If some TV network ever makes a new "Superman" series, they should do it in the same old-school style as "The Adventures of Superman". This series pre-dated "Star Trek" and "Batman" by a decade by being shot in color and showed viewers the many technical splendors (i.e. special effects) that can be done on a shoestring budget. Lois, Jimmy, Perry and Inspector Henderson were all memorable supporting cast members, a trait that would carry over to the 1990s "Lois & Clark" series (only Inspector Henderson would not appear in that installment). The same could not be said for the villains, which is probably just as well.
A classic among classics with George Reeves starring as the Man of Steel on the very first Superman tv series, "The Adventures of Superman." Based on the popular comic book character created by Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster, Superman (born as Kal-El) arrived on Earth from the now-destroyed planet of Krypton who always fight for truth, justice, and the American way.
Once he grows up, he then takes a job at the Daily Planet in Metropolis in the guise of mild-mannered reporter, Clark Kent. Unbeknownst to everyone, including his rival and fellow reporter Lois Lane, that he is Superman.
Now in the age of DVDs, you can find boxed sets of "The Adventures of Superman" and watch them whenever you want.
I grew up watching SUPERMAN i wish he was real the world would be a safer place to live in no crime or theats GEORGE REEVES was a great actor the whole cast were amazing i wish george was still with us and superman would come back on tv again
If you grew up at any time from the early 1950s right up through 1978, there was only one Superman. George Reeves had, somewhat reluctantly, made that role his own for more than one generation of TV watchers.
Plagued by budgetary constraints and nurtured by scripts that ranged from genuinely compelling to absurdly awful, The Adventures of Superman had one steadfast, invincible constant: its star. As played by Reeves, Superman was no angst driven, soul searching hero. He was the "go to guy," the man with the answers. This Man of Steel's moral certainty and beneficence were as unassailable as his invulnerable frame.
Reeves was completely believable as both all purpose problem solver and unbeatable hero. This was perhaps due, in part, to the fact that he played Clark Kent in pretty much the same manner that he played Superman. Contrary to statements made by another of this page's reviewers, this was not the way Kent was portrayed in the comics of the period. Reeves performance, however, almost certainly inspired that particular evolution of the character, when John Byrne took over the comic book in 1986.
In addition, Reeves, with the occasional aid of the scriptwriters, injected some real humor into the character. It's a great responsibility to be Superman, but it's also a lot of fun. Reeves allowed the audience to be in on the joke with his smiles, winks and, once in a while, an intentional verbal slip. In one episode, when Kent and Superman are mentioned in the same breath, Clark half mumbles, "Six of one. Half a dozen of the other."
Remember the scene in Seinfeld, when Jerry and George argue over whether or not Superman has super humor? Jerry would have to look no further than this series to prove his point. Humanity is very funny to this Kal-el. He doesn't change his hair, voice or manner. A blue suit and a pair of glasses and suddenly your best friends don't know you.
Oh yes, there is the matter of the invulnerable hero who ducks when a gun is thrown at him. Sometimes it played out that way. Sometimes he'd let the gun hit him, and other times he'd grab the gun and crush it. The truth is that those fake guns hurt. But how can we be sure? That's evidence those crooks are throwing around: evidence that would suffer less damage striking a concrete wall than slamming against a stronger than steel chest. If you want to take Superman to task, complain about him crushing evidence. But then, as I say, he was a Superman who liked to have fun.
Even after the series switched to color, Superman lived in a black and white world. There was right, and there was wrong. It was simplistic and unrealistic. Still, even as kids we knew that there would be times in our lives when we would face situations where the choice was pretty clear. We would see the right, and we would see the wrong. At times like these, thanks to George Reeves and Superman, we would know exactly what we had to do.
The Adventures of Superman is unforgettable! It is a great show and even though it doesn't have the best effects of Superman, It shows the basics of it. Superman flying and saving people from the villans. Superman nowadays are much more advanced than Superman back then but Superman and Superman back then still have the same physical features like the hair twirl and how they stand tall and proud of being this America tradition. Superman is very important because Superman is basically immortal and help everyone in an instant. Cuz he has all those super powers which makes him so awesome!
