Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound.
“Look, up in the sky!”
“It’s a bird!”
“It’s a plane.”
“No, it’s Superman!“
Yes, it’s Superman. Strange visitor from another planet who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his own hands; and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way...
All of which was fine, except I never was able to get a clear idea of just exactly what that last phrase meant. In fact I’m still working on the problem, right a long with a very great number of Americans.….
If America was such a welf-adjusted and brilliant place, why did it need super-heroes to solve its problems—yet this is a need that has grown to excess. Of course these folk were obviously just the nutters from Olympus and the various Scandinavian deities projected into a modern context, and the bad guys came straight out of the Book of Revelation. Like Science Fiction, the superhero grew from humble origins—merely the stuff of comic books, but gradually it spread into radio plays, matinee serials, B movies, onto television and finally exploded into blockbuster movies. Admittedly the advances in special effects techniques played a role, but the western and the gangster heroes slowly diminished. Humphrey Bogart and John Wayne—no matter how much larger-than-life their characters may have been—still found normal human powers adequate to deal with the most dreadful villains and social problems. Now these difficulties appeared to grow to such proportions that only a person with extra-ordinary powers could deal with them.
But it wasn’t just on screen that impossibilities were taking place.