Superman is a fictional character and superhero, also known as Clark Kent and Kal-El. Created by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938 and rapidly became a popular and well-known comic book icon. Superman has been adapted to a number of other media which includes radio serials, novels, movies, television shows and theatre.
- Superman: This looks like a job for Superman!
Superman in Action Comics
- 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.
- 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--!
- 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!
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!
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!
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
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.
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
- 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
Written by Mark Waid
- Superman: I'm Superman. I can do anything.
- Wonder Woman: Except, apparently, face your fear.
- Superman: Party's over.
- Superman: We are at war.
- Superman: Only the weak succumb to brutality.
Written by Grant Morrison
- The Sphinx: What happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object?
- Superman: They surrender.
- Superman: You're much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.
Superman: Birthright (2003–2004)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Narrator: Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to soar higher than any plane!
- Narrator: Faster than a streak of lightening! More powerful than the pounding surf! Mightier than a roaring hurricane!
- 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.
- Narrator: Yes, it’s Superman. Strange visitor from another planet, who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, defender of law and order, champion of equal rights, valiant, courageous fighter against the forces of hate and prejudice!
- B. P. Freeman and Jack Johnstone, “Is there another part 06”, “The Adventures of Superman”, (Feb 5, 1946)
- Up, up, and away!
- The Adventures of Superman, B. P. Freeman and Jack Johnstone
Justice League Unlimited (2004-2006)
- Darkseid: You still try to fight. Can't you see that it's hopeless?
- Superman: Batman won't quit so long as he can draw breath. None of my teammates will. Me? I've got a different problem. I feel like I live in a world made of cardboard. Always taking care not to break something, to break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control, even for a moment, or someone could die. But you can take it, can't you, big man? What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose, and show you just how powerful I really am.
- Dwayne McDuffie, "Destroyer", Justice League Unlimited, (May 16, 2006)
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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- Tim Daly in “Tim Daly Talks Man of Steel in Super-man/Batman: Apocalypse”, Rick DeMott, Animation World News, (September 28, 2010)
- 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.”
- Tim Daly in “Tim Daly Talks Man of Steel in Super-man/Batman: Apocalypse”, Rick DeMott, Animation World News, (September 28, 2010)
- 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.
- Tim Daly in ”Tim Daly on Madam Secretary, voicing Superman, and killing Steven Weber Will Harris, by Will Harris, AVClub, (9/19/14)
- 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 in “INTERVIEW: Tim Daly on playing Superman”, by Press Release, Major Spoilers, (February 14, 2012)
- 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 Superman’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.”
- Joseph Darowski as quoted by T.J. Raphael in “’Superman is the 'ultimate immigrant,' may have been eligible for DACA’”, PRI.org, (Sep. 21, 2017)
- If I had to differentiate between [Batman and Superman], I'd say Superman is sort of about hope. You've got this guy who's an alien and not truly human, but he personifies all the best qualities of humanity. He's sort of an example of what it would be nice to be like. We would all like to be like Superman. We would all like to have power, compassion, the ability to settle problems in a good way, and maybe [be able to] wink to ourselves about how nobody else besides us knows we really have this secret power and we keep it ourselves. There's not a lot of angst with Superman. If there is, it's more like, "I wish I could tell Lois who I really was." Batman is how you'd like to be if you [could] break someone's neck: "I'm pissed off, and I want to go out and do something about it." Superman waits for trouble to happen, and then he goes off and stops the problem. Batman's looking for trouble; he doesn't really start it, but he's out there looking. And if he sees something going on, he just jumps into the middle of it.
- He (Reeve) was put on this Earth for... a lot of reasons. He wasn't just here to be an actor. He was Superman.
- [Jews needed] a hero who could protect us against an almost invincible force. So [Siegel and Shuster] created an invincible hero.
- Will Eisner, "How the Jews Created the Comic Book Industry Part I: The Golden Age (1933-1955) Reform Judaism", Arie Kaplan, Reform Judaism Mag.net, (2003).
- 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.
- Donald Faison, "Roundtable Interview With Donald Faison On Kick-Ass 2", Lindsay Sperling, We Got This Covered.com, 2013.
