Writing for The Toronto Star, creator Ty Templeton considers why Superman’s popularity has endured for 70 years:
Throughout history, the supernatural creatures and gods of this world have been created and re-created in our image, and Superman is no exception. It’s the other secret of his staying power: his adaptability. In every era, he’s fought against whatever gives anxiety to that generation. And as he moves through history, he takes on the manners and attitudes of his fellow citizens and continues to be the modern American man. In the ’30s, he was a Depression-era brute, but a champion of the downtrodden masses who’d been handed a bad deal by the privileged classes and the world in general. His first stories were about corrupt senators and unsafe coal mines and wife-beating husbands. He was a Superman for the little guy.
In the ’40s, he took on a world war. Famously, in a 1943 issue of Look magazine, Superman abducts Stalin and Hitler and makes them take responsibility for the suffering they’ve caused. Throughout the ’50s and ’60s, Superman fought against technology and the sense of future shock Alvin Toffler said we were all feeling. Lex Luthor becomes a brilliant but evil scientist with no sense of morality, the ultimate villain for the space age.
The guest column is accompanied by a timeline looking at the roots of the Man of Steel and a link to an article about the recent copyright ruling.