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Superman

FROM THE Heritage Minutes COLLECTION

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LEARNING RESOURCES

Superman leapt from comic books to radio serials in the 1940s, and on to the television screen by the 1950s. At the beginning of each episode a breathless announcer proclaimed that the caped superhero would once again defend "Truth, Justice and the American Way." Who would have thought that this great American hero was a Canadian creation?

Superman's creator, Joe Shuster, came up with the idea of a "strange visitor from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men" with his buddy, Jerry Siegel, when the pair were only seventeen years old. Shuster, the Toronto-born cartoonist, was living in Cleveland at the time, but most of his family (including cousin Frank, whose own fame would come as half of Canada's "Wayne and Shuster" comedy team) lived north of the border.

According to the novelist Mordecai Richler, Shuster's Superman is a perfect expression of the Canadian psyche. The mighty "man of steel" hides his extraordinary strength, speed, and superhuman powers under the bland, self-effacing guise of the weak and clumsy Clark Kent. He is a hero who does not take any credit for his own heroism, a glamorous figure in cape and tights who is content to live his daily life in horn-rimmed glasses and brown suits.

Richler wryly suggests that Superman, with his modest alter-ego, is the archetypal Canadian personality who became a "universal hero," famed throughout the world as the champion of everything virtuous.

Heritage Minute Cast
Shuster Adam Reid
Lois Catherine Colvey

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