5. Man of Steel (2013)
Man of Steel takes the theory that “every Superman movie is fun” and accepts it as a challenge. Zack Snyder practically dared us to find 2013’s DCEU kick-starter Man of Steel to be serious and/or boring, but even Man of Steel is thoroughly enjoyable as a Superman film.
It may be filled to the brim with questionable casting choices, character assassinations and an incomprehensible moral compass on the part of Henry Cavill’s Superman, but the movie’s multiple, and very long, fight scenes can be incredibly entertaining if you don’t mind a lack of sense and more things happening on screen than you can count with one hand.
Snyder’s ability to set up incredibly interesting and unique ideas among the famous characters of the Superman universe before completely abandoning them in the second half does make Man Of Steel one of the worst Superman films, but its attempt at a fresh take on Superman is admirable, and as a whole it can be enjoyed as a big, dumb popcorn flick.
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4. Superman and the Mole-Men (1951)
The one that started it all.
Superman and the Mole-Men is often forgotten among the history of Superman films, and isn’t helped by its limited availability to fans across the world. But Superman’s feature film debut is an important moment, not just in Superman history, but in movie history.
The film’s legacy may be more interesting than the film itself, but Superman and the Mole-Men also works as an incredibly unique take on the Superman character and is vastly different to what we would expect from a Superhero movie now.
Superman and the Mole Men plays out more like an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’ than it does later comic book movies, but this is to the film’s credit. Given how long ago the film was made, what could be shown with Superman on screen was very limited and so the movie plays out more like a paranoia sci-fi B-Movie. It’s a creative choice brought about by necessity, but it works tremendously well to ensure that every moment in which Superman’s powers are presented feels important.
Of course, the film is very dated in parts and after a while it can become rather repetitive in what it is saying, but this is a Superman film that is worthy of every fan’s attention, even if only due to its place within comic book movie history.
3. Superman Returns (2006)
Perhaps the most divisive Superman film of all time, and no doubt a controversial pick for the number three spot on our list, Superman Returns is part loving tribute to the Christopher Reeve era of Superman flicks and part the achievement of creepy creatives who have since been cancelled.
Paying tribute to an era of films long since passed does come with a few mishaps. The film itself being set within the Reeve era of Superman does mean that it doesn’t add much of note to the already vast lore of Superman movies, and it makes it difficult (and in most cases impossible) for everyone involved to be able to leave their mark on the character or his world.
For fans of Reeve’s iconic turn, there are enough homages, call-backs and tips of the hat to the original films to bring about a giddy excitement, and Superman Returns successfully manages to mix its serious post-9/11 tone with the campy style of old Superman films surprisingly well. Brandon Routh proves to be a fantastic Reeve-esque Clark Kent, too.
There are no denying the issues of Superman Returns, but it does work as a touching love letter to Christopher Reeve, offering a mix of fantastic action sequences, comic book appropriate sequences and a lead character more in-keeping with who we know Superman to be than in more recent iterations. This is a reminder of why we all began to love Superman in the first place.