Superman vs. Hollywood
Chicago Review Press, 2008 (2008)
Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton
o, this isn't another in a long line of books where Superman takes on the impossible. Instead, Rossen considers and explores all the times Superman was brought to Hollywood as a product exploited in other media besides his original comic book existence.
hrough his own interviews, research, and previously published material, Rossen paints a decades spanning history of the many different reproductions of Superman since his first debut in Action Comics #1 in 1938. Tracing the history of Superman in radio shows, film serials, television shows, cartoons, and films, Rossen provides the meat behind the process of getting Superman onto these new platforms including looking at issues of casting, funding, and copyright. While the book is interesting and Rossen writes in an accessible style that lets readers quickly and clearly absorb the information, the book isn't entirely balanced. For instance, Rossen focuses an extensive amount of text on the most recent manifestations of Superman (
) compared to his coverage of other productions such as animated shows in which he appears.
owever, Rossen is at his best depicting the backroom deals and discussions among key players and the more ironic or surrealistic moments in the history of transitioning Superman to other media. Whether it's the
curse of typecasting
for Superman actors or the challenges of contending with external pressures to conform to more restrictive measures of
, this rich and amusing history provides fans and the average reader ample new ways of thinking about the iconic alien from the planet Krypton. Accompanying each chapter are several pictures, typically of key players in these events (like George Reeves, the Superman of the 1950s televisions show; and Richard Donner, the director involved in the first two
films). Rossen also covers his tracks with a decent amount of footnotes, identifying key material that inspired readers might be interested in pursuing.
book like this will often leave the reader feeling inundated with the topic and satiated from thinking anything more about Superman. Yet, after reading the different interpretations of events, readers may find themselves searching for the numerous reincarnations of the Man of Steel to watch and enjoy now with the added bonus of understanding more than the average viewer.
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