Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
As part of the film’s
promotion, Warner Bros. partnered with General
Mills to bring a pair of Batman
and Superman-themed cereals to store shelves in January of 2016. Both boxes
share the same designs: close-ups of their respective heroes’ chest torsos and
chest emblems to serve as the cereal’s names. Batman Chocolate Strawberry
Cereal came in chocolate and strawberry-flavored pieces resembling his chest
emblem, with an appeal to vote for your favorite hero on Facebook on the back.
Superman Caramel Crunch Cereal came in caramel-flavored pieces in the shape of
the shield around his “S” logo, with a quiz on the back. Both box backs feature
Batman and Superman facing each other as borders to the content.
Some of the cereals containing the free comics.
To promote the
cereal, General Mills sent out samples to reviewers in custom
boxes that contained both cereals, plus a Superman cape and Batman cowl
mask. Further tying into the film, General Mills and DC Comics partnered up to release four
exclusive comics that would be found in marked boxes of cereal. Each comic,
done by DC creators, teaches a life lesson.
For the history of Superman, check out the post here.
With Batman: The Animated Serieshaving been a success and run its course, the team
behind it was tasked with bringing another character to life: Superman (Tim
Having learned a lot from their time on Batman, the producers were able to bring a careful approach to the
show. The biggest challenge: paring down Superman’s powers enough so that
stories wouldn’t be over before they began. Similarly, John Byrne had done such a thing in his
1986 mini-series The Man of Steeland his subsequent run on Superman volume 2after
the DC Comics event Crisis on Infinite Earthsrebooted the entire DC universe. He could be hurt by large projectiles and
beings with comparable strength, and had trouble lifting an entire plane. However,
making Superman more grounded wasn’t extended to the stories they could tell as
the character allowed them to explore more fantastic elements than they could
with Batman; from the depths of space
to alternate dimensions and timelines.
The Daily Planet building amongst the Metropolis skyline.
Initially, Bruce Timm
wanted to have the show be a period piece, set in the 1940s like the acclaimed Fleischer Studios’ Superman theatrical shorts, or even
the 1950s like The Adventures of Supermanlive-action series. However, they
decided to set the series in a futuristic present. Superman’s city of Metropolis featured sprawling
skyscrapers reaching the sky amongst many elevated roadways. While they used an
art deco style similar to Batman, they
focused on a more “optimistic” version rather than the harsh, angular version
from the prior show. Also differing was the color palette, as the characters
and background were rendered in brighter colors and many of the stories were
set during the day.
While knowing most people knew the broad strokes of the mythology of
Superman and his origins, the producers decided to begin with an origin story
anyway to establish their world for the audience. The very first episode was
set entirely on the doomed planet Krypton
just before its destruction. Character designer James Tucker was tasked with
designing the alien planet and its populace with the explicit instruction to
avoid using any design that had come before. The result was a Krypton whose
advanced technology allowed the populace to live in harmony with nature,
accounting for asymmetrical building designs that blended into the scenery.
Brainiac's original form.
While Jor-El (Christopher McDonald, who would
go on to voice an older Superman in Batman
Beyond) and Lara
Lor-Van’s (Finola Hughes)
sending Kal-El (Superman’s birth name) to Earth in a rocket to escape the
planet’s fate is the long-established portion of the story, producer and story
editor Alan Burnett suggested
a new twist: have Brainiac
(Corey Burton, who got the
role for his close rendition of the control voice from The Outer Limitsintro)
be the cause. Brainiac is a classic Superman villain that had appeared in his
animated efforts before: once as the creation of a mad scientist in The New Adventures of Supermanand later as a Coluan with a computerized brain (as
he was in the comics) in the Super Friendsfranchise. This version was made an artificial intelligence that
operated at the center of Krypton’s systems. He denied Jor-El’s claims about
Krypton’s imminent end in order to save himself and all of Krytpon’s knowledge
rather than waste valuable resources trying to prevent the inevitable.
Brainiac shows Superman his collected knowledge.
Brainiac would then proceed to travel from planet to planet, assimilating
their knowledge into glowing golden orbs and then destroying them in order to
make their knowledge more precious, as opposed to the classic comics where he
entire cities and preserve them under glass. Timm, a comic purist, was
initially against this interpretation of Brainiac but realized most of the
general audience wouldn’t have a problem with the changes. Eventually, Brainiac
would find his way to Earth in a new robotic body trying to make the planet his
next acquisition in recurring appearances. Superman would save the Krypton orb
after their first encounter and place it in his Fortress of Solitude,
which maintained the classic arctic ice-like appearance although its entrance
was accessed by his flying through a river, rather than via a giant key as in
Superman pays Lex a visit.
