Superman turns 75: 75 super images of the Man of Steel

March 28, 2013 | 8:38 a.m.

Superman is about to be everywhere. America's favorite superhero is celebrating his 75 anniversary, the highlight of which is "Man of Steel," which opens in theaters June 14. We're kicking off the festivities by digging into the L.A. Times' and DC Comics' media libraries to find 75 super images -- and 75 super facts -- celebrating the one-and-only Superman. (Credits, clockwise from upper left: Warner Bros., DC Comics, Associated Press and DC Comics. Center: Getty Images. Gallery by Rene Lynch.)

Superman made his first appearance in "Action Comics" No. 1 in June 1938. It is considered one of the world's most valuable comic books. (DC Comics)

The character proved to be so popular that Superman later earned his very own comic book series. (Associated Press / Sotheby's)

He goes by many nicknames, including "The Last Son of Krypton." We turned to DC Comics' encyclopedia for more facts -- some well known, some not so much -- about the world's most famous superhero. (DC Comics)

So let's start with some of the basics: Superman is the most powerful being on Earth. (Warner Home Video)

His original name? Kal-El. His legal name is Clark Joseph Kent. (Jim Lee / DC Comics)

His place of birth: Kryptonopolis, Krypton, a foreign planet. So, technically, he is an alien. (Getty Images)

Superman's origin story -- as well as his artistic look and costume -- have evolved over the years with each reboot. But DC Comics documents one strain of his origin story thusly: The child Kal-El was sent to Earth by his scientist parents, Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van. (Wizard)

The reason they sent their son away: The planet Krypton was facing doom, and Kal-El's parents wanted to give their son a chance at life. (Warner Bros.)

Employing a gestation chamber, they sent Kal-El to Earth. There, the advantages were many: Exposure to the sun would "supercharge" his cells and give him his amazing abilities. (DC Comics)

Upon his arrival on Earth, the infant was found by a kindly couple, Jonathan and Martha Kent, of Smallville, Kan. (Handout)

The Kents raised the infant as their own, keeping his unusual arrival a secret. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

But it was increasingly clear that Clark was... different. His superpowers grew as he did. Among them: super strength. (The WB)

His adoptive parents finally told him the truth when he turned 18. (Associated Press / DC Entertainment)

Clark Kent made the decision that he would keep his superpowers secret. (Associated Press)

But Clark -- instilled with high moral ideals by his adoptive parents -- decided he would still use his superpowers to fight for truth and justice. One of the most famous Superman covers of all-time: Fred Ray's original art from the issue of "Superman" No. 14, in 1942, showing a signature wartime image of the "Man of Steel." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

With the help of his adoptive parents, Clark Kent moved into public life -- but under a secret identity. ("Max Fleischer's Superman" / Paramount)

The costume did not include a mask -- so that the public would better trust him, his mother reasoned. (DC Comics)

He decided to dramatically change his everyday physical appearance and mannerisms, "so that nobody would suspect" his true identity. (DC Comics)

That cover? The absolutely adorkable mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, of course. He was played to perfection by the late Christopher Reeve in "Superman." The 1978 film was one of many ways in which Superman and Clark Kent made the leap from comic books to films and more. [For The Record, 11:29 a.m. PDT March 28: A previous version of this caption said the film was released in 1987. It was released in 1978.] (Associated Press)

Some other Clark Kent facts courtesy DC Comics: He graduated from Metropolis University. (Credit: Brandon Routh in "Superman Returns" Warner Bros. Pictures / David James)

He later met with the lovely and ambitious reporter, Lois Lane. She would come up with the name "Superman" for the high-flying man in tights. (Image from the movie "Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut." Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Some of Superman's finest adventures would involve Lois Lane, as in this edition, when she's forced to masquerade as a "lady dictator" in a bid to manipulate Superman. (DC Comics)

While Clark was working alongside Lane and cub reporter Jimmy Olsen, he crosses paths with villian Lex Luthor -- at least according to one strain of Superman's origin story. (DC Comics)

Luthor, a sinister businessman, tries to corrupt Superman, but of course it does not work. Thus starts the legendary feud that has lent fuel to Superman's story ever since. (Associated Press)

Another origin strain has Lex Luthor and Clark Kent growing up as friends -- a plot twist played up in TV's "Smallville," which starred Michael Rosenbaum, left, as Lex Luthor and Tom Welling as Clark Kent. The boyhood friendship is destroyed after Luthor's father is killed in a fire, according to one story.

