There might not be a more recognizable superhero than Superman. The character has been around since the 1930s and is arguably more popular today than ever before. That doesn’t mean that the world is not starting to embrace all superheros on a mainstream level. When it comes to superheroes in 2015, it is Marvel that has had a stranglehold over the world. With hit films such as The Avengers, and even less likely candidates like Ant-Man doing well, it is clear that the world has stated that superheroes are in fact, cool.
One of the lone heroes in the DC cabinet was the Batman franchise that was brilliantly handled by Christopher Nolan. When it comes to Superman the films are not as well received. DC is hoping for a turnaround in 2016 with Batman V Superman being scheduled to be one of the biggest films of the upcoming year.
Regardless of box office success, there is no doubt that when people think about superheroes, Superman is still one of the leading candidates. If you weren’t convinced already, just factor in that “Super” is literally built right into his name.
Superman has had a following on radio, television, newspapers as well as in cinema and has even helped inspire some musical numbers throughout his legacy. There has been a lot written and shown about Superman throughout his 70+ year run as one of the most prominent faces in the comic book world, but even if you think you know everything, you may still come across some surprises. Here are 20 things that you might not know already know about the Man of Steel.
20. It’s Not An S
While it can be easy to look at Superman’s chest and think that the S stands for Superman, it is not the case. As best summed up by the most recent film, the symbol stands for hope and is a reminder of his home planet. This is also backed up in other mediums, such as the 1978 film, as well as the most recent Man Of Steel, in which the symbol is seen on Superman’s father Jor-El. That being said, it may be interesting to note that making the S on your chest is how you symbolize Superman in ASL.
19. There Was A Reason Why People Couldn’t Tell Who He Was
There was a storyline in which it was revealed that Clark Kent’s glasses are made of a special type of kyptonian lens. When worn, it makes Kent look more frail and human-like than his superhero alter ego. Superman even goes on to remark how he’s not even as handsome! Other reasons as to how nobody recognizes him speak about the extreme mannerism shift that occurs from Clark Kent to Superman. Kent, yes, wears glasses, but also acts incredibly feeble, slouches and is so painstakingly ordinary that nobody would possibly expect him to be Superman.
18. His Role in WW2
When you look at heroes like Captain America, there’s no shortage of comic covers that feature him getting down and dirty with the Nazis. Superman may not have been as hands on at times, but he was definitely not afraid to support the troops during WW2. It is interesting to note that DC’s large effort was not necessarily in comics featuring Nazi fighting, but instead in different types of propaganda featuring the hero to help raise support. War Bonds in particular, were largely promoted in pictures of DC heroes such as Superman and Batman and helped raise money and support, and also increase public morale for the troops.
17. There Are Different Types of Kyptonite
While you may think of the stereotypical green, there are several different colored types of kryptonite that have been reported. The colors are green, red, gold, blue, black, white and pink and they all have different effects. Green is most known to cause nausea, weakness, pain and can sap any Kyptonian of their powers (no wonder Superman hates it). Red’s effects may be different depending on the person, but when shown in Smallville (the TV series) its effect was similar to inebriation/alcohol.
Gold kryptonite can mess up your day by removing your powers for a short amount of time. Something needs to knock Bizzaros down, so you have the blue kryptonite for that. There is also black kryptonite which splits you into two personalities (good and evil) and that can lead to a showdown (talk about epic). White kryptonite is deadly to plant life. And finally, pink kryptonite will turn you into a homosexual…seriously.
16. The Rights to Superman Were Sold for $130 in 1938
Crazy to think that arguably the most popular superhero of all time was sold for $130 in 1938. It’s easier to consider when you look at the fact that the creators had struggled to find a way to get the character picked up in the first place. It also may be interesting to note that this occurred before WW2, which was a huge moment in terms of Superman’s image and his role in propaganda. The original cheque was sold at auction in 2012 for an astounding $160,000. An expensive price to pay for what I am sure the owner will argue is a priceless part of comic book history.
