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Every Superman Movie Ranked From Worst To Best

Superman movies have actually revealed both the very best and also the most awful the superhero style needs to supply. Let’s ranking all the Man of Steel’s theatrical launches.


Here is every Superman movie positioned from worst to perfect. Created by Jerry Siegel as well as additionally Joe Shuster, the Man of Steel came increasing (or leaping) right into comics in 1938, debuting in Action Comics #1. Superman motion pictures have in fact certainly had their increasing highs as well as additionally squashing lows, nevertheless filmmakers will likely never ever before give up on finding new approaches of changing the Last Son of Krypton as well as additionally viewers would definitely miss him if they did. Like different other popular characters – James Bond, Batman, Sherlock Holmes – various celebrities have cycled with the task, nevertheless which Superman made the greatest motion pictures?

Superman made his flick introducing in the Kirk Alyn serials, beginning in 1948. The Man of Steel has in fact considered that occurred to appear in various motion pictures, both computer system computer animated as well as additionally live-action, as well as several beloved television shows. The focus here will be on the hero's live-action theatrical releases.

Neither the MCU’s box office domination nor a couple of difficult DC movie outings can dethrone Superman as the most iconic superhero ever created. Even with this in mind, his cinematic adaptations have represented both the best and additionally the worst the genre has to offer – though the same can be said of Batman’s movies as well.

This low ranking is to say nothing negative of George Reeves’ unforgettable portrayal of the Man of Steel for six seasons in Adventures of Superman. However, Superman as well as the Mole Men, released in 1951, was basically a glorified TV pilot, only included here because it did have a theatrical release. Rather than battling the titular Mole Men, Supes defends them from pitchfork-wielding townsfolk, whose fear of the innocent creatures had quickly turned violent. Although Reeves did a fine job, the black and white film isn’t quite sixty minutes long and simply can't compare with Superman’s other movies. It did serve its purpose though, eventually bringing Reeves’ hero to TV screens everywhere.

What is there to say about 2017’s Justice League that hasn’t already been said? Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon are both distinctive filmmakers with little common ground. The awkwardly stitched together, tonally incoherent mess of a movie is the result of two conflicting visions that never should’ve been a part of the same film. It’s not, strictly speaking, even a Superman movie, but the Man of Steel was meant to play a pivotal role in it. Sadly, Supes will always be remembered, above all else, for the terrible CGI removal of Cavill's mustache. The movie was meant to be a major superhero team up for DC, but Justice League never really came together. Perhaps the Snyder Cut, coming to HBO Max, will redeem the character. At the very least, it’ll redeem his face.

With Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, the most iconic portrayal of Superman ended, not with a bang, but definitely a whimper. It’s heartbreaking to put Christopher Reeve’s final outing in the red cape so low on the list, especially since it was a story that meant so much to the actor. Reeve had hoped to put the Man of Steel back on track after Superman III, a good thought to be sure, but Superman IV: The Quest for Peace stands as the worst of the original four. Getting rid of the world's nukes was a noble effort, as was making a film that so obviously promoted world peace. Sadly, the 1987 movie suffered massive budget cuts, had a weak villain in the Nuclear Man and was ultimately even more over-the-top than Superman III, which was an impressive feat.

While fans were undeniably excited to see the Dark Knight face off against the Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was an utterly joyless film in which both heroes are absolutely impossible to like, let alone root for. Released in 2016, Zack Snyder's second DCEU film certainly has its defenders, but the movie didn’t do either character justice. This should not reflect poorly on Cavill or Ben Affleck, who both did the best they could with the material they were given. It does come in ahead of Justice League, but only because it feels like the singular vision of its director, for good or bad. Like the team-up film, this isn't truly a Superman movie, though it acts as a direct sequel to Man of Steel. Though the movie introduced the world to Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, the bloated runtime (151 minutes), Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor, and the now-infamous “Martha” moment make Batman v Superman an overall disappointment.

The original plan for Superman III might've panned out differently, but the film released in 1983 feels like the result of someone pitching a Superman/Richard Pryor movie but not actually hammering out any of the story details beforehand. Though the movie might be ridiculous, Reeve was still at the top of his game and Pryor is undeniably funny, even if the script is not. Trading in Margot Kidder’s cherished Lois Lane for a subplot in which Clark attempts to woo his high school crush, Lana Lang (Annette O’Toole), was a strange narrative choice in movie absolutely full of them. Directed by Richard Lester, who stepped in to fill Richard Donner’s shoes after he left Superman II, the movie does feature a cool Superman vs. Clark Kent fight, in addition to providing the basis for the programmers' plot in Office Space.