Over the years, Luthor has tried to destroy Superman by many methods, among them: Green Kryptonite, which can steal a Kryptonian's superpowers. (DC Comics)

Other Superman adventures over the years: He fought Muhammad Ali and lost. How's that? Because the fight took place on a distant planet whose properties temporarily rob Superman of all his superpowers, that's how. The battle was envisioned as a political statement, its creator, Neal Adams, told Hero Complex. (DC Comics)

He also took on Titano, the Super-Ape, who has an ability to shoot Kryptonite rays from his eyes. (DC Comics)

Some more biographical facts about the enduring character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster ... (Reuters / Warner Bros. Studios)

Superman is 6 feet, 3 inches, 235 pounds. He has blue eyes and black hair. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

According the DC Comics' official guide to Superman, Clark Kent's favorite sandwich is peanut butter-and-jelly and his favorite sport is football. (Warner Bros. Pictures / Sony Pictures Imageworks)

His birthday is Feb. 29. This makes Superman's zodiac sign Pisces.(Warner Bros. Pictures)

His "base of operations"? Fortress of Solitude, Hall of Justice or Metropolis. Or where ever crime needs fighting. (DC Comics)

League members have changed over the years, but original members include Aquaman, Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Superman and Wonder Woman. (Cartoon Network)

Even when the "S" is not visible, you can tell which one is Superman by the granite jaw. (Alex Ross / DC Comics)

Superman is quintessentially American, but he is a citizen of Earth as well. In this issue of "Action Comics" No. 900, Superman renounces his U.S. citizenship because of his concerns that his actions are seen as instruments of U.S. foreign policy. (Associated Press / DC Comics)

In other adventures, Superman, DC Comics, and UNICEF joined forces to help in a mine-sweeping campaign in Bosnia. Private agencies and a NATO-led peace force distributed the comic book, showing Superman swooping in to rescue two boys hunting for war souvenirs, in order to get the word out about the dangers of mines. (Associated Press / DC Comics / UNICEF)

Superman's strengths are many, although the exact magnitude is unknown. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

DC Comics says it is "generally accepted" that he has the ability to lift at least 1,000,000 tons. (Associated Press / DC Comics)

His body is deemed "nigh-invulnerable." He survived a blast equivalent to a million nuclear warheads, for example. (DC Comics)

According to DC Comics, his "greatest feat of durability" was withstanding the explosion of a sun -- although the blast did temporarily knock him out. (DC Comics)

His super immune system makes him impervious to toxins and disease. (DC Comics)

Superman's X-ray vision is played to great effect in "Superman Returns" for Xbox 360. (EA)

He also has heat vision, the ability to fire beams of intense heat from his eyes. (DC Comics)

He has a genius-level intellect and almost unimaginable analytical powers. He can "read information directly from machines (and, with careful usage of his heat vision, he can even reprogram machines)," according to his DC Comics bio. (DC Comcs)

Superman also has an indomitable will, "completely free of evil or temptation." DC Comics adds: Superman "is very optimistic and never gives up, even when things look bad." (DC Comics)

He can fly faster than "light speeds," tends to fly at Mach 10 and has flown into outer space. He can reach the moon in minutes, if he desires. (Associated Press)

His superhuman stamina means he can hold his breath forever, and does not need to sleep or eat. He just needs exposure to the sun. (DC Comics)

This 1992 cover marked one of the most notorious moments in Superman's history. It proclaimed "The Death of Superman." (DC Comics)

Spoiler alert: Superman survives his battle with Doomsday, but not before the world mourns and several others try to take Superman's place. (Associated Press)

