The Man of Tomorrow | WBEZ
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99% Invisible

The Man of Tomorrow

I’m willing to concede from the get-go that I might be wrong about the entire premise of this story, but Superman has never really worked for me as a character. I preferred the more grounded Marvel Comic book characters, like Spider-man, who lived in real cities and had human thoughts and feelings. Superman is basically invincible, not relatable, and oozed “establishment.” And even though I really love the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie, it contains a perfect example of why I don’t really dig the character. Just so you know, this is a 25 year-old spoiler alert, but at end of the 1978 movie, all of the greatness of that film is nearly undone by the fundamental flaw in having a character that is all-powerful. Superman flies around the earth backwards and turns back time! My problems with the character aside, Superman is an extremely successful and important design. Glen Weldon, author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography (and panelist of the great Pop Culture Happy Hour) talks me through the iconography of our first superhero and why Supes has managed to stay relevant for 75 years. Glen even explains why I’m wrong about Superman “turning back time” in the 1978 Superman movie.

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