Baby Boomers Chronicles: Superman-The Man of Steel

I guess we all had our childhood heroes. As kids, when my siblings and I played ‘pretend’, I was taking the role of Superman. I did not want to be Batman or Captain America, but Superman because he could do it all. Would you rather be the queen on the chessboard or a bishop? This character first appeared in the comics in 1938, the creation of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. What an imaginative story they came up with to explain the existence of this character. For the Chronicles, we are going to look at 3 representations of the character, one on television and two from the cinema.


George Reeves as Superman

The Adventures of Supeman 1953-1959


I was first introduced to the character in the 1950’s TV series “The Adventures of Superman.” Superman, played by George Reeves, was corny, I admit. Those flying sequences were not done through Industrial Light and Magic that is for sure.

How many of you remember this?

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! ("Look! Up in the sky!" "It's a bird!" "It's a plane!" "It's Superman!")... Yes, it's Superman ... strange visitor from another planet, who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men! Superman ... who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way! And now, another exciting episode, in The Adventures of Superman!

Funny how so many things stick out when you are a kid and you always wondered how:

  1. Superman and Clark Kent both wore the same greasy hair pomade, was it a “little dab will do ya’? How could the entire staff of the Daily Planet not see the stark resemblance between the two?
  1. His costume was always a bit baggy on him. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen always wore the identical same outfit. The Chief Editor, Perry White, must have been quite a skinflint for whom to have to work.
  1. I could never figure how all the bad guys would empty their revolvers into Superman’s chest and then in desperation throw their guns at him as if that was going to hurt the guy.
  1. Then there was the funny incident when a couple (man and woman) bad guys, discovered Superman’s true identity. Instead of simply crushing their skulls, he took them to a cabin on the summit of a mountain. Superman said that he would bring food and provisions on a regular basis, but there they must stay. They both tried to descend from this peak on their own and fell to their deaths, to include the woman in high heels and everything. Imagine trying to climb down an icy and snowy mountain peak in high heels.

Christopher Reeve as Superman

Enjoy a Snippet of the Fantastic Musical Score

Superman the Movie, 1978

This blockbuster, released in 1978, was a must see for me. The musical score, special effects and photography were stunning to say the least. The casting was an act of genius, there was no better person to play Superman than Christopher Reeve. I took my younger 16 year old brother along. When it was over, he was trying to leap down the stairs instead of walking. I told him that is why the film was rated PG, a little bit too “adult” for you, I suspect. Reeve, personified everything you imagined Superman to be, an over grown Boy Scout. He had that natural innocence and wonder, imagine reading Dickens instead of doing the Metropolis city night life. He certainly could have had any girl he wanted. I had to wonder about his adolescence, did he use his x-ray vision to peek into the girls’ locker room? The questions and possibilities are endless, but I won’t go there. His basic goodness oozed from him like the sweat in his armpits, he probably needed super-anti-perspirant. The only troubling question I had was when he, after Lois Lane had died in a tragic auto accident that was the result of an earthquake, flew so fast around the world to the point that he reversed the direction of the Earth’s rotation. As a result, he was able to go back in time to point before Ms. Lane expired in the accident. I wondered and I did not think that the reversing of the direction of the Earth’s rotation had anything to do with the passage of time. But again, I could never just sit down and enjoy any movie without all my clever observations.


Brandon Routh as Superman

See a video clip of Superman saving Lois Lane once again in a dramatic rescue from a doomed airliner. click the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNKFnOYhy-w&feature=related

Superman Returns, 2006

The new actor that portrayed Superman, Brandon Routh, was darker. But we were all expecting Chris Reeve, but he was a hard act to follow. The scene where he prevented the crash of a jet liner with Lois Lane on board was stunning. But, mores have changed, he must have ‘done’ Lois Lane before he disappeared for 5 years without explanation. Lois had his son, imagine, the ultimate deadbeat dad, not much that was ‘super’ about that. While he was off to the other side of the galaxy finding himself, his boy grew up without his original father. The little boy had inherited just a little of Superman’s extraordinary powers, and it was already evident. I enjoyed Gene Hackman in the role of Superman’s nemesis, Lex Luthor, from the 1978 film over the fellow that played the role in this film. The film had a morose dark quality about it and was not as much fun as its predecessors

There can only be one original

This character had so many spin-offs here are just a few; Supergirl, Smallville, Lois and Clark, Krypto, the Superdog (if he would only just clean up behind himself), Superboy, and Daffy Duck in the role of ‘StuperDuck’


Conclusion

I must warn Brandon Routh that the role of Superman seems to have a jinx attached to it. The man that played Superman in the “Adventures of Superman”, George Reeves, tragically committed suicide in June, 1959 at the age of 45. Then there was our hero, a true Superman on and off of the screen, Christopher Reeve. After a tragic equestrian accident in 1995 which left him a quadriplegic, he spent the remaining 9 years of his life promoting research into effective treatment for spinal cord injuries. Time Magazine did an article in that year or the year thereafter, 1996, with a banner headline “Superman”. His courage and tireless efforts in pursuit of ‘the cure’ earned him our respect. He died in October, 2004, with, oddly enough, his widow Dana following him within 2 years. She died of lung cancer and she never smoked.


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16 comments

Justsilvie 5 years ago

Love this Hub and going back to our childhood, Credence!

