BSP 2014 Advent Calendar: Day 1

Welcome to Bam Smack Pow’s 2014 Advent Calendar!  We wish we could beam you a piece of chocolate for each day you visit the site, but the Internet hasn’t quite advanced that far yet.  So, we’re going to try and give you tasty morsels of information that you can use during Holiday parties.  We all know family gatherings can be a bit awkward, so what better to break the ice than with the opening line, “Did you know that …”

This year’s theme will be Superhero Film Trivia.  We’re going to try and keep it interesting and not use too many from the current Marvel Cinematic Universe or DC Cinematic Universe (if that’s what they’re even calling it).  There’ll be some blockbuster films, and ones that weren’t so popular.  I mean, this is the time of year to be accepting and show good will towards men … and all superhero films.

For the next twenty-five days, We’ll be revealing, in no particular order, trivia from past superhero films.  Make sure to come back each day to see which film we’ll be digging into.  For our inaugural first day, we’re going to look at …

Superman: The Movie (1978)

Superman: The Movie (or Superman) was released on December 15, 1978.  It has been considered by many to be the gold-standard of what a superhero film should be.  I for one have an extreme soft spot for anything Superman, especially Christopher Reeve’s Superman.  How soft might you ask?  Let’s put it this way: my soft spot for the Reeve era Superman makes a down pillow feel like an industrial diamond.  Yeah, these series of films take me to my happy place.

Superman starred Christopher Reeve as the titular Man of Steel, Superman / Clark Kent / Kal-El, Marlon Brando as Jor-El, Susannah York as Lara, Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, Glenn Ford as Jonathan Kent, Phyllis Thaxter as Martha Kent, Jackie Cooper as Perry White, Marc McClure as Jimmy Olsen, Valerie Perrine as Eve Teschmacher, and Ned Beatty as Otis.  The film opened to rave reviews from critics and audiences, and went on to gross $300 million in box office sales.


  • Christopher Reeve was a natural blonde, so the hair and make-up artists used black shoe polish to give him that lustrous Superman-black sheen.  At times, hairdressers also used a wig to make his hair look thicker and fuller because Reeve also suffered from alopecia areata — a condition which causes hair to fall out when the individual is stressed.
  • Director Richard Donner did a cameo as a man who talks to Clark Kent in front of a display of television sets.
  • During screen tests, Christopher Reeve read his Superman lines opposite Holly Palance (daughter of Jack Palance) playing the role of Lois Lane.
  • Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, James Caan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Nolte, Kris Kristofferson, Paul Newman, Warren Beatty, Burt Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Ryan O’Neal, Robert Wagner, Jan-Michael Vincent, David Soul, Jon Voight, and … wait for it … Bruce Jenner were all considered for the role of Superman / Clark Kent.  When Christopher Reeve was suggested by casting director Lynn Stalmaster, Donner and the Salkinds thought he was too young and skinny, and wouldn’t fit the role.
  • Sylvester Stallone wanted to play Superman, but Marlon Brando was against it.
  • Refusing to memorize his lines, Marlon Brando read his monologue from the diaper of baby Kal-El during the departure from Kypton scene.
  • The initial scoring of the main titles had to be recorded twice, as the first take was interrupted by an excited and screaming Richard Donner who thought John Williams’s score was ingenious.
  • Jeff East, who played the teenaged Clark Kent, had his voice dubbed over by Christopher Reeve’s, so as to provide a sort of continuity and consistency with the character.
  • When a young Lois Lane sees a teenage Clark Kent racing the train she’s on, she tells her parents who are seated near her.  Lois’s father is played by Kirk Alyn, who played Superman in Superman (1948), and Lois’s mother is played by Noel Neill, who played Lois Lane in Superman (1948) and Adventures of Superman (1952).
  • During the Lois Lane helicopter rescue scene, Christopher Reeve provides his voice as the air traffic controller.
  • To physically become Superman, Christopher Reeve adopted a high-protein, high-carbohydrate diet, and enlisted the training services of former bodybuilder and weightlifter David Prowse — the man who wore the suit for Darth Vader.
  • Margot Kidder had originally sung Can You Read My Mind, but Richard Donner didn’t like the results, so he had her say the lines instead.  The song would later be performed by Broadway actress Maureen McGovern as a single and apart from the movie.
  • Superman, at the time, had the highest production budget of any film.  It required three years of planning, two years of filming, and at the peak of production, it had over a thousand full-time crew on eleven units spread over three studios and eight different countries.  At the conclusion, over one million feet of film were used.
  • Many cuts of Superman exist.  The original theatrical release was 143 minutes.  In 1981, ABC released a 181-minute cut of the film which was shown as a special event over a two-night period.  In 1994, KCOP in Los Angeles released a 188-minute cut of the film.  All extended cuts have recently been officially remastered and re-released.
  • Superman and Superman II were shot back-to-back, with the intention that Richard Donner would also direct the sequel.  Due to disagreements with the Salkinds, Donner would not return.

Make sure to come back each day because we still have twenty-four more days worth of superhero film trivia for you!

A special thanks to Eric Dufresne for his amazing geometric superhero art that’s being used as the background for the advent calendar.