Superman

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It's not about where you were born. Or what powers you have. Or what you wear on your chest. ... It's about what you do... It's about action.

Superman is a fictional character and superhero, also known as Clark Kent and Kal-El. Created by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, he first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938 and rapidly became a popular and well-known comic book icon.

For the philosophical use, see Übermensch
For other uses, see Superman (disambiguation)
This looks like a job for Superman!
I'd advise you not to print this little episode.
Did you ever wonder boys, how it would feel to fall from a great distance and be crushed to a pulp?
Sorry if this is tough on your pocketbook, but I'm thinking of the lives to be saved!
You're right! Taking lives is something I definitely find offensive! But roughing up criminal terrorists a bit doesn't faze me at all!

General[edit]

Superman: This looks like a job for Superman!

Ongoing series[edit]

Superman in Action Comics[edit]

Issue 1[edit]

Written by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel

Man in Green (brandishing a gun at Superman): Reach for the ceiling, quick!
Superman: Put that toy AWAY!

Superman: This is no time for horseplay!

Superman: (to a man beating his wife) You're not fighting a woman now!

Clark: Be reasonable Lois, dance with the fellow and then we'll leave right away.
Lois: You can stay and dance with him if you wish, but I'm leaving NOW!
Man: Yeah? You'll dance with me and like it!
Lois: Why you! (slaps man)
Clark: (thinks to himself "Good for you Lois!") Lois—DON'T!
Man: Fight...you weak livered pole cat! (palms Clark's face)
Clark: Really---I have no desire to do so! (Lois leaves) Wait, LOIS!

Superman: (to Lois, after saving her) I'd advise you not to print this little episode.

Issue 8[edit]

Written by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel

Superman: Did you ever wonder boys, how it would feel to fall from a great distance and be crushed to a pulp?

Superman: It's not entirely your fault that you're delinquent-- it's these slums - your poor living conditions - if there was only some way I could remedy it--!

Issue 12[edit]

Written by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel

Superman: Sorry if this is tough on your pocketbook, but I'm thinking of the lives to be saved!

Mayor: The bodies of auto victims--maimed---horrible!
Superman: They are men you killed!

Issue 551[edit]

Written by Marv Wolfman

H.I.V.E Goon: You can't threaten me, Superman! You'd never kill us!
Superman: You're right! Taking lives is something I definitely find offensive! But roughing up criminal terrorists a bit doesn't faze me at all!

Issue 775[edit]

I'm not an idiot, Black. I know there are bad men in power and the world is not an equitable place -- but you can't throw morality in the garbage just because life's tough!

Written by Joe Kelly

Superman: I'm not an idiot, Black. I know there are bad men in power and the world is not an equitable place -- but you can't throw morality in the garbage just because life's tough!

Superman[edit]

Issue 75[edit]

For Lois, and Jimmy and the entire city, I've got to put this guy away while I still can!

Written by Dan Jurgens

Superman: It stops here, mister! This insanity ends in Metropolis!

Superman: Too late, Lois. The JLA has already fallen and there are too many innocents in jeopardy. It's up to me.
Lois: Clark... I...
Superman: Just remember... no matter what happens... I'll always love you. ALWAYS.

Superman: Nobody tears my city apart and gets away with it.

Superman: I don't know what hole you crawled out of or where you came from, but I'm sending you back!

Superman: Enough, Doomsday! If you want to get your hands on my friends, you're going to have to kill me first!

Superman: (his last internal monologue before he dies) For Lois, and Jimmy and the entire city, I've got to put this guy away while I still can!

Superman: The Man of Steel[edit]

Issue 21[edit]

I have many enemies who have tried to control me. And I live in fear that someday, they might succeed. If that ever should happen -- If I should ever lose control, There would only be one sure way to stop me.

Written by Louise Simonson

Batman: He gave me this ring with a kryptonite stone. He said -
Superman: I have many enemies who have tried to control me. And I live in fear that someday, they might succeed. If that ever should happen -- If I should ever lose control, There would only be one sure way to stop me.
Batman: Do you realize what you're asking?
Superman: I do. I want the means to stop me to be in the hands of a man I can trust with my life.

Issue 121[edit]

You've got a very distinct heartbeat. Erratic breathing. And your kevlar costume squeaks when you walk. Easy sound grouping to pull out of a crowd.

Written by Geoff Johns

King of Diamonds: Aren't you going to read me my rights?
Superman: See a badge?

Superman: Hello, Ten.
Ten of Diamonds: I was just thinking about you. How --
Superman: You've got a very distinct heartbeat. Erratic breathing. And your kevlar costume squeaks when you walk. Easy sound grouping to pull out of a crowd.
Ten of Diamonds: A crowd of eleven million?
Superman: My hearing's very acute.

The Adventures of Superman[edit]

Issue 505[edit]

Deke Dickson: Maybe you can steal more money with a briefcase than a gun, but nothing beats superpowers!
Superman: Close, Punk. Nothing beats Superman!

Minis and other appearances[edit]

Kingdom Come[edit]

Written by Mark Waid

Issue 1[edit]

I'm Superman. I can do anything.
Superman: I'm Superman. I can do anything.
Wonder Woman: Except, apparently, face your fear.

Issue 2[edit]

Superman: Party's over.
Superman: We are at war.

Issue 3[edit]

Only the weak succumb to brutality.
Superman: Only the weak succumb to brutality.

All-Star Superman[edit]

You're much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.

Written by Grant Morrison

Issue 3[edit]

The Sphinx: What happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object?
Superman: They surrender.

Issue 10[edit]

Superman: You're much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.

