Top Moment: Superman’s First Flight
Watching Superman put on the famous suit for the first time is enough to put a smile on my face. Hearing the Zimmer theme play as he walks out of the Kryptonian Scout Ship felt like a Comic panel come to life. So when Kal asks his Father “Why am I so different from them?”, Jor-El explains that Earth’s Sun is younger and brighter than Krypton’s was. “You’ve grown stronger than I ever could have imagined, the only way to know HOW strong, is to keep testing your limits,” Jor-El tells him. Looking up into the sky, Kal takes a huge leap into the air, jumping over an entire mountain before landing.
What’s ironic about this Superman moment is he actually doesn’t fly the first time he attempts to. Some may see that as Superman taking caution, but I feel it may have been an homage of the Superman comics before he actually had the ability to fly.
The original tagline for The Adventures of Superman Radio was being able to leap tall buildings with a single bound. And it wasn’t until 1943’s Action Comics #65 that Kal gained flight as a power set. Now before you take that for what it’s worth, some digging has to be done to accurately pick which moment he truly gained the ability. In 1942, Fleischer was developing the Superman Cartoon and the artists asked Action Comics (now DC) if they could display Superman flying since it was never thoroughly explained in the comics before. Action Comics agreed and began writing Superman having the ability to fly in their stories with issue #65.
Some More Digging
Even before that, one interesting thing that happened in Superman #10, released in May of 1941, is that a new artist was brought in, Leo Nowak. He wasn’t familiar with the character at all. So in that issue, it appears that Superman was drawn with the ability to fly, even though it was never brought up or made to look like he couldn’t. Which, depending on how you look at it, was technically a mistake but never mentioned.
That was the only issue to show flight directly being related to the Superman character before any issue. However, if you wanted to get technical, in 1940, The Adventures of Superman Radio Show’s 2nd episode had the intro of Superman flying. That would predate Superman having the flight ability almost a full year before Nowak drew it by mistake.
What It All Means
All that leads me to tell you why I feel Snyder showed Superman first taking a major leap over the mountain. Which was followed by two more major leaps before attempting to fly upwards. Comic lore would tell you in the beginning, Superman wouldn’t have known he had the ability to fly because it was never brought up. So its wonderful that Superman only attempts to fly once he is told he possibly can by his Kryptonian Father, Jor-El. Seeing the big smile on Superman’s face as he embraces flight for the first time is beautifully captured on film. Add an amazing score to enhance the experience and it’s a cinematic experience. It would be, what we call ‘Comic Accurate’ when it’s followed by the failure of his first attempt at flying.
Then we hear probably one of my favorite lines in the entire DC Universe:
“You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They’ll stumble; They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders”
Superman gets back up, lowers his fist to the ground, and finally gains the ability to fly up into the sky. It’s a beautiful capture of a Top Superman moment.
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