"Never underestimate the power of computers." - ROSS WEBSTER
Superhero movies have been with us almost as long as there have been superhero comics. In the early days, they echoed the comic book format by being made in the form of serials which told the open-ended tales of heroes like Captain Marvel, Batman, Captain America and Superman, who incidentally was the subject of the first full-length superhero movie, Superman and the Mole Men, in 1951. Beyond that, stories about men in capes and costumes seemed better suited to the small screen, where the Adventures of Superman flourished in the '50s and a campy take on Batman did the same in the '60s, itself spawning a big-screen adaptation. Then came the '70s, which saw more TV series like Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk and insufficiently funded TV movies like The Amazing Spider-Man, a pilot that led to a short-lived series, and non-starters like Dr. Strange and Captain America which were decidedly underwhelming on the level of spectacle.
The main problem with these productions was, with their limited TV budgets, none of them could hope to duplicate the feats that their characters regularly did on the page -- at least not without looking totally ludicrous in the process. Then came 1978's Superman: The Movie, which showed that all you had to do was spend a little money (a little being roughly $55 million) and you could believe that a man could fly. In the wake of fantasy and science fiction blockbusters like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman showed that comic book heroes also had a place at the table, even if the man from Krypton was pretty much the only game in town for the next decade. In the meantime, there were sequels (and money) to be made and since original director Richard Donner was out of the picture, having burned his bridges with producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler, they needed to find a substitute and fast.