There is no doubt that Superman has become synonymous with superheroes. Superman has been an inspiration to many and someone the kids idealized back in the day. He is a symbol of justice, bravery, and righteousness. Many other superheroes are stronger, smarter, and better than him, but he stands out the most. His principles and morals are realistic. He knows no one is stronger than him on Earth, yet he chooses to protect the weak.
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Superman was written by Jerry Seigel and illustrated by Joe Shuster. There are a couple of variations to the Superman story, and they have their films. The baseline is that Superman, a.k.a. Kal-El was an alien baby when he came to Earth. His home planet Krypton was destroyed, and his parents had no choice but to send him to a distant planet. As he grows up in a rural family, much to their surprise, he and his foster parents realize that Kal has extraordinary abilities that no one else has. Kal- El grows up as Clark Kent, a name given by his foster parents. To keep his family and friends safe, Clark chooses to keep his identity a secret and stop crimes as his new alter ego, Superman.
- 1 Are The Superman Movies Connected?
- 2 In What Order Should I Watch Superman Movies?
- 3 All Superman Movies In Order
- 3.1 Superman (1948)
- 3.2 Atom Man vs Superman (1950)
- 3.3 Superman and the Mole Men (1951)
- 3.4 Superman (1978)
- 3.5 Superman II (1981)
- 3.6 Superman III (1983)
- 3.7 Superman IV (1987)
- 3.8 Superman Returns (2006)
- 3.9 Man of Steel (2013)
- 3.10 Batman vs Superman (2016)
- 3.11 Justice League (2017)
- 3.12 Snyder’s Cut Justice League (2021)
- 4 FAQs
- 5 All Superman Movies According To Highest To Lowest IMDb Ranking
- 6 Conclusion
Are The Superman Movies Connected?
No. Not all of them are connected. They have their versions of adventures and feats. Few of them are standalone. Most of them are grouped according to the chronological continuation of the story. The 1950 release is a continuation of the film serial Superman (1948) featuring Kirk Alyn as Superman. Superman and the Mole Men is an independent black-and-white superhero film starring George Reeves as Superman.
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The reboot in 1978 starred Christopher Reeves as Superman, and he continued to play the first three sequels- Superman II, III, and IV. After almost two decades, Branden Routh was cast as the new Superman. Finally, the last reboot of Superman, Man of Steel, starring Henry Cavill, was the most visually stunning adaptation. The next three movies featured the superhero and other DC superheroes like Batman, Wonder Woman, and other Justice League characters.
In What Order Should I Watch Superman Movies?
The list below shows the Superman movies grouped according to the plot and different versions.
The Golden Era
- Superman (1948)
- Atom Man vs Superman (1950)
- Superman and the Mole Men (1951)- stand-alone
Christopher Reeves Era
- Superman (1978)
- Superman II (1981)
- Superman III (1983)
- Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Branden Routh’s Version
- Superman Returns (2006)- stand-alone
- Man of Steel (2013)
- Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
- Justice League (2017)
- Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
All Superman Movies In Order
Directors: Spencer Gordon Bennet, Thomas Carr
Writers: George H. Plympton, Arthur Hoerl, Joseph F. Poland
Stars: Tommy Bond, Kirk Alyn, Noel Neill
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Release date: January 5, 1948
Kal-El, an alien, is deported to Earth by his parents before his home planet Krypton blows up. As a baby, Kal-El is adopted by a farm couple who renamed him Clark Kent. After the death of his foster parents, Clark moves to Metropolis and joins as a staff of Daily Planet, a news company. Clark keeps his identity a secret and fights for the good of his alter ego, Superman.
Besides fighting criminals, Clark also discovers a mysterious stone called Kryptonite. After fainting near it, he deduces that the stone is his weakness. The story progresses, and the plot revolves around Superman and an infamous criminal who calls herself Spider Lady.
Atom Man vs Superman (1950)
Director: Spencer Gordon Bennet
Writers: Joseph F. Poland, David Mathews, George H. Plympton
Stars: Kirk Alyn, Noel Neill, Lyle Talbot
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Release date: July 20, 1950
Lex Luthor, the Atom Man, has the power to disintegrate matter into its basic atomic form and reconstruct it somewhere else. Superman manages to stop Luthor every time, ruining his plans. To end Superman, Lex prepares synthetic Kryptonite, which snatches Superman of his powers. Powerless Superman loses consciousness and is placed into a device. A lever is pulled, and Superman vanishes into the void.