This was the first televised series of the "Man of Steel". The radio series ended and the producer Robert Maxwell decided to move Superman to the small screen. The first season under Maxwell, were mini gangster movies, but instead of cops, or the F.B.I,catching the criminals, Superman would catch them. This seems like a great show for the adults, but Kellogg's thought the show was too violent for their target audience, children.
Season two brought a new producer, Whitney Ellsworth, who toned down the violence, and made Superman less of a vigilante, and made this show a little more family friendly. Superman now has somewhat a sense of humor, and the adventures now have some science fiction story lines to them.
Seasons three through six also brought something special to them: they were filmed in color, which no one really saw until the 1970's. Whitney Ellsworth was ahead of his time with that move. If the show was not filmed in color, I personally believe it would not have lasted this long. All seasons are wonderful to watch, the colored ones along with the black and white ones.
"You will believe a man can Fly!" I know, I know, that was the tagline from the 1978 movie Superman, but as a child in the 50's I didn't need CGI effects to be a true believer. For me, George Reeves (rest in peace) will always be the only Superman.
Ahh, the innocence of youth! I was a child in the naive era of the 50's, a time when Truth, Justice and the American Way could be cited with nary a trace of irony. A time when we truly believed the U.S.A. was the greatest nation on the planet, and that we would prevail over Communism and all other evil forces because we were the champions of all that is good in the world.
It was against this perfect backdrop that The Adventures of Superman was introduced in 1952. I wasn't born until 1954, so I must have been viewing the later re-runs in the early 60's. But I remember the first time I saw the intro- "Look, up in the sky! Its a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Superman!" I was immediately hooked for life.
The Adventures of Superman, based on the immensely popular D.C. Comic introduced in the 1930's, told the story of Kal-el, sent to Earth as an infant from the dying planet Krypton by his scientist father, Jor-el. Under our planet's yellow sun (as opposed to Krypton's red sun) he discovers that he has assorted super powers, such as flight, super strength, invulnerability, x-ray vision (the ability to see through everything but lead), heat vision and super speed. His only weakness seems to be a vulnerabilty to pieces of his now-exploded planet that fall to Earth as meteorites dubbed Kryptonite.
The child and his space ship are discovered by kindly Jonathan and Martha Kent, residents of Smallville, who adopt the baby and name him Clark Kent. They impart much homespun wisdom to young Clark during his formative years and instill in him two tenets that would guide his life:
1. That his powers must be used only for good.
2. That he must keep his true identity a secret to protect his loved ones from possible retribution at the hands of his enemies. Clark's ensuing exploits as Superboy are documented in several comic and TV series. Clark grows up and moves to the big city, Metropolis, where he lands a job as a (mild mannered) reporter for the Daily Planet newspaper. It is there that most of the TV series takes place as Clark, now dubbed Superman, encounters various situations where his powers are called upon to save the day. With cohorts Jimmy Olson- cub reporter, Lois Lane- a tenacious newshound whose investigatory instincts often land her in trouble, and Perry White- irascible editor of the Planet, often given to exclaiming "Great Caesar's ghost!" and "Don't call me chief!", Clark/Superman fought common thugs and evil genuises alike, and sometimes obliquely addressed social concerns of the day.
The casting was inspired. George Reeves, though chunky by today's standards, embodied the perfect athletic specimen of that era, and brought a lighthearted touch to the characters of Clark and Superman, But he was also a serious actor, who could inject a dose of gravitas when it was called for. Jack Larson's portrayal of Jimmy Olsen reflected his awareness that he was a surrogate for every adoring kid out there in TV land. His line readings never betrayed a trace of cynicism or resentment. For all we knew, he was as big a fan as we were.
John Hamilton's Perry White struck just the right tone of agreeable gruffness.
And finally, in the role of Lois Lane, Noel Neill wrote the book on Superman's gal pal. Though theirs was the most chaste of relationships on the TV series, the affection between the characters of Clark/Superman and Lois was palpable on the screen. And Neill's spitfire portrayal of Lois as a strong-willed, determined, independent woman has informed every other actress's interpretation since.
The cast had an easy rapport with each other that made the Daily Planet scenes a lot of fun. These folks seemed to genuinely like each other.
The production values were often laughable; ditto, the special effects. Superman would take "flight" by getting a running start, bounding onto a hidden springboard and soaring out of frame to land on a pad. Primitive optical tricks were used to display his other superpowers, and liberal use was made of obvious stock footage.
