While watching the documentary, Superheroes Decoded, I became aware of the origin of Superman as a comic book character. Superman’s creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, were two teenagers who lived in an impoverished neighborhood in Cleveland. Some may speculate that Cleveland served as a model for Superman’s city, Metropolis. It has been claimed that the idea for Superman came to Jerry and Joe in a dream. For Superman’s appearance, they drew inspiration from the strongmen (who were popular in the 1930s), Jesse Owens the fastest man alive (who was the pride of Cleveland, Jerry and Joe’s hometown), Tarzan, and Roman gladiators. Initially, Jerry and Joe were rejected by publisher after publisher before they were accepted by Action Comics, which would eventually become DC Comics. Thus, the modern myth of the superhero was born!
When developing Superman’s origin story, Jerry and Joe drew inspiration from the Book of Exodus, which depicted an infant Moses being sent down the Nile River to be raised by another family and eventually change the world. As more immigrants came to America, Superman became a symbol for them because he himself is an immigrant and a literal illegal alien. He symbolized immigrants coming to a new homeland and giving something back to their new community.
During his early days, Superman was made to give people hope in the wake of the Great Depression. Instead of supervillains, he fought crooked rich people and corrupt government officials. He was a champion for the common man. Overall, Superman was created to represent the best of humanity in a world of growing darkness.