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:
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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’
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.