But all of these nuances were lost on an impressionable 8-9 year old. Hey, I still believed in Santa Claus- Superman wasn't much of a stretch. I even bugged my parents until they got me my very own Superman suit. I had eagerly torn the box open, donned my cape and tights and stood poised on the porch roof when my little brother ran to the front of the house with the torn box, exclaiming "Don't jump! It says here on the box that only Superman can fly!" And he was right. I had really thought the suit would make me fly. As Jack Bauer would say- "Damn it!"
With the recent theatrical and DVD release of the movie Hollywoodland, my interest in this classic series was re-ignited, and I am going to purchase some of the old episodes on DVD. If you have read this far, take my advice- watch The Adventures of Superman. You may not walk away believing a man can fly, but you will have spent a wonderful, nostalgic few hours, visiting a kinder, gentler time when it was a lot easier to believe in so many things.
I was born in 1983, so I did not grow up watching this TV series. That does not change the fact on how great the series is. George Reeves shines in this series as Clark Kent/Superman. The real star of the series, however, is Jack Larson. He completely owns the screen as Jimmy Olsen, especially later in the series. The best thing about "Adventures of Superman" is that it never gets tired or boring the longer it went. The last episode was just a fun as the first. Every Superman fan owes their fandom to this TV series, which made Superman more popular than he was as just a comic book.
Sure the stories and acting were a little corny, but since Superman is in it I think we can and should over look all of that. Does anybody else think it's odd that George Reeves played Superman in this series and Christopher Reeve played Superman in the movies? I thought george did a pretty good job acting, it was the other people that i thought were kind of "over actors." Anyway especially for it time this was a good show. I saw it in re runs as a teen and I found it enjoyable. I think they should pass a law that there must always be a series about superman on the air at all times.
Back in the days when there were no color TV's, no cell phones, no microwaves ovens, no computers (hey! how did we survive without all that???), there actually was a television show with believable plots (in a science-fictiony way!), good (if hammy!) acting, and, just a tad violent (bullets shown bouncing off Superman's chest), and even a bit frightening ("Superman and the Mole Men"), but was a wonderful, family-friendly, show!
Though there were some scares over very few kids in bedsheets-turned-capes, allegedly leaping off balconies, thinking they were Superman, the majority of us knew what was real and what wasn't. I guess we 50's kids were smarter than today's kids who imitate, to disastrous effect, the faux-wrestlers on today's TV. George Reeves, a smoker, was so concerned about the character he protrayed, that he never smoked in front of children or fans! That's class!
On a personal note, one of my uncles bore a striking resemblance to George (Superman) Reeves, and, being just a kid, back then, I considered it my duty never to reveal his secret identity! (still haven't!)
Given a choice between our modern technology and sociological environment, with its ultra-violent, gross, potty-mouthed, near-pornographic, TV shows, parading as entertainment for the masses, as opposed to returning to a simpler, more serene time of black and white TV's and enjoying good television programs with the family, I'd pick the latter every time!
I had never seen this show cause it is before my time. So i got it on dvd and loved it. I think it is the best Superman TV show out there. George Reeves kicks some serious ass as Clark Kent/Superman. He just pulls off the two characters very well. The show usually always has very good intersing plots that keep u interested. It may be black and white for the first two seasons but dont left that throw u off. It is a fantastic show. I also like how he jumps before flying as that is just plain awesome. Even the flying dont look half bad for a show from the fiftys. If u are a true hardcore Superman fan. Then this is the show for you.
First off, this classic series by some reason was rated below a 2!!!Why?
You got to uinderstand that this was 1950's TV, syndicated and low budget no less.
George Reeves was perfectly suited to play Superman and Clark Kent,while Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane was more of comedic sidekicks,they were the ones to get into trouble and Superman helps them out.
While some epiosdes proberly wont hold up in todays's standards, the best thing was that it was fun to watch.
The ultimate Superman. My Superman... For all the hoky effects and the lack of a distintion in the portray of Clark Kent and his alter ego Superman I really miss this show. Superman as a boy scout has become tired. I miss the man who speaks with authority. The arrogance along with the benevolence in a 'Superman'. I miss George!
