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Superman In The Seventies - Introduction

Superman in the Seventies For thousands of years humanity has been both blessed and cursed by the ability to perceive and imagine. We are only too keenly aware of our falibility and mortality, but at the same time we can conjure up an opposite image of ourselves. Fiction and mythology throughout the ages tell the story of gods, warriors, explorers, and hereos who demonstrate superhuman powers and fulfill our longing to be like them.

Since 1938 Superman has been an American icon, a direct descendent of ancient mythology. For more than 60 years he has reflected the needs of successive generations. In the late 30s he was a distraction from the grim reality of the Depression. During World War II he inspired American soldiers in combat. In the '50s he provided a vivid contrast to a relatively bland decade of normalcy. In the '60s he was "hip" and in the '70s he was the last line of defence against evil forces bent on world domination.

It was my privalege to play Superman - or perhaps more accurately, to be the custodian of the character - in the 1970s. For the first time audiences could enjoy sophisticated film technology that made Superman more spectacular than ever before. In fact the film simply stated, "You'll believe a man can fly." Now Superman flew across 70mm screens accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra and sound effects in Dolby stereo.

These advances in filmmaking gave me a real advantage. They made it possible for me to underplay the character. Clark Kent owed much to early Cary Grant movies, and director Dick Donner and I grounded Superman in his response to Lois Lane's question: "Who are you?" Answer: "A friend?"

I hope you all will enjoy this book about Superman in the '70s. I'm always grateful when kids and even grownups who have just seen the film for the first time on video still respond as audiences did 23 years ago. Many heroes come and go, but thanks to creators Siegel and Shuster, Supeman endures.

Christopher Reeve

2000 DC Comics


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