Will the "Man of Steel" ever get his own Video Game? (a proper video game, that is)

(c) DC Comics

Clark Kent and his alter-ego "Superman" first appeared in Action Comics #1 back in June of 1938. This was during what fans call the Golden Age of Comics, and was around the same time Marvel's "Captain America" was first revealed to the public. Superman became one of the first prominent characters for DC Comics, as his stories have been produced ever since.

(c) Marvel Comics

Following the destruction of his home world Krypton, Kal-El (his birth name) was able to escape from the ravaged planet as his birth parents placed him in an escape pod. Of course, most comic book fans know this origin story. In today's blog post, we will discuss the history of Superman, as well as his presence in video games.

(c) Superman: The Animated Series.

Although the dialogue in this clip is what my generation would call "cringe", this does provide some insight as to how Clark Kent arrived on earth as a baby. So, why is he seemingly "invincible?" Well, this has been explained through the fact he is not from around here. Since Superman resides under the sun in our solar system, he is pretty much invulnerable because he's not a native of this galaxy. However, exposure to Kryptonite can result in his death.

Origins of the Character:

Since the character of Superman has been around for close to 100 years, the origin story has been retold several times. Not surprisingly, details of this origin story have been altered, while retaining core elements. In order for the character's continuity to remain relevant (consider there are hundreds of other characters from DC Comics), it's necessary for some changes to be made so the story catches the interest of readers.

Following his arrival on earth, Kal-El is discovered by married couple, Jonathan and Martha Kent. The Kent's were unable to have biological children of their own, so their discovery of the child they later named "Clark" becomes a blessing for them. With that in mind, Clark is also protected through this process because people like General Zod are uncertain of his whereabouts until he reaches adulthood.

(c) Man of Steel (2013)

Warning: this cinematic clip contains extreme violence.

When Man of Steel was released in 2013, some fans were quite upset by the way Superman kills General Zod. From my perspective, this might be one of the most emotional cinematic moments in the last decade. Why do I feel this way? Based on his reaction, Superman did not want to do this. However, his brutal killing of General Zod- he had no choice. Simple as that.

Before we dive into Superman in the video game world, it's necessary to discuss this hit song from the 1990s. In 1991, Canadian rock band Crash Test Dummies released a song called "Superman's Song". Not only does this song contain the baritone vocals found in the 1990s (Ian Curtis of Joy Division mastered this before his death in 1980), the speaker humanizes superheroes. More specifically, superheroes conduct these heroic actions without even expecting recognition, let alone payment.

For the full song, check out this video:

(c) Crash Test Dummies (1991)

Superman in the Video Game World:

In order to release a tie-in video game for the 1978 "Superman" film starring the late Christopher Reeve (1952-2003), the first video game starring the Man of Steel came in 1979. Initially released for the Atari Video Computer System, it was later released for the Atari 2600. The video game was met with positive reviews from critics, as well as gamers. The concept of the 1979 game was this: players must repair a bridge destroyed by Lex Luthor, as well as overcoming various obstacles, then convert back to Clark Kent, kissing Lois Lane- all in the shortest time possible. Interestingly, this appears to be similar to early dungeon style video games.

Video by: Jimbo Games

We are not going to discuss the "Superman" video game for Nintendo 64, since most gamers are aware it was met with poor reception. However, there was discussion in the 2010s to produce a Superman video game similar to the Batman "Arkham" franchise. Back in 2009, Batman: Arkham Asylum was met with immediate critical acclaim. The series ran from 2009-2015, and within those six years there was discussion of producing a similar video game for the Superman character. However, I can understand why the video game was never made. Batman's approach to a situation is unique. He uses stealth, intellect, and his advanced technology; keep in mind Bruce Wayne is mortal. Batman is a human being with no superpowers, and likely breaks ribs (at the very least) quite often.

With respect to Superman's approach, this would be an entirely different game. More specifically, Superman's attempt to defeat enemies relies on destruction and extreme violence. He's invulnerable. As long as Kryptonite is not present, he's going to win. If Rocksteady and Warner Bros. were to produce a "Superman" video game, it would have to be quite opposite from the renowned "Batman" franchise. If not, the gameplay just wouldn't work.

Superman's presence in video games has continued with Injustice 2 (2017) where he is one the primary villains (yes, you read that correctly), as well as the upcoming Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. In this upcoming video game, players will control members of the Suicide Squad as they face a "brain washed" Justice League led by Superman.

(c) Warner


Thank you for taking the time to read this article, and don't forget to let us know your thoughts! Do you think a "Superman" solo video game can work?

The Modernist Son, 2020-2021.

Further Reading:

Kunkel, Bill; Laney, Frank (April 1980). "Arcade Alley: Faster Than A Bullet - Atari's Super Game". Video magazine. Reese Communications: 18, 76, and 77. ISSN 0147-8907.

The copyright date of Action Comics #1 was registered as April 18, 1938. See Catalog of Copyright Entries. New Series, Volume 33, Part 2: Periodicals January–December 1938. United States Library of Congress. 1938. p. 129.



Dallas et. al (2013), American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1980s, p. 208

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