Ah, the long time coming first article in the superhero rundown. I’ll be honest, I did have this done a while back and then due to a technical hiccup I threw my toys out of the pram and haven’t went back to it. But here I am, back again to give it another try!
Basically these will be a series of articles looking at superheroes in other media than comic books. Movies, TV, games, everything’s open to discussion. Whatever takes my fancy!
So for the first one of these I thought I’d start with an obvious choice, Superman. Aha, but what will I specifically talk about? Well I decided to go with the excellent George Reeves series from the 1950s, Adventures of Superman. Everyone has their favourite Superman, mine being Christopher Reeves, but George Reeves comes in a close second.
You should all have seen it or at least bits of it. Or maybe you’ve seen the movie Hollywoodland, based on George Reeves life and death? It’s one of those movies where Ben Affleck actually acts. Well I’m not going to go into all the controversy, mystery and conspiracies regarding George Reeves death, but mainly focus on the actual program itself. And what a program it is! It’s a very old fashioned show but by that I mean charming. The Superman in this show is a dynamic, charismatic character but also full of that 1950s naiveity that many films and shows of the time had. Sure, some may scoff at the simplicity of the special effects but again, they’re charming. They do the job and they do the job well. The writing is also very simplistic but that works in its favour. Its concise and to the point. There’s no messing around when it comes to getting to the point of Superman beating up bad guys.
Speaking of bad guys, there were very little in the way of super-villains or that like in the show. As far as I know the 60s Batman show was the first to really portray this kind of character. In this show they’re pretty much always crooks and gangsters. They did introduce some more science-fiction/comic book elements towards the end of its run however.
Now if there was something that I can’t forgive the show for it’s that it, like the movie Superman II, gave Superman new, silly, powers. In this show he would walk through walls by altering his molecule speed (much like The Flash does), or become invisible, and on one occasion split into 2 (pre-dating the Superman Red/Blue debacle of the 90s). Also his Clark Kent was a bit more authoritative and direct than the bumbling “mild-mannered” reporter he should be.
The whole show however would be nothing without the portrayal of Superman by George Reeves.
I mean, look at him! That is a Superman. He’s unquestionably “vintage”, but amazing. The Superman portrayed in this series is very much a “man’s man”. In fact the only way they could make a more manly Superman would have been by pouring Tom Selleck into the iconic suit. Imagine that! In fact, I’m going to have to stop thinking about it right now before the overload of testosterone oozes through the Internet, and accelerates my already substantial male pattern baldness!
In all seriousness, George Reeves was an amazing actor who owned the role of Superman. I’m not as fussed on his Clark Kent as I’ve already mentioned but overall it’s a great performance that was perfect for the time.
What’s the saddest thing about the show? Knowing that if they ever made a Kingdom Come movie or TV series, that the perfect actor to play Superman already did, and unfortunately passed away over 50 years ago.