Understanding Superman’s Appeal

One of the things that has longed fascinated me about Superman is his enormous popularity outside of America. Just recently I learned that the 1951 film Superman and the Mole Men had a cinematic release in Thailand.  The images reproduced here are from a Bangkok cinema.



I tried to grapple with Superman’s international appeal in a recent piece for the Smithsonian Institution’s What It Means to Be American website. I am still thinking about this issue. But meantime the piece is here (not my choice of heading):

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Positive Symbol of American Power!



Must There Be a Superman

In Batman v Superman (2016) there is a blink and you will miss it moment referencing the Superman #247 (January 1972), story “Must There Be a Superman” by Elliot Maggin. The extensive credits of the film make no mention of Maggin. On hearing of this Maggin tweeted I’m pissed. In July that year the San Diego Comic Con presented Maggin with the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing, an award named after an often unacknowledged writer of Batman comics. Accepting the award Maggin vowed to take on the insidious work-for-hire employment status of many comic book professionals. In my forthcoming book Superman: The Persistence of an American Icon I detail the stormy relationship between Siegel and Shuster and DC and also point to the work of many other “work-for-hire” creators, like Maggin, who shaped the  Superman we know today.