Happy 75th Birthday Superman
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
A boy scout with heat vision, he’s been described as faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Forcing the eternal quandary of whether that was a bird or that was a plane (though generally I wonder how some folk can misinterpret a bird for a plane or vice versa) but I digress. Today is Superman’s 75th Birthday, I’m sure there’ll be articles all over waxing all kinds of philosophical on Supe and all his escapades, sure I may be a Batman fan through and through, but when I think back to my youth... my first superhero was Superman.
I remember the first Superman TV series, The Adventures of Superman, I was a kid and I used to watch it on Nick at Nite (along with other 1950s television staples). This show was my first experience with the man with the “S” on his chest. Starring George Reeves in the title role, he was an iconic portrayal of the Man of Steel, and one actors following would strive to pay homage to. I remember watching episode after episode of this show damn near every night as a kid. It was one of the reasons I’d sneak out at all hours and watch Nick at Nite in my living room while my parents slept. The early seasons were in black and white with subsequent seasons shot in color. The effects were simple, but the show was pure entertainment. It ran for 104 episodes and was the longest running Superman until Smallville came along (that reminds me, I need to watch all of Smallville).
As I got older, I became more enthralled with Batman, I was a fan of the Adam West series and read some of the darker tales of the Bat. The Tim Burton feature film more so solidified my adoration of the bat... but as far as movies go, I have to mention Superman starring the one and only Christopher Reeve. As LFTD Friend Marc Morin stated in his Top 5 Superhero Films post, Superman proved that a comic book based movie could appeal to the masses and be a veritable money maker. Reeve was perfect in the title role, as an actor he portrayed both Clark Kent and Superman in very different ways, in my opinion of the reasons that the “take off the glasses” disguise works. The film still stands as one of my favorite superhero films of all time and leaves me with a sense of nostalgia, especially that theme song! The musical score is such an important element of a film, and this was no different, the original theme song by legendary composer John Williams still stands as one of the most recognizable scores in all of film (right up there with Jaws and the “Imperial March” from Star Wars).
There was a notable Superman absence as far as TV and films goes, I did watch Lois and Clark and also caught the Justice League animated series back in the 90s. But by now I was so into the whole world of Batman, my Superman fandom subsided a bit. Of course though, as I got older I started to appreciate the comic medium more, as a teenager I was buying more comics and biding my time until Superman hits the big screen again. I was beginning to crave for a bit of a Superman fix by this point, sure the Batman Animated Series kept my attention, but my superhero fandom was seriously lacking a dose of the last son of Krypton. Part of this stems from my absolute disgust at all things Joel Schumacher did with the world of Batman. The only good thing that Joel Schumacher brought to the Batman universe was “A Kiss From A Rose” by Seal... that song’s the bloody jam!
It wasn’t until 2006 that we saw a return of the boy scout in red and blue. Veteran superhero film director Bryan Singer (X-Men and X2) helmed a return of the man of steel in what felt like a direct sequel to the Christopher Reeve Superman tales, the theme was there just a different set of actors. It was an all-star cast with veritable unknown (Brandon Routh) donning the cape and tights. It wasn’t bad... it wasn’t what I was hoping for... but it wasn’t bad. Felt less like a fuzzy reinterpretation of the first Superman film and more like, Superman 2.5 (Superman 3 was bloody unwatchable). I am hotly anticipating this coming Man of Steel film. A reboot that’s long needed to come featuring Henry Cavill in the hero’s boots.
Hopefully a Justice League movie will be in the works after this. While the Batman license has proven to be profitable, the same hasn’t been said for other members of the DC Universe of heroes. With an abysmal Green Lantern film and Aquaman existing solely in the fictional world of HBO’s Entourage, the DC Universe is long overdue to make a true film debut. Especially with how successful last summer’s Avengers was, I hope Man of Steel is the first step to a true Justice League film. With that, Happy 75th Birthday Superman, the years have certainly been kind to you.