Superman is turning 75.
When Superman first leaped (not flew, mind you) onto the pages of “Action Comics” No. 1 in 1938, the Man of Steel heralded the beginning of the superhero comics genre, paving the way for Batman, Spider-Man and many more spandex-wearing crime fighters.
But there is only one Superman. His super-speed, super-strength and a noble devotion to truth, justice and the American way have helped make Superman the most enduring figure in comics, inspiring several landmark portrayals in television, on stage and in film, including the upcoming “Man of Steel,” in theaters June 14.
“It’s precisely because we have so many dark heroes (Batman), and fraught ones (Spider-Man), that we’re aching for a big blue Boy Scout who knows right from wrong instinctively, and never wavers from the light or is sidetracked by anxieties,” said Larry Tye, who wrote “Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero.”
Tye told Hero Complex that Superman’s history reflects America’s history.
“If we look back at history we see that Superman does best when America is doing worst, like when he came to life in 1938, in the middle of the Great Depression and on the eve of World War II. It was an era much like ours, when the economy is teetering and we can’t seem to extract ourselves from overseas conflicts,” he said. “The success of ‘The Avengers’ suggests how anxious we are for heroes who can set things right.”
The author said the future looks bright for Zack Snyder’s movie reboot, too: “‘Man of Steel,’ I predict, will do even better just lifting our spirits and offering up a welcome escape.”
For his 75th anniversary, Supes received a makeover. The Last Son of Krypton left his red underpants behind in his New 52 DC Comics incarnation, and while “Man of Steel” actor Henry Cavill’s costume still has the boots, cape and trademark “S” on his chest, his suit looks like it has an armor-like sheen instead of a flat spandex quality.
How well do you know Clark Kent and his cape-wearing alter ego? Test your knowledge with Hero Complex’s Superman quiz below.
— Noelene Clark and Rene Lynch