Richard Donner's 'Superman'

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Earlier this month, to mark the opening of Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman, Stephen Galloway at the Hollywood Reporter talked to filmmaker Richard Donner about the crazy backstory behind the making of the original Superman movie.

 Superhero movies are kind of a big thing these days, and the origin story of the cinematic Superman, which was a major hit when it opened in 1978, was so entertaining that we thought the only thing better than reading it would be to hear Donner tell it himself. And so he did, when we visited him at his home in the Hollywood Hills.

When Donner got involved with the project through producer Alexander Salkind, Marlon Brando had already agreed to play Superman's father Jor-El. Donner would cast a then-unknown Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel and Margot Kidder as reporter Lois Lane. She knows Superman, of course -- but only as the unassuming Clark Kent.

Donner is the veteran director of the Lethal Weapon movies, starting with the original in 1987. Just about a decade earlier, his Superman turned out to be the most expensive film of its time, with a budget that blew past $50 million. But Superman was a big hit that won a special award from the Motion Picture Academy for groundbreaking visual effects.

However, getting there was far from easy as Donner, now 86, explained.