- Christopher Reeve is Superman, right here, right now... Reeve shows us the power, the possibilities and the results of a fierce and persistent commitment to growth and development. With God's help, Reeve is Superman because: 1. He survived the horse riding accident and challenged himself physically during countless months of painful physical therapy. 2. Because he remained committed to his role as a loving husband and doting father 3. Because he kept hope alive in the face of injury and paralysis that can destroy all hope-in the face of having to depend on his wife and many others to feed, wash, change, move and carry him to the doctor. 4. Because he came to the conclusion that God still had something for him to do... Christopher Reeve turned his focus away from his paralysis and began figuring out how he could live afresh. Reeve decided that a lot of people might like to hear his story. Instead of limiting the communication of his story to letters, books and videos subject to edit, Reeve chose the lecture circuit. That meant showing up in public, allowing the public to gawk at his incapacity, talking about his condition and sharing lessons learned. Thus, Christopher Reeve has become Superman for real.
- 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..”
- I was enamored with Superman because I thought, being Canadian and from Toronto, that the original series was based around Toronto. I remember as a kid being told that. That the Daily Planet was the Star Newspaper and the whole idea was based around that kind of small cosmopolitan city so that caught my attention.
- 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, "Quote of the Day | Superman is ‘more relevant now than ever’", Kevin Melrose, Comic Book reader.com, 08.05.2014
- 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.
- Blair Kramer "Superman", Jewish Virtual Library.
- Superman is arguably the most powerful person on the planet, but how long can he sit at his desk with someone breathing down his neck and treating him like the least important person in the world?
- Scott Lobdell "Superman quits The Daily Planet – over the state of journalism" Mark Hughes, Telegraph 23, Oct, 2014.
- 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.
- Scott Lobdell "Clark Kent makes a major life change in new 'Superman'" USA Today Oct 22, 2012.
- [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.
- Martin Lund, “The Mutant Problem: X-Men, Confirmation Bias, and the Methodology of Comics and Identity”, European Journal of American Studies, 10-2 | 2015 : Summer 2015, including Special Issue: (Re)visioning America in the Graphic Novel
- I am a fan of anybody who can make a living in his underwear.
- David Mamet, reflecting on Superman How the Jews Created the Comic Book Industry Part I: The Golden Age (1933-1955) Reform Judaism (2003)
- 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.
- Sarah Newgarden, “Superman, a refu-gee's success story”, ‘’International Rescue Committee’’, (June 20, 2019)
- 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.
- Sarah Newgarden, “Superman, a refu-gee's success story”, ‘’International Rescue Committee’’, (June 20, 2019)
- Contrary to the rumours that you've heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-El, to save the planet Earth.
- Barack Obama, in regard to impossibly high expectations of what he might do as president, jokingly implying that he was Superman rather than Jesus, in a speech at the Al Smith Dinner in New York City (17 October 2008)
- 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.
- Osamu Tezuka interview for Superman magazine for Japan in 1979; as quoted in Ryan Holmberg, “Tezuka Osamu and American Comics”, The Comics Journal, (Jul 16, 2012)
- 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.
- Pauley Perrette, Superman vs. The Elite: Pauley Perrette Lois Lane Interview, by Ed Gross, Comic Book Movie, (6/6/2012).
- 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 Arrivals 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, “’Superman is the 'ultimate immigrant,' may have been eligible for DACA’”, PRI.org., (Sep. 21, 2017)
- The key word for me on him is "inspiration." He is a leader by inspiration. He sets an example. It's quite important that people realize that I don't see him as a glad-handing show-off, a one-man vigilante force who rights every wrong. Basically, he's a pacifist, a man who comes along and says, 'What can I do to help?' He stands on the sidelines until there is real trouble. He does not want to get involved unless it's absolutely necessary because he thinks people should learn to make their own decisions.
- 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
- He's a fairy, I do suppose, flying through the air in pantyhose. He may be sexy, or even cute, but he looks like a sucka in a blue and red suit.
- 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.
- If only I could fly...
- Jerry Siegel "How the Jews Created the Comic Book Industry Part I: The Golden Age (1933-1955) Reform Judaism" Arie Kaplan, ReformJuaismMag.net, (2003).
- 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.
- Jerry Siegel as quoted in "Superman from cleveland to Ohio", by Simcha Weinstein, My Jewish Learning.com.
