Adapting Superman

Essays on the Transmedia Man of Steel


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About the Book

Almost immediately after his first appearance in comic books in June 1938, Superman began to be adapted to other media. The subsequent decades have brought even more adaptations of the Man of Steel, his friends, family, and enemies in film, television, comic strip, radio, novels, video games, and even a musical. The rapid adaptation of the Man of Steel occurred before the character and storyworld were fully developed on the comic book page, allowing the adaptations an unprecedented level of freedom and adaptability.

The essays in this collection provide specific insight into the practice of adapting Superman from comic books to other media and cultural contexts through a variety of methods, including social, economic, and political contexts. Authors touch on subjects such as the different international receptions to the characters, the evolution of both Clark Kent’s character and Superman’s powers, the importance of the radio, how the adaptations interact with issues such as racism and Cold War paranoia, and the role of fan fiction in the franchise. By applying a wide range of critical approaches to adaption and Superman, this collection offers new insights into our popular entertainment and our cultural history.

About the Author(s)

John Darowski is a PhD candidate in comparative humanities at the University of Louisville. He is the author of several essays on the history of comic book superheroes.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by John Darowski

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 287
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7725-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4239-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

John Darowski 1

The Dawn of the Man of Tomorrow: How Adapting Superman into Different Media Created America’s Superhero
William J. Lorenzo 7

Secret Origins: The Birth of Superman and Tintin as National Icons
Alexandre ­Desbiens-Brassard 27

Forging an S into a Myth: Adaptations of Superman Across Media
Liam Webb 41

Superman Takes to the Air: The Radio Adaptations of the Man of Steel
John Darowski and Joseph J. Darowski 57

Adapting the Clan to the Klan: Modern Confrontations of White Nationalism in Young Adult Superman Comics
J. Richard Stevens 76

Adapting American Values: Contextualizing Superman and the ­Mole Men and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns 90

A European Superman
Lars Konzack 101

Superman vs. The Soap Opera: The Success of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
Nicole Freim 110

Adaptation, Fandom and Gender: What Counts, Who Counts and Why
Anna F. Peppard 127

The Man of Steel: A Modern Hero in Crisis
Simon Harold Walker 144

No Tights, No Flights: How Smallville Put the “Human” in “Superhuman”
Christopher Maverick 158

Through the Lens of Dr. Frankenstein: Luthor as Prometheus
Daniel Peretti 173

Lois Lane in Three Acts: Zack Snyder’s Key to a Modern Portrait of The Daily Planet’s Reporter
Sandra Eckard 185

Branded a Tyrant: Rescuing Superman Video Games with the Injustice Series
Carl Wilson 194

Superman, a Super Freak: Returning the Man of Steel to the Circus in DC Bombshells
Christina M. Knopf 207

Forging Kryptonite: Lex Luthor’s Xenophobia as Societal Fracturing, from Batman v Superman to Supergirl
Ian Boucher 216

Anxiety Burning Bright: Exploring the Genealogy of the Evil Superman in Brightburn
Debaditya Mukhopadhyay 235

Appendix I: Adaptations Starring Superman or the Superman Family 245
Appendix II: Adaptations Featuring Superman or the Superman Family 259
Appendix III: Unproduced Adaptations Starring or Featuring Superman or the Superman Family 270
About the Contributors 273
Index 277