Long before Zack Snyder directed Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman lit the world on fire. A major part of this appeal was due to Christopher Reeve’s earnestly kind portrayal of the Man of Steel, across from Margot Kidder’s hard-edged working girl, Lois Lane. The two had an awkward, but charming chemistry. Superman’s ideals were already “old-fashioned” in the late ’70s, but when he convinced Lois that doing the right thing never goes out of style, he convinced the world.
In a recent interview, Kidder spoke candidly about her feelings concerning the original Superman films versus the current approach of the DC Extended Universe. Although she feels that the newer Superman films are well directed and acted, in her eyes they miss the basic approach of the comics.
When asked how the portrayal of Lois Lane in the DCEU factors into her assessment (via HeyUGuys), Kidder responded candidly:
“They took one of the best American actresses’ around, Amy Adams, and didn’t give her anything to do! I mean, how stupid is that? They made her what used to be the girlfriend, which kind of ended in the 60s with women’s rights.”
It’s unclear if Kidder is discussing Adams’ role in Man of Steel and/or Batman V Superman here. The former gave Lois Lane much more agency and drive, while the theatrical cut of the latter (arguably) relegated her to an edited-into-obscurity subplot that only really makes sense in the film’s 3-hour “Ultimate Edition.”
Considering how many subplots Batman v Superman tried to fit into its running time, it’s likely that the demands of Justice League cameos were more to blame for Adams’ underdeveloped role than antiquated gender politics. The DCEU’s Lois certainly lacks the firecracker sass that made Kidder’s iteration so fun to watch, but fans have complained just as much (or more) about the representation of every other character in the DCEU.
Kidder’s comments point to an ongoing cultural conversation about gender representation in cinema. Her 1978 iteration of Superman’s most important supporting character felt empowered and fully realized. Despite inevitably being dropped off of a lot of buildings, she was an icon of a strong, independent woman, without robbing Superman of his super or his masculinity. Regardless of your feelings about the DCEU, or the 1978 iteration of Superman, this is hopefully something we can all get behind.
Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition are now available in digital, Blu-ray, and DVD formats.
Suicide Squad is now playing in theaters. Wonder Woman opens in theaters on June 2, 2017, followed by Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash, The Batman solo movie, Dark Universe and Man of Steel 2 are currently without a release dates.