He’s old enough to be your grandfather, but at 75 years old, Superman looks as young as he did when he first appeared way back in 1938. He’s still faster than a speeding bullet, still more powerful than a locomotive, and he can still leap onto the big screen in a single bound. His latest film, Man of Steel, opens today.
Created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster when they were teenagers, Superman was introduced in Action Comics No. 1. He was the first costumed superhero, and his success soon led to the creation of Batman, Wonder Woman, and many other popular comic-book crime fighters.
In fact, Superman was such a hit that he quickly moved beyond comic books. He went on to star in radio shows, cartoons, television shows, and, of course, movies.
The Legend Retold
Man of Steel retells the story of Superman’s origin. Rocketed to Earth from the doomed planet Krypton by his parents, baby Kal-El is raised in the United States as Clark Kent. Growing up, he discovers that he has amazing superhuman abilities and must decide how to best use them. In this new version of the story, Clark, played by Henry Cavill, realizes that he must become Earth’s protector when other survivors of Krypton arrive and threaten the planet.
A Superhero For the Ages
Man of Steel marks Superman’s first big-screen adventure in seven years. But there’s been no break in his comic-book exploits since that first story in Action Comics. What’s kept him going so strong for so long?
“[He’s] a fun character because of all the things he can do,” said Dan Jurgens, who has written and drawn Superman comics since 1987. “Other characters in comics might only have one or two powers, like super strength or the ability to fly, while Superman can do a number of things. I also think there's a sense of majesty and nobility [about] Superman . . . that many other characters lack.”
Writer Roger Stern, who worked alongside Jurgens on Superman for several years, says the character is a modern-day myth. “He's all the great heroes of history, mythology, and fiction, rolled into one. Like Moses, he was sent off by his parents to live in a new world. Like Hercules, his heritage makes him the strongest among mortal men. Like Zorro, he leads a double life and keeps his true nature a secret. And yet, he's the costumed adventurer who doesn't wear a mask.”
Jurgens and Stern think Superman has what it takes to keep thrilling audiences for the next 75 years.
“He is our champion, our hero,” said Stern. “He's the one who stands up for the little guy.”
Jurgens added, “Superman [represents] that which is best in all of us. That should never fall out of style.”
To read about more summer movies for 2013, visit TFK's Summer Movie Guide.