10 things you probably don’t know about the Man of Steel
If you’re like us, you are really starting to get amped for the new Man of Steel movie (flying into theaters on June 14, 2013), and the only thing that could be better than seeing Superman again on the big screen is having the super-ability to up-up and amaze your friends with not-so-trivial details about the Man of Tomorrow while you are waiting for the movie to start.
So to help you out we’ve compiled a list of 10 things you probably don’t know about the Man of Steel, his comic-book family and creators, and his rich 75-year history. Enjoy!
- Superman is God (?) – There are several theories regarding the religious significance of Superman (just Google Superman + religion) and he has been claimed by both the Jewish and Christian faiths. To be honest, both religions can support a pretty good case for their side, but one thing is for certain, the “El” part of Superman’s real name, Kal-El, is the Hebrew word for God.
- Superman was once King Kong – Throughout the Man of Steel’s history, Red Kryptonite has had various physical effects on the superhero, but one of the strangest (and maybe the coolest) reactions he’s had to the substance was in Superman #226. While watching the film King Kong at a Metropolis theater, Supes is exposed to the red substance and grows to giant-size. He then proceeds to re-enact the film he was watching, a la giant-ape style. (Note: There are dozens of Kryptonite variations, each with a different effect on Superman.)
- Doc Savage Connections – Although the Man of Steel is recognized as the official “Granddaddy” of costumed heroes, he was actually an amalgamation of many pulp magazine heroes who came before him. Superman’s infallible code of ethics and his “Fortress of Solitude” were borrowed directly from the Doc Savage stories of the 1930s. Even the name “Clark Kent” is said to be in homage to Doc’s real name, Clark Savage, Jr. (Although the name is also thought to be a mash-up of well know actors of the era, Clark Gable and Kent Taylor.)
- John Carter Connections – In addition to Doc Savage, Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster also borrowed heavily from the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter character, who was also a visitor from another planet (Earth to Mars) and could easily “leap tall [Martian] buildings in a single bound.”
- Superman rights sold for $130 – Back in 1938, Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster sold the rights to Superman for a measly $130. The Man of Steel is now a billion dollar industry, but after multiple lawsuits (some still ongoing by the creators’ estates) across the hero’s 75-year history, the original author and illustrator had little to show for their creation. People have even made money off the cancelled check that as written to the super-creators for the rights to their Superman character, which sold at auction in 2012 for $160,000 dollars. You can see the 2012 video that ComicConnect.com produced to promote the check’s sale HERE.
- Schuster’s Secrets – Superman’s co-creator, artist Joe Schuster, had terrible eyesight and often had to tediously draw with his face up close to his pen and paper. After the Man of Steel became popular and the artist’s workload increased, he had trouble keeping up with the workload and had to hire other artists to cover for him. After legal woes regarding the rights to his co-creation, and unceremoniously being dumped by DC Comics, the artist resorted to working for shady fetish-sex magazines, like “Nights of Horror,” where he illustrated unseemly characters that very closely resembled Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. (See the book Secret Identity, by Craig Yoe.)
- Superman inspired by creator’s Dad’s death – Writer Jerry Siegel’s Dad, Mitchell Siegel, was shot and killed during a robbery of his Cleveland clothing store in 1932. It’s theorized that the tragic death of his father is what inspired the young man to create the bulletproof crime-fighter, Superman.
- Douglas Fairbanks Style – Superman’s trademark stance with his elbows out and his hands at his hips, as drawn by Joe Schuster, was actually borrowed from a popular actor of era, Douglas Fairbanks, who made the stalwart position popular in his roles as Robin Hood and Zorro.
- Superman started as a villain – Siegel & Schuster’s very first interpretation of Superman was actually as a villain in their self-published 1933 fanzine called, “Science Fiction: The Advance Guard of Future Civilization.” (In my book, one of the greatest titles ever!) Their short-story was called, “The Reign of the Superman,” and starred a character with terrible telepathic powers, as opposed to the hero who would evolve into the protector of truth, justice and the American way that we know today.
- Jimmy Olsen was a radio star first – Superman’s pal, Jimmy Olsen, actually starred in the radio program, The Adventures of Superman (1940), before he ever saw the pages of a comic book. The character of Jimmy was created so Superman would have somebody to talk to on the radio show, in order to help advance its narrative. The cub reporter became such a hit with listeners that they decided to incorporate him into the comics as well. He first appeared in Action Comics #6, but was not seen by the name of “Jimmy Olsen” until Action Comics #13. On a side note, Kryptonite was also first introduced on the Superman radio series, not in the comics.
NERDVANA BONUS LINK: Have you ever wondered how the Man of Steel is able to shave? So have a lot of well know scientists and celebrities, and they each have a theory in this collection of videos at howdoesheshave.com.