Superman and the Mole Men (1951)
Director: Lee Sholem
Writers: Robert Maxwell, Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel
Stars: George Reeves, Phyllis Coates, Jeff Corey
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Release date: 23 November 1951
Clark Kent and Lois Lane, his love interest, investigate a town as reporters for the Daily Planet. The town has an unsettling atmosphere with mysterious creatures lurking in the dark. These mysterious creatures can make anything they touch glow. Fed up with their miserable situation, a mob led by Luke Benson is formed to kill the creatures. Superman saves one of the mole men after it gets shot.
Later, three more mole men emerge from a drill shaft and try to kill Luke Benson with their laser weapons. Superman intervenes and saves Benson’s life. Superman carries the wounded mole man that was earlier admitted to the hospital to the drill shaft. The other mole men follow him. They enter the hole with their fellow mole man and close the drill shaft for good.
Director: Richard Donner
Writers: Mario Puzo, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster
Stars: Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder
Genre: Action, Drama, Adventure
Release date: 25 December 1978
Before Krypton gets destroyed, Jor-El sends his son Kal-EL to Earth in a spaceship. Three years later, the baby boy is found by a farmer couple, Jonathan and Martha Kent. They named the baby Clark Kent. After Jonathan’s death, Clark follows a voice leading him to a spaceship that resembles Krypton. For 12 years, Jor-El’s hologram has educated him about his reason on Earth and his home planet. Clark returns in a red and blue suit with a cape and his family crest. He disguises himself and works for Daily Planet.
As Superman, Clark saves the day and stops the criminals. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor, a criminal mastermind, gets his hands on Kryptonite, Superman’s weakness. He lures Superman and uses the glowing stone to snatch away the superhero’s powers. Luthor leaves Superman to die. Luthor’s accomplice Eve Teschmacher realizes that Lex’s success meant her mother’s death. She helps Superman.
Two missiles are headed to the west and east coast of the country. Teschmacher requests Superman to stop the east missile to save her mother. Superman keeps his word and sends the east missile into space. Not being able to control the west missile, Superman loses Lois Lane, his love interest. Disregarding Jor-El’s teachings, he spins across Earth at extreme speed traveling back in time and saving everyone.
Superman II (1981)
Directors: Richard Lester, Richard Donner
Writers: Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Mario Puzo
Stars: Gene HackmanChristopher ReeveMargot Kidder
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Release date: 19 June 1981
General Zod, Ursa, and Non, three Kryptonian criminals, decide to conquer Earth. Superman gives up his powers to live with Lois as a mortal. Led by Lex Luthor, General Zod decides to kill Superman. Clark regains his power to stop General Zod and his accomplices. Zod holds the bystanders hostage. The only way to defeat Zod is to lure him and the other two Kryptonians into the chamber where Superman lost his powers.
Luthor is threatened after his purpose is served. Superman expects Luthor to help him lure the criminal meta-humans into the chamber. Instead, Luthor tells General Zod about Superman’s plans. Zod throws Superman in the chamber, but this time he emerges unaffected. Zod, Ursa, and Non are thrown into the crevices of the chamber. Superman returns to civilization and promises the U.S. President not to abandon his superhero duties again.
Superman III (1983)
Director: Richard Lester
Writers: Jerry Siegel, Shuster, David Newman
Stars: Christopher Reeve, Richard Pryor, Margot Kidder
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Release date: 17 June 1983
Gus Gorman, a computer genius, intrigues CEO Ross Webster. When Colombia refuses to engage in business with Webster, he orders Gus to command a weather satellite and create a devastating tornado to destroy Colombia’s coffee crops. Superman neutralizes the tornado and saves the crops. Webster acknowledges Superman as a threat to his plans. Webster creates a synthetic Kryptonite. Later, when Superman is exposed to a kryptonite beam, instead of taking away his powers, the stone makes him selfish. Superman starts vandalizing things.
On Webster’s orders, Gus makes the world’s most sophisticated supercomputer. Superman fights back his new evil self and then splits into two beings Clark, the good version, and the immoral, evil version of Superman. Both fight and Clark defeats his evil version regaining his sanity. Gus’s supercomputer fires a kryptonite beam to kill Superman. Gus, guilt-tripping, stops the beam. Gus tries to deactivate it, but the computer becomes self-aware and tries to defend itself. Superman manages to destroy the supercomputer with beltric acid.
Superman IV (1987)
Director: Sidney J. Furie
Writers: Christopher Reeve, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster
Stars: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Release date: 24 July 1987
After knowing that the U.S. and the Soviet Union will engage in a nuclear war, Superman throws all nuclear warheads into the sun to prevent the war. With the help of his nephew Lenny, Lex escapes the prison and experiments on a strand of Superman’s hair. With the help of a few infuriated nuclear weapon dealers, Luthor launches a nuclear missile with the experimented strand of hair in it. Superman shows up and throws the missile into the sun. A glowing ball of energy is discharged, giving birth to Nuclear Man.
