Readers Have BATMAN '66 and WONDER WOMAN '77 - What About SUPERMAN '78?

Christoper Reeve as Superman
Christoper Reeve as Superman
Credit: Warner Bros.
Credit: Mike Allred (DC Comics)

In Batman '66 and Wonder Woman '77, DC has found success reviving the fan-favorite television universes of Batman and Wonder Woman from their self-titled TV shows.

So isn't it about time the publisher gave the same treatment to one of the best superhero film portrayals of all time - the 1978 Superman: The Movie as Superman '78?

Not only do the Batman '66 and Wonder Woman '77 titles - and their recent crossover - scream for DC to add the third part of the Trinity already, but their success proves that readers would be receptive to a Superman '78 revival.
 

Most Influential

There have been compelling arguments made about the influence of the 1960s Batman series on the success of the Batman franchise. Although it only ran for two and a half seasons, the 120 half-hour episodes of Batman - starring Adam West and Burt Ward - were frequently aired as syndicated re-runs in the following years. The time-slots for re-runs of the campy, joke-filled episodes were often targeted to the young, late-Baby Boomer generation, making Batman a household name for decades to come.

And Lynda Carter's portrayal of the title character in the '70s TV show Wonder Woman has influenced how the characters is written in comic books and other appearances. While the humor of the Batman series was later countered by high-profile comic books and movies, Wonder Woman's image hasn't changed much in the mainstream world since Carter's TV show educated an entire generation about the heroine.

But it can easily be argued that no other superhero portrayal outside comic books has been as influential as Christopher Reeve's stint as Superman in the 1978 Superman: The Movie and its sequels. More than 35 years later, movie pundits often cite the film as being the first modern superhero film, crediting its origin-and-love-story structure with establishing the style of the now-popular genre. And comic book  images of Superman still sometimes resemble Christopher Reeve, his portrayal of the hero being so iconic among superhero fans.

Even beyond the nearly impossible-to-measure influence on film overall, Newsarama has outlined how director Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie specifically impacted Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, and Geoff Johns, who co-runs the DC Films division of Warner Bros.

These two have creative control over most of Hollywood's superheroes, and their careers literally started because they were Richard Donner/Superman fans - getting intern positions at the office shared by Donner and his movie producing wife, Lauren Shuler Donner. Johns even co-wrote Action Comics with Richard Donner for awhile in the mid-2000's, using Chris Reeve as the model for the art by Gary Frank and telling stories reminiscent of the film made famous by Donner in 1978.
 

Credit: Cat Staggs (DC Comics)

Comic Book Ready

That co-produced comic by Johns and Donner - which was among DC's best-selling titles at the time - just proves that Chris Reeve's image and the Donner approach to Superman still ring true with audiences today.

Reeve's portrayal of Superman - and his bumbling, hidden-while-still-in-plain-sight version of Clark Kent - is still considered by many long-time fans the most iconic live action version of the character, one that stayed true to Superman's comic book roots while also feeling very grounded and real.

In fact, some might argue that DC already has a version of Superman '78 — part of Reeve's Superman lives on in the pages of the in-continuity Superman who stars in all DC's comic books.

Yet if there's anything Batman '66 and Wonder Woman '77 have proven, it's that the readers respond to an expansion of the universes they already know and love. And the universe of Superman: The Movie has plenty of room to grow.
 

What's Holding It Back?

There might be a couple reasons DC isn't moving forward with a Superman '78 book. One is the question of legality. Because Christopher Reeve and his wife are both deceased, it could be an issue of likeness with his estate - something which held Batman '66 back for a time. Can his image, even his image in a role he played for Warner Bros., be used for other money-making enterprises?

One of the strongest arguments in favor of Wonder Woman '77 has been the response from Lynda Carter herself - as she's not only mentioned the comic book in interviews, but has met series writer Marc Andreyko and indicated her support of the comic.

Most fans would choose to believe that Reeve would offer similar support - after all, he appeared as a recurring and important character in Smallville, the company's later project starring a young, not-quite-in-tights Superman. And his foundation - The Reeve Foundation, which is still active today in its support of spinal cord injury research - had previously enjoyed a friendly relationship with Warner Bros.

Credit: DC Comics

And perhaps one of the legal sticking points could be overcome if DC would make the Foundation part of the process somehow. A portion of the proceeds? A page of advertising in the comic book? Something else that establishes a bond between the legacy of Christopher Reeve as Superman and the important work he supported during his lifetime?

So why not, DC? How about giving it a try? Let Superman '78 honor the legacy of Christopher Reeve as Superman and take it flying even higher and further than it even did in the movies.

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