- What led me into creating Superman in the early thirties? … Hearing and reading of the oppression and slaughter of helpless, oppressed Jews in Nazi Germany … seeing movies depicting the horrors of privation suffered by the downtrodden … I had the great urge to help… help the downtrodden masses, somehow. How could I help them when I could barely help myself? Superman was the answer. ~ Jerry Siegel
- Jerry Siegel as quoted in Mensch of Steel: Superman's Jewish Roots, Ethan Lewis, Den of Geek, Dec 2, 2013.
- The interesting thing about the Man of Steel was that regardless of how extraordinary the mortals of Earth thought him to be, the Kryptonians didn’t think of themselves as super at all when they were together on their home planet. Why? Because on Krypton, everyone was strong. Gilbert and Sullivan said it best in their operetta, The Gondoliers, when the Grand Inquisitor proclaimed, “If everybody’s somebody, then no-one’s anybody.” But when a Kryptonian left the home planet and came to live with the mortals of Earth, the difference was striking.
- George Steffner, Through Their Eyes: All Four Years (2022), p. 261
- 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
- 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)
- 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.
- 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 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
- SUPERMAN was introduced to the world in 1938 as the Champion of the Oppressed. In time his moniker morphed into the defender of Truth, Justice, and the American Way. In his journey through comic books, comic strips, radio and TV programs, movies, and more, the character has kept a careful watch over the less fortunate and the downtrodden. From defending coal miners against unsafe working conditions (1938) to supporting protestors opposing the oppressive regime in Iran (2011), Superman has maintained a social conscience that is as strong as steel.
- "Champion of the Oppressed", (2012)
- Despite their success, Jerry and Joe had a beef with the world. Back in 1938 they had signed away the Superman copyright to Harry Donenfeld for $130-$10 for each of the 13 pages of “Action Comics” No. 1. True, they were not making well above the standard industry rate and had a ten-year contract that assured them steady work and a good income. But they knew that millions were flowing in from the merchandise sales and media ventures, and most of it was ending up in the pockets of other people. And why should Harry Donenfeld get rich off Superman? He hadn’t envisioned the character and spent years perfecting it. As the Cleveland collaborators churned out page after page, week after week, month after month, Donenfeld continued to build the Superman empire, even as he added new superheroes and comic books to his stable. Before long, friends would greet the party-loving publisher in fancy restaurants with the line “Hiya, Superman,” at which point he would tear open his shirt and throw out his chest to expose his blue T-shirt with the big red S on the front.
- Ch.10 "The Big Blue Money Machine", (2012), p.84
- As a former pulp writer himself, Maxwell knew he had to make sure that the writers wove liberal doses of good old-fashioned “blood and thunder” into each story arc. At the same time he walked a delicate line as he balanced Superman’s thirst for action with his good intentions. Maxwell knew that the show’s young listeners-and their parents-prized the wholesome qualities of honesty and fair play. So Superman-by now referred to as the Big Blue Boy Scout by other, edgier comic book superheroes-remained squeaky-clean on the radio.
- Chapter 12 "On the Air", p.94
- The radio show was no more immune to criticism than the comic books were. Some critics claimed that Superman reflected the concept of “der Ubermensch”, a German term that could be translated into “the Superman.” The term was coined by 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who argued that certain people could transcend the influences of religion, culture, and conformity to become enlightened supermen. According to Nietzsche, the person could reach this pinnacle by rising above the pestering of the masses, who buzz like “flies in the marketplace.” After Nietzsches death, the German Nazis twisted his words to mean that their ideal of the blond, blue-eyed German (what they called Aryan) could rise above all “inferiors” to create a dominant race of supermen.
The criticism that Superman manifested a Nazi concept showed a complete lack of understanding of the character. While striving to create a popular superhero who would attract a mass audience Jerry and Joe had forged Superman to embody the best parts of the American way of life and to raise awareness of un-American” attitudes. The notion of un-American behavior applied not only to gangsters who broke the law, crooked politicians who violated the public trust, and wealthy industrialists who exploited workers, but also to foreign powers that threatened democracy. So Superman’s creators-too busy to be sidetracked by the critics-aimed their superhero at the looming Nazi threat in Europe.
