Did Superman move the Earth | Superman Blog

Did Superman move the Earth

Superman pulling 1/3 earth

tl;dr:No, there's no evidence that this is what Richard Donner or anyone involved with the movie intended us to believe. Moreover, that explanation does no better job than any other of explaining what we see on-screen, as the on-screen events cannot be from Superman's perspective and still fit with actual physics.

What Happens

Superman flies into orbit and begins flying around the Earth counter-rotationally, reaching his maximum speed in about 8 seconds. During this period, the Earth continues to rotate at its normal speed and direction. Once Supes reaches his maximum speed (as evidenced by the "whoosing" noise he makes), the Earth comes to a complete stop for a few seconds, then begins rotating in the opposite direction. This goes on for ~30 seconds as we see events on Earth "un-happen".

Once he's finished, Supes comes to a complete stop, then begins flying in the direction of normal rotation. During that time, the Earth continues to rotate backwards, until Supes acheives the same rotational speed as he did originally, at which point the Earth then begins to rotate in its correct speed and direction again.

Why it Fails

Lets assume Supes can fly faster than light and assume that doing so would actually allow him to move backwards in time. This is a ridiculously simplified way of looking at general relativity, and almost completely ignores the effects of accelerating and decelerating at relativistic speeds, but it's a movie so lets just pretend.

In that case, as he approached light speed he should see the Earth gradually slow down as time dilation kicks in for him, then as he breaks the speed of light he should see the Earth begin rotating backward, increasingly fast as he moves backwards faster through time. This contradicts what we see on-screen:

  • The Earth does not begin to slow down at all until Supes reaches his maximum speed. It should have already achieved its maximum counter-rotation by then.
  • The Earth is completely stationary for several seconds. It should have appeared stationary only for the precise moment that Supes was moving at exactly the speed of light, and thus time was fixed. Once he kept accelerating, the backwards motion should begin immediately.

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