It’s Superman’s 75th anniversary, and DC Comics dropped some fan service on Superman fans to celebrate that 75 years. In a two-minute short, they cover the character’s history with beautiful animation, bringing to life the cover of Action Comics #1 and going from there.
The video premiered at New York Comic Con last weekend, then was released widely online this week. It was produced by Zack Snyder, director of the most recent Superman movie, and longtime DC Comics animation guru Bruce Timm.
Timm said at a panel that it was difficult to decide what got in, comic book news site Newsarama reports. “The worst part was not being able to have everything,” Timm said.
It starts with the iconic Superman theme from the 1978 film, composed by John Williams, before leading into the modern Superman theme from 2013’s “Man of Steel” by Hans Zimmer.
You get the early Superman who could only leap tall building in a single bound rather than flying, then he transitions into the style of the 1940s Max Fleischer Superman cartoons.
We get some bold ’40s Action Comics covers, then everything goes black-and-white and Superman becomes George Reeves of the 1950s “Adventures of Superman” TV show.
Then they spend a while acknowledging some of Superman’s goofier ’50s and ’60s period with his sidekick Jimmy Olsen becoming a giant turtle creature and showing us his various sidekicks, including a flying horse and a super monkey, as well as introducing his villains, like Brainiac, Bizarro and Mr. Mxyzptlk.
Next up is ’70s Superman, with his TV reporter incarnation, a look at Superman as pop art, Superman fighting Muhammad Ali and the Superman pop culture interpretation for another generation: the “Super Friends” animated series. Finally, the animation catches up with the music, offering an animated look at the Christopher Reeve movie Superman flying over the Earth.
There’s a brief shot of an ’80s Superman video game, then a look at another iconic Superman cultural moment: the death of Superman from the ’90s. You get some other looks for Superman, including Supes with a mullet and Supes with electricity powers and splitting into two (yes, this happened in the ’90s, and lasted for years).
Then it’s time for the ’90s Superman cartoon, created by animation cult hero Bruce Timm, followed by the iconic watertower from the 2000s TV show “Smallville” and the “Kingdom Come” version of Superman, as drawn by superstar artist Alex Ross, presenting a look at a futuristic, older Superman.
Finally comes DC Comics’ “New 52” reboot look, with more of a battle armor look as he fights a reinterpreted version of cosmic villain Darkseid. Superman gets shot by the villain’s omega beam eye lasers, and slammed backwards into the vault from “Man of Steel” as Superman finally transitions to looking like Henry Cavill from the film.
The animated short is also going to be available on the “Man of Steel” Blu-ray Combo Pack release, scheduled for Nov. 12.