I was a youngster in the 1950s (well, *very* little; being born late 1954), and consider George Reeves to be the de facto Superman. Though my own father has always been in my life, George as Superman was somehow some kind of father figure to me. Both George's Clark Kent and Superman give a clear difference between right and wrong; something that is so lacking in much of today's youth upbringing
I'm sure thousands of us fans borrowed our sisters' tights and wore them underneath our underpants, with a bath-towel cape pinned to a shirt with a crude S painted on a piece of paper also pinned to the shirt, but wouldn't venture into the view of anyone else...after all, we were wearing our underwear *outside* our clothes!...but, I digress.
Now that for Christmas I've received the set of The Adventures of Superman Season One DVDs, I have a renewed interest in this series, and look foreward to seeing all 104 episodes, uncut. I, in particular, love to watch the production qualities (or lack thereof!), such as seeing the dialog microphone's shadow, or Jimmy's shadow on the painted backdrop behind his aunt's house on Moose Island, or the Daily Planet's janitor's broom handle make a small dent in the fabric of Kent's office's walls. I'm from the Los Angeles area where many exterior sequences were filmed, and love to see if I can spot familiar landmarks.
We're watching the episodes a few a time--we must pace ourselves!--starting of course with Superman On Earth. (Interesting that it, the premiere episode, was among the *last* First Season Shows shot!
Though George and many of the series' cast members and producers have passed away, the series and its message will live on through DVDs, TV reruns and the internet.
If you are of a certain age, you may be somewhat torn when it comes to Supermen. While Christopher Reeve was the on-screen Man of Steel of your youth, you could also see the Kryptonians adventures everyday on TV. And after all these years, I'll take those small screen adventures first. George Reeves did such an incredible, effortless job as Superman; you just felt good and safe with the guy. So what if the special effects were cheesy as hell, the show had a budget of probably the catering budget of Ray Ramano...for lunch!
Can't wait to see "AOS" on DVD.
I grew up with the "Adventures of Superman" but it was only in my early adulthood did I come to appreciate the non-PC and sexist remarks by Perry Whyte, usually in reference to Lois.
For example. In one scene, Lois is ordered to take an impromptu flight across the country to some interesting location for a news report, and in her rush, she exclaims "but I haven't a thing to wear!", to which Perry states "What woman ever did!".
In another episode, Lois is making some interesting remarks about something I forgot in front of all the boys, which bemuses and befuddles the younger men. Perry's response is:
"My boy when a woman has nothing to say, she speaks in riddles....just to keep every one in a state of confusion".
Jeepers Superman, have you seen Mr Kent. This is a show that represents the innocence of the early days of TV. I was an avid viewer and grew up with Superman Comic books. For a child of the time it was never a dissapointment.
Superman was one of those shows I couldn't wait to see as a kid, TV was in it's infancy and things were still dependent on trickery and good acting, a bit camp but it did the job. George Reeves was an excellent Superman and never did injustice to the legacy of the comic, a true to life comic book Hero and intelligent actor. His demise was very unfortunate and spoke to the drawbacks of type casting for talented actors. Unfortunately this era of TV was a wasteland and most shows were hype and pap, but Superman was deffinetly a breath of naive fresh air.
Though I did not see the original series, I watched it during my childhood every chance that I had. I grew up being nothing more than a avid comic-book reader, thanks in part to my brother, and I have never stopped being a comic-hero supporter. I have seen every Superman movie made ever since, and I am a big fan of anything that has to do with Superman, or any other comic book hero. This Superman series may not have had the traditional Superman-type villains, it had the Superman heart. The basic core characters were there, so it made the show enjoyable to me. I just hope it will continue to show for the next generations to come.
Every week, those words, "..it's a bird..it's a plane..it's Superman", trumpeted in another episode of one the earliest and still greatest superhero tv shows, The Adventures Of Superman.
Starring George Reeve in the lead role, this first black and white and then color program caught my attention immediately as a young child. All I wanted to do after that for years was be able to fly. And of course helping people at the same time wasn't bad either. But alas, I had to live out my fantasies thru Clark Kent and his super alter ego, Superman.
I had all the comics from the youngest age, and of course the costume at Halloween time. It only took a couple of leaps off of the sofa onto the hard floor to communicate the fact that I wasn't from the planet Krypton and I couldn't fly. But it was still fun to pretend.
