Just kidding (although that totally happens and it makes me sad that I live in the 21st Century); this is actually a home movie from the very first public appearance of Superman. Not the real Superman, because that video would be shown on media other than independent comic book Web sites on a hung over Saturday afternoon.
Instead, this is the first appearance of an actor pretending to be Superman, at the 1940 World’s Fair, a little more than two years after the character debuted in Action Comics #1. And watching it, a few things struck me, the first being how surprising it was that so many kids managed to get their hands on Superman t-shirts despite the lack of a Graphitti Designs or (in 1940) a remotely functioning economy. The second thing was: whatever happened to the Superman dress for Young Misses? Had such a thing existed when I was a Young Mister, I could have saved a lot of time knowing which girls I could have spoken to in order to avoid as many scrotal injuries.
But the biggest thing that struck me was that clearly, 1940 was a simpler time for kids. Because there they were, seeing literally the first physical embodiment of Superman – hell, any comic book hero… and not a single one of them was complaining that the trunks rode too high, or that his spitcurl was wrong, or that you could totally see the safety wire holding him up. If this occured in 2013, there would be drunken malcontents shrieking about these things on the Internet. Drunken malcontents like me, because all of those things were totall wrong.
But still: it’s actually kinda cool to see the first real crossover of comic superheroes into some kind of multimedia. And it’s doubly impressive, because in 1940, the world was only about ten years out from “multimedia” being just “medium.” And you can check it out for yourself after the jump.
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