Jun 192017
Superman 1978 Locations

Been a while. A very long while. Far too long in fact. So here, for the first time in eons, a couple years maybe, make room for another Superman then and now. We used to do them a lot, but have been neglecting the series lately. Anyway, here we take scenes from the 1970s-1980s movie franchise, visit the locations where they were shot and capture photos that in composition match up as close as possible to what was seen on the silver screen.

We’ll look at what’s changed, what hasn’t, have fun doing it, then talk about it briefly here at BIGDoer.com. Come along and relive a memory. This silly little post, we hope, takes you back and stirs up some memories of the film. Writing it sure did for us…we’re sitting in the theatre, the intro starts…pure magic.

Superman 1978 – Earthquake! Written, Researched and Photographed by Chris Doering and Connie Biggart. (BIGDoer/Synd)

The movie series Superman I to IV…unless you’ve been living in a cave you must know of them. They were a big thing in the day, especially the first instalment, which came out in 1978 and was a huge blockbuster. It’s this one we’ll be pulling he scenes from for use in this post.

Scroll down for photos and to comment.

How it plays out…a bit of back story to tie together this then and now…let’s get you up to speed. Evil bastard and Superman arch enemy Lex Luthor manages to gain control of a nuke, hitting the San Andreas Fault and setting off a chain reaction of earthquakes. His plan is to send most of California sliding into the sea in a dastardly scheme which will see large tracts of near-worthless desert property inland, which he coincidentally owns, becoming the new coast. Diabolical! And cha-ching! Waterfront property! …You can’t trust a bald guy.

Daily Planet Reporter Lois Lane, co-worker of Superman’s regular guy incarnation Clark Kent and much admired by him, is driving some California backroad (yeah…California…right) when the missile hits.

Lois has completed a field interview for her paper, and pulls into a service station just as the shaking and quaking ensues. Yikes! With the station buildings collapsing, she makes a dash for it, power poles crashing down all around, the gas station moments later exploding into a ball of flames. Close call there Lois!

Two scenes from this sequence have been duplicated.

Later Lois will have another brush with death and be saved by Superman. But that’s for another time.

While this chapter in the story takes place in “California”, some of the scenes, well the ones documented here at least, were actually shot in Alberta. Specifically, in the Red Deer River Valley just west of Drumheller, home to the famous Alberta Badlands. Funny how a place so disconnected in distance and even topography (nothing in CA seems to look like these formations) can double for somewhere else in a film. That’s Hollywood!

This location took a bit to find. We searched high and low in the valley to locate it, sporadically over several years, but for some reason overlooked this particular stretch of road. Doh! Only a tip from the reader (thanks Edward) pointed us in the right direction. Without his help, we’d still be looking. Or more likely would have given up. Which we sorta had done anyway. In all honestly, we thought the road was no more. Gone!

Overall little has changed from the time they filmed and today. The road has been upgraded and widened a fair deal, but the background is much as it was. The overall differences are all pretty subtle. And it’s been forty years! The gas station has been wiped off the map. But it was only a prop anyway. We found no evidence of it. Interestingly, the second scene is west of the first, meaning as Lois drives away from the gas station explosion, she’s in fact driving towards it again. That’s Hollywood (again), where things play out to suit the story.

Speaking of Alberta. A lot of the (70s/80s) Superman movies were shot in the province, places here doubling for rural Kansas, California as we saw here, Metropolis (so New York City) and many other US locales. Superman is not unique in this case. A lot of other movies have Alberta doubling for somewhere south of the border.

We haven’t run out of Superman locations to shoot these then and now posts, but the supply is dwindling. True, they’re not coming hard and fast as they once did. We’re thinking of revisiting ones we’ve done before, so perhaps there will be a flurry of new activity on this front. We’re getting better at it, so any do-overs should be a great improvement over the first round.

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The now photos were composed in camera with only some cropping to match the movie aspect ratio done in post production. The heavily lifting is done in the field. Line up in camera…do it right…do it proper…make use of the skills God gave us. We usually get good results this way. Still see where I could have lined up a bit better. Oh well.

BTW, images from Superman 1978 are copyright Warner Brothers.

More movie then and now posts…
Brokeback Mountain then and now – Twist Ranch.
Then and now – Wild Horse Hank.
Superman 1978 cemetery scenes – then and now..

If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!

Date: The 1970s and May 2017.
Location: Red Deer River Valley, AB.
Article references and thanks: Edward Cook, Jim Bowers of CapedWonder.com.

Superman 1978 Earthquake

Superman 1978 earthquake scenes, then and now.

Superman Earthquake Scene

…And here, Lois Lane in BIG trouble, and that spot today.


The mighty BIGDoer-mobile is on the scene and is pretty darn super, man.

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