Superman's personal life has been complicated, as might be expected. But there has been no shortage of female admirers. Here, he gets busy with Wonder Woman. (Associated Press / DC Entertainment)

This 2006 cover of the Advocate kicked up controversy by suggesting that Superman might be miscast by the masses. (The Advocate)

But, as everyone knows, Lois Lane is Superman's one true love -- even after she finds out the truth about his secret identity. (DC Comics)

How symbolic and beloved is Superman? He infuses our culture through and through. When the NBA's Shaquille O'Neal wanted to send a message, he had Superman's "S" tattooed on his arm.(NBAE)

A Superman mural greets visitors to Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia for the Superman: Escape From Krypton ride. It's billed as the first ride to reach speeds of 100 mph, a feat theme parks had been trying to reach for decades. (Los Angeles Times)

The ride begins in Superman's Fortress of Solitude and accelerates to 100 mph in seven seconds before shooting straight up a 41-story tower. (Los Angeles Times)

There's no shortage of Superman toys, games and other memorabilia. (Sideshow Collectibles)

...starring Bob Holiday in 1966's "It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman!" (Los Angeles Times archives)

While Superman usually gets top billing, he played a sidekick in "The Adventures of Seinfeld & Superman," online-only shorts for American Express. In the films, the pair pal around, taking in a Broadway show and even fighting crime. (American Express)

Actor George Reeves portrayed Superman in the 1950s television series. (Associated Press)

Others playing Superman on TV included Dean Cain, here with costar Teri Hatcher in "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman." The series ran from 1993 to 1997. (ABC)

His look has changed dramatically over the years. A cape just causes drag, right? This Superman costume upends the red-white-and-blue homage. (Reuters)

We'll close on that classic Superman pose. Here's to another 75 years, Superman! (Associated Press / DC Comics)

Superman looks good for 75.

The Last Son of Krypton’s 75th anniversary coincides with the June 14 release of “Man of Steel,” easily one of the top 13 must-see movies of 2013.

Superman arrived on the scene in June of 1938 in “Action Comics” No. 1, one of the most coveted comic books in history. (If you see a dusty copy of the original at a garage sale, snap it up. Only a few dozen copies are believed to be in existence. An original netted $2.1 million for actor and collector Nicolas Cage.)

Quiz: How well do you know Superman?

In that debut issue, Superman was introduced as a mythic hero and champion of the oppressed. The brainchild of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster proved so popular with readers that he soon landed his very own comic series.

In honor of Superman’s 75th anniversary, we dug through the L.A. Times’ media library and the DC Comics archives for 75 images that celebrate 75 years of Superman.

Consider it a little something to help tide you over until Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” arrives in theaters.

From Hero Complex’s early look at the latest big-screen installment in the Superman franchise:

“Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel”… seems to be painting with a beautiful, muted steel brush as he tells Kal-El’s story, the striking yet subdued hues possibly speaking to the elegant influence of producer Christopher Nolan.”

Snyder says his film, starring Henry Cavill as Clark Kent and his cape-wearing alter ego, will pay homage to Superman’s classic mythology.

“He’s this amazing ambassador for all superheroes,” Snyder told Hero Complex… “What we’ve made as a film not only examines that but is also an amazing adventure story. It’s been an honor to work on. As a comic book fan, Superman is like the Rosetta Stone of all superheroes. I wanted to be sure the movie treated it respectfully.”

Are you looking forward to “Man of Steel”?

– Rene Lynch


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48 Responses to Superman turns 75: 75 super images of the Man of Steel

  1. Superfan says:

    slide 22: its 1978, not 1987

  2. Atomic Kommie Comics says:

    Photo #22 (Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent) may be from Superman IV: the Quest for Peace, so the 1987 dating may well be correct. Any way to see the full photo or read the original caption and copyright notice?
    If it says "Cannon FIlms" instead of "Warner Brothers", it's from Superman IV.

  3. Atomic Kommie Comics says:

    Photo #69. You may not know that Patrick Warburton (Puddy on Seinfeld) was both the voice and rotoscoping model for Superman in the American Express commercials.
    Warburton later played another superhero, The Tick on a short-lived live-action TV series!

