Superman (informally titled Superman: The Movie in some listings and reference sources) is a 1978 superhero film directed by Richard Donner. It is based on the DC Comics character of the same name and stars Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Glenn Ford, Phyllis Thaxter, Jackie Cooper, Trevor Howard, Marc McClure, Terence Stamp, Valerie Perrine, and Ned Beatty. The film depicts Superman's origin, 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.
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. Tom Mankiewicz was drafted in to rewrite the script and was given a "creative consultant" credit. It was decided to film both Superman and Superman II simultaneously, with principal photography beginning in March 1977 and ending in October 1978. Tensions rose between Donner and the producers, and a decision was made to stop filming the sequel—of which 75 percent had already been completed—and finish the first film.
The most expensive film made up to that point with a budget of $55 million, Superman was released in December 1978 to critical acclaim and financial success, earning $300 million during its original theatrical run. Reviewers particularly praised Reeve's performance. It was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Film Editing, Best Music (Original Score), and Best Sound Mixing, and received a Special Achievement Academy Award for Visual Effects. Groundbreaking in its use of special effects and science fiction/fantasy storytelling, the film's legacy presaged the mainstream popularity of Hollywood's superhero film franchises.