Attempting to Map the Changes in Superman over 75 years…

Major Changeover Moments in the History of Superman

Golden Age: 1938 – 1950

Silver Age: 1956 – 1970

Bronze Age: 1970 – 1985

Modern Age: 1985 – 2001

Post-Modern Age: 2002 – Present (my assertion, my take on our current “age”)

So, trying to figure out how to approach the history of Superman’s changes, I have started compiling an overview of those changes. This is my first go.

In addition, I am working on looking at how in our “Post-Modern Age” the Superman we know is changing, again, and the changes are creating a rift between attempts to reinvent Superman and a Superman that modern audiences “identify” with.


So, here we go, and we start Superman as a villain:

Science Fiction #3 (1933) – The Super-Man as Supervillain

Interestingly, this Superman is a villain who reforms and looks a lot like Lex



Birth of a hero from the imagination of Siegel and Schuster, sons of Jewish immigrants, brings to life a child’s escape fantasy and hero who works outside the law to stop those who would take advantage or persecute the weak.

Birth of Superman – Action Comics #1 (1938)

Taking Flight and other powers – Superman #10 on (1941 and on)


Broadening of Superman and his identity, spreading out from his expansion into Radio, TV, and Newspapers from Golden Age Expansion and additions to his essence and powers incorporated

First Major Relaunch – Superman #113 (1957)

-Birth name Kal-El given

-Building on his history

-Introduction (up to 1961) of new elements: Bizarro, Brainiac, Gen. Zod, Bottle —City of Kandor, new krytonites, and Supergirl

-Fortress of Solitude

-Knew Luthor in Smallville as kids


Reinvention of Superman evolves along storylines that attempt to modify and reinvent Superman’s essence, his powers, and redefine him in a new direction away from Silver Age conception. Some interpretations lead to notions of Superman as “boy scout” and government stooge.

No more Kryptonite – Denny O’Neil run (1971)

Return to kryptonite – after O’Neil run (1973)

Christopher Reeve’s depiction of Superman in Superman the Motion Picture

1986 Man of Steel revamp – John Byrne mini-series

-powers emerged until late teens-

-rewrite mythology

-did not know Luthor in Smallville

-Got rid of phantom zone, fortress of solitude, and Supergirl and Krypto

-Power levels lowered – vulnerable

-New realism, darker

Depiction in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns


Attempts to generate identification with character lead to experiments with death, marital life, and evolution of the character into more science fiction like re-modification

Death of Superman (1992)

Marriage to Lois Lane

Electric – energy Superman


A period re-identification and new attempts to reinvent Superman within both traditional and updated retro-continuity surrounding Superman’s essence, identity, and relevance

Mark Waid’s Superman Birthright (2003)

-Return to Pre-Crisis mythos

-Return of Silver Age elements

Mark Miller’s twist in Superman: Red Son (2003)

Morrison’s exploration of Superman’s end in All-Star Superman (2005-8)

New 52 Relaunch of 2011

Snyder and Goyer’s Man of Steel Movie


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s