1978, directed by Richard Donner
After one hour the movie officially begins. The backstory of Krypton and Superman's upbringing made more sense and worked better when this and Superman II were planned as one epic feature, but those scenes in Smallville with teenage Clark were honestly always some of my favorites. Clark's adolescence is realized with all the prodigy and Americana of a Normal Rockwell painting, and the airy Midwestern cornfields are captured with such scope and quiet presence. Again, this is quite a lot of time spent on exposition and tone, but you have to admire the sheer amount of geek cred. The fact that we see Krypton or Jor-El or Smallville at all is a testament to the respect for the source material. Indeed, all the buildup is totally worth it when Reeve (perfection) finally zips through those revolving doors and Superman emerges. Soon he's in the air and Lois is in his arms. "You've got me? Who's got you!" Classic.
Looking back, now that the superhero film has become a genre of its own, it's amazing how closely the formula adheres to what was established in Superman. Fitting, considering the Man of Steel was equally pioneering in the medium of his birth: the comic book. I've heard before that all films are allegories of their own production life, and though that's probably not a great rule of thumb, it's certainly interesting in this situation. Supes's transition from the panel to screen and influence on both worlds (or any of his cross-media meanderings for that matter) is almost a retelling of his origin story; the son of one race becomes the light of another. Tarantino was spot on in his second Kill Bill film.
Superman's mythos transcends era. There will probably never be a definitive version, but the 1978 movie is definitely my favorite. Truth, justice, and spectacularly superb opening credits