A rousing big-budget spectacle of the highest order, 1978's Superman succeeds thanks to its snappy pace, a witty script and a slew of memorable performances. Director Richard Donner wanted an unknown for the tricky title role; Christopher Reeve fits the bill with a finely nuanced performance, poking fun at the Superman mystique without diminishing its power. The reliable Gene Hackman steals just about every scene he's in as smarmy archenemy Lex Luthor. In a smaller but no less memorable role, Marlon Brando was reportedly paid close to $4 million dollars for his ten-minute cameo as The Man of Steel's father. Superman proved to be another hit for Donner, following 1976's The Omen; the film would inspire three sequels of descending quality (though many argue that the second installment is in fact superior to this one).