  4. Atomic Kommie Comics says:

    Just curious as to why there's no pix of the first live-action movie Superman, Kirk Alyn, who starred in two serials (one featuring Lex Luthor)!

  5. Vinnie C. says:

    Cool slideshow!

    Just for the sake of posterity, caption 28 says that the friendship between Lex and Clark dissolved on Smallville after Luthor's father died in a fire. This is actually not accurate. On the show, Lex killed his father himself in season 7 by pushing him out of the window of a tall building and, by this point in the series, he and Clark were definitely not friends anymore. In truth, their friendship fell apart much earlier when Lex was certain that Clark had super powers, but Clark repeatedly lied to him about it. Lex tested Clark in season 5 by having super powered guys kidnap Clark's loved ones to see if Clark would reveal his powers and save them… when Clark realized Lex was responsible, it put a major rift between the two, but when Clark caught Lex and Lana kissing in the next season, they were done.

    • That's just from the show. The split usually has some other reasons, often severely distorted by Lex's ego. The "fire" part involving his father only really happened in Superman: Birthright. There was another fire way back in the Silver Age involving Superboy accidentally burning all of Lex's hair off putting out a fire. You can see why the friendship angle gets dropped pretty often.

      • Tim Williams says:

        Your dead on, I don't go with the TV stuff, I go with the "golden age", just as superman was much more "super", not a living solar battery.

  6. Dustin says:

    The two images from Smallville are very, uh… interesting choices. One of them is heroic enough when he saves Whitney, but the other one is him… standing around… with Lex. They’re looking at PAPER. And none of the pics show him rocking the signature Red-Jacket-With-Blue-Shirt look he was so famous for during the first 8 seasons of the show (aka, the precursor to his super-jammies). I’d say maybe 50 of these super-images count as such, while the others are a little bit lacking.

  7. Don Wurzelbacher says:

    No Kirk Alyn picture?? No Bud Collyer? What's wrong with you people?

  8. Jake says:

    Where's Kirk Alyn?

  9. D. J. Fone says:

    Out of 76 photos and captions, George Reeves — who turned an entire generation of boomer kids into "Superman" fans — gets ONE photo and mention??? That's about 1/8 what Brandon Routh got. And Reeves was "Superman" for six seasons on national TV, and for decades in beloved reruns.

    For those who loved the George Reeves TV series, ignore this silly story and Google "TAOS, Jim Nolt", and you'll be a kid again.

  10. @bk9net says:

    Not only Kirk Alyn, but I had to traipse through all that rubbish, especially umpteen photos of Brandon Routh, super-wimp, to get one lousy photo of George Reeves? Dean Cain was better than Routh, and I recall only one photo of him.

  11. Kelsonus says:

    "But Clark — instilled with high moral ideals by his adoptive parents — decided he would still use his superpowers to fight for truth and justice. "
    AND "The American Way" you socialist sheep of a newspaper

    • John says:

      How are they socialists for acknowledging a well known fact that Superman has renounced his U.S. citizenship?

  12. Tony says:

    Don't forget the first onscreen Superman, Kirk Alyn….

  13. Guest says:

    These are not the 75 images I would have selected…where is the iconic "Death of Superman" pic?

  14. Justin S. says:

    No to Brandon Routh and his mid 2000s emo take on Superman.

  15. Brian says:

    slide 45 he is catching the globe that fell from the roof of the daily planet, not stopping a runnaway car

  16. Aaron says:

    Kirk Alyn and um…who's that guy? oh yeah the newest Superman, Henry Cavill???

  17. Joe Smoe says:

    The picture of the superman roller coaster is wrong. Here’s a link to the one they talked about.

  18. dawko says:

    The biggest question: if he can fly/move so fast, some of the villains still beat him. That shouldn't be the case….

