Posted: November 9th, 2012 | Author: Kieran Brown |
Superman, he’s fast, powerful and nigh-on invincible and it’s only usually through horribly contrived storytelling that he ever seems to get hurt. But what if I told you that the Superman you all know and adore started out a little bit different, what if I told you that the powers we typically associate with him were actually a major change to the original…
Where Did Superman Get His Powers?
Before we blast apart all you believe about the Man of Steel, let’s take a second to look at where his powers came from (because there’s a few versions of that story too).
The very first explanation of his powers is pretty simple, it’s just an evolutionary quirk of being Kryptonian, and it sort of worked because his powers weren’t quite that exaggerated yet. However the character very quickly had more reasons for being so strong, ranging from being from a race used to heavier gravity to the Earth’s atmosphere lacking some inhibitive feature that allowed the powers to manifest themselves. This was all a good 30 years before Superman became solar powered.
Superman Couldn’t Fly
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s some guy leaping about awkwardly in his underwear… uhh, what?
That’s right, early Superman lacked the power of flight, he was however incredibly strong due to a confused laundry list of reasons ranging from lower gravity than his native Krypton to some atmospheric difference that allowed for the development of superpowers.
His jump height was a whopping 8th of a mile, or 201 metres.
Faster Than A Speeding Bullet? Nope
Superman is fast, really fast. Unfortunately though if the original Superman were to have a foot race with himself from a later series (even late Golden Age when they started re-writing a lot of his abilities) he’d be left in his own dust.
While later iterations of the character are capable of moving so fast that they mess with time and other dimensions, the bog-standard original Superman was only capable of outrunning a speeding train.
Superman Wasn’t Invulnerable
I’m not even talking about a weakness to Kryptonite either, while he could shrug off some small arms fire, original Superman was vulnerable to explosive shells and artillery. It was a fairly rapid change that was implemented to make him invulnerable, ramping up his powers, going from a man who could take a limited amount of punishment to taking the heat and pressure of the Earth’s core. While it might be the most dramatic change to Superman it probably wasn’t the weirdest.
His Disguise Was Super Effective
We all laugh about how incredibly easy it is to see through Superman’s disguise. A pair of glasses and combing your hair differently isn’t enough to fool most people so why did it work for so long?
Well, it would have made a whole of a lot more sense if he’d kept one of his early powers. You see, in Superman’s original run he had complete control over the muscles in his face, to the point that he could contort his face to look like anyone else; that’s right Superman had a really lame but useful shape-shifting power! Unfortunately that ability was considered more ridiculous than the power to tow 18 planets all chained together and was scrapped…
Kryptonite Was Taken From A Radio Show
While there were early mentions of a ‘K-Metal’ in the Golden Age comics, the first use of Kryptonite as a plot device goes to a Superman radio show in which word was first uttered in June 1943. The first time Kryptonite makes an appearance in the comics is in 1949 and unlike most normal Kryptonite it was red instead of green.
Kryptonite Isn’t His Only Weakness
While the many different forms of Kryptonite are widely known to cause some serious damage to Superman, there are other things he needs to worry about. Superman gets most of his power from the sun these days but exposure to the radiation of a red star, like that of his native planet Krypton, is capable of robbing him of his powers, leaving him weak and vulnerable. Another major weakness is magic, Superman has absolutely no resistance to it and in a universe that has vampires, werewolves and other magical enemies he has to be pretty careful.
Superman Was Originally Drawn As A Villain
Who was the original bald evil genius bent on world domination? If you said Lex Luthor then you are horribly, horribly mistaken. It was in fact the earliest draft of Superman. Unfortunately this proved to be incredibly unpopular and so a complete rewrite of the character was done for his more iconic ‘first appearance’ in action comics.
The idea of ‘the Superman’ or ‘Ubermensch’ was first put forward by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and this villainous Superman seems to bear more of a resemblance to those ideals than the hero we all know now.
As mentioned earlier, this character does seem an awful lot like Lex Luthor, so hopefully that’s where the character’s inspiration came from because it was too interesting to allow it to go to waste.
The ‘S’ Doesn’t Stand For Superman
Depending on how far back you go for this it is either a Kryptonian glyph representing Kal-El’s family seal or the Kryptonian symbol for hope. It’s just amazingly convenient that it’s also an Earth Romanised character that happens to be the first letter of the word Superman. It puts a whole different perspective on the Superman costume.
Superman Has Had More Girlfriends Than Just Lois Lane
Pretty much everyone is aware of the big comic book romance between Lois Lane and Clark Kent but few know about the other women in Superman’s life.
His highschool crush Lana Lang was his earliest love interest and she featured heavily in the TV series Smallville. His second big crush as a teen was a time travelling teenager called Saturn Girl. Then came the college years when he fell in love with the mermaid, Lori Lemaris, who was cleverly disguised as a disabled girl. Then there are the time-travelling misadventures that see him fall in love with an actress from Krypton’s past, Lyla Lerrol.
Finally we have the most recent love interest, with Lois Lane written out of existence for the re-boot to the comic franchise, Superman is finally free to go after Wonder Woman. I would imagine that the Earth really does move for them.
Superman Has A Long-Standing Bromance With Batman
Bromance sounds like an overly strong word to use when decribing anything Batman related but when it comes to how he and Clark feel about each other it’s probably not adequate. These two had an entire story arc dedicated to them chilling out at the fortress of solitude discussing feelings. Fortunately some aliens turn up and accidentally threaten all life on Earth…
The reaction of the heroes? They cry and offer themselves up in order to keep the aliens alive.
Aside from weepy Arctic slumber parties the two have some seriously deep connections. Bruce Wayne owns Clark and Lois’ home, it was their wedding present. He also owns the Daily Planet (because he needs that extra connection with Superman for some reason) and Superman handed him a huge chunk of Kryptonite because he trusts Bruce to to kill him if it ever becomes necessary.