Who is Superman?
Superman in American culture is an American comic-book character. A comic book superhero, Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938, created by two American writers Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Superman eventually grew to be the pop-culture Icon around the world. Superman is widely seen as an American historical symbol of the Great Depression and World War II.
The Creation of Superman helped boost the morale of American troops on the battlefield. According to Comic Book Nation, many young Americans grew up with Superman, naturally recognizing, and understanding the symbolism of Superman and American capabilities, and good moral values in World War II.
Jerry and Joe first decided to create Superman as a villain in the comic book pilot “The Reign of the Superman.” They claimed their character came from the German philosopher Frederich Nietzsche’s book .“ The duo states that the great-souled hero transcends the enslavement of Christian morality by his will to power.
The original model for the character was based on the actor Douglas Fairbanks Senior. Both Siegel and Shuster loved the movies Mr. Fairbanks Senior played in, especially the Mark of Zorro, and Robin Hood. The actor’s stance was used as a model for the drawings of Superman’s world-famous posture.
Origins of Superman
The popular pose is that of Superman standing with his hands on his hips and his feet apart. On the other side, the model for the diminutive reporter Clark Kent was that of Harold Lloyd. However, due to tough economic times, the introduction of Superman as a villain failed, sending Jerry and Joe back to basics. Resulting in the creation of the Superman character.
Siegel and Shuster both wore glasses and admitted to being timid, insecure, and unsuccessful with girls when in high school. Therefore, implementing the teenage experiences into the creation of Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent.
The story of Superman according to Our Hero: Superman on Earth (Icons of America) by author, editor, and journalist Tom De Haven is as follows; Superman was born on a planet called Krypton. He was the only son of scientist Jor-El, Superman’s birth name in Krypton was Kal-El similar to his father, EL likely being the last name.
Superman arrives in the United States
Planet Krypton was gradually deteriorating and eventually exploded due to man-made problems. However, Kal-El’s father, Jor-El, was aware of Krypton’s deterioration and knew the eventual doom of his planet.
He built a spaceship, although it was still experimental when used, and sent his small son into hyperspace with coordinates to Earth; since he figures that Earth was the only planet that he thought had a similar atmosphere as Krypton, assuring Kal-El survival. Kal-El landed in the small town of Smallville, Kansas in the United States.
Superman was soon discovered by a humble couple named Jonathan and Martha Kent. Eventually, they raised him and gave him their name last Kent, and renamed him Clark resulting in his hearth’s name Clark Kent.
On Earth, Kal-El was unaware of his birth name for a while and adopted his Earth name. Superman may have seemed human, and he was completely human from head to toe; however, he was significantly different. Jerry and Joe decided to give Superman several superhuman powers.
Super strength, heat vision, super speed, ability to fly, ability to freeze things with his breath, and X-ray vision. Perhaps Superman creators were not aware of how important Superman’s superpowers would become over the years. Superman’s superpower comes from the power of the Earth’s Sun.
Superman and WWII
Superman in American culture
Superman became the most successful and celebrated comic book superhero ever! The character of Superman brought hope to the American comic book reader during tough times. For example, during the Great Depression, and WWII many people relied on their Superman comics for entertainment and even some sort of hope.
Superman became the image of the United States in the early 1940s, used in WWII propaganda, and featured in Television cartoons. Superman assumed the persona of an undistinguished mild-mannered Newspaper reporter named Clark Kent. Unpretentious and seeking no glory, he was a superhero who would retreat into the anonymity of American Society when his spectacular deeds were accomplished.
During Depression-era America, Clark Kent celebrated the virtues of the common man while his alternate identity Superman was a champion of the oppressed. Superman was gradually becoming so important, especially for his powers and character, that American soldiers would bring comic Superman comic books to the battlefield in Germany, and North Africa.