- Ch.13 "The Secret Weapon", p.97
- THE CREATORS of the superman character had been firing their initial salvos at the then undeclared enemy even before the United States entered the war. At first the creators kept their attacks subtle-by comic book standards. Superman writers never mentioned German chancellor Adolf Hitler, Japanese emperor Hirohito, and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini by name, even though it was clear that the jabs and barbs were aimed at these Axis leaders, as well as their ruthless lieutenants, devious spies, and formidable combat troops. Furthermore, Superman’s team sought to hammer home to their readers that the foreign dictators followed a philosophy of racial and religious superiority and that their quest for world domination included plans to conquer America.
At about that time, nationally circulated “Look” magazine commissioned Siegal and Shuster to create a strip entitled “How Superman Would End the War.” For that special assignment, the collaborators took off their gloves and actually named Hitler as the target. So in the pages of “Look” the caped crusader grabbed the Fuhrer by the scruff of the neck and growled, “I’d like to land a strictly non-Aryan sock on your jaw.” Instead of taking justice into his own hands, however, Superman delivers Hitler to a tribunal of world leaders to face justice. In another direct challenge in a Superman strip the caped crusader demolishes part of the German Westwall with France.
That’s when Superman’s fictionalized triumphs over the Nazis came to the attention of the German ministerial bureau that tracked foreign press commentary. The German propagandists did not respond well to the Superman stories, and the U.S. press covered their response. U.S. news paper reports that infamous minister Joseph Goebbels exploded ina meeting over the Superman anti-Nazi crusades were almost certainly exaggerated if not outright false. But it is true that “Das Shwarze Korps”, the weekly newspaper of the infamous Nazi Secret Service, denounced Superman. In April 1940 the paper ran the proclamation, “Superman “ist ein Jude”! (“Superman is a Jew!”) The sarcastic, mocking piece referred to Superman’s primary creator as Jerry “Israel” Siegel and accused him of sowing “hate, suspicion, evil, laziness, and criminality in young hearts”:
Jerry Siegel, an intellectually and physically circumcised chap who has hid headquarters in New York, is the inventor of a colorful figure with an impressive appearance, a powerful body, and a red swim suit who enjoys the ability to fly through the ether.
The inventive Israelite named this pleasant guy with an overdeveloped body and underdeveloped mind “Superman.” He advertised widely Superman’s sense of justice, well-suited for imitation by the American youth.
As you can see, there is nothing the Sadduccees [an ancient Jewish sect] won’t do for money! Jerry Siegellack stinks. Woe to the American youth who must live in such a poisonous environment and don’t even notice the poison they are swallowing daily.
Superman “did” reflect the culture of his Jewish creators. The Jewish American story was baked into the personality of his character and his exploits. Superman also seemed to reflect the more modern-and frightening-Jewish realities of the time. The story of baby Superman’s journey from Krypton seemed to foreshadow the saga of the Kindertransports-the emergency evacuations of hundreds of Jewish children, without their parents, from Nazi Germany to safety in Great Britain prior to the war.
- Ch.13, "The Secret Weapon", pp.99-101
- Like most Americans, the Superman creative team foresaw the long road ahead and knew that victory hinged on the effectiveness of the nation’s leadership and the bravery and blood of its fighting men. The creators wanted to use Superman to support the war effort, but there was a problem, which “Time” dubbed “Superman’s Dilemma.” Given the character’s power to soar to the sky, to change the course of mighty rivers, to turn back tidal waves, and to survive massive explosions without a scratch, it only stood to reason that he could single-handedly defeat the enemy in short order. More specifically, Superman ought to be able to drop thousand-pound bombs from the sky on German troops, flick Japanese Zeros out of the air, and drag battleships to the bottom of the ocean.
In the end the editors decided against publishing what would certainly be several years of highly implausible Superman combat adventures. Instead Superman would be stationed at home in Metropolis and would make only periodic visits to the front lines to support the troops or to handle delicate, secret missions for the top brass. In Metropolis he would serve as a model for life on the home front, and his encounters with villains like Lex Luthor, the Prankster, the Toyman, and the Insect Master would provide readers with an escape from the weighty issues of the war.
Once the home-front strategy was set, the writers needed a plot device to explain why the Man of Steel was not joining the Army, Navy, or Marines and going off to war with the rest of the troops. The solution appeared in the “Superman” newspaper strips that ran from February 15 to February 19, 1942. The story begins with Clark Kent arriving at his recruitment center to sign up for duty. The bumbling reporter is so excited about joining the armed forces that he inadvertently botches his eye exam. The reason: His x-ray vision kicks in, and he accidenatly reads the eye chart in an adjacent room. The doctors declare him 4-F (undraftable) and send him packing. As a result, in the pages of “Superman” comics, Kent does not don a military uniform for the duration, and Superman is free to influence the war as an outsider.