Superman: Birthright (2003–2004)[edit]

Each time I think I've made a connection with someone... once they find out what I can do, whether it's hours or days later, everything changes. Invariably they freak. They get retroactivly paranoid, wondering what else Clark Kent is hiding from them.
Written by Mark Waid
Clark: (to his mother, Martha Kent, in an email) I can see this, I suppose you could call it, aura of colors that words can't describe around living things. And when something dies the aura fades leaving something that's not easy to look at. It appears empty in a way that makes you feel empty too!!
Clark: (to his mother, Martha Kent, in an email) Each time I think I've made a connection with someone... once they find out what I can do, whether it's hours or days later, everything changes. Invariably they freak. They get retroactively paranoid, wondering what else Clark Kent is hiding from them.
Superman and Lois (first time)
Superman: Don't be afraid.
Lois: I'm not. Helicopters, danger, go, go, go! Then we'll talk.
Superman: (to himself) She's not afraid.
Superman apprehending an arms dealer
Superman: I know it was you who sold those guns to those kids.
Arms dealer: I didn't sell them anything.
Superman: I can hear your heartbeat. I know you're lying.
Superman(Grabbing a gun off the wall): I just saw a young girl looking down the barrel of a gun screaming. She will remember it for the rest of her life.
Superman(Firing the gun at the terrified arms dealer then catching the bullet right in front of his face): Now, so will you.
Clark and Lois at a diner
Lois: When we first met Luthor, you acted like the two of you knew each other.
Clark: Yeah. A long time ago back in Smallville. He doesn't seem to remember, which is its own miracle. I was hoping he wouldn't anyway.
Lois: That's too bad. It would be nice if you could shed some light on his actions.
Clark: Looking back, Lois, I think he just wants someone to talk to.
Superman saves Lois from mobsters
Lois: Thank God.
Superman: Are you all right?
Lois: I'm fine. I need to talk with you.
Superman: Can it wait?
Lois: No. (Bullet flies past her head) Yes.

Infinite Crisis[edit]

Earth-2 Superman: [internal monologue upon hearing of the death of Superboy, at the hands of Superboy-Prime] When I had to tell Kara, all she could say was "Why? Why did we survive when he didn't?" I asked myself that question so many times. But I thought I knew the answer. Because I thought he was unworthy of the symbol I'd help. But I picked the wrong one to condone. And the wrong one to condemn.
Green Lantern: I'm picking up a signal... The Society has broken open every prison in the world and brought the inmates to Metropolis. They're going to storm the city. They're saying that if Superman's city falls... the rest will follow...?
Superman: Everyone, listen to me! These jerks killed Superboy. They've tried to kill us. Now they say they're going to tear this city apart. I say... like hell.
Superboy-Prime: [battling Superman]] I'm the only one who can rescue this messed-up universe. I'm the only one who knows how to make it right. I will be its greatest hero! When you're gone... I will be Superman!
Superman: Superman? [rips the S-Shield off Superboy-Prime's costume] You'll never be Superman. Because you have no idea what it means to be Superman.
Superboy-Prime: Yes I do. I'm from Krypton! A better Krypton than yours ever was!
Superman: It's not about where you were born. Or what powers you have. Or what you wear on your chest.
Superboy-Prime: Shut up! [the two continue fighting]
Superman: [after defeating Superboy-Prime] It's about what you do... It's about action. And every action you've taken has been selfish, destructive, in a word: evil. You don't fight for others, "Superboy". You only fight for yourself.

Superman (1940s cartoon)[edit]

Openings[edit]

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!
Faster than a streak of lightening! More powerful than the pounding surf! Mightier than a roaring hurricane!
This amazing stranger from the planet Krypton, the man of steel, Superman! Empowered with X-ray vision, possessing remarkable physical strength, Superman fights a never ending battle for truth and justice, disguised as a mild mannered newspaper reporter, Clark Kent.
Scriptwriter Jay Morton
Man 1: Up in the sky, look!
Woman: It's a bird!
Man 2: It's a plane!
Man 1: It's Superman!

Narrator: Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!
1-7

Narrator: Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to soar higher than any plane!
8-10

Narrator: Faster than a streak of lightening! More powerful than the pounding surf! Mightier than a roaring hurricane!
11-17

Narrator: This amazing stranger from the planet Krypton, the man of steel, Superman! Empowered with X-ray vision, possessing remarkable physical strength, Superman fights a never ending battle for truth and justice, disguised as a mild mannered newspaper reporter, Clark Kent.

Miscellaneous[edit]

Wally West talking to the other Titans

Wally: I remember the first time I met Superman. Barry was going to introduce us. I was just standing on the rooftop watching Barry talk to Superman. I must have tapped my foot a thousand times fighting the urge to ask for his autograph. I started to get down on myself looking at him. Like I could never measure up. I felt like taking off my costume and walking away. When they finished talking Superman walked over to me, put his hand on my shoulder and said "I wish more young people were like you." Afterwards I couldn't stop smiling for a week.

Superman and Batman Talking in Superman: Critical Condition

Superman: I'm sorry for interfering Bruce. I know that could have gone badly.
Batman: They're never afraid of you are they? Glowing green and seeping radiation. You could break this planet in two. And yet when they see you there struggling to hold yourself up in a doorway, they trip over each other to help you.
Superman: You could try asking people nicely.

Martha Kent talking to Clark about being Superman

Martha: You can't wear a mask Clark. When people see you and can see the things you can do, the power you have, they'll be terrified. They need to be able to look into your eyes, see your face, so that they can see the decency and kindness that's always there and know they have nothing to be afraid of.

The Atom from Superman: Critical Condition

The Atom: I remember the first time I met Superman. It was a Justice League case so there were other heroes involved, but in my mind none of them stood as tall or as proudly as Superman. I began to wonder what I was doing in the same room as him, how little he must think of me. But Superman never treated me as anything but an equal. At six inches tall he made me feel like a giant. Now I had to be that giant for him.