Superman’s other constant foe was ruthless businessman Lex Luthor (Clancy
Brown, who actually auditioned for Superman). Luthor was the CEO of LexCorp and the literal architect
of Metropolis. He reveled in the citizenry’s worship of him. However, he grew
jealous of their love for Superman and sought to either have him under his
thumb or dead. Luthor’s personality and appearance was modeled after Telly Savalas’ Ernst Stavro
Blofeld in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Faithfully serving Luthor was his
chauffer/bodyguard Mercy Graves (Lisa Edelstein). Mercy was created for the
show and was the leader of a gang of female thieves who attempted to rob
Luthor. Luthor saw potential in her and brought her under his wing. Although
she was loyal to Luthor, she wasn’t inherently evil and occasionally did the
right thing when his actions didn’t sit well with her.
Lois and Clark talk to Perry.
As Clark Kent, Superman worked as a reporter for the Daily Planet along with his traditional supporting cast. Rival
reporter Lois Lane (Dana Delany, given the role based on her performance in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm) was depicted as Clark’s equal and
competitor, rather than just someone plotting to get Superman interested in
her. She didn’t think much of Clark, but still respected him as a colleague.
Photographer Jimmy Olsen (David Kaufman) was a balancing act to make him hipper
while still keeping a bit of the dorkiness he was created with. While this
Jimmy was still a bit of a spaz, he wasn’t afraid to get into the thick of
things to get the photograph to sell the story. Editor Perry White (George
Dzundza) was determined to remain the last honest newspaper man in the
business. While he was a bit loud and gruff, he was more of a father-figure to
his staff than a tyrant.
Maggie Sawyer and "Terrible" Turpin.
Outside the Planet, Superman had Lt. Daniel “Terrible” Turpin
(Joseph Bologna) and his partner, Inspector Maggie Sawyer (Joanna Cassidy).
Turpin was the typical hard-nosed street cop who worked his way up the ranks to
the Special Crimes Unit and felt that Superman wasn’t really necessary.
Turpin’s design was based on and meant to be a tribute to Jack Kirby, who had created the
character as first Brooklyn of the Boy Commandos in Detective Comics #64 (1942), and later as the adult Turpin in New Gods #5 (1971). Sawyer was a tough no-nonsense cop who had
a bit more favorable opinion of Superman and would sometimes actively seek his
help. This was in direct contrast to her comic counterpart that debuted in Superman vol. 2 #4 (1987), who initially had a closer view of
Superman to Turpin’s on the show. Sawyer’s sexual orientation was also
acknowledged on the show when her comics girlfriend, Daily
Star reporter Toby
Raynes (Laraine Newman), appeared
by her bedside in the hospital and with her at a funeral.
Professor Emil Hamilton
(Victor Brandt) was
introduced as a way to explain all the science that appeared on the show. As a
scientist for S.T.A.R. Labs,
he was in a position to provide Superman with special suits for his adventures or
help him understand Kryptonian technology. Unlike his comic counterpart,
Hamilton never turned to villainous efforts, but he did come to view Superman
as a potential threat as the series progressed.
Jonathan and Martha find baby Kal-El.
Like TheMan of Steel comic, Clark’s parents Jonathan (Mike Farrell) and
Martha Kent (Farrell’s real-life wife Shelley Fabares) were kept alive and on
their farm in Smallville.
Superman could always return to the farm to seek solace and advice from the
people who helped raise him into the man he became. Upon first finding baby
Kal-El, Martha suggested naming him “Christopher” or “Kirk”, references to
Superman actors Christopher
Reeve and Kirk Alyn. Clark’s
high school sweetheart Lana Lang
(Joely Fisher, the younger
version played by Kelly Schmidt)
also appeared a few times, having known Clark’s secret since seeing him perform
impossible feats in school. This version of Lana had left Smallville to become
a famous fashion designer.
Newly created for the series were Leslie Willis, aka Livewire (Lori Petty), a Metropolis
shock-jock who held an anti-Superman rally and gained electrical powers when
both were struck by lightning; and Edward Lytener, aka Luminus (Robert Hays), an ex-LexCorp employee
and informant for Lois that developed an unhealthy crush on her and created a
suit with various light powers. A minor new foe was Claire Selton, aka Volcana (Peri Gilpin), a pyrokinetic who
was turned into a living weapon by the government.