As to the show, sure it seems amateurish today, but it sure seemed real back then. And of course everyone should already be familiar with the story line but just in case you've been living on another world for the past 50 years, here it is.
The planet Krypton is about to explode and that world's leading scientist, Jor-el, has predicted it for many years, only to have his research fall on deaf ears. In the meantime, Jor-el, knowing that their fate is sealed, builds a space ship to carry their young son, Kal-el, to a distant planet called Earth. His research also reveals that the boy will gain super powers. He prepares the boy with studies that will make him not only an intelligent man, but will instill morals and the want to help his fellow, and less super, inhabitants of Earth.
His craft crashes outside of a small farm town called Smallville and the Kents find him in a field. They take him in, raise him as their own and give him that good family upbringing that also helped instill the best of human qualities in "Clark".
The show starts with Kal-el streaming to earth, being found and raised by the Kents, and getting a job as Clark Kent at The Daily Planet newspaper. One of the endearing qualities of the original story, carried into the tv shows as well as the eventual movies with Christopher Reeves, is the bumbling, innocent nature of Clark, as opposed to the confident strength of Superman. George Reeve may be a little stiff in the role, but that lends itself to the times the show was made. And it actually works well.
Each week, The Adventures Of Superman presented it's morality play, usually the good guys fighting the evil doers. And there was always humor injected into the storyline. Probably the weakest element of the show was the localization of Superman to pretty much just Metropolis (a city that more than resembles New York City). Sure, that's where he lives and works, but the comic books showed Superman as a more universal character. I suspect that an extremely small budget is a main reason for keeping the super dude close to home.
The Adventures Of Superman in their original run and then in years of syndication, did a lot to hook this kid to the medium of television as one of my principal forms of occupation and entertainment of the 50s, 60s and even still to this day!
The classic superhero show: an invulnerable hero with a secret identity, a clear-cut line between good people and evil, a single means to destroy the hero, and 104 imaginative ways that one might devise to defeat him.
I wonder what role Superman would have today if he were real.
To begin with, he would have no secret identity, for Clark Kent would be investigated time after time as our government would demand to know more about the link he has to Superman.
And I wonder if society would accept the presence of a superhero. More likely, he would be the subject of suspicion, notwithstanding his track record in fighting crime.
And I fear he'd be a liability in crime prevention: Few of his crime-solving exploits would lead to convictions, as the bad guys lean more and more on their constitutional protections against Superman's techniques. For finding loopholes to justify criminal behavior has BECOME "The American Way."
But I'm thankful for the fantasy that the producers of the show brought to our televisions. It was an immensely fun show to watch.
"The Adventures of Superman" was an exciting series chronicling the exploits of the man of steel that stands the test of time and has been syndicated for decades, perhaps as timeless as "I Love Lucy" itself.
I was always impressed that the series managed to make the most of the character given the lack of special effects technology that was possible or affordable at the time. Season 1 was particularly strong with classic mystery elements and a darker tone, as well as featuring the excellent Phyllis Coates starring as Lois Lane. "The Case of the Talkative Dummy" still creeps me out. As the series progressed, it became more light-hearted and sometimes comedic and I think that some of the later episodes are not as strong, though the excellent "Panic in the Sky" is just one example of a good story after Season 1. By the end, the Noel Neill Lois, a more comedic Jimmy Olsen and the stylized Professor Pepperwinkle (who like Inspector Henderson became so well-known that he were introduced into the comics in the 1970s) lent a somewhat sillier tone to the series. At the same time, George Reeves remained a big hero with a twinkle in his eye and showing a nicely-acted Clark Kent.
In many ways, this was a series more about Clark than Superman, and Reeves brings it all off with a knowing wink.
Superman is a great character. This show proved to very good for its time. George Reeves was excellent as Clark Kent/Superman. The whole cast was very good. Jack Larson was the first great Jimmy Olsen. Noel Neil was a good Lois Lane. I liked her more than Coates. The show may not have had the best plots but was always cool. When it went color it wasnt better. It was still enjoyable. The show had its up and downs. Still cant help to always like. I think it was original and a great show for TV in that time. In the end a classic.