Nuclear Man’s source of energy is the sun. A super battle between Superman and Nuclear Man breaks out. Superman tries to minimize the collateral damage. Superman is infected with radiation sickness by a claw scratch from Nuclear Man. Nuclear Man kicks Superman far off into the distance. As Nuclear Man wreaks havoc throughout Metropolis, Lois Lane searches for Superman. Clark, grown weak because of the sickness, uses his last resort. This green energy module can be used only once to gain vitality.
Nuclear Man drives Superman into the moon’s surface in the second round. Superman frees himself, disorienting the position of the moon. This causes an eclipse deactivating Nuclear Man. Superman throws Nuclear Man into a nuclear power plant. The once Nuclear Man gets destroyed and dissipates into electricity.
Superman Returns (2006)
Director: Bryan Singer
Writers: Michael Dougherty, Bryan Singer, Dan Harris
Stars: Kate Bosworth, Brandon Routh, Kevin Spacey
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Release date: 30 June 2006
After missing for 5 years, Superman returns to Metropolis and continues his job as a reporter at Daily Planet. Lex Luthor is released from prison. After the death of his rich wife, Luthor inherits all her property. His experiments cause a power surge disrupting the flight test of an airplane with a space shuttle on top of it. Superman arrives, detaches the shuttle, and pushes it into space. As the airplane falls towards Earth, Superman stops and slowly lowers it down on a baseball stadium.
While Superman stops an out-of-control car, Luthor steals Kryptonite from a museum. Luthor creates a new landmass in the Northern Atlantic Ocean by combining Kryptonite and the Kryptonian crystals obtained from the Fortress of Solitude. Superman is weakened to a mortal when he arrives on the newly formed landmass made of Kryptonite. Luthor and his supporters torture him before stabbing him with a fragment of Kryptonite.
Lois manages to extract the shrapnel from Superman’s body. Superman flies into space to absorb energy from the sun and revive his powers completely. With layers of landmass separating Superman and the massive chunk of Kryptonite, he lifts it and pushes it into space. The radiation and still-growing Kryptonite entered Superman’s body while he was lifting it into space. He crashes on Earth, creating a crater.
He is instantly rushed to the hospital. The doctors take out most of the Kryptonite, but his heartbeat stops. Lois comes in, whispers something in his ears, and kisses him goodbye. Later, Superman sees his and Lois’s son before flying off to space, getting a complete view of Earth.
Man of Steel (2013)
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer, Jerry Siegel
Stars: Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Release date: 14 June 2013
With Krypton’s existence at stake, supreme council chief advisor Jor-El infuses the genetics codex into his infant son Kal-El, the first natural born in centuries. Before the planets explode, Jor-El sends Kal-El in a spacecraft toward Earth. On arriving on Earth, Kal-El is adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent and is renamed Clark Kent. Soon, the family learns that Clark is an extraordinary child with superpowers. Jonathan insists on keeping it a secret. On a car trip, they get caught up in a cyclone.
The family manages to escape on time, but Jonathan returns to save their dog trapped inside the car. Jonathan manages to save the dog but does not make it out. Clark blames himself for not being able to do anything to keep his powers a secret. He ventures across the world under various aliases to find a purpose in life. Lois Lane from Daily Planet goes to investigate a Kryptonian spaceship discovered recently. Clark enters the ship and learns his meaning; to guide the people of Earth.
He wears a Kryptonian outfit and tests his flying skills. Lois tries to expose Clark’s identity but drops the idea after hearing about Jonathan’s sacrifice. Kryptonian criminal and renegade General Zod, along with his accomplices, escape a Krypton-based prison, the Phantom Zone. They travel to Earth to turn it into the second Krypton. With his hands on Clark’s gene and the plan to create a second Krypton, Zod visions creating a new race of Kryptonian.
Zod deploys his terraforming machine. One in the Metropolis and the other on the antipode of the city. With the terraforming process, Clark manages to destroy one of the machines. The military launches a suicidal attack, sending Zod’s troop and the ship back to the Phantom Zone. Zod battles against Superman, Clark’s superhero moniker, failing to create what he intended to. They cause heavy collateral damage throughout the city. With lives at stake, Clark reluctantly kills the only other Kryptonian left.
