there. If you find something you think should be added, click on the wiki pencil in the top right hand corner of the post and add.

-Super Facts: Post any super facts you have related to Superman: The Movie.

-Behind the Scenes Photos: Who doesn’t love a good BTS pic? Post your favorites

Topic Suggestions Week 1, choose any or all of these topics or one of your own to discuss, no need to get them all just whatever interests you:

  1. Introduction: What does the black and white introduction add to the movie? What tone, storyline, or other element does it establish in the mind of the viewer.

  2. Title Sequence: Coming immediately after the black and white introduction, how does the title sequence impact the viewer? Does it set any expectations in the audience’s mind?

  3. John Williams: The title sequence gives us the first big moment for John Williams score. How does the Superman Main Title March and the rest of the Williams score elevate the film? What emotions does the theme elicit? How does it compare with other Williams’ work, particularly on Star Wars, Jaws and Indiana Jones?

  4. Brando: Simply put, was Brando worth the reported $3,700,000 plus 3% of the gross he was paid for 12 day’s work?

  5. Scenes: Discuss the trial of Zod, Jor El’s appeal to evacuate Krypton, Jor El and Lara placing Kal El in the rocket, or Kal El’s space flight. What does the scene establish for the film, what works or doesn’t, how does the color pallet of the scene effect it, or anything else you can think of.

  6. Special Effects: Krypton is introduced with a long flying shot over a miniature of the planet’s surface. We see Krypton’s destruction within the dome and from outer space. How effective are these scenes both today and from a perspective of the work in 1978. Discuss any of the artist involved in the SFX, such as production designer John Barry.

  7. Writers: The list of writers responsible for this story is even longer than the list on the opening credits. Seagal and Schuster, Mario Puzo, Tom Mankiewicz, and more deserve some level of credit. Discuss their role in the story and their contributions or not to its success.

Week 2: Smallville & the Fortress Possible Discussion Topics

  1. Special Effects: The most significant special effects for this segment is Clark racing the train and the creation of the Fortress. Do these effects work for you.

  2. The feel of the picture changes with Smallville. What are your thoughts on this segment and how it compares to Krypton.

  3. The Fortress scenes with voice-over from Brando allows the film to skip Superman’s formative years learning to be Superman. What do you think of this decision.

Remember, just grab those topics you want to talk about you don’t need to hit them all.


Research Wiki

Available here on DCU, this documentary covers Superman’s history. While we recommend the entire film, if you want just Superman: The Movie it begins at 48:00 and goes to 1:11 covering the entire


A look at the drama behind the scenes


Film Development


Reunion 2015 Wonder Con


Special Effects

Score/John Williams


Just Because, the musical It’s a Bird…it’s a Plane…it’s Superman


wiki 2


Superman: The Movie Polls
Here’s your chance to weigh-in on some debates or issues surrounding Superman: The Movie. If you want, we encourage you to talk about your votes below.

  1. Simply put, was Brando worth the money?
  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

  1. John Williams score is a standout feature of the movie, but is it his best 1970’s work? Which of these scores/themes do you think is most successful (however you want to define that)?
  • Superman: The Movie
  • Indiana Jones
  • Jaws
  • Star Wars

0 voters

  1. Promotion for Superman: The Movie promised the public one thing, did they accomplish it? Did you believe a man could fly?
  • Absolutely, I believe
  • Sort of, good for the time period
  • No, I refuse to believe

0 voters

  1. Best character depiction from someone not named Christopher Reeve.
  • Marlon Brando
  • Gene Hackman
  • Margo Kidder

0 voters


Think you know Superman: The Movie on the screen and behind the scenes? Take this quiz and find out how you rank.

