In the movie Superman (1978), Superman flies around the world in one direction to make the Earth go back in time, and then he stops and then flies around the Earth in the opposite direction to restore the Earth back to its normal timeline.

At the moment when the Earth is temporarily back in time, I believe that there is one Superman who is down on Earth who is fixing the damaged San Andreas fault line, and there is another Superman who is up in outer space above the Earth, who is about to start flying again to restore the Earth back to its normal timeline.

Did two Supermans exist at this point in time?

  • I suspect if there were two at any point the future superman seemingly stopped the second missle / earthquake offscreen (?) and then went to Lois Lane. It's sloppy obviously otherwise people wouldn't still be asking right? So as i see it there should permanently be two Supermans because i see no evidence of the earthquake the second time. So then there needs to be an offscreen paradox reconciliation where the past superman fades out. Just speculation on my part. Jul 26 at 23:00
  • 1
    Given how little thought went into this deus ex machina ending, I'd be astounded if the idea of there being a paradox even entered into the writer's process; scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/24116/…
    – Valorum
    Jul 26 at 23:06
  • Having watched the film many times, listened to Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz's audio commentary on the DVD, and listened to their commentary on Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut DVD as well, I don't see any clear indication as to what their intent was in this regard. It's left very much open to interpretation. Personally though, no, I don't think there were ever two Superman in existence at the same point in time. Jul 27 at 2:08
  • To elaborate a bit, I don't think Superman travelled back in time in the usual sense. I think he reversed time on Earth, and did so in such a way that he himself wasn't subject to the effect. Therefore, he wasn't rewound like everyone else was, nor did he create a duplicate of himself who was. By remaining outside of the time reversal 'field,' if you like, he effectively removed himself from the portion of Earth's history that was being rewound. Thus, when he landed back on Earth to greet Lois and Jimmy, he was the only Superman who existed at that point in time. Jul 27 at 2:10
  • @LogicDictates it's hard to treat superman abusing special relativity the same as Dr. Strange using a magic time reverse stone. Jul 27 at 16:57

2 Answers 2


There is really no narratively consistent way to explain what happens, since the movies shows two different and contradictory sets of events happening to Lois Lane on that country road. In one version, she dies; in the other, she is rescued.

However, I think that to the extent that it makes any sense to answer this question, there must indeed have been two Supermans present for a certain period of time. Otherwise, if he was preventing Lois from being suffocated in her car, he could not have been saving people from the floodwaters at the same time.

  • Strongly disagree with the assertion that there must've been two Supermen on Earth at the same time. Knowing that Lois was in danger the second time around, he could just save everyone else faster and get to her earlier. Also, if there really were two Supermen, where did the other one come from? And where did he go afterwards? Jul 27 at 4:48
  • It's not clear to me the earthquake happened at all in the second play of events. I'd argue off screen it makes more sense for the future timeline superman to intercept the missle rather than help more earthquake victims. Your answer implies he's doing extra rescues. Lois isn't rescued from a hole in the ground her car merely runs out of gas. And looking at a clip it seems the gas station was closed so she wouldn't have been able to get gas even in a timeline where the store didn't explode. Jul 27 at 16:53
  • 1
    @lucasbachmann - After Superman lands back on Earth, Lois and Jimmy both mention an earthquake. Also, if you watch the footage of events on Earth being rewound, the only things shown being rewound are Lois' car falling into the ground, the flood, and the dam bursting. This -- combined with the mention of the earthquake -- implies that Superman didn't rewind time all the way back to the detonation of the second missile. Jul 27 at 17:30
  • @LogicDictates thank you for the earthquake correction. Thats the hazard of viewing only clips. Though I'm skeptical no one else got hurt that's real disappointing behavior on superman's part. What if that dam worker is permanently blind?! Superman not going back an extra minute is Jean-Luc Picard level stupidity when he could have undone all of Generations and saved his family. I suppose my head canon is future superman mitigated it to a minor earthquake until forced to reevaluate. Jul 27 at 18:18

Actually, there's no fact on the movie that states that "earth" traveled back in time. It's more plausible to assume that Superman himself traveled back in time moving at hyper velocity against earth rotation, so he arrives in time to save both, flood victims and Lois.

The reason we don't see him again rescuing floodwater victims is just that movie narrative language is strongly against repeating any scene unless you want to encourage just that scene repetition.

In this case, as he is moving backwards in time, not jumping to a previous moment in time, there would not be a second occurrence of himself on earth, as he is "rewinding" time from his personal perspective, not starting a new temporal line.

  • I don't think you can have it both ways. He's physically moving back in time not perspective moving back in time. Jul 27 at 17:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.