Donner tried to square the circle of making a live-action comic book adaptation, by depicting the world as a comic book, with all the caricatures and goofiness the medium is practically infamous for, brought to life, as realistically as the state of the art could depict.
While it was visually as close to realistic as could be achieved, at almost every beat the tone going hand in hand with the visuals was infused with humor and silliness that let the audience know that nothing was real and they weren't taking the thing seriously at all. Although I thought there were some fine literary undercurrents and motifs, the film never dared to commit to having serious pretensions.
The 1978 film was therefore, ultimately, unrealistic. At the time it was tremendous fun, and I still enjoy the film a great deal, but realistic it was not.
All true. It's a tremendous, memorable film - but it's dated, and it was never intended to be mistaken for naturalistic in any way.
, BTW, is an exciting film with some nice emotional moments - there was a time when I liked it a little more than the first movie. As the decades have passed, though, it's become clear that Donner's film stands head and shoulders above even the best of those that followed.
My Name Is Legion wrote:
Nope, only as a character in a period film. There was no attempt in the Reeve-era Superman movies to portray anything other than a comic-book vision of the characters and the world they inhabited, and Singer imitated that heightened and simplified sense of color and place. Cavill comes off here, visually, as plausibly existing in a world that looks as much like ours as contemporary commercial films ever show it.
It might look that way now
It looked that way when I saw it on opening night. Of course, I was an adult at the time - and the tone and look of the film was and is a bright fantasy, evocative of the comic book origin of the character. The only sense of realism to it was occasional and was the result of location shooting. By the time of the Routh film, of course, even locations could be and were massaged and extended in the service of a very specific and heightened visual sense.
Reeve's performance was great but he conjured it up pretty much in a psychological vacuum - he was given simple elements ("Superman is an orphan fighting to protect his adoptive home") and on-the-nose dialogue ("I'm here to fight for truth, justice and the American way") and he brought conviction to it. That said, he was working within the conceptual limits of the project.