Scots Dragon wrote: ↑
Fri Sep 15, 2017 2:55 am
I kind of feel in general that the attempts to reinvent Superman as anything other than the utterly dedicated and unwavering hero are kind of misguided at best and outright stupid at worst. I liked Superman: TAS (especially after the first season), but it's not the first port of call I'd recommend for a Superman fan for animated appearances of big blue. Honestly for as many problems as they sometimes have, I actually really like the old 1940s animated shorts, especially the earlier ones before the budgets were slashed, which were real exemplars of animation and a good example of how Superman can be almost plot-device powerful at times without necessarily being boring.
Also the animation itself is just utterly gorgeous.
You can find the first one here
What I love is that this is one of the few instances where a studio decided that doing something right outweighted the cost.
See, at the time, the Adventures of Captain Marvel film serial had made Billy Batson and his alter-ego the first superhero in film, and it was proving ridiculously popular (even today it's held up as one of the best film serials ever) and profitable. DC realized they needed to get into the game, but rather than try to ape the live action work of Captain Marvel, the decided to go the animated route. When they approached the Fleischer brothers to make the cartoons, Max was apparently really burnt out from recent projects, and thus made no attempt at sugar coating or bargaining. He told them bluntly what a top of the line Superman cartoon would cost (it was pretty extravagant for its time), expecting the studio to back off. The studio instead said "Sure thing", and Max got perhaps the biggest project budget of his career.
This series is also responsible for a lot of well know parts of the Superman mythos, such as the "Faster than a speeding bullet" tagline, Superman changing in a phone booth, and is partially responsible for Superman being able to fly in the comics. The animators were having a hard time making the leaps Superman usually did in the comics look right, so instead they asked if it was okay to make him just flat out fly, or at least have more of a "gliding flight" aspect to him. The comic company okayed it, and between that, rivals like Capt. Marvel and Namor flying around, Superman started flying in the comics.
This series also had Superman as a powerhouse, but at the same time there were things that could and did hurt him, and he couldn't simply muscle his way through every problem. Several times in the face of large natural disasters, Superman needs to rely on science to save the day, rather than his own strength. When a giant magnetic telescope pulls down a meteor from space, every time Superman tries to stop it himself all he can do is delay the meteor's approach, and is clearly getting his ass kicked in the process. He needs to instead get Lois to use the original machine (that he is keeping powered) to send the meteor back into space.
Lois was actually ahead of her time here as well. While she does need a lot of saving, she also shows herself to be very brave and resourceful. She doesn't break under Nazi torture or pain of death, and when some criminals are trying to rob a train she's own, she actually picks up one of the gangster's tommy guns and opens fire on them.
There was also no "Clark Kent is the mask" thing where Clark is a simpering whimp while Superman is the "real" person. Clark Kent is a brave, resourceful individual who just pretends to have human frailty when he needs to change.
Superman here is a bit more of a mysterious figure, but much like with how Capt. Marvel killed several people in his film serial, this is sort of a proto-type Superman before he became firmly established. But overall, these shorts are very solid and a lot of fun.