Green Arrow asks for Superman's help on a murder case involving a hanging (Identity Crisis)

Green Arrow: (internal monologue) For the last victim, we went to Animal Man, the Metal Man, and Mister Miracle. We found nothing. So this time, we go to the top. (he glances at Superman) The very top.
Superman: The killer used a sheep's tongue knot with a Dutch Marine twist.]]
Green Arrow: How do you know that?
Superman: It's a standard Boy Scout's knot.
Green Arrow: (internal monologue)And in one sentence I can both love and hate the man.

Clark Kent quits the Daily Planet over the state of news (The New 52) (in Superman #13 written by Scott Lobdell)

Clark Kent: The guy isn't a 24-hour pharmacy chief, he must not have felt like he was needed. Calling attention to Superman not being around only serves to put a big target on the people of Metropolis.

Quotes about Superman[edit]

Superman is the kind of guy who's impossible to hate, because he's a guy's guy, and he's straightforward. He can be a little sarcastic and he has a wryness about him. But he doesn't have a lot of dark corners. ~ Tim Daly
I think Superman's a loner. Without a doubt. I think he recognizes that he has this responsibility, because of the power that he has, and that he has to bear it by himself. ~ Tim Daly
Superman has a lot of power and he doesn’t have to be showy, rather he carries that confidence quietly. He knows what he can do. I certainly am not capable of pulling that off in my own life. But knowing that, I can fake that attitude to help me out now and then. ~ Tim Daly
[Jews needed] a hero who could protect us against an almost invincible force. So [Siegel and Shuster] created an invincible hero. ~ Will Eisner
Everyone’s like, ‘He’s so powerful, I can’t relate to him.’ Are you kidding me? He’s the most relatable character ever. He grew up on a farm, he doesn’t have a lot of friends, feels isolated, he can’t tell everybody what his secrets are. He’s a great character. He feels overlooked — who hasn’t felt overlooked, or wanted to connect with people? All social media is, is people wanting to connect with other people. That’s all it is. Because people long to connect with other people. And Superman is the embodiment of that. He’s more relevant now than ever. ~ Geoff Johns
If I were a Superman among two billion people, despite the fact that I was a super-being, I'd feel pretty insecure. For instance, say I was a white hunter in Africa and I were to walk into a cannibal village. Despite the fact that I had a gun and they didn't, despite the fact that I had ammunition and they didn't, I'd feel pretty insecure, despite the fact that I could probably shoot my way out. Superman is alone in our world. ~ Jack Kirby
Mark Waid had him as a vegetarian, he sort of ratified it and then people were really angry because they used to say in the 70s his favourite food was beef bourguignon. But I kind of think of course he would be a vegetarian, I mean he would find it hard not to be. He's a super kid who grew up with animals and I'm sure he'd empathise with them pretty early on and just not be. ~ Grant Morrison
When Superman was created during the Great Depression, he was the champion of the oppressed and fought on the side of the working man. He was lawless. If you were a wife beater, he’d throw you out the window. If you were a corrupt congressman, he’d swing you from the rooftops until you confessed. I think it appealed to people who were losing their jobs to machines: Suddenly you had Superman wrecking machines and punching robots. But his popularity has declined—nobody wants to be the son of a farmer now. ~ Grant Morrison
America's favorite superhero is an immigrant, and that's only fitting because America is a nation made up of people from all over the world—people blending their contributions and creating something new in the process. ~ Sarah Newgarden
When Superman and Batman came to Japan, it was right after the war, right? Together with the G.I.s. In other words, our height and theirs was completely different. We were totally overwhelmed physically, and got this complex about being unable to compete with White people. It was just then that Superman arrived, the White man’s representative, and I thought who the hell does he think he is? ~ Osamu Tezuka
Superman, a native of the fictional planet of “Krypton,” landed on Earth as an infant and some suggest that he would therefore be eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arri-vals program, DACA. President Trump recently announced that he would end the program, though he called on Congress to provide a new path for DACA holders. ~ T.J. Raphael
If only I could fly... ~ Jerry Siegel
Alphabetized by author
  • If I go crazy then will you still
    Call me Superman
    If I’m alive and well, will you be
    There a-holding my hand
    I’ll keep you by my side
    With my superhuman might
    Kryptonite.
    • 3 Doors Down, "Kryptonite"
  • Well I know what I've been told
    You've to break free to break the mold
    But I can't do this all on my own
    No, I can't do this all on my own
    I know, that I'm no
    Superman.
    • Lazlo Bane, "I'm No Superman"
  • "I didn't bother getting into it with Tarantino about the Superman thing, because it's not really true," chuckles Carradine. "It's not unique. The idea that Superman's analysis, whatever you want to call it, his image of the human race is Clark Kent, weak, a coward, fumbling, wearing glasses, uncertain of himself, not able to get a girl, all those kinds of things. That's his idea about us and that's the point that Tarantino was trying to make. But the idea of Superman being unique in that he was born Superman, which is another point that Tarantino's trying to make, that that's what these people [Bill, etc.] are, these people are born warriors and they can't help it, but there's also the Silver Surfer, right? And there's Sub-Mariner..."
  • None of us really have a choice. The warrior does not have a choice. It's pre-destined, you can't help it. Superman didn't... well, he did have a choice. You know, he could have been a bad guy. And the other thing about Superman that I don't think Quentin pointed out and that isn't part of this movie and maybe isn't part of Quentin, is that even though Superman sees us as weak jellyfish, he loves us. And he wants to take care of us. That's really the big essence of Superman. I prefer Batman. I like the meanness of him, the darkness of him.
  • I think Superman's a loner. Without a doubt. I think he recognizes that he has this responsibility, because of the power that he has, and that he has to bear it by himself. And to make sure that he is using it for good and not for evil. He has to keep in check his human emotions, though he's not really a human – because those are the things about living on Earth that can get us in trouble. Greed, power, love -- all those things that take us off the tracks.
  • I think Superman likes Batman. In his own private way, he gets a kick out of the fact that he can count on Batman being cynical and pessimistic, and that he sort of relies on that probably in the way you rely on certain friends or family members to do certain things that you shake your head and go, “Oh, jeez.”