I was and am still a big fan of Superman, and used to daydream of having super powers when I was a child. Maybe I still do a little. *smile* Imagine what a bleeding heart liberal could accomplish with those powers. *Big Cheesy Grin*


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca

The Superman movies came out when I was... oh who am I kidding... I wasn't even born yet. But, I do remember them coming on TV when I was younger. We would go over to my grandparents house and spend the night. One night we watched Superman in the livingroom before going to bed. I don't rememember which one it was... but man... it gave me nightmares. I still vividly remember that dream. I guess it was a little too intense for my age. However, that still doesn't stop my love for Superman. My favorite spinoff is Smallville. Overall just a great show. But then again, I wasn't really growing up with the original either.

Great hub!


ruffridyer 5 years ago from Dayton, ohio

I have seen a few episodes of the T.V. series. It was pretty corny. However the one with superman keeping two people as prisoners sounds pretty dark. Was superman gonna leave them there until they died of old age?

I read somewhere that the actor George Reeves was at a public signing in costume and a boy brought a handgun to show his friends that bullets bounced off superman. Reeves convinced the boy not to shoot, telling him the bullets might hit someone else and hurt them.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

Great Caesar's Ghost! What a super article- truly Cred2 not trying to be funny. That is laugh-out loud funny when the bad guys throw their pistols. Glad you pointed that out along with the other things that stick out. Ah you described the quintessential Superman Chris Reeves character perfectly. Yes, Reeves became a true life hero. Hmm..never thought about those eerie connections before. Btw Cred, my fave 'The Flash' was hard to pretend with a towel cause he didn't wear a cape..lol.


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Justsilvie, thanks for stopping by, I hoped that you enjoyed reading it as much as I did putting it together. You and I both know that Superman is a progressive! Anyone seeking world peace usually is.


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Sorry Barbergirl, you missed out on all of the fun. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Smallville was an interesting program about the young Superman, its productions values were great and the show did not disappoint. If you have not seen the orginal Superman, go check it out, it was a lot of fun...

Regards, Cred2


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Hello, ruffryder, thanks for dropping in. I think that Superman was kind to just let them live. They were just a couple of crooks. His true identity once revealed would ruin the entire Superman thing!

The story about George Reeves was hilarious, it is a good thing that the kid did not get to check out his theory. How did a kid that young go walking around with a pistol anyway?

Thanks, Cred2


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Hi, Alastar, I knew that I could count on you to come to my party. There is always a lot of stuff you see when you are a kid that defies reality. Great Caesar's Ghost, how corny can you get? But, it was a lot of fun all the same. I remember Flash, he was the guy that was always hotfooting it. They made movies out of every superhero, including Underdog, how about one about "The Flash". Again thanks for visiting, Cred2


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

Hey Cred2, do you think we could start a non-profit movement called " Fans in League for an Awesome Super Hero." F.L.A.S.H. And put pressure on the King of Hollywood himself Steven Spielberg for $100,000,000 Flash movie? Or am I blowing smoke up my nose? Your thoughts on this important matter will be most appreciated. Yours, an out-raged Flash fan.


Fullerman5000 profile image

Fullerman5000 5 years ago from Louisiana, USA

I wore out my vhs tapes of the superman films starring christopher reeve. he was my favorite. And the theme song from John Williams still gets me pumped up. This was a fun and interesting hub. voted interesting and up. good work


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Alastar, did a little checking and I see that there is a blockbuster planned for 'the flash' that has plans for a release in 2013. At least, according to wikipedia. I like to invest early and get a little piece of the action. If it got some of the special effects that was used for the 'Green Lantern' it should be a fun movie, we will have to stay tuned. Cred2


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Hi, Fullerman, thanks for reading and commenting. Tell me, wasn't that score a work of genius? I am with you, Chris Reeve was "Superman".


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 5 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

The Superman comic headquarters of the entire planet resides wtih ...Drum roll please...ME! Naw--although I do sell a lot of Superman comic books with my decade old internet store. I do hold the record for producing the more MINT Superman comics than anyone though. I do remember the first Superman movie and it came out the same weekend as the Travolta dance movie and the Travolta movie overshadowed the Superman movie in sales. I was suprprised by that as I greatly antipated the Superman Movie.


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Yes, indeed, RJ, those were the days. I am glad that you enjoyed the film and it is nice to find another fan! I will keep it in mind regarding your Superman comic book market.


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 3 years ago from Essex, UK

Hmmm; I must admit Credence, Superman never appealed too much to me. The reason? In a sense the same reason you liked him - because he could 'do it all'. He was just too powerful. I always felt like siding with Lex - for a brilliant yet merely mortal human to take on an adversary who could fly faster than a speeding bullet and indeed be impervious to a speeding bullet seemed incredibly bold. It's a case of cheering on the underdog, even if that underdog is Hell-bent on world domination :-)

Oh well, we'll have to agree to differ on that one! However, I will admit to enjoying the first two Christopher Reeve movies (particularly the second when he at least had some equally powerful adversaries) and I will admit to enjoying your article on the caped superhero who never learned how best to wear his underpants - on second thoughts, perhaps his dress sense suggests Superman was mentally challenged and thus he deserves my sympathy and support?

Voted up. Alun.


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 3 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Hi, Alun, so kind of you to read this article and provide a great comment. Lex Luthor, played by Gene Hackman, was a genius to discover Superman's single vulnerability. He always did well considering his disadvantage against so powerful an opponent. So if you had to pick among the array of good guy super heroes, who or what would be your favorite? If I had Superman's powers for a day, I would do much more with my time then curl up with a Dickens' novel. Imagine, virtually imboundable!

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