Superman (1941)

SUPERMAN (1941)
aka The Mad Scientist
Article 4816 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-8-2015
Directed by Dave Fleischer
Featuring the voices of Joan Alexander, Julian Noa and Bud Collyer
Country: USA
What it is: Animated superhero action

A mad scientist threatens to terrorize Metropolis with his death ray. Can Superman stop him?

I suppose it could be argued that the Fleischer Superman cartoons suffered from bare-bones plots and thin characterization, but to do so would miss the point that those were the least important aspects of the productions. What mattered was the nonstop action, the bright colors, the superb animation and the rousing score, and those are here in spades, and I’m willing to bet that’s just what the Superman fans of the time wanted. Apparently, the Fleischers were initially reluctant to take on the task of animating Superman, claiming it would require a huge budget to pull off the realistic animation necessary to make it work; amazingly enough, Paramount coughed up the dough and it was the most expensive cartoon series of its time. The only element that seems out of place is the mad scientist’s comic-relief pet vulture, a touch that seems to belong in a different cartoon. Other than that, this is a pretty rousing introduction of Superman to the big screen.

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