Superman Family Films

As the world's most famous comic book superhero, it's only natural that Superman has inspired people to make movies about him and his various relatives and pals. Here's how I rank them.

  • Superman

    1.Superman

    ★★★★

    Not the first Superman film nor the last, but it remains the best thanks to Richard Donner's respectful treatment and Christopher Reeve's performance as Clark Kent/Superman. Not only did this movie make me believe a man can fly, but that glasses, a slouch and a hairstyle change can serve to hide Superman's dual nature.

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  • Superman III

    2.Superman III

    ★★★½

    Superman III has serious flaws, but to my mind it does the best job of showcasing Superman's heroic, gentle nature. I love the scenes with Clark and Lana in Smallville, I love his fight against himself in the junkyard, and the final confrontation with the supercomputer is thrilling and creepy. Had Richard Pryor's subplot been removed, this could have been the best of the Superman films.

  • Superman and the Mole-Men

    3.Superman and the Mole-Men

    ★★★½

    Simple but sincere, this early Superman adventure showcases Superman's morality. The special effects may look dated to modern eyes, but the message of acceptance and understanding remains timeless and important.

  • Superman Returns

    4.Superman Returns

    ★★★½

    It is perhaps a little too reverent of the Donner film and turns Superman into a peeping tom, but as a conclusion to the troubled 70s/80s Superman films, it serves well enough; it's even poignant, with a wonderful score by John Ottman.

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  • Superman II

    5.Superman II

    ★★★

    A lot of people say that Superman II is the best Superman movie, but the original version left me cold, with its ham-handed slapstick and Clark's out-of-character revenge against a human trucker. The Donner cut isn't perfect (it's somewhat miraculous that it could be assembled at all), but it is an improvement, and a fascinating look at alternate film history. It makes one wonder how Superman (1978) would have unfolded had Superman II remained in Donner's hands...

  • Superman II

    6.Superman II

    ★★★

    Plenty of action, but the slapstick is out of place and I really hate the truck stop scene.

  • Man of Steel

    7.Man of Steel

    ★★★

    The notes for this film reportedly contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Man of Steel is an interesting science fiction film, but not a great Superman film. The wanton destruction of Metropolis is offputting, as is Superman's execution of Zod; these actions are completely out of character for Superman, and a sad reflection of the times.

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  • Justice League

    8.Justice League

    ★★★

    Not a great film, but at least Superman gets more respect here than he does in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

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  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

    9.Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

    ★½

    On the way home after seeing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Sean and I attempted to record our thoughts on the film. Unfortunately, the recording cut out after 30 seconds, so I present here a more traditional review, with Sean's thoughts thrown in as I recall them.

    We went into the film with very low expectations, so our agreed-upon score of five out of ten stars may in fact be too kind, since we expected the movie to be even more dire than it was. In short, we felt there was a good movie in here trying to get out, but Zack Snyder's leaden, depressing, joyless direction overcame whatever promise the film once held.

    The film begins with a reasonably interesting premise: Batman sees Superman as a threat because of the events in Man of Steel, during which Superman's fight with General Zod and the other surviving Kryptonians laid waste to Metropolis - as well as Gotham City, which we discover in this film lies across the bay. Public opinion on Superman is torn thanks to the circumstances of his arrival, and if you buy the premise and tone of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman's themes work in…

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  • Supergirl

    10.Supergirl

    ★½

    There are a few moments of genuine delight in this film - chiefly, the scenes when Supergirl discovers she can fly. Helen Slater is great, but she's let down by uninspiring direction and a silly screenplay.

  • Steel

    11.Steel

    The only thing I really remember about this film is the Shaft in-joke. Not a good sign.

  • Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

    12.Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

    ½

    A mess from start to finish, and a terribly disappointing way to end Christopher Reeve's career as the man of steel.