Today, superheroes are a pretty regular part of our culture, and have given birth to a genre where the truly fascinating and impossible has become relatively commonplace. Fascinating stories about people with incredible abilities have been a part of human mythology for a very long time, but you could make a very convincing case that it's modern mythology - in the form of comic book superheroes - that have attached it firmly to the lexicon of entertainment, and for those looking deeper, the proliferation of rich ideas and imagination.
In June of 1938, the age of the superhero was born in Action Comics #1, and the vibrant full-color cover depicting a man in a circus strongman's costume raising a car over his head with his bare hands. For a generation of young people riddled with turmoil and a Great Depression came a hero in a red cape that allowed their imaginations to "level up," so to speak, and the world was introduced to Superman.
In the intervening years between Superman's creation and today, many other superheroes have come to expand our imaginations, thrill and entertain us, and even teach us the meritorious values of our society. While those other heroes will be beloved by millions of people, it's still hard to deny the stature and grandeur of the original superhero, the character that all other imitators owe a debt to for their own creation.
This year, Warner Bros. reignited its stake in Superman with the release of Man of Steel, and it also just so happens that 2013 marks Superman's 75th anniversary. While we have a little less than a month to go before Man of Steel comes home on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD, Warner Bros. and DC Comics recently unveiled an animated short that celebrates the entire long legacy of Superman, from his creation in 1938, to his portrayals by George Reeves and Christopher Reeve, on up through his New 52 reimagining and his appearance in the new film as played by Henry Cavill.
The film was screened for the first time at this year's New York Comic Con, and was created by Warner Bros. animation and produced by DC Comics animation legend Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League Unlimmited) and Man of Steel director Zack Snyder. Take a look at it below.
While it's a little unfortunate that more interpretations couldn't have gone into it (like Kirk Alyn's, Dean Cain's, Brandon Routh's or Tom Welling's), it's pretty astonishing that the team was able to compress as much of the character's vast history and legacy into just a couple of short minutes. Big moments from the comics like his unforgettable battle with Muhammad Ali (you may be surprised at who wins), his death at the hands of Doomsday from the 1990s, and even his bizarre red/blue transformation are all represented alongside the movies and TV shows that everyone knows so well. If you're a big Superman fan, it may be hard not to get at least a little emotional as you swoop through all of these events with the uplifting fanfare of both John Williams and Hans Zimmer.
If you really want to know about all of the historical references to Superman through the entire video, of which there are a lot, then DC published an exhaustive annotation on its official blog, which you can read HERE. The short will soon be released on the Man of Steel Blu-ray, which hits stores on November 12, and will soon be featured on the DC Nation animation block on Cartoon Network.
That does it this week for Comics on Film, be sure to come back here next week and check us out again!
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