  1. Which of these actors who had worked on previous Superman productions did not make a cameo in Superman: The Movie.
  • Noel Neil
  • Kirk Alan
  • Bud Collyer

0 voters

  1. Christopher Reeve needed to gain 30 pounds to play Superman. His trainer later played what character?
  • The Hulk
  • The Terminator
  • Darth Vader

0 voters

  1. What real-world newspaper building was used to portray the Daily Planet?
  • New York Post
  • New York Daily News
  • New York Times

0 voters

  1. Godfather author Mario Puzo was reportedly paid $350,000 plus for a Superman script. How long was his first draft?
  • 120 pages
  • 350 pages
  • 550 pages

0 voters

  1. Christopher Reeve made a number of changes when switching between Superman and Clark Kent. Which of these did he not do?
  • Slouched
  • Parted hair on other side
  • Changed walk
  • Kansas drawl for Clark

0 voters

  1. Margot Kidder was sent to school to learn how to do what?
  • Type
  • Wear high heels with skirt
  • Write in shorthand

0 voters

  1. Director Richard Donner’s hit movie just before he was offered Superman was?
  • The Omen
  • Rosemary’s Baby
  • The Exorcist

0 voters

  1. Composer John Williams was nominated but did not win an Oscar for Superman: The Movie. His first Oscar win was for what movie?
  • Jaws
  • Fiddler on the Roof
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Star Wars

0 voters

  1. Superman: The Movie was the #3 domestic box office film of 1978. Which of these films did not beat the Man of Steel?
  • Grease
  • National Lampoon’s Animal House
  • Saturday Night Fever

0 voters

  1. What location was used to stand-in for the Smallville, Kansas area?
  • North Dakota, USA
  • British Columbia, Canada
  • Saskatchewan, Canada

0 voters

Bonus Question:

  1. Christopher Reeve is the uncredited voice actor for what character in Superman: The Movie?
  • A member of the Kryptonian Council
  • A television announcer
  • Clark Kent

0 voters


  1. Bud Collyer
  2. Darth Vader
  3. New York Daily News
  4. 550 pages
  5. Kansas drawl
  6. Wear high heels in a skirt
  7. The Omen
  8. Fiddler on the Roof
  9. Saturday Night Fever
  10. Saskatchewan, Canada
  11. Clark Kent (voice over on Jeff East as young Clark)


1-3: You may have to go to the Phantom Zone
4-6: You can leap tall buildings in a single bound
7-9: You’re stronger than a locomotive
10 +: I believe you can fly


Super Fact: When you get a clause named after you. The Salkind’s produced the successful Three Musketeers and its sequel the Four Musketeers: Milday’s Revenge shooting the movies back-to-back with the same cast and crew a strategy they employed with Superman: The Movie and Superman II. But, they did not tell those working on the Musketeers that it was two movies and only paid them for one. This resulted in the Screen Actor’s Guild introducing the “Salkind Clause” forbidding any filmmaker from dividing a film into two installments without contractual permission


Outtake for Lois Lane and Joanne Siegel

Donner meets Siegel and Shuster

These links are sufficient for Seigel and Shuster so that I don’t have to summarize from my Super Hero Genre History Topic except for this entry

2004 - 2013 Legal Proceedings Siegel heirs sue DC, after an inital agreement in 1997. Part of suit was that Superboy was not part of the original 10 year work for hire contract but an independent matter. That is why Superboy was not used by DC in this time period. A judge ruled in 2013 that the 1997 agreement had been done freely and with forethought. That agreement gave the Siegel heirs a $2 million advance, a $1 million non-recoupable signing bonus forgiveness of a previous $250,000 advance, a guarantee of $500,000 per year for 10 years, a 6 percent royalty of gross revenues, and various other royalties

Another link


Halfway through this now, very well done and interesting


Movie intro: Black and white, a curtain opens on a movie screen (which even in 1978 was nearly extinct) and we get a voice over of 1938 and something of a mashup of the origin of Superman. The Action Comic, is not based on an actual comic, the Daily Planet will not exist for a few more years, but we see the comic book character Superman. The entire sequence is seen as if we are in a theater in 1938. Then the title sequence starts.
But, to what purpose? I’ve seen it compared to the Wizard of Oz, but the black and white of that movie represents Depression era Dustbowl Kansas juxtaposed against the Technicolor fantasy world of Oz. Is the Superman story that’s coming fantasy? Superman tell Lois that Peter Pan is fantasy when she compares his flying to Peter’s, implying that this is real life. Nothing in this movie is played other than this is our world, just happens to have Superman in it.
I image they were trying to tie the story to the character everyone knew and a simpler time, but that seems disconnected from the rest of the film. I’m not sure what they were going for, but for me one of the few misses in this movie.