  • Villains are really what give comic stories their flavor. Honestly, I think Superman would be quite dull without a really great villain. Batman, maybe not so much, because he's such a twisted character himself. He's struggling with a lot of inner demons. But Superman is the kind of guy who's impossible to hate, because he's a guy's guy, and he's straightforward. He can be a little sarcastic and he has a wryness about him. But he doesn't have a lot of dark corners. So I think that contrasting him with someone like Darkseid, who's a real badass villain, absolutely makes the script more interesting.
  • You know, I feel badly that I did not realize how important Superman was to a lot of people. I had a really good time doing it. I didn’t take it as seriously as I perhaps should have because—I mean, I thought I was doing something for kids, right? I didn’t realize that there was this whole Comic-Con thing going on, that people really took that seriously.
  • Superman has a lot of power and he doesn’t have to be showy, rather he carries that confidence quietly. He knows what he can do. I certainly am not capable of pulling that off in my own life. But knowing that, I can fake that attitude to help me out now and then.
  • Superman has always defended vulnerable communities and he’s always been political, says Joseph Darowski, a professor at Brigham Young University. Darowski is also a comic historian and the editor of “The Ages of Superman: Essays on the Man of Steel in Changing Times.”
    “It’s an inevitable part of the comic book industry that politics is going to seep in,” Darowski says. “There’s always some reflection of what’s going on on the world stage.”
    In the 1940s, Superman tried to stop World War II. He’s taken on corrupt politicians and got political during the Cold War, too.
    “As America gets engaged in the space race, suddenly Su-perman’s enemies are coming from the stars more frequently,” Darowski says. “Kryptonite and other forms of radiation creeps into the stories after the dropping of the atomic bomb. During the Cold War and the nuclear arms race, Kryptonite becomes much more commonly used in Super-man stories, and villains who get their power through radiation also become much more common. These geopolitical events end up being adapted in fantastic ways into the Superman comics.”
  • You see all these super hero movies, and super heroes have a moral code that they live by and it seemed like in Kick-Ass, that wasn’t the case. It was survival on the streets and still try to fight crime. I think that’s a more realistic version of what vigilantes would be. I don’t think we’ll see a Superman ever flying in the sky or anything like that, and if that does happen, I don’t think the outcome that we watch in the movies is gonna be the outcome in real life. I think we’d send the army after this person, and the navy, and the air force, and the marines, after this person.
  • Jerry Siegel, an intellectually and physically circumcised chap who has his headquarters in New York. . . The inventive Israelite named this pleasant guy with an overdeveloped body and underdeveloped mind “Superman..”
  • Everyone’s like, ‘He’s so powerful, I can’t relate to him.’ Are you kidding me? He’s the most relatable character ever. He grew up on a farm, he doesn’t have a lot of friends, feels isolated, he can’t tell everybody what his secrets are. He’s a great character. He feels overlooked — who hasn’t felt overlooked, or wanted to connect with people? All social media is, is people wanting to connect with other people. That’s all it is. Because people long to connect with other people. And Superman is the embodiment of that. He’s more relevant now than ever.
  • When Superman came out it galvanized the entire industry. It’s just part of the American scene. Superman is going to live forever. They’ll be reading Superman in the next century when you and I are gone. I felt in that respect I was doing the same thing. I wanted to be known. I wasn’t going to sell a comic that was going to die quickly.
  • A very young person can come up with an idea— well, Superman is the classic example, see? All these businessmen are at the top of the pyramid, but the entire pyramid is resting on two little stones, and the pyramid denies the existence of these stones because it’s so big. It’s loaded with officials, but the little stones are the ones that are holding it up because that’s where the support is coming from, and I was in the same position.
  • Superman has, despite the fact that he is a super-being, emotions just like everyone else. He's not a robot. If I were a super-being, I'd just be a human being with super-powers, which is the way I see Superman. He's a human being with super-powers and he can be lonely; he has emotions, he can be in love, he can hate people. He hates evil.
  • Superman is invincible, and Superman is the first super-being to come into literary life. There he is alone. That's the way I see him. If I were a Superman among two billion people, despite the fact that I was a super-being, I'd feel pretty insecure. For instance, say I was a white hunter in Africa and I were to walk into a cannibal village. Despite the fact that I had a gun and they didn't, despite the fact that I had ammunition and they didn't, I'd feel pretty insecure, despite the fact that I could probably shoot my way out. Superman is alone in our world.
  • Superman obeys the Talmudic injunction to do good for its own sake and heal the world where he can.
  • Rather than Clark be this clownish suit that Superman puts on, we're going to really see Clark come into his own in the next few years as far as being a guy who takes to the Internet and to the airwaves and starts speaking an unvarnished truth.
  • [S]cholarship frequently appears to pay little attention to the tendency and credibility of sec-ondary sources that confirm their hypothesis. This is nowhere clearer or more troubling than in the instances where Nazi propaganda is cited by popular and academic writers as “recognition” of Superman’s “Jewish roots” and as “highlighting” his creators’ Jewish heritage (Weinstein 25–26; Tye 66; “Surnames”). Less dramatically, popular “Judeocentric” (Fingeroth 25) books are problematic only to the extent that they are uncritically used in academic work. The works of writers like Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, Danny Fingeroth, and Arie Kaplan are not tested for schol-arly rigor or quality and, most importantly, do not aspire to academic rigor. When these generic differences are ignored and they are cited as authoritative sources (e. g. Malcolm 159n18; Royal 1n2), parochial cultural myths can be disseminated into comics scholarship. With repetition, they can become naturalized, possibly muddling the historical record and making new insights into historical connections between comics and identity increasingly inaccessible.
  • The 2 wishes behind Superman are certainly the soundest of all; they are, in fact, our national aspirations at the moment--to develop unbeatable national might, and to use this great power, when we get it, to protect innocent, peace-loving people from destructive, ruthless evil. You don’t think for a minute that it is wrong to imagine the fulfillment of those two aspirations for the United States of America do you? Then why do should it be wrong or harmful for children to imagine the same things for themselves, personally when they read ‘Superman’?
