^ As I understand it, but for Donner, we would have gotten a Superman movie in much the same vein as the Batman tv show. Mario Puzo's original script was totally jokey, including, for example, a scene where Superman flew down to arrest Lex in a crowd. However, when he grabbed 'Lex' from behind, the bald man turned round and turned out to be Telly Savalas, brandishing his Kojak lollipop, with Savalas saying 'Who loves you baby?' Hilarious, I don't think.
Donner and Tom Mankiewicz ditched all this junk and gave the movie some gravity and respect.