During WWII, propaganda was widely used by both sides, especially with the effect it had on troop morale. For instance, during WWII the number of casualties was immense impacting morale. However, many soldiers received a boost in morale by reading their Superman comic, drawn into the fantasy world of Superman.
The American people started to relate to Superman, especially during the Great Depression and WWII, because people, I believe, saw the United States through the eyes of the ever-growing American Exceptionalism. Superman was seen as having tremendous powers but using them for good. From the perspective of the comic book business world; Superman became highly profitable, becoming arguably reason by the comic survived.
The creation of Superman launched a new genre in comic books, and now there were comic books dedicated solely to Superheroes. Also, the Superman franchise had just begun to grow; eventually, there were movies, TV series, and cartoons made about Superman.
For instance, in 1946, during the high popularity of Superman, civil rights activists Stetson Kennedy contacted the producers of a radio show and offered to revealed important information about the Ku Klux Klan, which was very popular at the time. He suggested that if allowed he would go on air and revealed passwords, rituals, and important secret information about the KKK.
The executive that own Superman, DC Comics, took advantage of this situation; they air many episodes called “Superman vs. The Ku Klux Klan” which were a national success; now saw the fictional character fighting evil in real life, as a result making people believe even in Superman in a real-life situation.
Superman Movie Franchise
After much success and popularity Superman, the Movie was being produced in the early 1970s. This movie is hugely expected and celebrated by Superman fans all over the world. Finally in 1978 Superman: The Movie was released in theaters all over the country and eventually the world.
Superman up to this point was such a success that Hollywood studio Warner Bro. invested 55 million dollars in this movie, and according to the harsh economic time that the U.S was having this was considered a huge gamble.
However, many critics might have felt this to be a minor gamble since the Superman Franchised had produced record revenues to DC comics over the years. The Superman movie proved to be an immense monetary success both to DC and Warner Bro. this movie made a staggering, considering the budget, $300,218,018 in worldwide revenues.
Christopher Reeve the actor who played Superman became an instant superstar; he was easily the clear choice to play the starring role in all the subsequent Superman movies. At this time Superman was an established figured both in Hollywood and also in the minds of Americans and world citizens. People all over the world were purchasing Superman merchandise, including board games, clothing, and everyday accessories.
Superman in Hollywood
The success of the first Superman movie made it very easy for Hollywood producers to easily invest in several other Superman Big screen movies, including Superman II, Superman III, and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace which was a terrible failure producing a disheartening $59,950,623 this film killed the Hollywood image of Superman for many years.
After this movie, no Hollywood studio was willing to invest in any new project resulting in the halt of all Superman big-screen appearances.
Superman is real life had a life-changing incident; Christopher Reeve had a terrible accident in 1995 when he fell off a horse and suffered a cervical spinal injury that made him a person with quadriplegia for life.
Although he was in a wheelchair Christopher Reeve was in a wheelchair he was always remembered around the world as Superman the man of steel; I recall that growing up I thought Christopher Reeve was the actual Superman, it was difficult to absorb the idea that Superman was in a wheelchair.
Then as expected I grew up and eventually understood the whole situation; however, it is vital to consider the influence that Superman had on the youth culture.
Over the years Superman, I believe, became the symbol of the United States leadership around the world. To the comic book industry, Superman represents the clear leader of all other Superheroes, appearing many times on TV, and comic books taking the center stage among other popular heroes.
In my opinion, the character of Superman represents America, even when created by two Jewish American men. For instance, in the television series Justice League and subsequently Justice League Unlimited Superman is the leader of all the heroes in the show. Also, this was a very popular show air weekdays at 9 pm on Cartoon Network; all superhero characters were in this show and had some starting time now and then.
Superman on TV
From this show I got the idea that the show’s creators relate the Justice League perhaps with the G-10, the United States being the apparent leader. Possibly for someone who follows the popular perspective of Superman the comparison between the U.S and the Justice League would seem absurd.
