Superman (1941-1942) – a wonder of animated retrofuturism short films
Episode plot: A band of giant flying robots has been robbing buildings in Metropolis, Lois and Clark guess the next heist will be from a jewelry exhibit. At the exhibit, when one of the robots steals the jewels, Lois climbs into a cavity with the stolen gems inside the robot, which flies away with her inside. Using his X-ray vision to locate Lois, Superman wrestles with the robot in mid-air, but the robot escapes. Now, will Superman reach the robot master’s lair before Lois is lowered into a vat of molten metal?
The first nine Superman cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios from 1941 to 1942 are a wonder of animated retrofuturism, giving us a peek into a world that not only had a flying superstrong protector, but also filled viewers’ heads with dreams of autonomous robots, comet-controlling telescopes, and machines that could shake the Earth.
The Fleischer & Famous Superman cartoons are a series of seventeen animated Technicolor short films released by Paramount Pictures and based upon the comic book character Superman, and making it his first animated appearance. The pilot and other 8 shorts were produced by Fleischer Studios from 1941 to 1942, while the final eight were produced by Famous Studios, a successor company to Fleischer Studios, from 1942 to 1943. Superman was the final animated series initiated under Fleischer Studios, before Famous Studios officially took over production in May 1942.
Although all entries are in the public domain, ancillary rights such as merchandising contract rights, as well as the original 35mm master elements, are owned today by Warner Bros. