Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Top Ten Superman Moments

If you’ve never heard of Wayback, you're missing out on one of the greatest innovations of the internet, ranking right up there on my personal favorites list with Google, Wikipedia, Amazon and YouTube. Oh, and Pandora, but that’s also relatively unknown, and thus a topic for another day. But I’m not here to talk about Wayback, that internet archive founded as a nonprofit organization in 1996 and located in the Presidio of San Francisco. Go there to access broken links and deleted pages.

*Ahem.* No, what I want to talk about is some video from their free online movie archives.

Yes, Superman as it existed in 1941 pre-movie shorts. I had originally planned to do a summary of this particular episode, but I think instead I’ll just dwell on some of the memorable, must-see moments. Here’s a top ten for you, in chronological order.

# 1:
Krypton Goes Boom

“There came a day when giant quakes threatened to destroy Krypton forever. One of the planets leading scientists, sensing the approach of doom, placed his infant son in a small rocket ship and sent it hurtling in the direction of earth just as Krypton exploded!”

You know, completely leaving aside the planet-exploding earthquakes that managed to take this ‘race of supermen’ so entirely off guard, the last time I checked Superman could fly in space. Fly away, people! Fly away!

The Evil Plot:

“Beware—you fools! My electrothanasia-Ray strikes tonight at 12. Total destruction will come to those who laughed at me and failed to heed my warnings. Beware—I strike at midnight!”

I just love how the mad scientist feels it necessary to recap the first three sentences. Key concepts: Beware. Midnight. Bwahaha.

‘Electrothanasia’ would be a cool name for a band.

Lois Flies the Plane:

Lois will go to any lengths to get a scoop, even if it means stealing planes and flying without a pilot's license. Now there's a liberated woman.

The Mad Scientist Bebop:

A still image really can’t do his unique stair-descending method justice. I think I watched him go down those stairs about fifteen times. Skitter, skitter, skitter.

Damsel in Distress in Three Steps or Less:

“I’m a reporter for the—“ **KIDNAPPED**

1. Fly to isolated island
2. Introduce self to mad scientist
3. Get kidnapped.

Honestly, Lois, you can pilot a small fighter plane but you can’t come up with a better plan for confronting the mad scientist than to knock on the door?

This Looks Like A Job For Superman:

“On the stroke of midnight the deadly impact of his mysterious ray smashed the famous tower bridge, hurling cars and pedestrians into the river below.”

I guess Superman missed the line in the memo where it said 'I strike at midnight.' He was thinking noon. Oops.

No Telephone Booths For Superman:
(or Superman’s Striptease)

Another scene that still images can’t do justice to. Gotta love his little peek to see if the coast is clear. X-ray vision aside, the door has a window.

Watching the man of steel tiptoe across a room is entertaining too.


You know, structurally, if your building is flopping from side to side you should probably just take it down.

Superman VS Electrothanasia Ray:

Superman can punch lasers. Because he is just that super.

And Stay in There!:

The question was posed on Superdickery: does Superman actually have any authority to arrest people? I can’t say for sure, but clearly he is allowed to incarcerate people by literally throwing them into a jail cell. Unless he keeps his own private prison in the basement.

"That's for all those people I forgot to save!"

1 comment:

  1. A correction for a common mistake. When Superman is punching the beam he's hitting packets of something being sent down it. These are difficult to see in most prints, due to fading, but they're there. (I just checked my copy of _The Complete Superman Collection: Diamond Anniversary Edition_.) When the mad scientist sees him coming he starts sending more of these, knocking Supes for a loop. Superman rallies and resumes flying back up the beam, making sure to knock all the packets aside.