- Ch.13, "The Secret Weapon", pp. 102-103
- The homebound Superman encourages Americans to buy war bonds, to ration scarce supplies, and to donate to organizations like the Red Cross and the United States Services Organization (USO). In his adventures, Superman travels outside Metropolis to military training centers to lift the spirits of the troops and to prepare them for the action ahead. In one comic book adventure he travels to a fictional U.S. military training center, where he takes part in a mock war game by taking the side of the blue army in a simulated battle with the red army. Superman ferries blue troops across rivers, bombs red airfields with sandbags, locates red snipers with his x-ray vision, and finally tunnels through a mountain to lead blue troops into the red camp. Facing defeat, the red general implores his men to fight on. “What if they were Japs or Nazis?” he asks, “Would you let down the folks who are counting on your to save your country and the world?” At this point the red army summons the strength to repel the blues and win the game. Superman, happily experiencing a rare defeat, concludes that American soldiers are the real superheroes and congratulates the men for being “Super-Soldiers.”
Still, from 1941 to 1945 there were stories of Superman’s periodic trips to the front lines, Siegel clearly designed one newspaper strip to draw the attention of American children to the evil of the enemy. In this strip, Hitler Mussolini, and Tojo (Japan’s prime minister) kidnap Santa Claus as part of their plan for world domination. Superman is forced to rescue Old Saint Nick and save Christmas.
In addition to these occasional war stories, a number of powerful “Superman” magazine covers trumpeted the war effort, even though there were usually no corresponding stories inside to back up the symbolic cover art; Superman, seen through the periscope of a German U-boat, swimming furiously toward the submarine in the wake of the Allied ship that the sub just sank; Superman holding an eagle on his arm, standing proudly in front of the Stars and Stripes; Superman delivering supplies to an American machine-gun squad fighting in the jungles; Lois Lane, with an Army soldier, a Navy sailor, and a Marine, telling them with a wink, “You’re my Supermen.”
- Ch.13, "The Secret Weapon", pp.103-104
- [P]erhaps Superman’s most important war contribution was his direct connection to the troops. The scene of a soldier or sailor passing time with a comic book in hand was common overseas, and Superman was the superhero of choice for most of the servicemen and women. In fact, one of four magazines shipped to troops overseas was a comic book, and 35,000 copies of “Superman” alone went abroad each month. The U.S. War Department and USO made sure that copies of “Superman” magazine were distributed to soldiers, sailors, and marines throughout the war. Military leaders hoped to provide a little entertainment and escape until the troops could come back home for good. As “Time” reported, “Superman got a high priority rating last week: the Navy Department ruled that the Superman comic books should be included among essential supplies destined for the marine garrison at Midway Islands. For the tough Marines, as for all U.S. Armed Forces, the Man of Steel is still super-favorite reading.”
- Ch.13, "The Secret Weapon", p.105
- What if they used Superman to teach children the values of tolerance and fair play and the importance of accepting other kids regardless of race, religion, or national origin? What if Superman could teach a generation of children to reject those who preached prejudice and hate? After all, the entire country had banded together to win the war. Now most everyone was banding together to build a peaceful and prosperous future. Those grim photographs and films of mass graves and starving concentration camp prisoners had made an indelible mark on the public mind. Could Superman lead the way?
- Ch. 15, "Operation Intolerance", pp.115-117
Dialogue about Superman
- 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.
- 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.
- George Newbern, “INTERVIEW: George Newbern on playing Superman”, Major Spoilers, (May 30, 2012)
- 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.
- Nemo #2, 1983
- 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.
- Jerry Siegel, Nemo #2, 1983
- DC Comics - Superman
- An Analysis of Superman, The Man of Steel
- Superman Through the Ages (tribute site)
- Identity Crisis: The Many Faces of the Man of Steel
- Alan Kistler's Superman Files - A retrospective by comic book historian Alan Kistler on the entire history of Superman in the comics and other media.
- Superman's Shield and its History, studying the development of Superman's shield emblem in its various incarnations and reimaginings.