Reeveverse

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Name: Reeveverse
Abbreviation(s):
Creator: Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster
Date(s): Superman (1978)
Superman II (1980)
Superman III (1983)
Supergirl (spin-off film, 1984)
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Medium: Film
Country of Origin: USA
External Links:
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Reeveverse is the term for the version of the Superman universe set in the films, produced by Alexander & Ilya Salkind, that starred Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent/Superman. It does not include "Superman Returns", a 2006 film that uses the first two films as backstory.

This series began with a promotional campaign and the hook, "You will believe a man can fly". Much publicity focused on Zoran Perisic's innovative "Zoptic" front-projection system that would let Christopher Reeve fly as Superman. Many media releases also followed the quest to cast the Man of Steel and his father, Jor-El (Marlon Brando), and the Salkinds' controversial decision to film two movies at once. Brando receives top billing with Gene Hackman (Lex Luthor).

The first movie (Superman: The Movie, 1979), directed by Richard Donner, from a screenplay by Mario Puzo, opens with the the banishing of three villains, General Zod (Terence Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O'Halloran), into The Phantom Zone, and the total destruction of the planet Krypton. Baby Kal-El arrives on Earth as a toddler and is rescued by a childless, rural couple, Jonathan and Martha Kent (Glenn Ford and Phyllis Thaxton). Young Clark (Jeff East) develops his superpowers, thanks to Earth's yellow sun, creates a Fortress of Solitude from a Kryptonian crystal, and, as an adult, moves to Metropolis to begin work as a journalist at the Daily Planet newspaper, alongside editor Perry White (Jackie Cooper), ace reporter, Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), and young photojournalist Jimmy Olsen (Marc McClure). Lex Luthor, Miss Eve Teschmacher (Valerie Perrine) and bumbling Otis (Ned Beatty) have plans to set off nuclear devices along the San Andreas Fault, creating new beachside real estate which will make him rich. Superman must decide whether to save the life of new love interest, Lois, or the lives of millions of U.S. citizens. Kirk Alyn and Noel Neill make cameos as Lois Lane's parents.

The directing of the sequel (Superman II, 1980) is credited to Richard Lester, who ended up reshooting most of the scenes that Donner had completed. A terrorist bomb sent into space by Superman accidentally releases Zod, Ursa and Non from their Phantom Zone prison. They menace astronauts and cosmonauts on the Moon with their newfound superpowers, then fly to Earth seeking "Planet Houston". They learn that Kal-El, son of their nemesis Jor-El, is now an adult living among the humans and that his loyalties to the people of Earth can be manipulated to grant Zod Supreme Leader status over the planet. Meanwhile, Superman and Lois consummate their love at Niagara Falls. To defeat Zod, who has teamed up with Luthor, Clark must regain the powers he has just forfeited. After a pay dispute with Brando, Jor-El's scripted lines were reshot with his wife, Lara (Susannah York). The movie's U.S. premiere was delayed by six months (screening in June 1981, after many international releases). In late 2006, a new version, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, was created for Blu-ray release. This edition salvages all the previously-disposed Donner footage, incorporates them into the movie, restores the late Brando's role with CGI, and reuses the original climactic ending regarding the rescue of Lois Lane from "Superman: The Movie".

Superman III (1983) takes a more comedic tone - written by David & Leslie Newman and again directed by Lester - pitching Superman against wealthy industrialist siblings, Ross and Vera Webster (Robert Vaughn and Annie Ross), naive computer expert, Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) and ditzy Lorelei (Pamela Stephenson). These villains are original characters, not derived from DC Comics. Superman's interest in Lois is shunted into the background, with Kidder's role reduced to little more than a cameo. The new focus is on reviving Clark's feelings for his Smallville sweetheart, Lana Lang (Annette O'Toole), at a high school reunion. Superman is split into good and evil halves by synthetically-manufactured Kryptonite. A giant computer built by the villains exceeds its programming in its attempt to defeat Superman.

Superman appears only in cameo - as a poster in a student dormitory - in the spin-off movie, Supergirl (1984), which adapts the comic book origins of Superman's younger cousin, Linda Lee/Kara Zor-El of Argo City, which had been thrown into "innerspace" - decades earlier - by the explosion of Krypton. Marc McClure reprises his role as Jimmy Olsen, the only returning character.

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) sees the return of Lex Luthor, who - with his gormless nephew, Lenny (Jon Cryer) - attempts to make a cloned Kryptonian he names Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow; voice of Gene Hackman), just as Superman has rid the Earth of all nuclear weapons. This movie was produced by The Cannon Group, not Alexander & Ilya Salkind. Written by Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal, based on a story by Christopher Reeve, and directed by Sidney J. Furie, the movie was beset by budget troubles and production company takeovers. Lois has a new rival in Lacy Warfield (Mariel Hemingway), daughter of the new owner of the Daily Planet. Much footage was dropped, including the subplots involving the first incarnation of Nuclear Man, a Bizarro-like creature (played by Clive Mantle), and its infatuation with Lacy.

Later movies featuring the Superman characters are much darker in tone.

In 2021, a new DC Comics' mini-series, Superman ’78, continued the adventures of Reeve's version of Superman in Metropolis. The creators honored the specifics of the Richard Donner and Richard Lester films, down to the likenesses of some of the stars (including Marlon Brando as Jor-El and Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane).

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What is now known as the Reeveverse was sometimes originally referred to as the movieverse in fandom, before the DCEU was created.

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