There was no way to know back in the late 1970s what superhero movies would become over the decades that followed. Instead, Richard Donner talked about what comic book characters like the Man of Steel meant to him growing up. As he explained, when he was a child during WWII, his parents were “so depressed” and “the world needed heroes.” Because of this, Superman became very important in his life, much like the superhero would come to resonate with so many others thanks to Donner’s 1978 movie. The filmmaker noted:
“It’s so hard to talk about it. Because it’s become so big. I never thought for a moment that it would when we were making it. We were just making a picture. A film on a subject that nobody was really paying much attention to.”
When he was hired to direct “Superman” and its sequel back to back, Donner wasn’t happy with what he was presented with in terms of the screenplay. The film’s early script draft had been written by Mario Puzo (“The Godfather”), with additional revisions by Robert Benton and David and Leslie Newman. It was also much too campy for Donner’s tastes, which is why he recruited his friend Tom Mankiewicz, who had penned several James Bond films, to fix it. Ultimately, however, Mankiewicz was only given a creative consultant credit for his work due to issues with the Writers Guild of America.