Superman And The Mole Men was the first full-fledged Superman movie, but it was also the introduction of George Reeves as the Man Of Steel. TV viewers would be getting used to him because he would be playing the role in Adventures Of Superman until his suicide in 1959, just four seasons into the show’s run. They opted not to replace him and that was the end of the show. A pilot for a spinoff featuring Superboy (in the comics at the time these were the adventures of Superman in his teen years, which finally showed us how John and Martha Kent raised the future hero) was made but not picked up, the story later being adapted into the Superboy comics. There is also something called Super Pup, a very bad idea.
Later, another animated Superman series would come about, but this time on television. These are the intros we’ll be examining in this installment because they’re kind of tied to each other. You’ll see what I mean.
First off of course is Adventures Of Superman, which only had one season in color. There really aren’t a lot of changes between the four intros, though in one compellation I watched to confirm that the US Treasury Department seemed to be sponsoring season three. I didn’t know that. So whatever active intro I find before it gets taken down for whatever reason I can easily share with you here without updating the change. Will it be in color or black and white? I’d surprise you but frankly you can tell from the thumbnail.
Taking the dialog from the later years of the radio show, this is where “truth, justice, and the American way” became part of his iconic depiction until the comics @#$%#$%ed that up and Zack Snyder came along. Outside of color in the final season (and the new color background for the show logo sadly replacing the almost 3D look with just some drawing they zoomed in on) there isn’t any real difference. The theme song works well enough, and the intro does showcase who Superman is.
What it doesn’t really show is the type of show it is. None of Superman’s villains, few that there were in the 1950s, make an appearance. Even Lex Luthor made it into the second serial but here Superman just fights mobsters, the occasional alien, well-meaning screw-up scientists, and Lois’s inane ability to get her butt into the deepest trouble just by being incredibly stupid in her quest to one-up Clark on the byline. There’s no hint of any romantic feelings between Superman and Lois unlike the comics. What’s almost as bad as Lois losing some IQ points in this version is Clark occasionally being a bit smug, Perry shouting a lot, and…Jimmy was pretty much comic relief, but a bit toned down compared to anyone usually given that title. For more, check out fellow former Reviewers Unknown contributor Irving’s Zoo’s review series The Adventures Of Irvingman. Also of note that while Reeves did a good job as Superman, the Clark Kent Factor is very low as there isn’t a lot of difference in his performance of the two identities.
So, remember that very bad idea?
Using the sets of Adventures Of Superman they tried to create a show around original idea Superpup, and sadly this isn’t a Krypto series. We’ll need a few more installments to get there. Thankfully this did not make it past the pilot either. Yes, that is some poor soul in a Superman costume and rubber dog mask. This poor attempt at an anthropomorphic take on Kal-El features a lot of that from the rest of the dogified characters, a puppet mouse thrown in as Bark Bent’s confidant because the hell if I know, and if that sounds stupid, try looking it up sometime.
Sadly I can’t find an intro for the Superboy pilot, so let’s move on. There will be some Superboy before we’re done, though.
In 1966 a small animation studio called Filmation wanted to get into the mainstream and make their own work instead of doing work for other studios. They sought the Superman license and got it…by tricking National Comics (DC’s name at the time) into thinking they have a fully running animation studio capable of handling a full series on their own…which they did once National gave the money to make The New Adventures Of Superman.
For the life of me I can’t figure out why they start out with the same opening as the radio and live-action show, and then end up with a mouthful of words as if they were trying to avoid copyright at the end. However this does take advantage of being a cartoon. We get to see Superman’s powers in action. While the show would bring in more villains from the comics, and Superman was building quite the sci-fi rogues gallery by 1966, none of them show up in the intro.
Returning for this series were the radio drama and Fleischer casts. Strangely time and possibly cigarettes (the side effects weren’t know way back when) actually benefited Bud Coyer’s final performance. HIs Clark Kent sounds even more distinct from Superman than it did in those early performances. Jackson Beck, Joan Alexander, and Jack Grimes returned as the Narrator/Perry, Lois, and Jimmy respectively, though in season two Alexander would leave the show and Julie Bennett would take over.
Added to the show was a segment between the two Superman stories, based on the Superboy comics and featuring Superboy and Krypto protecting Smallville.
It’s okay. The theme isn’t as strong but that could be the lack of anything beyond narration. There isn’t enough said about Krypto either. Bob Hastings, who you may know from live-action TV work, took on the role here and apparently Coyer didn’t coach him in trying to do “Clark” in a different enough voice from “Superman”, but I guess you can chalk that up to this being early in Clark’s super career. The segment itself is basically the same as the Superman stories, only with fewer supervillains, more aliens, and I don’t even think Lex’s origin is here. We wouldn’t get that until Challenge Of The Superfriends outside of the comics.
In season two the show would undergo a change as National expanded their license with Filmation, leading to The Superman Aquaman Hour Of Adventure. However, Aquaman and Aqualad wouldn’t be the only additions to the cast. WARNING TO THOSE WHO CAN’T HANDLE FLASHING COLORS BECAUSE THIS IS ALMOST AS BAD AS THE FILMATION BATMAN CARTOON!
Well…the theme is slightly above The Marvel Superheroes at least. I don’t know why this is called the Superman/Aquaman Hour Of Adventure when the show also featured the Justice League Of America (this being the only time Aquaman would be shown with them) as well as individual adventures with The Flash and Kid Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and the Teen Titans minus Robin because they didn’t have the license. Until season three when it would then become the Superman/Batman Hour Of Adventure. Sadly all I could find were bumpers for the show and intros for later team-up shows, some of which I’ve already done for Batman and the Justice League intros, though apparently I missed a couple so we’ll get them in too.. I won’t be doing the intros for the other segments because they aren’t Superman and this is a Superman intro series.
While Superman would continue on with the Superfriends there are more animated and live-action takes of Superman to come. Next time I even get to talk about one that I don’t think gets enough credit, as they really got the Clark Kent Factor down pat, and the return to both live-action and a show with adventures in the title and featuring the last time Superboy was teen Clark…in his twenties. Yeah, I’ll explain that next time.