In the Cartoon Network Justice League and Justice League Unlimited the League is a portrait in a form much like the G10 from. Although, in the general point of view, and considering all the work done on Superman, not all aspects will be the same and I relied on this comparison solely on opinion and based on this particular TV series.
Based on the high number of viewers these TV series have I considered the possibility that many people thought the possibility that Superman is used to portraiting real-life situations, and to correlate real-life situations with world leaders and comic book Superheroes.
Also, the Superman character can easily be used to convey real-life messages to his audience through many essential methods. For instance, Superman can and has appeared on TV commercials to send a positive message to his youthful audience.
Superman is still established to this day as the bestselling and most popular comic-book Superhero ever; Superman, according to many sources, has influenced an entire generation, including myself and many other people I know.
I believe Superman is the political image of the United States around the world. Superman stands for the justice of the weak and even if this topic is up for comparing to real-life situations is a topic disagreement I still believe that after researching many sources, Superman is an imaginable Ideal American; a model that promoted the cultural reality of a ruling group during and after World War II.
However, although Superman has impacted the youth of an entire generation. Now things are evolving gradually because there has been a shift in the cultural reality of the U.S and the world since WWII.
The United States is no longer under the threat of War, and the U.S economy is the largest. The political trend of the future is not towards centralization but diversification. It is also the exploration of other cultural worlds, including video games emphasis on reality entertainment.
As a result, Marvel characters, for instance, have taken a more significant share of the U.S population by diversifying and taken the emphasis on a perfect superhero; they have established a more contemporary reflection of the cultural reality of the U.S and the world in the present.
Superman was and still is an American Pop culture Icon, illustrated in numerous movies, TV series, cartoons, and Magazines as well as his beginnings in comic books. This paper will cover the beginnings of Superman, as well as his origins.
Superman was created by two Jewish American men in the United States in the early 1900s. First a simple comic book hero, among many; however, over the years Superman developed into an important figure.
Superman became such an important figure that he was used as propaganda during WWII, a large number of American soldiers carried a Superman comic book in their pockets.
I Main Point #1: A general overview of Superman’s origins.
A take on Superman’s creation by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1932
A look at the reasons why Superman was created
A detailed look at the purpose Superman served during WWII
Main Point #2: The Jewish view on Superman and his development over time
The use of Superman on Television and Hollywood movies
Who owns and get a large number of profits that the Superman name produces
The meaning of Superman in pop culture today, with popular figures such as Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic’s calling himself Superman; to illustrate his invincibility
III Main Point #3 How the idea of Superman came to be; originating in Krypton then coming to America and transitioning to Clark Kent
The importance of Christopher Reeve in the image of Superman and the struggles of his life
What Superman means to the average people nowadays
The near-collapse of the Superman business after several laws use and the revival of the Superman franchise on TV with the successful Superman Returns movie
I personally believe Superman is and always will be the image of American supremacy and Kindness towards human life. Superman is always portrait as protecting human life, and that is the image that people remember the Character of Superman from their childhood. Additionally, From my childhood I remember Superman as being this invincible American superhero, protecting the world from evil; this image I always kept in my mind.
For my research, I have been using the Following sources.
- Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us about Ourselves and Our Society by DannyFingeroth
This book takes a look at the history of comic books and correlates them with pop culture
- Up, Up, and Oy Vey: How Jewish History, Culture, and Values Shaped The Comic Book Superhero by Simcha Weinstein
As the title states; this book illustrate the cultural and religious value of comic books, and how the Jewish view of its creators shaped the characters
- Our Hero: Superman on Earth (Icons of America) by Tom De Haven
This book is very important; it covers the history of Superman in depth
- Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America by Bradford W. Wright
This book covers the development of comic books in youth culture, and how it became such an important tool in the cultural values of American youth [Control]
Bradford W. Wright (Author)
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This book explains the business of comic books and graphic novels, understanding its power to communicate massages to a broad audience of readers