Today, April 18, 2013, is the 75th anniversary of the introduction of Superman.
To many, he’s one of the greatest creations of the 20th century, the prototypical superhero as well as the reason why these costumed folks are called “super” heroes to begin with.
To some, he’sold-fashioned. A relic of an older time. An optimistic individual who sees the good in us all, which is no good to a cynical minded person who would rather see instant punishment and overt-the-top violence with fancy weapons and such.
To others, like myself, he represents hope. An ideal to live up to and aspire to be. In a world like ours, we don’t have such a being in existence, at least beyond fantasy. And given what’s happened in the last week, heaven knows we need him.
Superman’s not perfect by any means, and he’ll be the first to admit that. He’s humble, earnest, a citizen of the world, and very curious about the world he lives in and what’s beyond the planet that he calls home. And he wouldn’t hurt a fly.
You ever tied bubble wrap on your hands? That’s Superman’s life, having to be careful and try not to harm people because he actually believes in the people.
A lesser man would use his power to imprison and cause fear to the populace. He’d embrace the role of god if that was in his nature, but it’s not. He had lots of great influences in his life, including his adoptive parents Jonathan and Martha Kent, the friends he grew up with in Smallville like Lana Lang and Pete Ross, and those he worked with like Perry White, Cat Grant, Jimmy Olsen, and Lois Lane.
By the way, I don’t know why people think that celebrating Superman is slighting Lois Lane. I’ve always felt that Lois’s story made Superman’s legend that much stronger since in every incarnation of the character, the costumed hero’s first non-confrontational meeting had always been with Lois. She names him. She inspires him. She loves him, and all of those feelings are more than mutual.
So, today, the man in the funny red sheet celebrates his diamond anniversary. Not many characters have endured in the pop culture for so long, and even today, Superman’s legacy is tied to products outside of comics, and it’s still a powerful one. You’ll see the familiar S Shield of Hope in every form of entertainment, references to the mythos everywhere, and every so often, you’ll look to the skies, hoping to see a red streak across the sky.
After all, we all believe a man can fly.
(painting by Alex Ross)