15. Lois Lane Has Been Around Since 1938
No wonder they always seem like they would make such a cute couple! Lane has been kicking around since Action Comics #1 (yes, the expensive one). Her appearance was originally based around Joanne Carter (a model) and she had a personality influenced by Torchy Blaine who was an actress. Throughout the past 70+ years their relationship has had many ups and downs. That being said, they were still married for 15 years at one point in the series. I suppose you’re a lot more motivated to try and save the world if you know you get to come home to some world class hugging. Lois Lane has most recently been portrayed in Man of Steel, and the upcoming Batman v Superman by Amy Adams.
14. A Copy Of The First Comic Sold For $3.2 million On eBay
It’s hard to imagine that someone would be willing to part with something as rare as the first ever issue of Superman. Yet when you look at the price it went for, I suppose money really can buy anything. A pristine copy of Action #1, which came out in 1938, sold on eBay for $3.2 million. This is not the first time that this comic has fetched some serious coin, another mint edition sold in 2011 for $2.16 million. The rare item started off at $1 million, and fetched 48 different bidders before topping off at $3.2 million. The sale also helped raise money for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
13. He Was Supposed To Be A Villain
When Superman was first pitched by creators Jerry Siegler and Joe Shuster, he was rejected by several different publishing companies. That could be because he was bald and had ideas of dominating the world. Hardly the embodiment of truth and justice that he ended up being. After facing rejection, they decided to try and pitch Superman as a hero who could help fight the current injustices of the world such as Hitler and Stalin. Given that he ended up being one of the greatest superheroes of all time, I’m guessing they thought it was a pretty good idea to switch up his motives.
12. Where His Inspiration Came From
Every name has to come from somewhere, so of course the name Clark Kent was inspired by something. It’s reported that the name was taken from two popular actors at the time, Clark Gable and Kent Taylor. It was also reported that the image of Superman was based on the actor Douglas Fairbanks and the character was slightly based on the mannerisms of Harold Lloyd. It is hard to imagine the character would have been successful if his alter-ego was Beyonce or Bieber, but I am sure that he would at least be a talented singer?
11. He Has A Broadway Musical
When you consider how successful Superman is, you need to also realize that it comes with various mediums being created about him. Whether it’s TV, radio, comics or film, there may be none that leaves you with more impact than the musical It’s A Bird…It’s A Plane…It’s Superman. The musical came out in 1966, but there is no telling if part of his Superpowers include the super ability to get your groove on. The musical received 3 Tony Awards before closing after 129 performances. It was then made into a TV special which aired in 1974. Given the relevance of Superman throughout the decades, it should also come as no surprise that it has been re-made several times since, making its UK premier in 2014.
10. He Inspired A Song
When you think Superman, don’t you just instantly think music? (Of course you do, that’s why you now know it’s been on Broadway). The song “Sunshine Superman” was recorded by the artist Donavon and came out in 1966. The song was also the title for the artist’s 3rd and most successful album, but there is no telling if the name Batman would have done any better. The single reached #1 on the charts in the US and #2 in the UK. Truly just another example that there is nothing that Superman cannot do (though Donavon’s talent may also have had something to do with it).
9. Bugs Bunny Parodies Him In 1943
One of the most influential ways that support was raised during World War 2 was with the use of propaganda. Bugs Bunny combined both parodying Superman, as well as supporting the troops in the 1943 short film “Super-Rabbit”. The film shows Bugs Bunny eating super-carrots before facing trouble and stating “This looks like a job for a REAL Superman!” and ducking into a phone booth. Instead of busting out in Superman attire, Bugs emerged in a military outfit supporting the troops and stating that there is important work to be done (referring to the war). The positive reception of the film led to Bugs Bunny being a continued face of propaganda throughout the war effort.
8. Krpytonite Started On The Radio Show
While you may first think of the movies or comics, it is interesting to note that Superman was on radio before any of those other formats. As a result, some key parts of Superman’s lore, such as the role of kryptonite, first premiered on the radio show. In 1942, the radio announcer remarked that “Superman for the first time in his life faces an enemy against which he is entirely powerless. That enemy is a piece of the planet Krypton – kryptonite, it is called – which a few days ago struck the Earth in the form of a meteor” but it is hard to imagine they knew the far reaching implications of such a substance.
