As one of the first superheroes to ever exist, Superman is still one of the most iconic comic book characters of all time. Since his debut in Action Comics #1 in 1938, his blue bodysuit, red cape, and briefs are still instantly recognizable among the growing list of comic book characters. If you have a huge chunk of time to spare for a movie marathon, there’s no better character to follow in the movies than Supes.
Superman films can be divided into three categories: The Christopher Reeve era (1978-1987), Brief Rebirth (2006), and the Snyderverse (2013-2021?). The Reeve era saw the release of four Superman films, the brief rebirth of one film, and the Snyderverse two standalone films and three other feature films (i.e., Justice League and Zack Snyder’s Justice League).
So, in total, there are 10 official Superman movies & apperances. These are far from the last appearances of Clark Kent on the big screen. There are plans for more Superman films in the future, which we’re all eager to see soon.
This article will chronologically list all Superman movies that have been released over the years as well as mention other movies where he’s made an appearance. So read on to get the full scoop.
All ‘Superman’ movies in release date order
As we’ve said before, Superman has had appearances in numerous forms of media, including movies, live-action series, animated series, etc, However, only seven of those movies are considered standalone appearances, and due to that, we decided to list them in the order that they were released in.
- ‘Superman’ (1978)
- ‘Superman II’ (1980)
- ‘Superman III’ (1983)
- ‘Superman IV: The Quest for Peace’ (1987)
- ‘Superman Returns’ (2006)
- ‘Man of Steel’ (2013)
- ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ (2016)
- ‘Justice League’ (2019)
- ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ (2021)
- ‘The Flash’ (2023)
Are all of Superman’s movies & appearances connected? What’s the best way to watch them?
Only some of the Superman movies are connected. As we’ve mentioned before, Superman films can be divided into three categories: The Christopher Reeve era (1978-1987), Brief Rebirth (2006), and the Snyderverse (2013-2021?). You can start with whatever era you like, but our recommendation is, if you’re up for a marathon, to watch the movies in their release date order. It’s the best way to see the evolution of the character throughout the years.
Movies featuring Superman in chronological order
Due to Superman’s standalone movies being comprised of several separate universes, there really isn’t an “in-universe’ chronology that you need to watch out for. However, the movies belonging to the aforementioned Superman eras should be watched in their release orders because they follow the chronology of that specific universe. Now let’s see the most optimal chronological watch order of Superman’s movies.
1. ‘Superman’ (1978)
The words iconic and legendary are usually associated with this film that, ’s widely acknowledged as paving the way for the other films that followed. The film changed the character forever, and its groundbreaking special effects are still somewhat relevant to date.
The actor who portrayed Superman, Christopher Reeve, seemed like a character plucked from the ages of the comics. He plays Clark Kent and Superman as two different characters. His version of Clark Kent is clumsy, nervous, and unsure, while as Superman, he stands tall and talks in a deep voice, making him an imposing figure.
The film follows the all-too-familiar Superman story. Jor-El of the planet Krypton sends his son Kal-El on a spaceship to Earth. Jonathan and Martha Kent raise Kal-El in their small farmhouse. Young Clark discovers he has superhuman powers and moves to Metropolis, where he must fight evil in the form of Lex Luthor.
2. ‘Superman II’ (1980)
Superman was an extremely popular character that Richard Donner actually filmed a sequel to while simultaneously filming the first movie discussed above. However, due to tensions between him and the producers, production on this second film was stopped to finish the first.
After completing the first film, Donner was fired, and Lester was brought on to complete ‘Superman II,’ which he mostly resorted to despite the film being 70% complete. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s similar to the ‘Justice League’ incident.
In the film, Supes is forced to stop terrorists by flying their nuclear device into outer space. He returns to Earth and renounces his powers to live a normal life as Clark Kent with his new girlfriend, Lois Lane.
However, the explosion from the bomb sends shockwaves that free the Kryptonian villains, General Zod, Ursa, and Non, from their imprisonment in the Phantom Zone. These villains threaten the planet with destruction. Can Superman find a way to stop them?
3. ‘Superman III’ (1983)
While this third installment in the Superman film series has its fans, most people agree that this is where the quality began taking a hit. This is largely due to off-screen troubles between the producers and actors. The film features a large tonal shift from the two previous movies and is much crampier with some not-so-comedic moments.
In the film, Gus Gorman, who is a computer programmer, is hired by financial tycoon Ross Webster to take control of a weather satellite and destroy Colombia’s coffee crop. Superman stops their plan, but Webster has more sinister plans. He orders Gorman to use the satellite to find Kryptonite to destroy Supes. Gorman replaces the Kryptonite with tar. When exposed to this synthetic Kryptonite, Superman is literally split into two.
4. ‘Superman IV: The Quest for Peace’ (1987)
This final installment of the Superman series, played by Christopher Reeve, has gone down in history as one of the worst comic book movies in history. Instead of going out with a bang, this incredible run of Superman films is anticlimactic. The movie’s plot is weak, based on eliminating all nuclear weapons worldwide.