Batman vs Superman (2016)
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: David S. Goyer, Chris Terrio, Bob Kane
Stars: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Release date: 25 March 2016
Batman, the dark knight of Gotham City, has been fighting criminals for the past 20 years. After witnessing the collateral damage caused by the battle between Superman’s battle and General Zod, Bruce Wayne (Batman’s civilian identity) recognizes Superman as a potential threat to humanity. Superman learns of Batman and his way of delivering justice and tries to expose Bruce Wayne. Both attend the same gala organized by genius, billionaire, and philanthropist Lex Luthor. Bruce manages to steal sensitive data from Lex Corps’.
Mainframe but loses the device to Diana Prince, an artifact collector. She returns it after not being able to decrypt it. Batman visualizes a post-apocalyptic world where Superman turns evil. From the sensitive data, Bruce learns about other metahumans on Earth, Diana being one of them. Superman is held in court because his fight with Zod caused damage. A bomb goes off, killing everyone but Superman. He imposes self-exile. Batman breaks into Lex Corp and steals the Kryptonite found after the little terraforming on Earth.
Luthor holds Lois Lane and Martha Kent, hostage. Luthor lures Superman with the hostages and explains how he fuelled distrust among the superheroes. Superman saves Lois. Luthor tells Superman to kill Batman to save Martha. Batman awaits Superman in his armor suit. With ample prep time, Batman manages to overpower Superman with the help of Kryptonite. Lois intervenes as he is about to kill Superman with a Kryptonite spear. Batman realizes that misconceptions about Superman blind him. Batman manages to save Martha.
Luthor executes his backup plan and creates a genetically mutated creature to kill Superman. Diana joins the battle. Superman realizes that the creature has the same weakness as him. He flies back to retrieve the Kryptonite spear while Batman and Diana try to stop the creature. Superman weakened by the radiation, somehow manages to impale the creature with the spear.
The creature dies but not before stabbing Superman with one of its horns. Superman succumbs to the wounds. With Superman’s death, Clark Kent also dies. Bruce and Diana attend Clark’s funeral. Bruce regrets and resents failing the fallen superhero. He asks Diana to help him form a team of metahumans to protect the world in Superman’s absence.
Justice League (2017)
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Chris Terrio
Stars: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Release date: 17 November 2017
Thousands of years ago, Steppenwolf and his army of Para demons tried to conquer Earth with the help of the three Mother Boxes. They are opposed by the Olympian Gods, Amazons, and Atlanteans, which resulted in Steppenwolf’s defeat. The Mother Boxes were separated and hidden in secure places. Two years after Superman’s death which brought Steppenwolf back to Earth, he aims to combine the boxes and use them to terraform Earth in the image of his world.
He gets the first box from the Amazons which alerts Diana Prince. Diana joins Bruce to form a team. Bruce tries to recruit two more metahumans, Arthur Curry and Barry Allen. In contrast, Diana tries to bring Victor Stone. Arthur and Victor decline the offer, but Barry shows tremendous interest. Victor joins the team after his father gets kidnapped by Steppenwolf. Steppenwolf usurps the second Mother Box protected by the Atlanteans.
Arthur agrees to team up with the rest of them. With the third and final box in Victor’s possession, Wayne decides to resurrect Superman. Superman, without his memories, starts attacking the rest of them. He stops after seeing Lois. While they manage to calm down Superman, Steppenwolf steals the final Mother Box. With Superman out of the scenario, the team fights through the Para demons and tries to stop Steppenwolf.
While Batman, Diana, and Arthur hold off Steppenwolf, Victor tries to separate the three mother boxes. Superman flies in to assist Flash in evacuating the locals. He returns to the fight and helps Victor separate the boxes. They succeed while frightened Steppenwolf is attacked by his Para demons.
Snyder’s Cut Justice League (2021)
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Zack Snyder
Stars: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Release date: 18 March 2021
Five thousand years ago, an army led by an alien ruler from planet Apokolips called Darkseid waged war against Earth to conquer it with the help of three Mother Boxes. He was defeated by the combined forces of the old gods, Amazons, Atlanteans, a green lantern, and humans. At present, Superman’s death summons Steppenwolf, Darkseid’s disgraced lieutenant. Steppenwolf seeks to gain Darkseid’s favor by collecting the boxes and forming the Unity.
He attacks Themyscira, the homeland of Diana, and steals the first mother box. Alarmed, Diana seeks Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman’s help. Both of them recruit different metahumans forming the Justice League. Steppenwolf gets his hand on the second mother box guarded by the Atlanteans. Victor Stone, one of the metahumans, explains how his body was reconfigured after an accident with the help of the Mother Box.