Before Brandon Routh, before Tom Welling, before Dean Cain, and even before Christopher Reeve, there was George Reeves. Reeves, for a generation of Americans, was Superman. I've recently picked up all four sets (six seasons) of this television show, and I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised. In today's environment, Superman is painted as melancholy, distant, and reserved. Reeve's Superman is decidedly not that - trading fisticuffs with the baddies, and not spending too much time on feeling lonely. While I enjoy the more mature and contemporary takes on the Man of Steel, I can't help but watch this old show with a sense of wonder - for many, this is where their love of Superman began. It's for that reason I find the show to be great, because I appreciate the origins of the show. The sense of nostalgia can be permeating - especially considering Reeves future - but I still recommend checking it out.
George Reeves does a great job as Superman, but it was his confident Clark Kent that shows the range of this talented and underappreciated thespian. Reeves, who often looks more muscular in his classic suits than in his Superman garb, plays Kent with far more confidence and humor than recent incarnations, and it works.
Jack Larson sets the bar high as Jimmy Olsen, and no actor to date has come close to it since. His child-like innocence, subtle humor, and energy are an acting lesson in each appearance. He steals scenes one after another. The rest of the cast, including Noel Neill as Lois Lane, also establish the institution that is Superman with excellent performances, which other actors have and should continue to strive towards.
If there is any weakness here, it is the stories. Even geared towards children, these stories can be considered weak. Often the plots make little sense and the guests appear to be trying to figure them out. There are a few gems in the set, but for the most parts, it is the acting of our leads and the special effects that are the highlights here.
For a complete review; check our maskedmoviesnobs.com
Growing up in the 1950's I was an avid collector of comics. One of my favorites was superhero Superman. The other was Plastic Man. For some reason few have heard of the original Plastic Man, but Superman is still very much with us and probably will be for some time to come. Before judging this series, one must remember that only televisions that showed black and white were on the market. There was no color. If an early television show was produced in color it was for other reasons, say possible release on the big screen. Some producers hoped to string two or three episodes of a popular television series together and distribute it to movie houses as one feature as was done with The Lone Ranger. Also, there were no big-screen TV's. Therefore special effects could be kept fairly primitive (and inexpensive) because the viewer wouldn't be seeing much anyway. The average TV screen was about 13". A person was uptown if he/she had a 17" screen. There were Superman movies out at the time featuring other actors rather than "the real" Superman, George Reeves. The Superman TV shows were compact, well-written, and well-performed. For me Noel Neill will always be Lois Lane. Ditto for Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen, John Hamilton as Perry White, Robert Shayne as Inspector Bill Henderson, and even though Christopher Reeves did a bang-up job as a later Superman, George Reeves will always be Superman for my generation.
Another reason I was so drawn to the Superman TV show was because a stunt man who was married to my cousin at the time appeared in one of the episodes. In the episode, "The Wedding of Superman" Doyle Brooks played Mr. Poole, one of the heavies. Brooks was born in the little hamlet of Bethesda, Arkansas, married my cousin and set out to become a movie star in Hollywood. He ended up a successful stuntman but did very little acting. His biggest success was playing the Ajax White Knight in a now famous television commercial.
Superman's may come and go but George Reeves will always be "the" Superman to all of us who were kids in the 1950's.
Its sad to know that the man who played this outstanding hero is now dead. But as we all know, this is definite extention that lead to Superman's longevity in our culture. I would high suggest this series to anyone who loves Superman and what he stands for (especially in this day and age of the 21st century). Being that this series was written and show in a totally different era, it stands by a code of conduct that was meant for another time obviously but the fact remains the meaning behind the stories still reign true for us that are fans and supports of this outstanding representation of what the United States of America stand for.
Believe me when I say that we truly need a "superman" anymore with all that is going on in world. But thanks to the creation of Superman, it gives us a chance to think about what it would be like to have such a great being in our world.
What needs to be understood is that this show could very well have been ahead of its time. Thats to say that being that Superman is not from our planet and still was able to see what it was we as the beings he was here to protect. More to the point, the show was written so we saw the soft, yet firm, side of the boy in blue. And I honestly think thats the reason why we as his fans and admires enjoy the idea of having a "superman" in our lives.