As the U.S. and Soviet Union are in a nuclear arms flex that could destroy the world, Superman collects all nuclear warheads and tosses them into space. Lex Luthor breaks out of prison and clones Superman with radioactive material to create a Nuclear Man who is just as powerful as Superman.
5. ‘Superman Returns’ (2006)
After ‘The Quest for Peace,’ the franchise took a break that lasted for almost two decades. The movie returned in the form of ‘Superman Returns’ in 2006, and it serves as a sequel to ‘Superman II,’ ignoring the previous two movies.
Lex Luthor hatches a ploy to eliminate Superman once and for all. Superman travels for five years to see what remains of his homeworld, Krypton. He returns to a world that has changed a lot. Lois Lane has moved on with her life, and the world has learned to cope without Superman. Superman is forced to find a way to reconnect with Lois and rediscover his place in a world that may not need him anymore.
6. ‘Man of Steel’ (2013)
After the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC made plans to start a universe of their own, the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Directed by Zack Snyder, the film features all of his trademark grit and introduces the actor Henry Cavill as Superman.
With the imminent destruction of Krypton, Jor-El and his wife are forced to send their infant son to Earth. The infant’s spaceship lands on the farm of Jonathan and Martha Kent, who raise him as their own. His extraordinary abilities have led to the adult Clark Kent living on the fringe of society. He discovers that he must become a hero to save those he holds dear.
This movie sees the introduction of Kryptonian prisoners General Zod and his companions, who want to take over Earth. It’s up to Supes to stop them.
7. ‘Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice’ (2016)
Following Man of Steel, this second film in the DCEU shows how the world is split because of Superman. While some believe they have a hero who would fight tooth and nail to save them, others believe Superman is a disaster waiting to happen, and he’ll only attract more destruction to Earth.
Two years after Superman’s incredible battle with Zod destroyed Metropolis, the loss of life and collateral damage angered a lot of people. One is Bruce Wayne, who formulates a plan to end Superman’s reign on Earth and almost succeeds. Lex Luthor, on the other hand, launches his vendetta against Superman.
8. ‘Justice League’ (2017)
Possibly one of Superman’s most controversial films yet, this movie was released to much criticism from fans and critics alike. Zack Snyder left the film during post-production after his daughter’s death, and Joss Whedon took over. He heavily rewrote and reshot the film in several scenes and created a hostile work environment, which is one of the reasons why the quality of the film is subpar, to say the least. I won’t go into the events of this movie because most fans prefer the Snyder cut of the Justice League, released in 2021.
9. Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
I’d recommend skipping the 2017 version of the Justice League and instead advise you to watch Snyder’s infinitely better and longer director’s cut released in 2021.
In the weeks after Superman’s death, Bruce Wayne sets out on a mission to assemble a group of superheroes to help him defeat an alien invasion led by Steppenwolf and ordered by the infinitely powerful Darkseid. The Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg are part of the team he assembles. However, Steppenwolf and his minions are too much for them to handle.
The team realizes they have to resurrect Superman if they are to stand a chance against the alien invasion. Viewers witnessed Superman’s resurrection in a new light after the first Justice League film. Eventually, Superman swoops in to save the day.
Unlike the theatrical cut, this version is well-balanced and vastly improves on the flaws of the original. It feels like an entirely new movie.
10. ‘The Flash’ (2023)
Well, this isn’t technically a Superman movie but it definitely features the highest number of Superman characters due to various former Superman actors appearing in it. ‘The Flash’, starring controversial Ezra Miller, was supposed to be the first stand-alone movie of one of the most popular DC characters. Instead, it turned into a massive box office bomb due to Ezra and DCEU being practically a dying universe.
But I digress. ‘The Flash’ tried to win over the fans and the critics alike with a pretty obvious fan service featuring multiverse and previous incarnations of Superman. The movie features Cavill’s Superman, Reeve’s Superman (which was highly controversial, Cage’s Superman and Reeves’ Superman.
Where to watch all the movies featuring Superman?
‘Superman,’ ‘Superman II,’ ‘Superman III,’ and ‘Superman IV: The Quest for Peace’ can be watched via Amazon or Google Play Movies & TV service. ‘Superman Returns,’ ‘Man of Steel,’ ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,’ ‘Justice League,’ ‘Snyder Cut,’ and ‘The Flash’ can be watched on Max, which is universally known to be as the home of DC-based movies.
Will there be more Superman movies?
There will be more movies featuring Superman. Following the fiasco with DCEU, James Gunn and Peter Safran decided to completely reboot the character in their upcoming DCU and announced the upcoming movie ‘Superman: Legacy.’ Gunn announced they would look for a younger actor to play the role in this movie and in future DCU projects, so Cavill was officially out as Superman.
‘Superman: Legacy’ will allegedly feature a younger Clark Kent as he tries to balance his life as Superman with his life as a reporter for the Daily Planet. Yeah, we know, it sounds pretty simple for a Superman movie.’ Superman: Legacy’ will feature a younger Clark Kent as he tries to balance his life as Superman with his life as a reporter for the Daily Planet. Yeah, we know, it sounds pretty simple for a Superman movie. ‘Legacy’ is supposed to hit theaters on July 11, 2025.