It's an often lampooned scene towards the end of Superman, when the titular Superman discovers Lois has died, he flies around the world very fast in the opposite direction to its spin.

This apparently causes the Earth to slow down and spin backwards which seems to have the effect of "turning the clock back" and time begins to run in reverse. We've all laughed at the notion that spinning the Earth in the opposite direction could somehow cause time to run backwards.

However, it occurred to me that what might actually be happening is that Superman himself is flying backwards through time. We are simply seeing the world from Superman's point of view (or at least it's the movie's way of telling us "We're going back in time"), and of course if Superman is travelling back in time the world would appear to spin in reverse.

Is this what we're supposed to take from this scene? Has it been discussed by the creators of the movie? And if not, is it a commonly held fan theory?

  • could be related : movies.stackexchange.com/questions/94586/…
    – Vishwa
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 10:10
  • @Vishwa different continuity
    – Ankit Sharma
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 11:00
  • Duplicate on SciFi: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/24116/…
    – Chris
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 12:06
  • 7
    Turning back time, as depicted in the movie, seems to be indeed tied to Earth's rotation because once time has reversed far enough back, Superman stops and then flies in the opposite direction to restore Earth's original spin direction and make time move forward again. - If the time travel was only tied to his speed, then all he had to do was stop and time would automatically move forward again, there would be no need for him to fly in the opposite direction. - Watch the scene on Youtube
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 21:34

1 Answer 1


Nothing in the movie itself or in any interview it was ever suggested like this. Even speculated same in this What If xkcd

Superman wasn't exerting a force on the Earth. He was just flying fast enough to go back in time. (Faster than light, I guess? Comic book physics.) The Earth changed direction because we were watching time run backward as he traveled. It didn't actually have anything to do with the direction he was flying.

Now that I see it, it makes a lot more sense. I mean, as much sense as a red-cape-and-outside-underwear time traveler can make.

But it's like giving logic to something which was never suppose to have any logic.

Even covered in similar question in sister site with top answer saying the same words with descriptive explanation with the final words:

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.

  • 1
    Please edit your answer to replace "this", "it", and so forth with some actual nouns. As it stands, it's hard to figure out whether you're arguing for or against the speed-of-light theory.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 20:20
  • I don't believe this answer is correct for the reason Oliver_C pointed out in his comment to the question. Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 21:19
  • when i was a kid i was dumb enough to believe that whatever i saw in the movies or read in comic books or tabloids was basically true. i was surrounded by dumbass adults who were only slightly more skeptical. i had a third grade teacher who, i forget, thought the soviets made it to moon before the USA and/or they had faster-than-light spacecraft. i am hoping for their sake they were just pulling my leg sometimes at least. but i really think they did not know themselves. that's why there's qanon.
    – releseabe
    Commented Sep 28, 2022 at 22:42

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