    • William Moulton Marston as quoted in Olive Richard Bryne's, "Don't laugh at the comics", Family Circle, (Oct 25, 1940).
  • A man who can see across the planet and wring diamonds from its anthracite.
  • Mark Waid had him as a vegetarian, he sort of ratified it and then people were really angry because they used to say in the 70s his favourite food was beef bourguignon. But I kind of think of course he would be a vegetarian, I mean he would find it hard not to be. He's a super kid who grew up with animals and I'm sure he'd empathise with them pretty early on and just not be. ` Mark Waid had him as a vegetarian, he sort of ratified it and then people were really angry because they used to say in the 70s his favourite food was beef bourguignon. But I kind of think of course he would be a vegetarian, I mean he would find it hard not to be. He's a super kid who grew up with animals and I'm sure he'd empathise with them pretty early on and just not be.
  • When Superman was created during the Great Depression, he was the champion of the oppressed and fought on the side of the working man. He was lawless. If you were a wife beater, he’d throw you out the window. If you were a corrupt congressman, he’d swing you from the rooftops until you confessed. I think it appealed to people who were losing their jobs to machines: Suddenly you had Superman wrecking machines and punching robots. But his popularity has declined—nobody wants to be the son of a farmer now. American writers often say they find it difficult to write Superman. They say he’s too powerful; you can’t give him problems. But Superman is a metaphor. For me, Superman has the same problems we do, but on a Paul Bunyan scale. If Superman walks the dog, he walks it around the asteroid belt because it can fly in space. When Superman’s relatives visit, they come from the 31st century and bring some hellish monster conqueror from the future. But it’s still a story about your relatives visiting.
  • As an outsider, Superman had a unique view of the forces of good and evil shaping his new world. Although he gained a new identity and built a successful career in America, he isn't cele-brated for being an assimilated refugee; he’s beloved because he used his abilities to improve and protect the society that gave him refuge.
  • Superman is more than just an American, but he is no longer Kryptonian either. His identity is shaped both by where he came from and the strong morals and American values instilled in him by his adoptive parents. He inherited his abilities from Krypton ... but it was the Kents who in-spired him to become a hero.
    Superman was something new and special ... and not just be-cause he had superpowers. Apart from his normal crime-fighting activity, he spoke out against issues including social injustice, corruption, domestic violence and racial inequality. During World War II, he went to Europe to fight the Nazis and fascists. Then he returned the U.S. to take on white supremacists. Superman’s story is the ultimate example of an immigrant who makes his new home better.
    America's favorite superhero is an immigrant, and that's only fitting because America is a nation made up of people from all over the world—people blending their contributions and creating something new in the process.
  • When Superman and Batman came to Japan, it was right after the war, right? Together with the G.I.s. In other words, our height and theirs was completely different. We were totally overwhelmed physically, and got this complex about being unable to compete with White people. It was just then that Superman arrived, the White man’s representative, and I thought who the hell does he think he is? And then Lois Lane, the classic American beauty. Even her outfit and her makeup were like a foreign woman’s. Of course today Japanese make themselves up more like foreigners than foreigners do. Ha ha ha.
  • Ha ha ha. But at the time, everyone in Superman looked like an alien from another planet. Compared with that, Mickey Mouse was just an animal, and so was easier to use. That’s the side I got consumed with. So just maybe, had I felt more in common with Superman, my drawing style would have been different.
  • When I was little, I think that I wanted Superman to be my boyfriend. So this is the next best thing. I get to pretend to be Superman’s girlfriend. Although the older I’ve become, I’ve sort of decided that I would rather be Superman myself. So I’m trying (she snickers). But even my first memory of a super hero was of Superman, because I had a crush on him. Well, it was on Clark Kent, Superman and Christopher Reeve, all rolled into one.
  • Superman is nothing more than a popular retelling of the Christ story, or Greek mythology. It's an archetype, watered down and made in vivid colors for twelve-year-old's mentality. It's pop mythology, which extends to the actor, then seeps over to a demand that that actor reflect the needs of the worshipers. The worship doesn't only go on in the temples — it goes on in the streets, and restaurants, in magazines. But, you know, I'm from New Jersey, I'm not from Olympus or Krypton, so back off 'cause I can't take the responsibility.
    • Christopher Reeve, Caught in the Act : New York Actors Face to Face (1986) by Don Shewey and Susan Shacter, p. 18
  • What makes Superman a hero is not that he has power, but that he has the wisdom and the maturity to use the power wisely.
    • Christopher Reeve as quoted in Celebrities in Hell (2002) by Warren Allen Smith, p. 98
  • To me, now and forever, Superman is the guy. If there's only one guy, this is the guy. There's no other guys, there's no better guys, there's nobody competing with this guy. I don't care if he's dead, alive, quadrupled, under a red sun, yellow sun, he's Superman and that's it, case closed.
  • The story would begin with you as a child on far-off planet Krypton. Like the others of that world, you had super-powers. The child’s scientist-father was mocked and denounced by the Science Council. They did not believe his claim that Krypton would soon explode from internal stresses. Convinced that his prediction was valid, the boy’s father had been constructing a model rocket ship. As the planet began to perish, the baby’s parents knew its end was close. There was not space enough for three people in the small model craft. They put the baby into it. The mother chose to remain on the doomed planet with the man she loved, and die with him. Tearfully, hoping that their baby boy would survive, they launched the craft toward the planet Earth. Shortly, Krypton exploded and its millions of inhabitants were destroyed.
  • Superman stands alone. Superman did not become Superman, Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he is Superman. His alter ego Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He's weak. He's unsure of himself. He's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race.
  • The police officer who puts their life on the line with no superpowers, no X-Ray vision, no super-strength, no ability to fly, and above all no invulnerability to bullets, reveals far greater virtue than Superman — who is only a mere superhero.

