How to Watch Every Superman Movies in Sequence (Chronologically or by Release Date)

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superman movies in order

He is an icon, an alien, and an American who, through his deeds and character, personifies the best aspects of humanity. His blue bodysuit, red cape, boots, and briefs are still instantly recognizable among the expanding cast of comic book characters that mainstream audiences are familiar with more than 80 years after his introduction in Action Comics #1.

Superman continues to be the most potent, recognizable and misunderstood superhero in part because of his image as the ideal superhero. Since being invented by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster all those years ago, the super-quick, super-strong, and invulnerable alien has had his backstory and list of abilities grow to satirical proportions.

The Man of Steel has been adapted into numerous television, radio, and cinema series in addition to more than 1000 issues of Action Comics. Over 2.5 billion dollars have been made by Superman movies dating back to the famous 1978 version over the course of over five decades.

It’s time to chart Superman’s history on the big screen in light of the recent announcement of a new Superman movie in production. The recommended watching order for the uninitiated is the order in which these movies were produced.

Movies About Superman in Release Order

Here are the Superman films in chronological sequence:

  • Superman – December 15, 1978
  • Superman II – June 19, 1981
  • Superman III – June 17, 1983
  • Superman IV: The Quest for Peace – July 24, 1987
  • Superman Returns – June 28, 2006
  • Man of Steel – June 14, 2013
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – March 25, 2016
  • Justice League – November 17, 2017
  • Zack Snyder’s Justice League – March 18, 2021

Superman (1978)

Superman established the bar for superhero movies for decades to come with a plot written by Mario Puzo, who also wrote the novel and the movie The Godfather, music by John Williams (Star Wars), and amazing special effects. In order to reproduce some of the visual effects techniques used in the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey, director Richard Donner worked with the animation crew and cinematographer, Geoffrey Unsworth.

In this origin narrative, Christopher Reeve perfectly captured the fumbling milquetoast Clark Kent and the self-assured, endearing Superman. Krypton, Zod (Terence Stamp), and Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) are also introduced in this episode.

Related: Spider-Man Homecoming Movies: Best Chronological Order to Watch?

Superman II (1980)

Before the release of Superman (1978), the production of Superman II was well underway. Richard Lester took Richard Donner’s position as director during the final phase of filming because of his commitment to the soon-to-be-released Superman movie (The Three Musketeers).

The death of renowned cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth in 1978 further hindered the production. The film is still a direct sequel to Superman, and it includes the Kryptonian enemies who were introduced in that film, as well as Gene Hackman’s comeback.

Superman II: The Donner Cut, a recut of the sequel that better matches Richard Donner’s original concept for the movie, was released in 2006. Both versions will show why Superman II is still one of the greatest superhero films ever produced.

Superman III (1983)

Superman III, the first film in the series without the involvement of Donner, Puzo, or Unsworth, strives to balance the screen time given to Christopher Reeve, Richard Pryor (The Toy), and a villainous Christopher Reeve.

This version is wackier and makes an effort to inject extra humor into the already lighthearted series. In an effort to forge a new direction for the franchise, it does away with the surreal, dream-like presentation of the previous two.

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, the final and shortest film of Christopher Reeve’s run as Superman, follows the Man of Steel on his quest to free the world of nuclear weapons. In a cold war-era frame, Superman sets out to denuclearize humanity as his archenemy Lex Luthor—still played by Gene Hackman—evades capture once more.

In his conflict with Superman, Luthor develops the Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow), a solar-powered soldier. Frankly, the film is not well received and is seen as Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of the character coming to an abrupt end.

Superman Returns (2006)

Since Superman Returns disregards the continuity of the previous two movies and is meant to be a spiritual sequel to Superman and Superman II, it might chronologically come right after Superman II, but you would then have to disregard the subsequent Christopher Reeve movies.

In the movie Superman Returns, after a five-year journey to explore what’s left of Krypton, Superman returns to Earth to find Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) has been let out of jail and is hatching a deadly scheme. Although it was a box office hit, earning close to $400 million in worldwide sales, it was also extremely expensive (costing at least $200 million), making it not very lucrative.

Fans of the movie continue to applaud Brandon Routh’s portrayal of the son of Krypton after getting another look at him in the CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover storyline. Unfortunately, claims of inappropriate behavior against director Bryan Singer and star Kevin Spacey have made Superman Returns more difficult over time.

Man of Steel (2012)

The blockbuster sci-fi extravaganza Man of Steel serves as the first Superman movie of the post-Dark Knight age of superhero movies. Zack Snyder’s (Watchmen, 300) latest film, Man of Steel, marks Henry Cavill’s debut as Superman while showcasing all of his signature aesthetics.

Superman’s science fantasy aspect is celebrated in the first film origin narrative since Superman (1978), which also portrays him more realistically than in earlier works. This more sober adaptation served as an explosive prelude to the planned Snyder-verse thanks to a star-studded cast, a concentrated, evil performance from Michael Shannon, a gorgeous Hans Zimmer score, and mind-blowing visual effects.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2015)

The ambitious sequel to Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, brings new characters to the Snyder universe, including Aquaman (Jason Mamoa), Batman (Ben Affleck), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot).

In Man of Steel, which takes place immediately after the horrific Kryptonian attack on Metropolis, Superman stands alone as a godlike alien who appears suddenly all over the world to save and save people when he is available.

Due to geopolitical concerns, the U.S. government tries to sabotage Superman’s work, and his longtime comic book foe Lex Luthor keeps an eye out for him. Before unleashing Doomsday, an extraterrestrial monster, on Metropolis, Luthor manipulates a late-in-his-career Batman and a recently exposed Superman into a super fight.

Although Affleck isn’t the first deadly Batman, controversy still surrounds the film’s grim tone and killer Batman. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition, a director’s edit that extends the film by an additional 30 minutes, enhances the theatrical release.

Justice League (2017)

The 2017 film Justice League offers Superman another potentially tragic ending. Bruce Wayne sets out to build a team of heroes to fight an approaching extraterrestrial invasion in the weeks after Superman’s passing. Zack Snyder left the project at the conclusion of filming due to tragedy, and Joss Whedon (Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron) took over to complete it.

A jumbled trilogy was produced as a result of the rewrites, reshoots, and Superman’s CGI-edited mustache. This movie’s age is made worse by investigations conducted after its release into Joss Whedon’s behavior on the set and charges of wrongdoing made by numerous Justice League cast members, as well as by the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

Before Snyder left at the start of post-production, some fans started pleading to see Snyder’s initial concept for the movie because Justice League (2017) was so dissimilar from earlier footage provided for marketing material.

And in 2020, HBOMax stated that they will permit Snyder to complete and release Zack Snyder’s Justice League after Warner Bros. had previously refused for a number of years. Viewers got to see Superman’s resurrection in a brand-new way in 2021.

The Kryptonian who gave his life at the end of Batman v Superman is at peace as the guardian of Earth when he first faces the New Gods. Even though he doesn’t show up until approximately halfway through the film, his absence feels like a character in and of itself.

He still steps in to rescue the day, not just with the might of his extraterrestrial prowess, but also by serving as the role model who motivated the people of Earth to join him in the battle to preserve the world.

Related: How to Orderly Watch the DC Films (Chronologically and by Release Date)


Now that you are aware of the order of each Superman movie, we hope you have enjoyed reading the blog. Superman has appeared in numerous Superman films produced by Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Comics.

These films depict Superman’s beginnings, his battles with villains like Lex Luthor, various foes he has faced over the years (like Darkseid), and how he always manages to save the day. Superman continues to save lives in Justice League despite appearing in multiple films to date (2021).

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