Exploring the lonelier, more alien side of Superman isn’t a bad idea on a paper. The Last Son of Krypton has often struggled with feelings of isolation, a topic that was thoroughly explored on Smallville, but a dark, brooding Superman isn't the beacon of hope for mankind that many fans expect to see. However, it’s not that easy to be a god among men and Man of Steel shouldn’t be faulted for trying to show a different side of the hero to audiences. Plus, the 2013 film introduced Henry Cavill, who is excellent in the role, and the rest of the cast, including Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Diane Lane as Martha Kent, is great as well.

Sadly, Man of Steel failed somewhat in its execution, not only misunderstanding Superman himself, but the Kents as well. The idea that Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) would want Clark to keep his secret at the cost of innocent lives, including his own, completely alters both characters. That, in conjunction with a hero who left a trail of destruction – and a dead body – in his wake, made for a film that left fans firmly divided. Cavill’s first time stepping into the red boots did have some interesting ideas, even if director Zack Snyder's muted color palette could make the film feel like a rather dull affair at times. All that said, it's a better movie than many of Superman's previous outings.

If Superman Returns is guilty of anything, it’s loving the Richard Donner films a little too much. It’s understandable, considering even after all these years, Superman remains a crowning achievement in superhero films. The 2006 movie ignored Superman III and IV, instead continuing on from Superman II. Overall, Bryan Singer's film was a pretty solid outing for the Man of Steel. Long before his time as Ray Palmer in the Arrowverse, Brandon Routh proved he had what it took to play an iconic hero. His performance was both understated and confident, paying homage Reeve, but still making the character his own.

At its best, Superman Returns captured the essence of the first two films, though the movie sometimes lost itself in all that nostalgia. In spending so much time honoring Donner’s legacy, it had a difficult time standing on its own. It's also an incredibly vivid movie, in direct contrast with the muted colors of Snyder’s take on the character. The film’s detractors tend to get hung up on the plausibility of Superman having a son, but in a film about a superpowered alien, how much realism does the audience really need? The movie's Lex Luthor and director can’t help but slightly mar the movie in light of the allegations against both Kevin Spacey and Singer, but Superman Returns is still the Man of Steel’s most underrated film.

Despite its notoriously troubled production, Superman II holds up not only as one of the best movies featuring the Man of Steel, but also as one of the best superhero outings in general. Much like Justice League, the film was the result of two conflicting visions, but Superman II still holds up. The Donner Cut is great too, but the movie’s theatrical release deserves the second slot right right here. The original intent was to shoot Superman and its sequel side by side, but thanks to Lester replacing Donner as director, much of the film was reshot later. This led to a film that may have actually been a bit uneven at times, but still trounces most of the competition.

Superman II is an incredibly ambitious film. It upped the stakes and the action and delivered some unforgettable villains. No Superman flick had a Big Bad who posed as much of a threat to the Last Son of Krypton as Terence Stamp’s General Zod and his cronies. Superman II not only built on the compelling love story between Lois and Clark, but also explored the hero’s human side. Christopher Reeve was already perfect in the role to begin with, but stripping the Man of Steel of his powers gave the actor something different and more relatable to play. Superman II is not only a nonstop thrill ride, but it’s also quite touching.

1978’s Superman introduced the world to Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel, and he remains the actor most closely associated with the role, despite all the time that passed and the many other actors to take up the mantle since. It also brought fans the palpable chemistry between Reeve’s Superman and Margot Kidder’s intrepid reporter, Lois Lane. Superman not only featured John Williams' amazing score, but also set the gold standard for superhero movies to come.

The movie takes its time, giving the Man of Steel’s origin story plenty of room to breathe. Reeve remains the very best in terms of portraying Superman and also Clark Kent as two very different characters, making it slightly more believable that a pair of glasses is enough to keep his identities separate. His comedic timing is impeccable, but much of the movie’s magic comes from the way he inhabits the role of Superman. The movie also gave us the first dose of Gene Hackman’s rather brilliant turn as Lex Luther, memorable, even if he never ever before really felt such as an actual threat to our hero.

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