We ❤ Design: Superman Title Sequence

We Heart Design is a new series of articles on Designify website aiming to inspire designers by showing selections of remarkable design pieces from the past and the present. This new series is inspired by the “I Heart Design” book edited by Steven Heller.

The first significant piece is the Superman Title Sequence selected by Brian Collins and was designed by Richard Greenberg.

“This is no fantasy – no careless product of wild imagination … No, my friends, these are matters of undeniable fact.” So speaks Marlon Brando in the first minutes of Richards Donner’s 1978 film, Superman. 


superman title sequence

“The design of the opening credits delivered on this promise, instantly transforming a dusty children’s comic into a stirring American myth. In a blaze of flying blue typography amplified by John William’s thundering, triumphant score, Superman arrives as a hero of epic proportions.” – Collins writes.  “In mere seconds, this design accomplishes a major feat. Beyond setting the tone for what is to come by establishing a new emotional expectation for the audience, the opening sequence sends a very clear message that this Superman has gravitas.

It does so by honoring its subject’s origins with a black and white shot of a tattered comic book from the Great Depression. It grounds the story in what the audience knows. Next, it connects it to the present day and achieves verisimilitude via a flyover shot of the Daily Planet headquarters. Finally, as the audience soars through the stars about our hero’s story as the only son from another realm – its mythic power.

Great myths momentarily lift us into another plane of existence so we can see the world – and our own lives – with fresh eyes. And the design of these credits does just that – revealing timeless meaning to this story while also keeping it fresh. As designers often charged with reinventing companies and their products, this is a road map my team and I often use in our own work. This is a fine example of how revisiting a story’s origins can revitalize its future. The movie’s ad campaign exclaimed, “You’ll Believe a Man Can Fly!” Well, sure. But by the end of this sequence, we believe we can fly, too. And that is no careless product, indeed.”

photo credit: Art of the Title

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