An interesting introduction was of the character John Henry Irons (Michael Dorn). Irons was a
designer for LexCorp who was working on a super powered armor for the police.
He perfected the suit with the help of his niece, Natasha (Cree Summer) and donned the new
armor to aid Superman against Metallo as Steel. Steel was created by Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove for The Adventures of Superman #500
(1993). He debuted during the fallout from “The Death of
Superman” storyline in 1993 as one of the four new Supermen that would be
seen around Metropolis until the original’s resurrection. Steel was inspired to
become a hero by Superman in order to get weapons he designed off of the
streets and took up his cape and shield to honor him. Steel would go on to
become his own hero in his own
self-titled series, as well as receive his own movie in 1997
starring Shaquille O’Neil. Although the
producers couldn’t adapt “The Death of Superman” for a Saturday morning
program, it was eventually done as the direct-to-video movie Superman: Doomsday in 2007. It used similar character designs
and starred Adam Baldwin as
Superman (who was the original choice for The
Animated Series but ended up becoming unavailable).
The biggest team-up, however, was a recurring one with Batman (Kevin Conroy) and Robin (Mathew Valencia). The success of
Superman: The Animated Series and the
continued success of Batman reruns
prompted Warner Bros. to revive Batman. However, due to a reduced budget,
the series was completely redesigned to be more in line with Superman. The two would meet in the
three-part “World’s Finest”,
which pitted them against Luthor who had teamed-up himself with Joker (Mark Hamill) and Harley Quinn (Arleen Sorkin) to destroy
Superman. They would meet again in “Knight Time,” where Brainiac had abducted
Bruce Wayne and Superman aided Robin in searching for him while disguised as
Batman to keep Gotham City’s
criminals in check. The final time came in “The Demon Reborn” where Ra’s al Ghul (David Warner) sought
to steal Superman’s powers as a solution to the Lazarus Pits no longer
maintaining his youth.
Superman: The Animated Series debuted
on Kids’ WB on September
6, 1996 to become the second entry of the shared DC Animated Universe.
All three parts of “The Last Son of Krypton” aired on Friday night before
moving to its Saturday timeslot. The show proved a success, and Kids’ WB
decided to double-up on their offerings of the program. For the second season,
they combined reruns of the show with reruns and new episodes of Batman: The Animated Series in an
hour-long programming block called The
New Batman/Superman Adventures. New episodes would air just before the
block. For the third season, the new episodes aired as part of the block. Along
with Burnett and Dini, the series was written by comic book writers Mark Evanier, Evan Dorkin, Joe R. Lansdale, Steve Gerber, Hilary J. Bader, and Sarah Dyer, as well as Robert N. Skir, Marty Isenberg, Robert Goodman, Stan Berkowitz and Rich Fogel.
Timm's end credit image.
Unlike Batman, Superman featured
an introduction comprised of clips from various episodes due to their falling
behind schedule, leaving them unable to create an original intro. Two shots
were new, however: Superman flying at night, and ripping his shirt open for the
close-up final shot of his “S”. Shirley
Walker composed the main theme and the character themes, as well as the
score for six episodes. The rest of the series was scored by Kristopher Carter, Harvey R. Cohen, Michael
McCuisiton and Lolita
Ritmanis with almost every episode having a completely original score. The
image of Superman seen behind the end credits was designed by Timm to bookend
the image seen in the credits
of Batman. He figured it would be a nice iconic image that marketing could
use on the various products. However, marketing felt it didn’t look identifiable
enough as Superman and went with their design.
Superman and Supergirl.
The second season was extended by two episodes to allow the producers to have
the animated debut of Supergirl (Nicholle Tom). The original Kara Zor-El first
debuted in Action Comics #252 (1959) by Otto Binder and Al Plastino after positive
reaction to a story where Jimmy Olsen wished a Super-Girl into existence to be
a companion and aid to Superman (Superman #123, 1958). She was born and raised in Argo City, which somehow survived
the explosion of Krypton, and was sent to Earth to be raised by Superman after
its destruction was assured by a meteor shower. Supergirl remained popular, and
eventually in 1984 gained her
own movie starring Helen Slater.
