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Superman was once trained by Darth Vader – no, seriously

Superman is one of the world's greatest heroes, but it turns out that he was trained by one of the best movie villains we've ever seen on screen. No joke.

Superman and Darth Vader

Now that we know who the new Superman actor is, we’re feeling a little nostalgic. Sure, we love Henry Cavill as the DCU‘s Man of Steel, but we’ll always have a place in our heart for Christopher Reeve’s take on Clark Kent in the original Superman movies.

The actor, who sadly passed away in 2004, became known as one of the best portrayals of the Kryptonian in all of the DCU, and made a big impression based on his ability to switch seamlessly from the nerdy Daily Planet writer to the world’s greatest hero in the superhero movies.

The problem was that Reeve, who was 6 feet, 5 inches and 170 pounds, didn’t exactly resemble Superman on a physical level when he first auditioned. So after he secured the part, director Richard Donner was adamant that something be done to make Reeve appear larger and more superhero-like.

To get this done, he made a phone call to the one and only Darth Vader. No, not James Earl Jones. We’re talking about David Prowse, the man behind the iconic black mask and cape in the Star Wars movies. (After all, why not pair up humanity’s savior with one of the best movie villains of all time?)

In fact, Prowse had more or less only just stepped out of the role when he got the call to come and help Reeve get into shape. A bodybuilder and weight-training instructor, Prowse seemed to be the perfect man for the job.

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“He was fantastic. He was a very lovely person,” Prowse said when describing Reeve [via The Hollywood Reporter]. “We were like brothers, we got along so well together. And during the course of the period I had him, I took him from 170 pounds when we started and he was 212 [pounds] when he went into the suit.”

Originally, a padded suit was created for the purpose of making the actor appear larger, but Reeve wanted to be the real deal. So he embarked on a regimen which involved eating four meals a day consisting of a high meat and protein diet with vitamin pills.

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You can get a more in-depth look at Reeve training for the role of Superman in the above behind the scenes video for the 1978 movie.

“The thing is, on this part particularly, you have to start from the outside and work in,” Reeve said of the process. “You can do all the interior work you want to do, and it still isn’t going to get you to Superman if you don’t have the physical strength to go with it.”

Superman is one of our favorite DC characters, and we’ve got a lot to say about him. See our guide on the DC movies in order, and our take on all the Superman actors ranked. Plus, we answer the question: is The Flash faster than Superman?

For all the new movies surrounding DC’s Gods and Monsters slate, check out our guides to the Aquaman 2 release dateBlue Beetle release date, and The Brave and the Bold release date. Plus, take a look at our list of the best movies of all time!