It's great to know that such an outstanding piece of art was brought to the air (especially for those of this time) to enjoy. I think its a great way for those of us that were not of that era to learn the ins and out of what make made Superman so great (comic books aside). Long live George Reeves and his spirit of what became a long standing precurser of what we know to be a definite Superman!
Man of Steel was released to the general public on 14 June 14 2013. I saw 5 minutes of the film nearly two years later thanks to my son who taped the movie for my wife. The latest actor to don the blue tights and big red S was Henry Cavill. The movie's director was Zack Snyder of Watchmen and 300 fame. This $170 million movie was produced by Christopher Nolan, the man behind the hit Batman trilogy. The movie was an attempt to reboot the franchise of one of the most popular heroes in the comic book canon. I leave it to readers with the interest to find out about the plot, the characters, the development, the reception, and much else. Wikipedia has an excellent overview of this action film.
My last contact with the superman-movie-world was a little more than a year ago in early February 2014. I watched some of the 2006 movie Superman Returns one evening in mid-summer in Australia with Valentine's Day just around the corner. Watching the movie gave me a brief visit into fantasy-land, and the experience of some personal nostalgia. I had watched some of this same TV film nearly four years before on 19 June 2010, so my notes informed me. I decided to write this prose-poem providing a personal perspective on this superhero who keeps popping back into my life because I have a TV and popular culture is now firmly embedded in my life.
Superman is a fictional character, a superhero that appeared in comic books first published in the 1930s by DC Comics. Superman is now considered, and has been for decades, an American cultural icon, and that means, of course, that his image has acquired an immense popularity.
Superman first appeared in a short story entitled: "The Reign of the Superman" in 1932. In that same year, in July, a dozen years before I was even born, the Heroic Age of the Baha'i Faith was closed with the passing of Bahiyyih Khanum, the daughter of the Founder of the Baha'i Faith.
According to Bah's, every dispensation has one particular holy woman or "immortal heroine". In the time of Jesus it was the Virgin Mary, the time of Muhammad it was his daughter Fatima Zahra, and during the Bb's dispensation it was Thirih. Bah's believe that Bahyyih Khnum is the outstanding heroine of the Bah' dispensation. This, of course, has nothing to do with Superman. But the syncronicity of Superman's first appearance in popular culture with a particular aspect of the history of a Faith I have now been associated with for more than 60 years, was of more than a little personal interest. I do not expect this to have any special interest to others.
Paul Asay of The Washington Post writes that the "religious themes keep coming in Superman films: free will, sacrifice. God-given purpose. Man of Steel isn't just a movie. It's a Bible study in a cape. The messages are so strong that its marketers have been explicitly pushing the film to Christian
Superman was first conceived in 1932 and was arguably western civilization's first superhero. Superman was first portrayed as a villain named Bill Dunn who was later revisioned into a good guy for more popular appeal. Originally, Superman was produced as a syndicated newspaper strip, which ran from June 1938 until May 1966, before being revived between 1977 and 1983.
Superman was then created, so we are informed, by two high school students in Cleveland Ohio, in 1933. By then, the Baha'i community's 9 month period of mourning, which began with the passing of this holy woman, had ended. The comic character, Superman, was sold to Detective Comics, Inc in 1938. By this time the first formal and systematic teaching Plan of the Baha'i community had just begun.
Superman now has an 83-year history(1932-2015). He appeared in comic books, his central texts in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by the George Reeves' 1950 television serials. I was too young to remember those comic-books, but I do recall some of the episodes of that TV series back in the early to mid-'50s before my mother sold our TV to, hopefully, ensure her son was not tempted into triviality on a daily basis.
In the late 1970s and 1980s Christopher Reeve films rewired the entire Superman canon. The Lois and Clark television series of the 1990s was framed as yet another central Superman text. The Crisis on Infinite Earths(2001) and The Man of Steel (1986) comic book series rebooted the entire Superman-mythos, framing a range of sources. These resources were further extended by Superman Returns, as we are informed at that reliable source Wikipedia.
In 2001, the Smallville television series was launched, focusing on the adventures of Clark Kent as a teenager before he donned the mantle of Superman. I watched some of these episodes after I had retired from a 50 year student-and-employment life: 1949 to 1999. Adaptation to various media by any literary or art form depends on a dialogue or oscillation between those media. If I engaged in a cross-media study of Superman, I could look back at the more than three-quarters of a century genesis of this trans-media dialogue. But that is not my purpose in this brief prose-poem.
