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The 50 greatest Superman moments

Fight For The Soul

The Moment: Superman 3's stand-out setpiece sees a divided hero fighting for his own soul, as Clark Kent splits away from the 'evil' Superman for a pitched battle in a car scrapyard.

Why It's Great: Not only a surreal and distinctive scene, it's a reminder that, for all of Superman's alien powers, it's his warm, raised-as-a-human qualities which truly make him Super.

The Death Of Superman

The Moment: This 1961 comic strip imagines that Lex Luthor finally gets his way and kills Superman by capturing him in an outer-space laboratory and poisoning him with a kryptonite ray.

Why It's Great: It's the first attempt to kill off Superman, although Action Comics was quick to assure the public that the story was non-canonical, describing events as "An exciting three-part imaginary novel (which may actually never happen, but then again may!) full of astounding surprises!"

The Death Of Superman… Again

The Moment: Doomsday, a violent creature from Krypton's past, arrives on Earth. Superman stops him but at the cost of his own life, in a 1992 comic series known as The Death Of Superman.

Why It's Great: The comic sensation of the early 90s, this long series (which ultimately ended with Superman's resurrection) was designed - as its creators put it - because "the world was taking Superman for granted, so we literally said 'let's show what the world would be like without Superman."

The Beginning

The Moment: The publication on 18th April 1938 of Action Comics #1 saw the birth of several new superheroes: Zatara Master Magician, Tex Thompson, and some guy from outer space known as Superman.

Why It's Great: The single most influential comic in history, its impact is still felt today. No wonder a pristine copy of the issue can fetch over $2 million.

Rings Around The World

The Moment: A distraught Superman is too late to save Lois Lane - or is he? Using the full extent of his powers, he breaks his father's rules to turn back time by flying really, really fast around the Earth.

Why It's Great: The perfect example of Superman: The Movie's sense of scale, as we move from the micro (via the moving anguish of Reeve's grief) to the macro.

Reversal Of Fortune

The Moment: The climax of Superman 2 sees a weakened Superman forced, finally, to kneel before Zod... Except he's switched the power drain in the Fortress of Solitude. Actually, it's Zod and his cronies who have lost their powers.

Why It's Great: A new definition of sleight-of-hand, as Zod suddenly discovers that Kal-El has a bone-crushing super-grip.

Kneel Before Zod

The Moment: General Zod (Terence Stamp) seizes control of the White House in Superman 2, where he learns of Kal-El's existence on Earth. His demand, made via a television broadcast, is simple: "Kneel before Zod!"

Why It's Great: The most quoted line of any Superman movie is also the point where the stakes are raised: Superman no longer has the advantage over his enemies. Indeed, given he's voluntarily given up his powers, he's at a considerable disadvantage.

Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?

The Moment: Lois Lane recounts the last ten years of Superman's life, in a two-part flashback story published by DC Comics in 1986.

Why It's Great: Devised as the coda to the 'Silver Age' of Superman comics before its reboot, it stands as a memorable end to the character's mythos, and an obvious source should Zack Snyder's franchise ever need a conclusion.

Step Outside

The Moment: His powers restored, Superman returns to Metropolis in Superman 2 to pick a fight with General Zod. Talk about making an entrance - he hovers outside the Daily Planet to ask, "General, would you care to step outside?"

Why It's Great: On the one hand, Superman is politeness personified. On the other, an enraged Zod revisits his favourite line by snarling, "Kneel before Zod!" The battle lines are drawn right there.

Hero

The Moment: Less than a year after the tragic accident that disabled him, a wheelchair-bound Christopher Reeve appears at the 1996 Oscar ceremony to make a speech about Hollywood's need to tackle important subjects.

Why It's Great: Never mind Superman. With grace, humour, courage and humility ("I wouldn't have missed this kind of welcome for the world") Reeve proves that you don't need superpowers to be a hero.