It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's Superman! Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive; able to leap tall buildings in a single bound - Superman's legend isn't Greek to anyone. When we think of Superman, we imagine a superhero high up in the sky with one hand clenched forward. But, did you know that Superman didn't always have the powers to fly?
Contrary to the immense persona and widespread fame (more than even Pepe the Frog) that Superman enjoys currently, his original powers were not extraordinary, to begin with. We could say that they were “on par” with ordinary superheroes. But as the character grew in popularity, his muscles grew as well. Superman is, without a doubt, one of the best superheroes of all time- it is debatable for sure (join us in the comments).
Here is a fun fact- Superman couldn’t fly when writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster first created the comic. Undoubtedly, flight powers play such an integral role in modern-day Superman. So, it’s hard for us to imagine a time when he lacked this ability.
He did, however, have superhuman skills, but the flight was not one of them. He was able to jump to an extreme instead of flying. He could leap from tall buildings, but he would come back right back down to Earth.
The Evolution of Superman
In the Superman Debut #1 Action Comics back in 1938, Superman could not fly. Instead, he jumped at the height of 1/8th of a mile. As soon as Joe Shuster and Jerry Seigel created him, the idea blew up from the get-go. His flying ability appeared in cartoons, and radio plays before DC Comics picked it up in 1941. The radio program popularised the idea that Superman could fly through the skies and beyond, they found it alluring.
Initially, Superman had super strength, super speed, keen senses, but several of his abilities were dropped as fast as they were introduced when the character was developing. Few of them included the ability to telepathically control others- which makes us wonder, why would he need this skill?
When Superman Learnt To FLy
It was not until the 1940s when animators decided that Superman could take off into the air. Superman possessed superhuman speed. He could move from place to place by running or taking gigantic leaps. His pace gradually increased, and he eventually performed aerial stunts like flying from the ground.
The transition from leaping to flying was gradual, and fans could see a consistency in his growth. It was not until May 1943 when Superman was referred to as someone “who can fly like a bird.” Superman officially flew for the first time in Action Comics #65 released in October 1943.
Tried and Tested - Journey of Superman's Skills
In one edition of the comic, they gave him the superpower to change the shape of his face to look like someone else’s, but that did not make sense as he already had a disguise as Clark Kent.
The writers gathered as many features they could, which made Superman invincible and unbeatable. No villain could match up to his level. To make this easier, they reduced his features like a temporary setback.
The writers took away some of the Man of Steel’s abilities to humanize the character. He also gained his ‘Super Flare’ power which would leave him powerless for a day and lets him unleash all the solar energy in his body as a massive energy blast.
Fun Facts About Superman
Superman experimented with his powers with the fellow Justice League teammates’ help and discovered that some of his abilities have changed. Superman was created with the intention of a mad scientist who conducts experiments on a homeless man called ‘Bill Dunn’, who eventually gains the power to control and read people’s minds. This ‘Superman’ eventually murders his maker and uses his powers to make money and rule the world.
Superman wasn't created to be a hero but a real villain. Ironic right?
The story of Superman is similar to the level of Moses. Just like Moses, Superman was sent away by his parents and got adopted by foreign people. Needless to say, when DC Comics eventually bought the rights to the character from the creators at just $130, they never could have thought that someday a film franchise will rope in billions of dollars for the comic brand.