7. The Justice League Started in 1960
When you think of Superman, you may immediately think of his super awesome team the Justice League. It may be interesting to note that when the Justice League first premiered in 1960, that Superman was hardly the powerhouse of a character that we know him to be now. He was not featured on all of the covers, and in fact was not even on the first ever cover of the league. The first appearance of the team is in the series, Bold And The Brave, Issues #28 (their debut) and #30 before landing their own comic series. While Superman doesn’t appear in the first ever formation of the team, he does make an appearance in #30 (and is sent to protect the world’s oldest whale).
Superman is one of the first 7 members of the league. Along with Superman, the team consisted of Aquaman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman. If you aren’t already familiar with the team, you will be soon when the first Justice League film comes to big screens in 2016.
6. Kyptonite Is Not His Only Weakness
While it can be easy to think the main way to knock out Superman is to use some kryptonite, there are several different ways that have been shown to harm Superman. Red Sun radiation is shown to rob Superman of the fuel that he needs to get his powers working. Other powers like his x-ray vision are fantastic, but it’s important to remember that he cannot see through lead. It’s also interesting to note that if he is caught in a battle for too long, as can happen with certain foes, that he has been shown to become exhausted after taking the solar energy from the sun and start getting weaker as his powers fade. Hardly what you want from your powers when the battle gets long and really tough.
5. Superman Has A Dog
When you’re off saving the world, it can be lonely sometimes. As a result, maybe you want some companionship? Enter Kypto! The superdog was introduced to the comic world in 1955. The dog is no slouch however, and possesses several powers, including but not limited to super hearing, super strength and the ability to fly. When the dog is not chilling around in space and is instead home with the Kent family, it goes by the name of Skip. To further disguise the dog, it was given a brown fur patch that could be easily removed when it was off doing super-things.
4. He Wasn’t Always Super Overpowered
One of the biggest knocks on Superman is that he has way too many powers. It seems like for whatever situation, he’s got the power you need and I guess that’s cool, but it also makes him kind of boring. When he debuted however, the phrase “Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound” was literal. It was only once the show turned into a cartoon in the 1940s that his jumping ability turned into flying. Other powers like X-Ray vision debuted in some of the earliest editions of the Action comics.
3. He’s Hooking Up With Wonder Woman
Now I’ll be honest, when I think power couples there might not be any out there that are more powerful then Jay-Z and Beyonce. If anyone is going to come close to dethroning them, it might be Wonder Woman and Superman. The couple has been romantically linked in the past, and a new comic series Superman/Wonder Woman launched in 2013 to positive reviews. I cannot imagine the fury that would be unleashed by Superman if someone comes and ruins his date by stealing his lady love. I’m sorry Lois, I’m sure you’re a lovely person, but there are some advantages to dating another superhero that you may not be able to relate to.
2. Batman V. Superman May Have A $400+ Million Budget
There is no doubting that Superman is a recognizable face in society. That being said, his films have failed to have a really significant impact on audiences the way that other superhero films have. The pressure must really be on for DC after seeing the incredible success that Marvel has been having. That may be why the estimated budget for the upcoming Batman V. Superman is $410 MILLION. This makes it one of the highest budgeted films of all time. There is no telling how the film will do, but given that it introduces the world to a Ben Affleck Batman as well as Wonder Woman on the big screen, one needs to hope that it will live up to its outrageously high budget.
1. The Role Is Cursed
Now, while this may be overplayed, there are people in Hollywood that feel the role of Superman is cursed. The main reasons for this being the death of George Reeves (whose death was ruled a suicide) and Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed in a horseback riding accident. While these two incidents are accidents and not related, that won’t stop some people from drawing up their own conclusions. Kirk Alyn, who played Superman in the early 40s, did blame being too closely identified with the role as being the reason why he failed to find significant work after. One thing is for sure, if Batman V. Superman does as well as people are hoping it will, there will be no curse strong enough to derail the career of Henry Cavill.
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