There are many superheroes. The fictional world is full of them. They often undertake many daring adventures; from saving damsels in distress to protecting the world from alien invasions. And for many, that is as far as they go. But a rare few manage to go beyond and become something more. That is what makes Superman so significant.
More than Just a man in tights, he has come to mean a host of different things to different people.However, there are three areas that Superman has defined significance in and that is historically, socially and culturally. This essay will explain why he is the superhero that has made the most impact on the 20th and 21st centuries. From the moment he was created, Superman started making his mark on history. Inspired by the old time pulp heroes like Doc Savage and the Shadow high school kids Jerry Siegel and Joe Shutter sought to emulate the success other creators had had in the new booming medium of comic books.
The beginnings of Superman date back to January 1933 and after a few years and a lot of revision, he was finally published in June 1938 in Action Comics #1 and it is his first appearance that is attributed with the commencement of the Golden Age of Comics. Despite the fact hat heroes like Zero and the Phantom already existed, Superman is considered the first “superhero’. They were Just men who took on a masked identity, but the Man of Steel was the first with powers. Thus, his creation inspired the birth of more of these new superheroes, like Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern.The so called Man of Tomorrow also set a precedent for dual identities. The use of a secret identity as a device was not new, as Zero and the Shadow had used them. But they were wealthy aristocrats.
Siegel and Shutter decided that Superman’s secret identity should be in the form of a mild-mannered newspaper reporter, called Clark Kent. As fellow creator and industry legend Stan Lee says: “Superman established the idea of somebody that seems to be a meek, ordinary, average person and is really a superhero. And it was a formula that virtually every superhero owes a debt to today. Superman lays claim to a lot of firsts’ and as the grandfather of the superhero genre, the Man of Steel will always be historically significant. The Big Blue Boy Scout has also had a very strong social significance. To some, he is more than Just a man or a comic book character. Some see him as a “mythic symbol of hope, strength and moral certainty’.
Superman’s original purpose was to help solve the social ills of the sass and ‘ass and as writer Mark Wolfram puts it, he was “the catharsis for the Depression”. Then as America moved out of the Depression, the Man of Tomorrow needed to find another purpose.During World War II, he was used as propaganda material but the stories never really dealt with the actual War.
Then the social order” and so he became a paragon for truth, Justice and the American way. The Man of Steel has also been considered the ultimate immigrant. A reflection of perfect assimilation into American life, Paul Levity also notes that there is “a assonance in Superman to the fundamental American dream”. As the first superhero, he has become the ideal. Not Just in his own comic book universe, but also in our own world, Superman has become an inspirational character and an icon.Superman represents many different things to people all across the world but it is what he stands for that makes him so socially significant.
Perhaps the most significant impact Superman has had is culturally. More specifically: popular culture. According to collector Philip Yecch, Superman’s popularity over the years is second only to Mackey Mouse. Outside of the comic books, which have not stopped publication since 1938, the Big Blue Boy Scout has featured in a variety of adaptations from radio and movie serials to TV shows and feature films.In the 71 years that the Man of Steel has been around, he has never been out of the social conscious.
In fact, terms from the Superman myth’s have even entered the public lexicon: Krypton, Brainier and Bizarre have all become synonyms for Achilles Heel, intelligence and bizarre or twisted logic. Superman is also very much a pop-culture savior and secular messiah and has an important part in our culture as part of modern mythology. As the Last Son of Krypton, Superman has been identified as a parallel for Biblical stories.Superman was sent to Earth to escape his dying planet. Moses was sent down the river to escape persecution.
Superman descended from the heavens. Jesus was sent to us from Heaven. The Jude-Christian allegory is furthered when you consider that both Jesus and Superman appear three times: as infants, as teenagers and then in their ass’s ready to assume their place and save the world. They even have similar death and resurrection stories. Quite clearly, the Man of Tomorrow has had a very culturally significant role. Superman’s creation changed the world.Without the simple creation of two teenage boys, modern pop-culture would be a very different place.
The Man of Tomorrow certainly lives up to his name. It is evident that Superman is historically, socially and culturally significant. If any literary character or superhero has made the most impact on the 20th and 21st centuries, it would have to be the Man of Steel and he will continue to have an impact on the years to come. He is a precedent and an inspiration. He is modern mythology.
He was conceived before most of us were born and he will be around long after we are gone.