Aware of Steppenwolf being notified if they use the box, the League agrees to use the box’s power to resurrect Superman. Meanwhile, Steppenwolf has a vision of the Anti-Life Equation, a secret power sought by Darkseid to control all of existence, and he informs his master. Clark, without his memory, attacks the Justice League after being provoked by Victor’s self-defense system. Lois arrives and calms him down.
He flies back to his hometown with Louis. Without Clark, the team tries to stop Steppenwolf from performing the Unity. They battle through the Para demons. Clark arrives later and easily overpowers Steppenwolf, but Victor fails to stop the Unity. With the Unity formed, Earth is destroyed. Barry manages to enter the Speed Force and travel back in time. With Barry’s previous experience, they can defeat Steppenwolf and stop the Unity.
The Justice League witnessed Darkseid standing on the other side of a portal. He vows to return to Earth to complete the Anti-Life Equation. In the end, a headquarters is formed for the Justice League. Death Stroke visits Lex Luthor, and Bruce finally meets the Martian Manhunter disguised as the Secretary of Defence Calvin Swanwick.
The adaptation of the comic book character into a live-action movie has several reboots. Keeping his origin story the same, there are 12 live-action adaptations of the fictional superhero. Superman’s first theatrical release was on January 5, 1948. The visual effects have come a long way since then. The recent movies show Superman’s power, whereas the older versions are considered classic legacies.
The Lois Lane character has been Played by several talented actresses, including Margot Kidder, Teri Hatcher and Kate Bosworth.
In the 1980s, Superman died on the big screen in two major motion pictures, Superman II and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. This was the first time audiences watched their beloved superhero overcome an enemy threat only to make the ultimate sacrifice. Superman heroically gave his life by using his strength and powers to disarm a nuclear missile, saving the planet from its destruction while perishing himself in the process. To this day, it still serves as one of cinema’s most iconic moments as viewers worldwide mourned for what felt like a real-life loss.
In the 1990s film, Superman returns to the world in a bright blaze of glory after many years away. With Lois Lane by his side, he challenges infamous criminal Lex Luthor over his evil plans. Unfortunately, during the battle, Superman ends up getting killed while heroically flying directly into Lex Luthor’s powerful weapon.
If you’re a fan of Superman movies, deciding on an order to watch them can take time and effort. The first point of order is whether you want to watch them chronologically or in release order. Another consideration comes from 2006’s Superman Returns which has story elements from both parts of Richard Donner’s Superman 1 & 2 from 1978 and 1980 respectively. Whichever way you choose, having fun watching these iconic superhero films should be top priority.
If you want to watch Superman movies, your best bet is to check out streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. These sites offer a wide selection of Superman movies from the numerous films in the franchise. You can also find older titles on DVD or Blu-ray at most major retailers. An alternate option is to rent one of the latest offerings from local video rental stores for a one-time viewing fee.
If you’re looking for a starting point for the Superman universe, your best bet is 1978’s “Superman,” directed by Richard Donner. This is the classic and much-loved version of the Man of Steel, with Christopher Reeve in his most iconic performance as Clark Kent.
When it comes to the big screen, Batman appears to edge out his friendly rival. Whether in a lead or supporting role, Batman has appeared in a total of 22 live-action films that have been released over the decades. Meanwhile, Superman’s 19 live-action releases span across multiple iconic actors such as Christopher Reeve and Henry Cavill. The sheer number of movies alone make it clear that Batman is king when it comes to number of appearances on film.
All Superman Movies According To Highest To Lowest IMDb Ranking
- Snyder’s Cut Justice League (2021) – 8.1 with 368k
- Superman (1978) – 7.4 with 171k
- Man of Steel (2013) – 7.1 with 748k
- Superman (1948) – 6.9 with 1.1k
- Atom Man vs Superman (1950) – 6.8 with 723
- Superman II (1981) – 6.8 with 106k
- Batman vs Superman (2016) – 6.5 with 682k
- Superman Returns (2006) – 6.1 with 280k
- Justice League (2017) – 6.1 with 438k
- Superman and the Mole Men (1951) – 5.6 with 2k
- Superman III (1983) – 5.0 with 69k
- Superman IV (1987) – 3.7 with 48k
There you have all the live-action Superman movies to date. The stories and adventures of the superhero in red and blue are extremely fascinating. One thing to remember- Superman may be famous for his super strength and super speed and all sorts of stuff he can do but one superpower that overshadows all of them is his willpower. “There is a superhero in all of us, we just need the courage to put on the cape”- Superman