However, over the years, other Kryptonian characters had come in and out of the
various Superman titles, prompting DC to want to restore Superman’s status as
the LAST Kryptonian. As a result, despite her popularity, Supergirl was killed
off in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 (1985)
at the behest of DC’s Vice President/Executive Editor Dick Giordano, who felt
she made no real contribution to the Superman mythos.
Supergirl model sheet.
In the interim, Supergirl was revived but was no longer Kryptonian. Lex Luthor,
posing as his own son, created Supergirl, also known as Matrix, in Superman vol. 2 #16 (1988) out of synthetic protoplasm that
allowed her to shape-shift amongst other different powers, and gave her Lana
Lang’s memories. In 1996, Matrix was merged with the human Linda Danvers to
create a new Supergirl as written by Peter
David. Timm and producer/writer Paul Dini were intent on using
the classic Supergirl, but because of DC’s decade-old edict they gave the show
the stipulation that she couldn’t be from Krypton and should possess somewhat
different powers under the yellow sun. They relented and instead of being from Argo
City on Krypton, she was from the planet Argo
that was colonized by Kryptonians some time ago and was named Kara In-Ze (the last name
of the original’s mother). The producers ignored the other stipulations,
however, and left her powers alone. Her costume was based on the Danvers
version currently being published.
Kara was found by Superman in suspended animation as the only survivor
after her planet was thrown out of orbit from Krypton’s explosion and brought
her back to Earth to be cared for by his parents. She was determined to become
Superman’s partner, but he continually sidelined her feeling she was too young
and inexperienced. That didn’t stop her from trying her hand at heroing
whenever she could, however.
Darkseid doesn't tolerate DeSaad and Mannheim's failure.
The episode “Apokolips…Now! Part II” delivers the death of Turpin at the
hands of Darkseid as his parting shot after defeat. In its original airing, the
following funeral scene featured a number of Kirby creations, friends and fans
including Big Barda, Scott Free and Orion, Marvel Comics’ Nick Fury and Fantastic Four, Evanier, Alex Ross, Ross’ father Norman, Stan Lee, Dini and Timm. Subsequent
airings and home video releases would show an altered version of the scene
removing all those characters and substituting them with generic background
characters. The entire episode was dedicated to the memory of Kirby, who died
Superman of Apokolips.
The two-part “Legacy” saw Darkseid capture and brainwash Superman into
leading an attack on Metropolis, losing the trust of the populace. Initially, a
fourth season was planned which would deal with the theme of Superman
re-earning their faith, but the season was ultimately nixed in favor of the
team working on Batman Beyond. The
theme of distrust in metahumans would carry over into the next DC Animated
Universe series, Justice League. The
show ultimately ended with Lois and Superman’s first kiss; a development that
would have been explored had the series continued. The series was nominated for
a 1997 Annie Award and for four Daytime Emmy Awards, and is regarded
as one of the best Superman cartoons produced on par with the earlier Batman.
In 1997, Titus
Software made the first video game based on the show for the Nintendo Game Boy called Superman. It was a
side-scrolling action game that tried to emulate the series’ animation style
with its limited technology. In 1999, Titus produced the video game Superman: The New Adventures(also known as Superman 64) for
the Nintendo 64. The
game was based on the show, using similar character designs and audio bytes of
the dialogue from the various featured characters. Titus had reported that
development of the game was heavily hampered by DC and Warner Bros. who imposed numerous
restrictions on them, resulting in a game largely regarded as one of the worst
of all time. BlueSky
Software wanted to redo the game for the Sony PlayStation
and Sega Saturn, but
Titus’ license had expired resulting in its cancellation.
From 1996-99, Kenner
produced four series of action figures based on The Animated Series. The line mostly consisted of Superman
variants, as only Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Bizarro, Darkseid and Metallo were
represented, as well as Supergirl. An exclusive Wal-Mart two-pack featured a
Batman and Superman figure, which was re-released by Hasbro in 2001. From 1999-2000 three
four-packs were released collecting previously released figures with a theme;
one of which included a new Lois Lane action figure. In 1997, Burger
King featured Superman as one of its Burger King Kids Club meal themes
which included five toys, and then Jack
in the Box had Superman, Supergirl and Steel as part of their DC Super Heroes
Kids’ Meals in 2001. In 1998, Kenner released a 12” Superman doll with a cloth
costume, while Hasbro released a similar Supergirl the following year.