The High-Flying History of Superman

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Larry Tye tells the history of Superman, who after 75 years remains one of America’s most enduring heroes. In Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero, Tye looks at the history of the Man of Steel and also of the creators, designers, owners, and performers who made him the icon he is today.


Larry Tye

Comments [17]

Sue knechtel from long island

i am almost 50 years old and I NEVER EVER knew that Superman was Jewish. learn something new every day! thank you.

Jun. 04 2013 07:39 PM

From Kluger's "ASHES TO ASHES":

Philip Morris, meanwhile, was pioneering with a less cerebral form of brainwashing, this one involving subliminal advertising. For a reported payment of $42,000 the company bought twenty-two exposures of the Marlboro logo in the 1980 movie Superman 11, aimed largely at the youth market. . . . Lois Lane, a reporter and role model for teenage girls, had a Marlboro pack on her desk and was shown puffing merrily away. At one point in the film, a character was tossed into a van with a large Marlboro sign on its side, and in the climactic scene the superhero battled numerous foes amid a maze of Marlboro billboards until he zoomed off in triumph, leaving in his wake a solitary taxi with a Marlboro sign on top. So effective was this technique deemed that the company next teamed up with Liggett, its partner in world rights to Lark cigarettes, to buy multiple plugs for that brand in the James Bond thriller License to Kill at a cost of $350,000. The method was used in other films by other manufacturers."

Think tobacco doesn't advertise to kids anymore? They do. Every time "Superman II" plays in prime-time.

See also:

"Superman and the Marlboro Woman: The Lungs of Lois Lane"

Jun. 04 2013 01:37 PM

I'm profoundly disgusted that Leonard would sully his great program with a discussion of Superman. Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, etc represent the absolute nadir of popular culture. Comic books are pure, unadulterated trash with no redeeming literary or artistic merit.

Jun. 04 2013 01:09 PM
Amy from Manhattan

foodaggro, they meant he was "born" (i.e., introduced as a character) full-grown in his 1st appearance in the comics--the same thing I was referring to when I said he sprang from his creators' (Siegel & Schuster, not Lara & Jor-el) heads!

Jun. 04 2013 01:09 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Oops, better clarify. "Kal" is Hebrew for "light," the opposite of "heavy," not the opposite of "dark." It also means "easy."

Jun. 04 2013 01:04 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Clark Kent did quit the Daily Planet, but I don't think it was for the reason The Onion pointed out:

Jun. 04 2013 01:01 PM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

Superman was not born fully grown. He arrived, as a baby, in a ship from his dying planet Krypton. The Kents adopted him, he started off as Superboy, and eventually changed that name to SuperMAN.

Jun. 04 2013 01:00 PM
oscar from ny

Color code for superman are yellow blue nd red..
I heard that the illuminati purposely broke Christopher reeves neck and not his horse accident to confort their power ...making the original superman look weak or dead..

Jun. 04 2013 12:59 PM
Amy from Manhattan

You've already made a connection w/Greek mythology: like Athena, Superman was born fully grown! And sprang from the heads of his creators!

On the other hand, I have to dispute Mr. Tye's translation of the name "Kal-el." In Hebrew, "voice of God" would be "*Kol*-el." "Kal" is Hebrew for "light."

Jun. 04 2013 12:57 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Loving the Jewish subtext. How poetically triumphant.

Jun. 04 2013 12:56 PM

The most shameful episode of Superman's history was his defeat by Philip Morris, who got Lois Lane smoking, and had an entire homage to Marlboro at the end of Superman II.

Jun. 04 2013 12:55 PM
john from office

So Superman should have joined the IDF and fought for Israel??

truth justice and the Israeli way!

Jun. 04 2013 12:55 PM
Roy from Queens

Jeez, Leonard! Despite the popularity of comic book movies, the comic book industry isn't making the same kind of money, due to the lack of advertising, an aging fanbase and a lousy distribution market. Do your research.

Jun. 04 2013 12:54 PM
john from office

The American theme of Superman is being deminished in the new film. All in the name of money.

Spiderman was a jew??? What about Aquaman??

Jun. 04 2013 12:51 PM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

Love ol' Soops, but "make mine Marvel!"

Jun. 04 2013 12:49 PM
antonio from baySide

I meant turning the negative idea of 'eugenics' that the nazi party founded with there idea of a 'superman' to the wholesomeness and positivity the Siegel and Shuster version...

Jun. 04 2013 12:25 PM
antonio from baySide

I love how the Siegel & Shuster took the eugenics idea of a 'superman' and made it positive. There a lot of old testament references in superman's origin.

Also I wonder since it appears the origin of the man of steel will continuously evolve and tweaked to make it modern for it's current time; Will we ever see an alternate superman? Non-white, gay, female?
I guess the last one is wonder woman!

Jun. 04 2013 11:48 AM

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