SLIDESHOW: Extra Extra! A History of Daily Planet Headlines!
SLIDESHOW: Updating Superman in the new movie, “Man of Steel,” shouldn't just be about getting rid of the 19th-century strongman undies. What do you do about his job? The medium that employed Clark Kent for most of the 20th century is in more peril than Lois Lane ever was. It's also the medium that often informed us about the story we were watching. What follows is a compendium of headlines, mostly Daily Planet headlines but rival pubs as well, that appeared in various Superman incarnations over the years. Consider it an extra. Read all about it.
FIRST SIGHTINGS: We first got Superman's origin on the big screen in the 1948 serial, Superman, starring Kirk Alyn, and these are the first headlines about the caped figured who saved people, then left before we had a chance to thank him. He was like the Lone Ranger, but, you know, super.
1948: Oddly, none of these early headlines are Daily Planet headlines. Those would come later.
1948: I love this period before Superman is named and everyone is struggling to figure it all out. “Mystery Bird Man.” “Man from Sky.” What do we call this thing? Once it's named, and known, it becomes a little less exciting.
1953: As here. This is from the George Reeves reboot in the “Adventures of Superman” TV show. Not only is he already named but the feat itself, —his first, saving a man hanging from a dirigible—was redone, to much better effect, in the '78 blockbuster. Dirigible simply became helicopter and airport mechanic morphed into Lois Lane.
1978: By the '70s, the heyday of journalism, we knew the story wasn't that she was saved; the story was that he existed.
1978: Love this. Biggest story of the century but they keep their sense of humor.
1978: Here, too. As Kevin Costner's Jonathan Kent says in “Man of Steel,” “You're the answer, son. You're the answer to 'Are we alone in the universe?'” That should've the hed in '78. But nothing sells like sex.
SUPERMAN'S EXPLOITS: Besides telling us Superman's origins, the headlines also detailed the Man of Steel's exploits. They provided a coda to the story we'd just seen. This is from one of the early 1940s Max Fleischer cartoons.
1941: Someone at the Planet needs to work on their subheds. Check out the previous slide. How often can Superman save the city from destruction—total or not? Work with me here, Jimmy.
1966: Another favorite, from the 1966 Filmation cartoon, “The New Adventures of Superman.”
1996: For some reason, the 1996 cartoon, “Last Son of Krypton,” used quotes in its headlines. Not sure why. To make it all seem ironic?
1948: That's Perry White reading his own paper. Feel free to forward to anyone you know named Ray.
FURTHERING THE PLOT: Many of the newspaper headlines furthered the plot. Lex Luthor looks at this headline and sees all of his schemes coming true. “Bye-bye, California. Hello, new west coast, my west coast.”
1950: From “Atom Man vs. Superman.” Two exclamation points, Perry??
1988: Because you can never have enough real estate.
2011: Hardly see why this is a headline. Although it's nice to see in this day and age when many media sources tend to prevaricate about the misdeeds of the rich and powerful.
1981: A rather bland headline to the biggest story ever.
2006: This one, from “Superman Returns,” also worked in the trailers and TV spots. It announced the movie.
1988: The headlines also feed us misinformation. Because he doesn't really.
2006: And he isn't, really.
2011: And he still isn't, really.
1948: “Man of Tomorrow” will never replace “Man of Steel” as a Superman monicker because it's a little too yesterday. It's from a period when the future was full of whiz-bang excitement. But it's also the perfect nickname for Superman. Because in 1938, we were tomorrow. And where's Superman? Still with us.