In the aftermath of The Death of Superman, we were introduced to four new so-called “Supermen”: Superboy, Steel, the Eradicator, and Cyborg Superman. Even though each of these characters claimed to be the new Superman, I noticed that each of them represents a particular aspect of the original Superman. Superboy is how Superman would have turned out if he was raised by the Kardashians instead of the Kents. Superboy symbolizes the part of Superman who loves the spotlight as well as the fame and glory that comes from being a hero. Steel AKA John Henry Irons is a man wearing a mechanical power suit and a war hammer. Because Steel is a normal human, it would safe to say that he represents Superman’s humanity. The Eradicator is a Kryptonian artificial intelligence and is essentially Spock on a truckload of steroids. The Eradicator represents the Kryptonian or inhuman part of Superman. Cyborg Superman AKA Hank Henshaw symbolizes Superman’s power because his Kryptonian DNA made him strong while his cybernetics made him even stronger. Overall, because Superman was such a model superhero, there are bound to be others who are willing to take up his mantle and carry on his legacy.
I just realized something! This year represents the 80th anniversary of the first publication of Superman in 1938. For eight decades, the Man of Steel has served as a symbol of hope for generations and inspired us with his epic adventures. I hope he continues to uplift us in another 80 years from now. Let’s hear it for the Last Son of Krypton!
We are all familiar with the saying that Superman is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. I know that Superman’s abilities far exceed these standards, but allow me to put that in a literal sense. The average bullet travels at 1,700 miles per hour, which means Superman would have a minimum speed of 2,000 miles per hour. A locomotive can carry about 336,000 pounds, which means that Superman’s minimum strength level would be to lift between 350,000 to 400,000 pounds. When it comes to leaping tall buildings in a single bound, the tallest building in New York City is 1,776 feet tall, which means Superman would need to jump about 1,780 feet to go over it. What would you do if you could do all of that in real life?
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.
I watched a film that depicted a very interesting version of the DC Comics Universe, complete with its own versions of the DC Trinity (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman). Unlike most versions of the Justice League, who were the ideal superheroes, this Justice League is a trio of morally ambiguous anti-heroes who are willing to kill to get the job done. In addition to the DC Trinity, we also got to see alternate versions of other classic DC characters such as Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, Amanda Waller, Steve Trevor, and countless others. I particularly like this version of Superman because he is so much different than the one we all know and love. While the traditional Superman is the son of Jor-El and raised by the Kents, this Superman is the son of General Zod and was raised by migrant workers. The rage and trauma of being persecuted as a migrant combined with being the son of a supervillain like General Zod is a dangerous mixture, which makes this Superman aggressive and morally flexible. I would recommend this film to anyone who is seeking a new way of looking into the DC Comics Universe.
When I was a kid, I thoroughly enjoyed the old Superman cartoons. In the documentary, Superheroes Decoded, Superman was created to give people hope in the wake of the Great Depression. This cartoon was one of the ways they did it.