10 things you didn’t know about Superman and Batman

With all the hype surrounding the release of Zack Snyder’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice I wanted to drop a few little known facts for you all about two of your favorite DC comic book characters.

First up is the Man of Steel:

1. Did you know that Superman was co-created by a young Jerry Siegel to cope with the death of his father? Back in 1932 Mitchell Siegel Jerry’s father ran a clothing store in Cleveland. One night Mitchell was robbed in his store. In the middle of the scuffle and subsequent getaway, Mitchell died. According to the coroner, the police and his wife, he died of a heart attack. It’s interesting to note that the police report mentions the sound of a gunshot during the robbery. The crime was never solved.

So what does a 17 year old Jerry Siegel do? He created a superhero that was incredibly strong, could withstand being shot with bullets and who lost his parents. Superman’s creation seems to have been an outlet for a grief stricken Jerry who missed his recently departed father.

Also interesting to note: the day after his father was murdered there was a letter in the paper denouncing vigilantes. The letter was signed A.L. Luther, very similar to Superman’s nemesis Alexander (Lex) Luthor.

Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel. (Photo credit: comicvine.gamespot.com)
Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel. (Photo credit: comicvine.gamespot.com)

2. Did you know that many consider Superman to be the world’s first superhero? While there were comic strips before his creation, individuals with superpowers such as The Shadow and regular guys who had superior fighting skills like The Phantom and Doc Savage, many still consider Superman to be the first superhero.

Before Superman there was a book titled Gladiator (1930) by Philip Wylie. In the book, a scientist injects his pregnant wife with a serum that makes his son superhumanly strong, fast and bulletproof. While Gladiator was a novel and these other heroes appeared in pulp publications, Superman was always published in a comic book. This the reason Superman is considered to be the first superhero.

The first appearance and first issue of Superman. (Photo credit: quora.com)
The first appearance and first issue of Superman. (Photo credit: quora.com)

3. Did you know that in 1978 Superman and Muhammad Ali had a boxing match? Yeah, for real! It happened when an alien invasion appeared on Earth and the greatest fighter of Earth had to take on the greatest fighter of the aliens. However, there was a disagreement on who would represent the Earth. The disagreement arose between Superman and Muhammad Ali. Ali said that Superman wasn’t of Earth and thus ineligible. It was decided that the two have a fight and the winner would be Earth’s champion.

The aliens transport the two to a solar system that has a red sun for the fight. As you may know, a red sun takes away Superman’s powers. So it shouldn’t be so surprising that an evenly faced Superman would have the snot beat out of him by one of the greatest boxers of all time.

Muhammad Ali squares off with Superman. (Photo credit: en.wikipedia.org)
Muhammad Ali squares off with Superman. (Photo credit: en.wikipedia.org)

4. Did you know that Nicolas Cage was almost Superman in a film directed by Tim Burton? Burton did an amazing job with 1989’s Batman. I do have to admit that his Superman film, titled Superman Lives, would’ve been an interesting film to see to say the least. Eventually the project was scrapped. The whole story of what happened and what went wrong can be seen in Jon Schnepp’s The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened?

Test shots of Nicolas Cage as Superman. (Photo credit: theverge.com)
Test shots of Nicolas Cage as Superman. (Photo credit: theverge.com)

5. Did you know that in the comic books there are numerous different types of kryptonite other than green? There’s also gold, blue, white and pink. Each color has a different and unique effect. In one issue of Supergirl, Superman comes across pink kryptonite and, instead of it weakening or hurting him, the pink kryptonite turns him gay. Superman began to emphatically hit on Jimmy Olsen’s bowties.

With the introduction of pink kryptonite Superman suddenly becomes very interested in Jimmy Olsen. (Photo credit: uproxx.com)
With the introduction of pink kryptonite Superman suddenly becomes very interested in Jimmy Olsen. (Photo credit: uproxx.com)

 

Now the Caped Crusader:

1. Did you know that if you are so inclined you can actually take college level classes that deal with Batman? For instance, if you attend the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada you can take the course EPHE 156, also known as The Science of Batman. If that sounds interesting, then you might have missed out on last spring semester at Henderson State University, where they offered PSY 4003, also known as Special Topics in Psychology: BATMAN. And over at the University of California at Irvine, you can take the Science of Superheroes, which covers Batman.

Batman's College Days. (Photo credit: comicsalliance.com)
Batman’s College Days. (Photo credit: comicsalliance.com)

2. Did you know that there’s a city in Turkey named Batman? Yeah, it really exists. Originally the city was known as Iluh until it was renamed in 1957 as Batman. There are a couple of theories on how the city got its name. Some believe that it’s named after the nearby Batman River, which is a tributary of the Tigris. While some believe that it is the shortening of a nearby mountain range named Bati Raman.

On an interesting note, the mayor of Batman announced that he was going to sue Warner Bros. and Christopher Nolan over the illegal use of the name Batman. Nothing ever really came out of this, as Batman was created 18 years before the city was named.

The location of Batman, Turkey. (Photo credit: www.strews.in)
The location of Batman, Turkey. (Photo credit: www.strews.in)

3. Did you know that the Batsuit has remained relatively the same color since its creation? The color scheme has mostly been black and/or blue with a few changes from time to time. The bigger differences tended to be related to the look of his cowl, cape and utility belt. Also, did you know that his wings were originally based on Leonardo Da Vinci’s design for his flying machine?

The evolution of the Batsuit. (Photo credit: screenrant.com)
The evolution of the Batsuit. (Photo credit: screenrant.com)

4. Did you know that Joel Schumacher, the director of Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997), wanted to make a third Batman film named Batman Triumphant? While it never happened, he reportedly wanted have Nicolas Cage star in the film as Scarecrow. Cage is known as an avid comic book fan, having starred in Ghost Rider and its sequel. Now, I’m not a big fan of his, but I think he would’ve been a good Scarecrow.

Nicolas Cage as the Scarecrow? It could've happened. (Photo credit: geektyrant.com)
Nicolas Cage as the Scarecrow? It could’ve happened. (Photo credit: geektyrant.com)

5. Did you know that in the comic books Batman used to kill criminals and even carry a gun? From the slew of Batman films and television shows over the years, we’ve seen that Batman does not kill. For instance, in 2005’s Batman Begins he refuses to kill several times over the course of the film. However, back in issue number one of Batman from 1940 he guns down two henchmen in van from his plane. He then picks up an escaped patient from a mental asylum by lowering a noose around his neck and eventually snapping their neck from the same plane he gunned down the two henchmen.

While everybody knows that Batman has a utility belt in which he usually carries batarangs, smoke bombs and his grapple gun, he used to also carry a handgun. Batman came to be during the time of crime noir books and pulp comics. It shouldn’t be surprising that he carried a gun, as it was the norm. He uses it several times throughout his publication.

Batman #1, where manages to kill a few people. (Photo credit: i09.com)
Batman #1, where manages to kill a few people. (Photo credit: i09.com)

 

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Creator and host of the podcast Beer, Bros & BS, teller of stories, drinker of beers, reader of (comic) books, watcher of sports, devourer of food, mostly entertaining. From Miami. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @thebiglibrarian.

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