Lauretta Bender, "Testimony of Dr. Lauretta Bender, senior psychiatrist, Belleveu hospital Newyork N.Y.", 1954 Senate Subcommittee Transcripts.[edit]

Superman represents an instinctive problem that we are all born and grown up with, that we can fly ─ after all, we can fly now; we couldn't before ─ and that we can carry on all kinds of scientific investigations, that we can stop crime, which Superman does, and that we can have a good influence on the world, and that we can be protected by the powerful influences in the world which may be our own parents, or may be the authorities, or what not. ~ Lauretta Bender
  • Superman represents an instinctive problem that we are all born and grown up with, that we can fly ─ after all, we can fly now; we couldn't before ─ and that we can carry on all kinds of scientific investigations, that we can stop crime, which Superman does, and that we can have a good influence on the world, and that we can be protected by the powerful influences in the world which may be our own parents, or may be the authorities, or what not.
  • So I advised them that in my experience children throughout the ages, long before Superman existed, tried, to fly, and also it has been my specific experience, since I have been at Bellevue Hospital, that certain children with certain emotional problems are particularly preoccupied with the problem of flying, both fascinated by it, and fearful of it.
    And we frequently have on our ward at Bellevue the problem of making Superman capes in occupational therapy and then the children wearing them and fighting over them and one thing or another ─ and only about 3 months ago we had such, what we call epidemic, and a number of children were hurt because they tried to fly off the top of radiators or off the top of bookcases or what not and got bumps.
  • There is another reason why Superman has had good influence. That is the years of continuity of the Superman character. The children know that Superman will always come out on the right side. On that, I can give you another story about what they wanted to do. At the end of the Second World War we bad the problem of a certain number of soldiers coming home as amputees.
    One of the script writers got the bright idea that we ought to prepare children for their fathers coming home as amputees by having one of the characters─ I don’t think it was Superman ─ one of the others ─ have an accident and lose his leg. They wanted to know what I thought about that idea. I said I thought it was absolutely terrible because I felt that the children loved this character and, after all, how many children were going to have to face the question of an amputee father? Certainly there are far better ways of preparing such children for such a father than to have to shock the whole comic reading children public. So I disapproved of it.

Rick Bowers, "Superman Versus The Ku Klux Klan: The True Story of How The Iconic Superhero Battled The Men of Hate", National Geographic, (2012)[edit]