From IMDB Trivia

The film of the black-and-white sequence that opens the movie is shown in reverse. The sequence was filmed starting with a close-up of the Daily Planet panel followed by a zoom-out. Then the child’s hand turns each page left-to-right, then closes the cover. (As the child turns each page and then closes the cover, notice that the corners fold in the opposite direction of how they should fold.)

I dont see Superman in the comic book pages but my vision is weak.

Part of the whole approach of the film.was to delay the appearance of Superman until around 48 minutes into the movie. His name is delayed even further.

Partially they were trying to emulate the first blockbuster Jaws, where the actual appearance of the shark is delayed again and again.

The comic book cover is fake.

Seems to be little action in.the pages

Mostly static images.

If the intro is taken literally, the comic is about the Daily Planet, which is presented at being like the New York.Titles.

When we get to the actual Daily Planet, the enphasis is to get the story, to have the greatest circulation with sensational story, not truth and justice.

As Perry says to Lois “There is only one p in r a p i s t”.

I think the sequence of images wanted is

Daily Planet globe
Titles and music with red flares
indicating fireworks or set in outer space
Then Kyrpton.Red Sun
Planet Krypton itself

The intro
May be an acknowledgement that
Source is comic book
That is started in 1938 a long time ago
That for us to know this character now Superman must have become part of
American culture and mythology

The events in Krypton may have happened long ago, in 1938 or earlier.
John Byrne later had the rocket lauch in 1938. In Man of Steel

The globe of the Daily Planet,
Is a representational of the planet Earth
Is contrasted by the planet Krypton

The fictional comic book
Is contrasted by Jor el’s first words
"This is no fantasy "


Super Fact: Superman score composer John Williams has been nominated for 52 Academy Awards, closing in on Walt Disney’s 59. Williams has won five Oscars total for Fiddler on the Roof, Jaws, Star Wars, ET: The Extra-Terrestrial and Schindler’s List.


On the topic of the Main Main Theme also called the Superman March there’s a couple of points that stand out to me. First, it’s a march so you get that 1,2,1,2 like in the Star Wars theme. There’s something about the rhythm of a march that really connects, particularly when you pair it with a strong memory like that of this movie. I don’t know if I’d feel this way without that connection, but these theme feels like flying to me.


Re the Williams music at the beginning

Even though there were no lyrics

The director Richard Donnet said he was certain that it kept saying the word

Back in Community 1.0
In a writing assignment
Asked us to write lyrics
To this music

Here is my pathetic results



He come from the sky.


He never lies.

He will save us
He will save us
He will save us all

Later on

Who is loved by all
Who comes down from above




Need to get the Kryptonian council as a chorus for that


I’m actually quite fond of that opening. It starts the film in the Academy ratio, which is how people would have experienced Superman on both the big and small screens up to this point. It evokes the feel of an old movie serial while also drawing connections to the original Golden Age comics. And then the curtains open us to a widescreen aspect ratio, and we get these luxurious big-budget 1970s credits set against the cosmos.



Thank you for the above post

Sometimes it is best to see things in the simplest clearest manner.

Here is the old
Now this is the new

Is the best way
To explain.the opening

Which is, after all only a few minutes long.

It is best not to overthink the intro.


@msgtv suggested
That I give
DC History Club members
The links to the
Rest of Robert Kirkman series on
Secret History of Comics
Like the one of Siegel and Shuster above

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I stand convicted of over-thinking things.
The change in ratio hadn’t even dawned on me.


Wanted to post something about the title sequence so read the article in the research wiki about Art of the Title. Most of how they actually created the effect went over my head. But, I do know zero computer effects, they created the swooshing by moving a camera and blue gel and other technical stuff.
The story behind it is great. Richard and Robert Greenberg had studied film and Superman The Movie was their first big job. An ad agency was tapped with the title design and were given the idea of streaking titles. The Greenberg’s said they knew how to do that. They were lying. But, the got the job and figured it out by “putting a negative and positive Kodalith together with a blue gel in between” then zooming a camera.


Love this one! may take me a while to do this one :robotman_dp:

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