Even though we receive at least a half dozen superhero films on a yearly basis these days, the fact of the matter is that we owe a great debt to director Richard Donner and all involved in the production of Superman: The Movie back in the late 1970s. Before then, a blockbuster of that scale centered on a comic book character was simply unheard of, so to think that a genre was handily legitimized with such an effort is indeed commendable.
Taking that and other factors into consideration, the Library of Congress has chosen the movie that made us believe a man could fly to be among the 25 selected this year to be a part of the National Film Registry. And when you consider how many movies the American entertainment industry has produced over the years, that really puts it in perspective as to how much of an honor this is.
Donner, who had two of his films be recognized this year (cult classic The Goonies also made the cut), had this to say:
“I thank the National Film Registry for choosing Superman: The Movie and The Goonies as films to be treasured. They are both special films in my life, as was the cast and crew for both. It’s wonderful to see them listed among so many great films.”
Much like how Adam West wasn’t the first actor to portray Batman in live action, there are many who believe Christopher Reeve to be the first to have made a definite impact with his performance. Knowing this, the Film Registry factored that into their official statement:
Director Richard Donner’s treatment of the famous superhero was not the first time the character had been on the big screen. Kirk Alyn played the role back in a 1948 serial and George Reeves appeared in both theatrical and TV versions in the 1950s. However, for many, Christopher Reeve remains the definitive Man of Steel. This film, an “origins” story, recounts Superman’s journey to Earth as a boy, his move from Smallville to Metropolis and his emergence as a true American hero. Beautiful in its sweep, score and special effects, which create a sense of awe and wonder, “Superman” — as the tag line reads — makes you “believe a man can fly.”
Like we said earlier, the blueprint drafted by Superman: The Movie influenced countless other superhero films to come, particularly 2005’s Batman Begins. Coincidentally enough, Christopher Nolan’s Memento was also honored this year, so we tip our hats to that fan favorite auteur as well.