It’s a bird, it’s a plane, its Superman, and he turns 70!
Since his debut in the world of DC Comics in June 1938, Superman continues to one of the most iconic superheroes of all time. Born Kal-El, the son of Jor-El from the planet Krypton, he was sent to Earth, where he was adopted by a kindhearted farm couple Jonathan and Martha Kent, whom named their son Clark and raised him in Smallville, Kansas. It was through them that he learned about honesty, integrity, humility, and a strong sense of right and wrong.
After discovering his alien heritage during his teens, he grew up to be the Man of Steel known as Superman — not only fighting for the common and greater good, but also standing up for truth, justice, and the American Way.
Besides comic books, fans watched him from going through his early years trying to find his place in the world to being a romantic foil/interest and soul mate of Lois Lane to becoming the classic superhero in several Superman films over the past 30 years, ABC’s Lois & Clark (1993-97), and now the CW’s Smallville (2001-).
However, many have said that there’s a downside to playing Superman because of an alleged curse — and it’s not kryptonite. From 1952 to 1958, George Reeves became the first to don the “boy in blue” and cape in The Adventures of Superman. His death in 1959 was ruled a suicide, but theories have gone on for years. The 2006 movie, Hollywoodland, depicts the actor’s final days before his death as well as his frustration and fear of being typecast as Superman.
Out of all the actors to don the cape, Christopher Reeve was the most memorable in being Superman in four movies from 1978 to 1987. On May 27, 1995, he was paralyzed from the neck down after being thrown from his horse in a cross country riding event. However, Reeve’s proved to everyone that he was more than “Super”, as he spent a decade tirelessly advocating for spinal cord research — leading him to set up the Christopher Reeve Foundation.
“What I do”, he quoted on the site, “is based on powers we all have inside us; the ability to endure; the ability to love, to carry on, to make the best of what we have — and you don’t have to be a ‘Superman’ to do it.”
Sadly, Reeve’s died from cardiac arrest caused by a systemic infection on October 10, 2004; he was 52. His wife, Dana, died from lung cancer in March 2006. The couple left behind son Will, 16, however, Reeve’s left behind his legacy not only in Hollywood but also to the world.
“He (Reeve)”, said Superman director Richard Donner, “was put on this Earth for … a lot of reasons. He wasn’t just here to be an actor. He was Superman.”
Though being called naive or an overgrown “Boy Scout”, Superman was and still is an idealist because he is truly a white knight in shining armor — courageous, honorable, and righteous — and always ready to help in anyway he can.
“The key word for me on him”, said the late Gene Siskel in an interview on the first Superman film in 1978, “is ‘inspiration’. He is a leader by inspiration. He sets an example.
“He stands on the sidelines until there is real trouble. He does not want to get involved unless it’s absolutely necessary because he thinks people should learn to make their mistakes.”
Though the world has changed and us along with it, the core of Superman’s character hasn’t, because he is the ultimate good guy that completely knows right and wrong. Though he knows that the war between good and evil continues to wage on, Superman still believes that the former will triumph over the latter one day, and it is important to never give up.
Superman is a symbol of peace, truth, justice, greatness, goodness, and humility … for he is the foundation of what it means to be a true hero.