The world had no need for an evil superman. The world needed a good superman-a trustworthy and powerful ally who would come to the rescue of regular people by protecting them from ruthless criminals, cheating businessmen, and corrupt politicians. With millions of people out of work, the streets full of crime, the stock market in ruins, and a war brewing in Europe, readers were starved for hope, inspiration, and a sense of power. A good superman could provide all of that. ~ Rick Bowers
Just before Krypton explodes Superman’s parents place him in a crib-size rocket and launch him toward Earth to be raised by loving strangers. In the Old Testament, after Pharoh decrees that all newborn Jewish males must be killed, Moses’s mother places him in a crib-size basket and launches him down the Nile River to be raised by others. Just as Pharaoh’s daughter rescues the infant Moses from the bulrushes and nurtures him as her own, the Kents find and raise Superman on Earth. ~ Rick Bowers
  • Jerry and Joe’s story of the Super-Man-that diabolical scientist who conducted gruesome experiments on unsuspecting homeless men-was still incubating in their minds. Then, according to Superman lore, late one night in the summer of 1934, the answer hit Jerry like a lightning bolt. They had it backward. The world had no need for an evil superman. The world needed a good superman-a trustworthy and powerful ally who would come to the rescue of regular people by protecting them from ruthless criminals, cheating businessmen, and corrupt politicians. With millions of people out of work, the streets full of crime, the stock market in ruins, and a war brewing in Europe, readers were starved for hope, inspiration, and a sense of power. A good superman could provide all of that.
    ACCORDING TO THE LORE, the essence of the character-the one the world would come to know-flashed into Jerry’s mind that restless night with the force of one of those sci-fi meteors crashing to Earth. In point of fact, the epiphany of the good superman sparked a long collaboration that would lead to the iteration of the character known today.
    • p.26
  • The few publishers who considered the proposal rejected it. Frustrated with the failure, Joe went into a rage and began destroying the manuscript, Jerry intervened but managed to save only the cover. The cover, showing the Superman leaping at a gun-wielding thug, was eerily reminiscent of Mitchell Siegel’s death. Still not quite right. The work continued.
    As the writer, Jerry took the lead in developing the now-classic story line that finally emerged. Superman is born on the planet Krypton. His scientist father places him in a small rocket ship and launches him toward Earth just moments before Krypton erupts in devastating earthquakes and explosions that kill all the inhabitants. The spacecraft lands on earth, where people discover the baby and take him to an orphanage in a small Midwestern town. A family named Kent adopts him, gives him the name of Clark, and raises him on a farm. After realizing the possibilities of his superhuman powers, Clark moves to the big city of Metropolis and becomes a reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper.
    In times of trouble Clark sheds his street clothes and peels off his glasses to become Superman. He uses his powers to leap great heights, to hoist huge weights, to deflect bullets, to soar into the sky, and to subdue criminals. His only motives are to protect the innocent, to bring the guilty to justice, ad to crusade for a better world. After saving the day, Superman returns to his guise as the mild-mannered Clark, who works at the newspaper with a gutsy “girl reporter” named Lois Lane. But Lois has little time for bespectacled, nerdy Clark. She only has eyes for Superman.
    Sensing that the character was special, the two creators worked feverishly to fill in the details of his persona. Before long the full picture was on the page. Superman had his rugged good looks, his shock of blue-black hair, his muscular physique, his flowing red cape, and the bold S insignia on his chest. Joe designed his uniform as a cross between a spaceman suit and a classic circus performer outfit-down to the blue tights, red shorts, and cape. He skillfully captured each of Superman’s actions in single comic panels: the caped crusader raising his arms toward the heavens, leaping off the ground with incredible strength, soaring upward at supersonic speed, and landing with both feet firmly planted on the ground. The Man of Steel-also called the Man of Tomorrow in those early days-stands tall, hands on his hips, bullets bouncing off his chest, as befuddled, gun-packing gangsters fire shot after harmless shot. In time the classic image would evolve: The handsome, smiling superhero would save Lois Lane from all kinds of danger, hoist her in his arms, soar over the flickering lights o Metropolis, and deliver her safely home.
    • Ch.3 "The Magic of the Mix", p.26-28
  • To breathe life into the Superman character, Jerry and Joe drew upon their love of science fiction, their passion for movies, their fascination for books, and their experienced growing up Jewish during the Great Depression. The Greek and Roman myths they learned at school featured heroes with superhuman strength. Strange visitors from distant planets were common in the science fiction stories they devoured night and day. Daredevil heroes clad in masks and capes were all the rage in the movies they watched at the Crown and the Uptown. Even heroes with dual identities were commonplace on the screen and in print. The silent screen character Zorro was the alter ego of Don Diego de la Vega, a sissified aristocrat who ate, drank and dressed the dandy to throw off suspicion of his role as the night-riding avenger. The Shadow, a pulp magazine character, was the alter ego off Kent Allard, a famed pilot who fought for the French during World War I. Just as the name Clark Kent was a cross between actors Clark Gable and Kent Taylor, the name of the mythical city of Metropolis came from the 1927 silent film of the same name. For Superman, the magic was in the mix.
    Jerry and Joe’s Jewish heritage deeply influenced the makeup of Superman too. The all-American superhero reflected many of the beliefs and values of Jewish immigrants of the day. Like them, Superman had come to America from a foreign world. Like them, he longed to fit in to his strange new surroundings. Superman also seemed to embody the Jewish principle of [w:Tzedekah|tzedakah]]-a command to serve the less fortunate and to stand up for the weak and exploited-and the concept of “tikkun olam”, the mandate to do good works (literally, to “repair a broken world”). Before Superman is blasted off the dying planet of Krypton, Superman’s father, Joe-El, names his son Kal-El In ancient Hebrew, the suffix ”El” means “all that is God.”
    Then there is the Moses connection. Just before Krypton explodes Superman’s parents place him in a crib-size rocket and launch him toward Earth to be raised by loving strangers. In the Old Testament, after Pharoh decrees that all newborn Jewish males must be killed, Moses’s mother places him in a crib-size basket and launches him down the Nile River to be raised by others. Just as Pharaoh’s daughter rescues the infant Moses from the bulrushes and nurtures him as her own, the Kents find and raise Superman on Earth. The Superman story also resembles the tale of Rabbi Maharal of Prague, who created his own superman, called the Golem, to protect the people of the Jewish ghetto from hostile Christians.
    • Ch.3 "The Magic of the Mix", pp.28-29
  • While Superman was a complex conglomeration of influences, Jerry and Joe left plenty to reader’s imaginations. What Superman “wasn’t” was just as important as what he was. The character had no clear ethnic background, no hint of an accent or dialect, no stated religious preference, and no political affiliation. The Superman character offered a little bit to everyone. Coming from a distant planet, he was the ultimate foreigner. Raised in the Midwestern heartland, he was the quintessential American. Growing up in a small town, he was rural at heart. Moving to a big city, he became more sophisticated and worldly. He was both weak and strong. Hi meek, mild alter ego, Clark Kent, was a sheepish bumbler, but he was always ready to transform himself into the all-powerful superhero. So Superman was relevant to the prairie farmer, the urban factory worker, the white-collar insurance salesman, the hardworking waitress, and the struggling immigrant. Millions or ordinary people struggling through the Depression could imagine themselves shedding their plain, run-of-the mill exteriors to reveal their real power within. True, Superman had descended from the heavens with the power of a god. His intention was godly too-to protect humanity from its own worst instincts. But Superman had characteristics the masses could relate to. He could beam with a smile, burst into anger, and form lasting friendships. Beneath it all Superman seemed like a regular guy.
    Superman was also a creation of his times. To keep up with those times, Jerry and Joe often spent Saturdays flipping through out-of-town newspapers and national newsmagazines for ideas at the Cleveland Public Library. The headlines described crisis after crisis. The New York Stock Exchange had lost 90 percent of its value Millions of Americans were out of work, a Midwestern drought had engulfed prairie farms in the Dust Bowl, and desperate farmers had to pack up their starving families and head to California to start anew. The international news was no more comforting. Headlines warned of economic collapse in global markets, the rise of fascist regimes in Europe, and the new communist experiment in the Soviet Union. The whole world seemed to be heading toward an explosion.
    • Ch.3 "The Magic of the Mix", p.30
  • In his popular fireside chats, broadcast on all the major radio networks in an era before the invention of television, Roosevelt spoke in plain language that resonated with common men and women. As children of the Depression, Jerry and Joe saw hope in FDR’s pledge to help the average person cope with the “hazards and vicissitudes of life,” to provide some measure of protection “to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.” Superman could get behind goals like that.
    • Ch.3 "The Magic of the Mix", pp.30-31
  • So Jerry and Joe plucked elements from the world around them to stir into their Superman stew. For the most part however, Superman’s millions of fans would ignore his origins. For them the Man of Steel would simply be the defender of the little man and woman-and a big problem for the forces of evil in the world.
    • Ch.3 "The Magic of the Mix", p.31

