Ranking the Superman Live-Action Movies

After ranking the live-action Batman movies, I thought I would do the same for the Superman ones. The originals are so long ago I sometimes forget they are part of DC, as funny as that sounds.

Again these rankings are solely down to personal preference.

By a country mile Superman: the original motion picture is no.1 and is still one of my all time favourite movies. I was 2 when I was brought to see it in the cinema, it was my 1st cinema experience and one I do not remember. I was on a Christmas holiday in Canada and there was some debate with my mum and aunt if I would manage the experience at such a young age.

I’ve been told I yelled out “the car is broken!” When Lois Lane’s car falls foul of the earthquake. I’ve no doubt it was the first pavement block on the road to 2 loves in my life; superheroes and movies.

When I watched again recently on the 40th anniversary release I was struck by how cinematic the original is, there’s no “superhero film formula” it’s simply a movie shot for the cinema. I also think my love of the original colours my thorough enjoyment of Superman Returns and Henry Cavill’s more “heroic” interpretation in Justice League, though I still haven’t been able to look at Cavill’s lip the same way!!

  1. Superman
  2. Superman II
  3. Superman Returns
  4. Justice League
  5. Man of Steel
  6. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
  7. Superman III
  8. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
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  1. Superman The Movie
  2. Man Of Steel
  3. Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
  4. Superman II
  5. Superman Returns
  6. BVS
  7. Justice League
  8. Superman III
  9. Superman IV
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  1. Superman 2 (Donner Cut)
  2. Man of Steel
  3. Superman 2
  4. Superman The Movie
  5. Batman v. Superman Dawn of Justice
  6. Superman Returns
  7. Justice League
  8. Superman III
  9. Superman IV
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  1. Superman
  2. Superman II
  3. Superman II (Donner [Will revisit the two IIs, but I think because of the endings, I prefer the theatrical])
  4. Superman IV
  5. Superman III
  6. Superman Returns
  7. BvS (Theatrical)
  8. Justice League
  9. Man of Steel
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I agree, wasn’t crazy about the spinning to world backwards again.

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Plus, the theatrical cut had the diner scene make more sense than the Donner Cut.

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I think Donner did the best he could with what he had in terms of his cut. I enjoy it more because even though I like Superman II, some of the stuff in there is a little too silly for me.

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I’d probably need to watch it again, it’s been about 10 years since I watched the Donner cut

If you don’t mind, what parts of Superman II seemed silly?

It was some of the humor that didn’t work for me, also Superman taking off the shield and throwing it was a little weird. I still like the movie very much, but it was those little things that brought it down a little bit.

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I agree that the Superman shield weapon move was very uncharacteristic of Superman. It can be argued that that is “sacrilegious” to the House of El because it would be a dishonor to use a family crest as a weapon. It would be a banner or may be indented on weapons, but it would never be a weapon. Even knightly shields were used more for defense than as a weapon, if I recall correctly.

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Also it just didnt make sense in terms of that being a thing he could do, and it just didnt look good.

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I thought it expanding wasn’t very good, but I don’t recall much else from Superman’s scenes that I thought was bad. But, I would gladly watch any Christopher Reeve Superman film over Henry Cavill’s. If Man of Steel II (like rumored) becomes released, I hope Superman becomes more meek and humble. But, since they’re going for “realism”, it’s apparently no longer “realistic” for people to be ask̶ (just noticed 6/1 at 10:31) humble and meek as Christopher Reeve, which is a shame.

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I love Man of Steel cause I thought it was a great jumping off point for Cavill to grow into more of Chris Reeve. So I agree I hope the next Superman movie is closer to the tone of Donner and Reeve.

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I think the closest Henry Cavill got to Christopher Reeve was once he was resurrected. I never felt he had true optimism nor a genuine, “unburdened” smile until then. But, I am not fond of Amy Adams as Lois Lane (despite the similar alliteration for names), yet I prefer Michael Shannon as Zod over Terrence Stamp.

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  1. Man of Steel
  2. Batman V Superman
  3. Superman III
  4. Justice League
  5. Superman IV
  6. Superman Returns
  7. Superman: The Movie
  8. Superman II
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  1. Superman: The Movie
  2. Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
  3. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  4. Superman Returns
  5. Justice League
  6. Man of Steel
  7. Superman III
  8. Superman II: The Richard Lester Cut
  9. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

Magic memory-wiping kisses are an instant ticket to the bottom.

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Superman: The Movie
Superman II (the Donner cut)
Man of Steel
BvS: Ultimate Edition
Justice League
Superman IV
Superman III
Superman & The Mole Men

Superman Returns

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  1. Superman: The Movie (all 3 cuts, but if I had to pick one, it’s the original theatrical version)
  2. Man of Steel
  3. Superman II (I like both versions equally)
  4. Superman Returns
  5. Superman III
  6. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
  7. Superman and the Mole Men

I’m not counting BvS or Justice League, as those aren’t movies that squarely focus on and star Superman as the lead character in the way the above do. They’re movies that he’s a leading character in, yes, just not, again, the leading character.

As for movies based on Superman-related characters that starred someone other than Superman, my rank is:

  1. Supergirl (international cut)
  2. Steel
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Superman
Man of steel
Superman 2
Bvs
Superman 3
Superman returns
Justice league
Superman 4

1 Like