Thread: So who here has seen the 1940s theatrical Superman shorts?

So who here has seen the 1940s theatrical Superman shorts?

  1. #1

    So who here has seen the 1940s theatrical Superman shorts?

    They're awesome. Absolutely gorgeous animation and my personal favourite version of Supes: Old timey working class hardass Superman who is always just powerful enough to do what he needs to do without any other fancy powers, just good ol' fisticuffs. Watch him pull a train to the next station, fight giant robots, repel meteorites, divert a downpour of molten metal over his back and, in my favourite short, fight a T-Rex.

    There are 17 shorts, all of them around 10 minutes long and all of them are up on Youtube thanks to their public domain status.

    Check em out and see the cartoons that gave Superman his flight.

    My favourite: The Arctic Giant

    Oh, and they were a primary inspiration of Batman: The Animated Series. The DCAU version of Clark Kent is identical to the Fleischer version.
    "Sleep? That bed is a coffin and those are winding sheets. I do not sleep I die." - Captain Ahab

  2. #2
    Definitely Supes at his best. Had no idea there were only 17.
    "flee it or die upon it."
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  3. #3
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    Wow. O_O

    The animation is suburb, especially for then standards.
    Just.. wow.

  4. #4
    I know! I watched, and I was blown away by how smooth the animation was.
    "flee it or die upon it."
    -A.W. Tozer

  5. #5
    Originally Posted by JackWinz
    Wow. O_O

    The animation is suburb, especially for then standards.
    Just.. wow.
    Yep, its definitely a high point. Of course, a lot of it is rotoscoped but regardless its very impressive considering it was done entirely by hand, frame by frame. No computers in them days.

    This is my second fave.
    "Sleep? That bed is a coffin and those are winding sheets. I do not sleep I die." - Captain Ahab

  6. #6
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    Yeah, I've always loved these. The animation and the music, it's fantastic. It's funny that in practically every episode, though, Lois is told to stay out of danger, which she totally ignores, and forces Superman to deal with not only the disaster at hand, but saving her hide as well, haha.

    If you have Netflix, you can watch these online there, also. Someone noted in the review comments that it's a shame that these shorts haven't been digitally restored. I agree. As great as they look now, can you imagine how great they'd be if all the film grain and wear and tear from the years were cleaned up and the sound also?

    It's also fun to see Superman's powers grow as these shorts go along. He starts out only able to leap the tall buildings, thing, then gains flight, corresponding to the changes in the comics. I think the symbol changes also in these during the 17 shorts, like it does in the comics. It's changed a couple of times in the comics to the shield we know now.

  7. #7
    Its weird. In some shorts hes shown being able to fly perfectly while in others he leaps around when covering large distances.
    "Sleep? That bed is a coffin and those are winding sheets. I do not sleep I die." - Captain Ahab

  8. #8
    Originally Posted by JackWinz
    Wow. O_O

    The animation is suburb, especially for then (and now) standards.
    Just.. wow.
    Fixed.
    Originally Posted by Batman
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  9. #9
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    Yeah, even in the episodes you posted, Supes flies out of the Daily Planet, yet has to jump around after the T-Rex and the train. The one I saw him fly consistently in is when he had to try and stop that bullet-like ship destroying buildings and stuff. There was another with an air bus, too, that he flew consistently in (or, was that the same one?).

  10. #10
    Oh,god,nostalgia just hit me like a friggin' nuclear bomb. Hell,it goes back to Sky Captain and the World Of Tomorrow (the robots were very similar to some in one of the episodes).

  11. #11
    Theres one where a meteorite is coming to earth and he flies up to stop it. And of course in the first one he flies into the laser beam while punching it to pieces.
    "Sleep? That bed is a coffin and those are winding sheets. I do not sleep I die." - Captain Ahab

  12. #12
    I loved these cartoons!
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    Yeah, the punching of the laser is epic stuff

  14. #14
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    It's pretty late so I just watched the first one you posted, but that was some slick animation. I loved everything about it; really puts cartoons these days to shame.

    Also that T-rex throat punch was brutal.

  15. #15
    I love these cartoons, they came as bonuses on my Superman 2 DVD, well 5 of them did, I really love them, other than the design of the S on his chest which I will forgive, although I personally love the established one The music is fantastic as well as the animation, can't believe its 1940's, puts cartoons these days to shame to be honest.

    EDIT: Just like to add "This looks like a job for Superman"

  16. #16
    Originally Posted by GOGO
    I love these cartoons, they came as bonuses on my Superman 2 DVD, well 5 of them did, I really love them, other than the design of the S on his chest which I will forgive, although I personally love the established one The music is fantastic as well as the animation, can't believe its 1940's, puts cartoons these days to shame to be honest.

    EDIT: Just like to add "This looks like a job for Superman"
    Don't you mean "This looks like a job for Superman"?

    But yeah, animation isn't what it used to be. This stuff was hand drawn and on a massive budget (700,000 for a 10 minute short in today's funds). Nowadays its all sourced out to Asia and digitized with inferior results, though its not as bad as the Hanna Barbara age. Batman: Under the Red Hood actually came close with a very smooth framerate but Superman is the height of smooth.
    "Sleep? That bed is a coffin and those are winding sheets. I do not sleep I die." - Captain Ahab

  17. #17
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    The only other animation that remained on the same level even up until the 90's was Disney-made features. However, once computers took over, even they went down in production value.