Superman: The Movie

  • Review Date: March 7, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1978
  • Running Time: 144 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Super-nostalgic superhero adventure still soars.
  • Review Date: March 7, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1978
  • Running Time: 144 minutes





What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids will see the Hoover Dam and the workings of a press room in the '70s -- typwriters and all!

Positive messages

Like every superhero movie, good against evil is a key component. So is the idea that humans are flawed but worth saving.

Positive role models

Superman "fights for truth, justice, and the American way." He's humble, telling a prison warden that "we're all part of the same team," and always tells the truth. Although his father tells him not to meddle with human history, he does so to save someone's life.

Violence & scariness

Lots of action, but little to no blood. Superman stops property crimes. Clark Kent intercepts a bullet intended for Lois by a mugger who accosts the two of them. The citizens of Krypton are killed when their planet explodes. Various people are imperiled during an earthquake, including Jimmy Olsen, but all are saved by Superman. Clark's father, "Pa" Kent, is shown having a fatal heart attack; Clark mourns his death at his funeral. Before he turns back time, Superman discovers Lois buried alive in her car. A derailing train, a helicopter, a bus full of kids teetering off the Golden Gate Bridge, and a lightning-struck Air Force One are all saved by Superman. A detective is thrown in front of a train and all the police find is his mangled hat.

Sexy stuff

Two kisses. Lots of cleavage shown on Miss Teschmacher, including one scene where she plays dead on the side of the road and an army officer says he's going to attempt "vigorous chest rubbing." When toddler Superman emerges from the meteor, you can see his penis.


"Damn," "ass," and "hell" once or twice each.


Tie-in to vast quantities of related merchandise. Cheerios and Amtrak.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Perry White smokes cigars and Lois and other newsroom employees smoke cigarettes. Superman tells Lois she shouldn't smoke and uses his x-ray vision to check her lungs. Some wine drinking, but Superman says he never drinks when flying. One cop says to another "the first bottle's on me."

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that many characters are in peril before Superman saves the day, including a school bus full of kids teetering off the Golden Gate Bridge, two coasts threatened by a missle launch, and Lois who is buried alive after an earthquake. Superman can't save his adopted dad from a heart attack, however, and is shown mourning his death. There is some smoking in the Daily Planet newsroom typical of the '70s and a few swear words. Superman fights for "truth, justice, and the American way" -- your basic superhero role model.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

As the planet Krypton is about to explode, administrator Jor-El (Marlon Brando) ensures his son's safety by putting him in a spaceship intended for Earth. The Kents, a farm couple, discover the boy from space and raise him as their son, Clark. Upon adulthood, Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) sets out for Metropolis, where he lands a job as a reporter on The Daily Planet. He also fights crime as SUPERMAN, a name given him by reporter Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), a coworker on the Planet whom Clark secretly loves. Meanwhile, criminal mastermind Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) develops a plan to cause a deadly earthquake in California, thereby increasing the value of his desert property. When Lois becomes a victim of the earthquake, Superman must literally turn back time by flying around the Earth with enough speed to temporarily reverse its orbit.

Is it any good?


Christopher Reeve proved an ideal Superman, with just the right level of steadfast simplicity. But the producers' emphasis on larger-than-life moviemaking (they won a Special Achievement Oscar for visual effects) results in a movie that drags in parts. The quartet of writers -- who individually had dreamt up the stories of The Godfather and Bonnie and Clyde -- concocted an overlong spectacle that spends an inordinate amount of time recounting Superman's origin, then fragments into episodic crime-fighting vignettes.

Younger viewers may not have the patience to wait through the first third of Superman before getting a glimpse of Superman's famous costume, and the picture is more than half over before he begins fighting crime in Metropolis. Thus, the movie will appeal primarily to adults looking to relive their youth by watching a 1970s-style blockbuster.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about favorite superhero movies. What makes a good superhero movie? What makes Lex Luthor one of the best villains?

  • Families can also talk about different versions of the Superman story. And why do you think in the last century he fought for the "American way" and in this one he becomes more globally minded?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 15, 1978
DVD release date:June 3, 2003
Cast:Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder
Director:Richard Donner
Studio:Warner Bros.
Topics:Superheroes, Adventures
Run time:144 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:parental guidance

This review of Superman: The Movie was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Written byAnonymous January 14, 2013

An X/ NC-17 Sexual Part is shown in a PG Movie. Again Not for kids of any age.

Oh No a guys P-Bomb is Exposed. Not for kids at all. This movie should have had that covered before filming in the 1970's. Superman is suppose to be for kids. But this movie is not.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Adult Written byDr3w November 29, 2011

Great Film-Making

Well, I think there have been enough reviews of this movie from a quality perspective. However, I have yet to see a review that accurately described the bad content in this film, so I thought I might as well write a review. Superman is not an overly gratuitous film. It shows quite a bit of restraint as far as violence, language and sexual behaviour are concerned, but it is not squeaky clean. There are about ten curses in this film (ranging from d-words and h-words to a scarcely audible s-word). Lex Luthor's girlfriend wears VERY revealing clothing on more than one occasion which shows off quite a bit of cleavage. These scenes are fairly brief, but very noticeable. Lois Lane and Superman share a few veiled innuendos in one scene, but nothing I felt too uncomfortable with. Lois Lane asks Superman at one point what color her underwear are (he can see through anything, remember?) and he tells her that they are pink. Superman is shown completely nude from the front as a baby. Thankfully, grown-up Superman wears a jock-strap underneath his tights so that the suit is not as immodest as it could be. In one scene played for laughs, Lex Luthor's girlfriend lies out in the middle of the road as though she has fainted distracting some soldiers from their duty. In their attempts to "revive" her, one soldier sticks his head on her chest (mildly suggestive) and another volunteers to perform CPR (implied strongly, but not shown). The violence is handled well, but may be too intense for some younger viewers. For example: Lex Luthor pushes a man out in front of a fast-moving train. The death is not shown. However, the man screams loudly and the hat he was wearing is shown lying beaten up on the ground afterwards. SUMMARY: A nice classic film for most of the family. You might want to fast-forward the parts with Lex Luthor's girlfriend.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent Written byPlague May 14, 2010

Superman: The Movie

An instant classic, and a fabulous superhero movie for the whole family.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


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