Donner and Reeve understood this.
Snyder and Nolan didn't.
The original Superman is way way over rated (he turns the planet around to stop time FFS) the 1st half of the movie is pretty good but then collaspes afterwards. Despite the Donner Superman II cut being a really good movie I really find some of the humor in 1 & 2 so out of place, forced and akward. Lex and his bumbling assistant are AWFUL enemies whom I can't take seriously. MoS has been atacked in some sections for being too serious but why the hell should Superman be this grinning idiot, the weight of the world is literally on his shoulders.
I will take this more girtty version any day.
The Donner movie certainly has its problems, I think it falls apart about the time Lex Luthor and the Bumbling Bafoons of Goofy Theme Music come in, but up until that point it'a pretty solid movie that does have a bit more joy in it than I think MoS does. Mostly in look and tone, I mean there's a lot of fun in watching Superman fly around stopping rather mundane crime and then there's a LOT of fun in his reveal to Metropolis as he saves the helicopter, rescues the plane with the damaged engine, etc. I think that sort of stuff is lacking in this movie.
The Smith podcast does a good job of pointing this out: Where WAS the point where Superman has endeared himself to Metropolis and humanity? It doesn't seam to happen. I'm not going to get on the "he did more damage than good" bandwagon but hardly seems like there's really a moment where he does something in front of a large group of people as they rally behind him and cheer.
I think that's what people get at when they say the movie lacked "joy."