    • Steve says:

      I know, I see this all the time when people create stories of "superheroes", lol. First, they create the unbeatable super-character, then they realize it's more interesting if the bad guys are not so easy to beat.
      Let's see, according to his powers, you can never sneak up on or surprise him, he can move so fast you can't even see or track him, he can break any substance, cannot be broken himself, can melt anything the sun could melt (which is anything as the sun breaks apart atoms) and can just shoot these laser beams from his eyes to any distance, does not need air, nutrition, rest, etc., and impervious to radiation, disease, etc. Only certain things even slow him down but he has no defense against magic. Kryptonite kills him, but how you can even get it near him with all his powers I don't know. He’s supposed to be super intelligent too so putting it in a lead box trick shouldn't work lol.

  19. Cheyenne says:

    So Lois Lane named him Superman, but Ma Kent already had an "S" sewn on to his suit?

  20. MarkDS says:

    So long as they revert back to his original costume from this new ridiculous 52 piece of crap, its all good. Just dump the new 52 and go back to what it used to be, cos thats the way it should be.

  21. Steve S. says:

    Slide 34, Superman is 6 foot 4 inches, and 225 pounds… He says so in Superman: The Movie starring Christopher Reeve.

  22. Steve S. says:

    Slide 45 is not a car he is holding, it is the Daily Planet globe… fail.

  23. p.b says:

    Didn'r see any neal Adams? Especially the classic cover from Superman 233, Kryptonite Nomore.

  24. pab says:

    slide 17 ,Its truth ,justice and the American way. Its still ok to say that.

  25. Big Blue says:

    Caption 17. Ironic they post a picture of Big Blue w/American icons and yet (purposefully) neglect "..and the American Way!", as to what he uses his superpowers to fight for. Bunch of communist bastards. It's not the Iranian way. Not the Cuban way. Not the Cambodian way. Not the Indian way. Not the Bulgarian way.

    He fights for Truth, Justice and THE AMERICAN WAY! Now pull up your pants and stop being a PC bully!

  26. John says:

    In slide 45, he is holding the Daily Planet globe that's fallen from the top of the building and nearly crushed Jimmy Olsen, Perry White and lots of other citizens.

  27. antonio says:

    n° 40 is the best!

  28. Phil says:

    Superman and Batman were retconned into being founding members of the JLA. Because neither of them appear in the JLA's first appearance, Brave and the Bold #28

  29. Batfreak says:

    Slide 45, he's holding the Daily Planet globe, not a car as insinuated by the caption.

  30. Kenneth Zurbano says:

    Also Green Kryptonite Does not steal a Kryptonian's Powers it's Radioactive pieces of his home world which can severely weaken him to motionless but won't kill him inless injected or shot with in bullet form!! Blue Kryptonite can take his powers away also with a few other things!! Who ever made this should go over there facts again!!

  31. Kenneth Zurbano says:

    Also slide 45 is wrong that is the scene from Superman Returns where he catches the Globe that fell off of the Daily Planet.

  32. Kenneth Zurbano says:

    Slide 48 is also Debatable because yes he gets his powers from the sun but he had to save a space Shuttle and without his lead lined suit, Thusly causeing his cells to become severely overcharged and what ultamately kills him in the and after finding no cure even with the help of Brainiac. So to survive the explosion of the sun is highly unlikely for him unless he has that suit to keep the rediation out!!

  33. Dee says:

    #64 (after #63 talking about Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia) is not of the Superman: The Escape ride. That's from Six Flags New England, Superman: Ride of Steel. Get your pics right. My fave was Superman: Ultimate Flight in Six Flags over Atlanta, though I did love the fact you can get on and off the Escape ride in literally 90 seconds.

  34. Saif says:

    Without superman the world is incomlete

  35. jeremy says:

    I think that Tom Welling from Smallville would be perfect for a superman movie. He did the show for so long that he pretty much breaths superman.

  36. Nightfire says:

    So Superman renounces his American citizenship so as not to be seen as an instrument of American foreign policy. Well, I guess I'll renounce this movie and refuse to see it.

  37. Arne Barnard says:

    Uh, Action Comics #1 is THE Worlds most valuable comic books NOT "one of the…….."

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