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It’s now easy to believe a man can fly. It wasn’t in 1978, but today, in midst of an explosion of superhero movies, it’s a belief we give into with relative ease. Flight is most often the bare minimum of what we expect from heroes and villains who can perform any feat limited only by the human imagination. It’s not simply special effects that permit our belief, but rather an overall acceptance that these costume-clad characters are a defining part of our culture, modern myths at their best and populist cinematic staples akin to the 20th century western at their lowest form. There have been a record nine theatrically released superhero movies based on comic books this year alone, each claiming a major piece of the global box office. That doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon, maybe not ever. Superhero movies are here to stay. But there was a time when there were none. And then in 1978 there was one.

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