The Short, Embarrassing History of Man (and Superman) Riding Rockets
If the subject of men riding rockets in the movies ever comes up (and when doesn't it?), most of us think of Maj. Kong (Slim Pickens) at the end of “Dr. Stangelove,” whooping it up Texas-style as he and the world are about to end forever.
But Slim was sloppy seconds in the nuke-missle riding category by nearly 15 years. The Man of Steel beat him to it.
The above screenshots are taken from the 1950 serial “Atom Man vs. Superman,” chapter 14. Lex Luthor (Lyle Talbot) has just shot a missile at Metropolis, and Superman (Kirk Alyn) soars to the rescue and stradles it (cough), and then, at the beginning of the next and final chapter, rides it out to sea, where it explodes harmlessly. Well, “harmlessly.” It was a nuke, after all.
It's a bizarre image to see in 2013—and maybe in 1950, too. Except Supes is simply following a comic-book tradition, particularly big during World War II, of superheroes riding rockets. Here's three of them. I'm sure there are many more:
Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr. and Uncle Sam during WWII, when men riding rockets was all the rage.
So at least we know where Maj. Kong got the idea.
Wa ... hoo?