The original Superman will always blow away any newcomer for one simple reason, he was here first. It’s attributed to the fact that Christopher Reeves was a great actor, and to the fact that at that time Superman was the absolute end-all of superheroes, but it’s also because the people that remember Superman as a kid tend to believe that there will never be another Superman like him. He was the ideal of what a superhero was supposed to be back then, strong, resolute, and and upstanding citizen despite being an alien that had been sent to earth. The emergence of Superman onto the big screen was a dream come true for a lot of people, especially those that had been following him in the comics for so long.
But then the sequels happened, and despite the success of the second one, kind of, the next few movies made about the man of steel kind of fell flat. His story is a very deep and enriching one if you really look at it, and despite the many criticisms leveled his way Superman is still one of the most popular heroes of today. He’s the top dog so to speak, the guy that can do just about anything. In the film his capabilities were only ever limited by kryptonite and being able to be in the right place at the right time at any given moment. In the films that came after this same thing was made true, which allowed the critics to grow even louder as they deemed that Superman was simply TOO tough and need villains like Doomsday, Darkseid, and others to really give him a challenge, or say Lex Luthor with a cylinder of kryptonite. The point is the criticisms have kind of made sense throughout the years, but they haven’t diminished the feelings of many that the first Superman movie was and will remain the best.
Part of it could be simple nostalgia as people will cling the idea that their favorites in life will always be the best and no one can tell them different. But from a cinematic standpoint one should be able to objectively state that the first movie had no guile or trickery to it when it came to the actual character. There was no wondering just what he was doing as he walked a long, lonely road as he did in Man of Steel, or wonder why nothing had changed about him when he came back in Superman Returns. The first movie gave you the story of how a young Kal-El came to earth, was discovered by the Kent’s, and was then raised to be a good and honest man. There was nothing else in the movie other than the necessities, no mysteries to figure out, no dark side of Superman to worry over, and no complications.
The simplicity of the first Superman and the fact that it was the first actual movie featuring the superhero make this an epic that isn’t about to be topped.