Until the 1980s, comic books had largely been ignored by media theorists, except as scapegoats in media-effects debates. But comic books are on the cards for analysis by culture theorists in this new millennium. -Ron Price with thanks to Richard Berger, "Are There Any More at Home Like You?" in the Journal of Adaptation in Film & Performance, Volume 1 Number 2, 2008.
Why he's been around since our Plan
began in the 1930s and 1940s. But no
one had any idea that the lifespan of
this superhero went along with the life-
span of this super-Plan that would, in
time, take the world by storm as the hero
Superman certainly did over these last 83
years in which our global society has been
immersed in a tempest unparalleled in its
magnitude and unpredictable in its force.
Why I remember those comic books,
and the TV programs way back in the
1950s when I was knee-high to those the Baha'is were
in that Ten Year program that took a
new Faith to where it is today in some
200+ countries and territories, the 2nd
most widespread religion on the planet,
so they tell me in that 1)
(1) Encyclopdia Britannica, "Worldwide Adherents of All Religions by Six Continental Areas, Mid-2002". The term "Superman" derives from a common English translation of the term Ubermensch which originated with Friedrich Nietzsche's statement, "Ich lehre euch den bermenschen" ("I will teach you the Superman"). These words appeared in Nietzsche's 1883 work Also Sprach Zarathustra. Baha'u'llah was released from strict confinement in the prison city of Akka in that same year to begin the last decade of His earthly life, as Charismatic-Founder of the newest, the latest, of the Abrahamic religions.
The term "Superman" was popularized by George Bernard Shaw with his 1903 play Man and Superman; this was the same year as the approval of the building of the mother-temple of the West in Chicago was given by 'Abdul-Baha. The character Jane Porter refers to Tarzan as a "superman" in the 1912 pulp novel Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
The originator of Superman would later name Tarzan as an influence on the creation of his own Superman. Abdul-Baha went on His Western tour that year, a super-human effort by a 68 year old man in the evening of His life. I saw one or two, or more, of the Tarzan films starring Johnny Weissmuller back in the 1950s.
14/7/'09 to 21/4/'15.
Note: The above prose-poem was first updated after watching Superman Returns on Australian TV 19 June 2010, and updated again on 17/2/'14, and 21/4/'15.
"Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands; and who, disguised as Clark Kent,mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth,
justice, and the American way.
As a long time comic book fan and (part-time) follower of the Superman mythos, I feel obligated to watch this show whenever I get a chance. I find it interesting to see how creators of alternate medium would perceived the iconic character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster in the summer of 1938. For the most part, the writers of “The Adventures Of Superman” maintain the style and feel of the Superman universe as it was presented in the 1950s. Clark Kent is no longer the bumbling, misanthropic news reporter, but rather, a capable and highly respected member of the journalistic community. Lois Lane, still has a strong independent edge to her, but allows her emotions to get the better of her on too many occasions (which was stereotypical of the second-rate heroines at this time). Fortunately, the weight of any apparent sexism is lessened by the incompetence of ace reporter Jimmy Olsen.
On the whole, I don’t really enjoy the show that much. I find it pretty formulaic and the characters, while true to type, are not entirely convincing or compelling. George Reeves had a pretty simple job here. All that was required of him was to arch his shoulders proudly and occasionally wink at the camera as he ‘pulls one over’ on tired, ole Lois.
But even though age and style has taken its toll on this classic program, it still boasts one of the more memorable gaffs of television history. Who doesn’t remember the numerous classic moments when Superman would smugly allow bullets to bounce off his chest only to sheepishly duck when the villain would then subsequently throw the unloaded gun at him after running short on ammo?
A show like this can really only be appreciated if one allows their minds to keep it in the perspective of the time period. I respect the show for its contribution to pop culture history and for allowing the myth of Superman to spread out into the mainstream culture. For those who want to learn more about the yesteryear concepts surrounding this American hero, I would rather refer them more towards the Dave Fleischer animated shorts. Those provide some fantastic examples of the Man of Tomorrow as he evolved from the Golden Age into the Silver Age of comic history.
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