Dialogue about Superman[edit]

You see, Clark Kent grew not only out of my private life, but also out of Joe's. As a high school student, I thought that some day I might become a reporter, and I had crushes on several attractive girls who either didn't know I existed or didn't care I existed. As a matter of fact, some of them looked like they hoped I didn't exist. It occurred to me: What if I was real terrific? What if I had something special going for me, like jumping over buildings or throwing cars around or something like that? Then maybe they would notice me. ~ Jerry Siegel
I visualized the planet Krypton as a huge planet, much larger than Earth; so whoever came to Earth from that planet would be able to leap great distances and lift great weights. ~ Jerry Siegel
  • QUESTION: As different as they are, what is it that you think creates the dynamic for Batman and Superman to essentially be each other’s best friend?
TIM DALY: I think part of it is that they're both super heroes, so they share that in common. They understand and forgive the other one for living a double life, because they both essentially have to do it. And more often than not they're on the same side. Batman, despite his darkness, is essentially a power of good. It's interesting -- it's kind of like sometimes you wonder why big movie stars are best friends with huge movie stars. I think the answer is that they live such a specific life that's so odd and so difficult that they tend to gravitate toward people who have an understanding of that, and forgive the fact that they have to be private or have to wear disguises, or come in the back door of the place so there's not a big fuss made over them. I think that's sort of the same kind of relationship for Batman and Superman.
  • QUESTION: Where do you start as an actor when trying to create a voice for Superman?
GEORGE NEWBERN: I think you watch an actor like Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington or It's a Wonderful Life, and you try to find the humanity of an everyman like that. When I think of an All-American hero, I think of an actor in a role like that. And that’s what Superman really is – an American hero. Super powers are just ancillary. It’s that character, with all those principles and understanding, that’s who he is right there.
  • QUESTION: Are there any specific characteristics you believe are essential to the voice?
GEORGE NEWBERN: I think I tried to portray a sense of trust and power and charisma for Superman. I think that’s what we believe Superman is.
  • Q: What do you think has made Superman so popular for over 40 years?
Jerry Siegel: If you're interested in what made Superman what it is, here's one of the keys to what made it universally acceptable. Joe and I had certain inhibitions...which led to wish-fulfillment which we expressed through our interest in science fiction and our comic strip. That's where the dual-identity concept came from, and Clark Kent's problems with Lois. I imagine there are a lot of people in this world who are similarly frustrated. Joe and I both felt that way in high school, and he was able to put the feeling into sketches.
Joanne Siegel: Most teenage boys have disappointments with girls...
Joe Shuster: True! That's why I say it's a universal theme, and that's why so many people could relate to it.
Joanne Siegel: That's why love songs are so popular: they're all full of passion for someone who doesn't care about the singer.
  • Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster and Joanne Siegel in Nemo #2, 1983
Q: Where did Superman's costume come from?
Shuster: It was inspired by the costume pictures that Fairbanks did: they greatly influenced us. He did The Mark of Zorro, and Robin Hood, and a marvelous one called The Black Pirate - those are three that I recall that we loved. Fairbanks would swing on ropes very much like Superman flying - or like Tarzan on a vine.
Before I ever put anything on paper, Jerry and I would talk back and forth. Jerry would say, "Well, how about this, or how about that, or how about doing him like this?" And I agreed the feeling of action as he was flying or jumping or leaping - a flowing cape would give it movement. It really helped, and it was very easy to draw.
I also had classical heroes and strongmen in mind, and this shows in the footwear. In the third version Superman wore sandals laced halfway up the calf. You can still see this on the cover of Action 01, though they were covered over in red to look like boots when the comic was printed.
  • Siegel: You see, Clark Kent grew not only out of my private life, but also out of Joe's. As a high school student, I thought that some day I might become a reporter, and I had crushes on several attractive girls who either didn't know I existed or didn't care I existed. As a matter of fact, some of them looked like they hoped I didn't exist. It occurred to me: What if I was real terrific? What if I had something special going for me, like jumping over buildings or throwing cars around or something like that? Then maybe they would notice me. That night when all the thoughts were coming to me, the concept came to me that Superman could have a dual identity, and that in one of his identities he could be meek and mild, as I was, and wear glasses, the way I do. The heroine, who I figured would be a girl reporter, would think he was some sort of a worm; yet she would be crazy about this Superman character who could do all sorts of fabulous things. In fact, she was real wild about him, and a big inside joke was that the fellow she was crazy about was also the fellow whom she loathed. By coincidence, Joe was a carbon copy (of me).
  • Siegel: I figured that the character would be so advanced that he would be invulnerable in other ways than physically. Secretly, I kind of enjoyed the thought that women, who just didn't care at all about somebody like Clark Kent, would go ape over somebody like Superman. I enjoyed the fact that he wasn't that affected by all their admiration. When you come down to it, some of the greatest lovers of all time simply aren't that crazy about women: It's the women who are crazy about them. Clark Gable was hard to get, and so were some of the other romantic heroes.
Q: So Superman was conceived as being like the ideal Hollywood romantic hero of the time?
Siegel: That's right.
Siegel: I don't think they had much of an influence on me when I wrote The Reign of the Superman. However, when I did the version in 1934, (which years later, in 1938, was published, in revised form, in Action. Comics #1) the John Carter stories did influence me. Carter was able to leap great distances because the planet Mars was smaller that the planet Earth; and he had great strength. I visualized the planet Krypton as a huge planet, much larger than Earth; so whoever came to Earth from that planet would be able to leap great distances and lift great weights.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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