Posted: Apr 22 2015
by: Neal Haworth

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10 Fun Facts About Superman

#1) He Couldn't Always Fly

One of Superman's characteristic powers is flight, allowing him to fly across the world and even into space. In the early issues, however, he could only jump across great distances, which is why the comics included the following annotation: “able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” This concept was based on the notion that Superman's home planet of Krypton had significantly more gravity than Earth. Therefore, when Superman arrived on Earth, he could jump across mountains in a similar way that astronauts could jump on the moon – to a stronger degree, of course.

Due to the difficulty of trying to create visual illustrations of Superman leaping from mountain to mountain (or building to building), producers asked DC Comics to change Superman's ability, allowing him to fly instead of just jumping. In addition to its positive effects in the comics, this change also made for some truly remarkable screens in the Superman films. Superman could be seen soaring through the skies, which was more enjoyable to watch than him simply “jumping.”

#2) Superman Sold For $130

No, that isn't a typo. After creating Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster sold the rights to Detective Comics in 1938 for just $130 – an abysmal amount considering the enormous success Superman had. At the time, however, neither Siegel nor Shuster had any idea of just how popular their creation would become. And when you're a struggling a high school student, a buck-thirty is a nice payday. Furthermore, Siegel and Shuster scored a contract with Detective Comics that allowed them to continue writing Superman stories. If it weren't for this contract, Superman may have fell off the public's radar without growing to be one of the biggest and most influential superheros of all time.

After selling the rights to Superman, Siegel and Shuster pursued legal action against Detective Comics throughout the rest of their lives, although with little-to-no success. And even after the two legendary comic book creators has passed, their families continued to drag Detective Comics through court. In January 2013, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals made a final ruling: the contract between Siegal and Detective Comics was still legally binding after all of these years; therefore, the former 2008 decision, which was made in favor of the Siegel family, was terminated. This made Detective Comics the sole copyright holder of the Superman brand.

The $130 Siegal and Shuster received for Superman would be the equivalent of roughly $2,100 today. Given Superman's enormous success, it's safe to assume the collective Superman brand is well worth over a billion dollars.

#3) The Reign of Superman

Many comic book enthusiasts assume Action Comics #1 was the first publication featuring Superman. While it was technically the first comic book depicting the Man of Steel, it wasn't the first publication. Long before Action Comics #1 was a fanzine titled “The Reign of the Superman,” in which Superman starred. This wasn't the Superman we all know and love today, however. Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster while attending Glenville High School in Cleveland, The Reign of the Superman depicted Superman as being an evil telepathic villain who was hell bent on dominating the world.

It wasn't until one year after the release of The Reign of the Superman when Siegel remade Superman into an actual superhero. The “new” Superman was envisioned after Douglas Fairbanks Sr., whereas Clark Kent was envisioned after Harold Lloyd. Shuster later revealed that he had came up with the name “Clark Kent” from combining the names of famous Hollywood movie star Clark Gable and Kent Taylor.

#4) Nicholas Cage as Superman

Can you image Nicholas Cage playing the Man of Steel? Well, it almost happened. Back in the mid-to-late 1990s, Cage earned approximately $20 million for signing up to play Superman in the adaptation film “Superman Lives.” With a $200 plus million budget and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania chosen as the primary filming location, producers were ready to shoot. Due to disagreements between producers, the film crew, and other constraints, however, Warnor Bros. Placed a hold on the film in April 1998. This prompted the film's director Tim Burton to take a job directing Sleepy Hollow.

All in all, Warnos Bros. had lost approximately $30 million from its failed Superman Lives movie, $20 million of which went to Nicholas Cage. On a side note, Ben Affleck was also considered for the role of Superman.

#5) Darth Vadar Trained Christopher Reeves

When Christopher Reeves signed up to play the Man of Steel, he needed to gain weight and fast. At the time, Reeves was somewhat skinny and didn't resemble the muscular superhero producers had in mind. So, who did they turn to for help? Darth Vadar, of course! David Prowse, the man who played the iconic Star Wars villain, was asked to help train Christoper Reeves, bulking him up for the role. According to various news reports, Prowse created a custom diet plan for Reeves, consisting of lean meats, whole grains, and nearly half a dozen protein shakes per day. Prowse also helped Reeves with his exercise regimen, focusing on heavy weight lifting with minimal cardio. This allowed Reeves to gain nearly 30 pounds of muscle in six weeks.

#6) Superman Newspaper Strips?

In a recent interview, Jerry Siegel revealed that he and Joe Shuster first attempted to sell Superman strips to local newspaper companies. Without any offers, however, the duo focused their efforts on the Superman comics, which was probably a smart move considering the influence it's had on American culture and media in general.

It was conceived strictly as a comic book. It was intended to take up the entire publication. When Joe and I first got together, we did attempt to prepare and sell newspaper strips; but they failed to sell. When I saw this publication Detective Dan, it occurred to me that we could get up an even more interesting comic book character than that other strip, which seemed to be a takeoff on Dick Racy,” said Siegal.

#7) Superman Died

Like most superheros – spoiler alert – Superman died at the hands of a villain. In 1992, the Man of Steel was killed by the deadly monster Doomsday. Also known as “The Ultimate,” Doomsday was born in the depths of Krypton, eons before the Kryptonian race had taken it over. At the time, only the strongest and most violent creatures were able to survive. The alien scientist Bertron then released a humanoid baby into Krypton's surface, at which point he was killed shortly after due to the world's unforgiving environment. Bertron collected the baby's remains, using them to create a bigger and stronger clone version. Bertron continued the process several times, each of which created a stronger being.

The end result was a superior monster that was resilient to high temperatures and otherwise deadly atmospheres. When Doomsday found his way to Earth, he encountered Superman, growing a strong desire to kill the Man of Steel. In Superman Vol. 2 #75, Doomsday and Superman killed each other.

#8) The S Doesn't Stand For Superman

It's a common assumption that the large and prominent S on Superman's outfit stands for his name. Granted, this isn't entirely wrong, but it's not completely accurate either. In Superman: Birthright #52, we learn that Krypton has a symbol for hope, and guess what it looks like? Yep, it looks like the S on Superman's outfit. This was also mentioned in the recent film adaptation, Man of Steel. On a side note, if you flip the S upside down, it symbolizes resurrection.

#9) Superman Can Do More Than Just Fly

While flight is often viewed as Superman's signature ability, the Man of Steel possesses several other abilities that he uses when battling foes. This includes superhuman strength, speed (faster than a speeding bullet), sensitive hearing, stamina, intelligence, invulnerability, heat/thermal vision, freezing breath, X-ray vision, laser vision, and healing factor.

#10) More Superman To Come

The story of Superman isn't over just yet. It's been over 75 years since the Man of Steel was first envisioned, and even today he remains more popular than ever. Along with the comics, DC Comics is producing a sequel to the 2013 movie Man of Steel. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is expected to hit U.S. theaters on March 25, 2016 will be the second installment in the DC Comics' universe of films.

Have any other interesting Superman facts that you would like to share? Let us know in the comments section below!

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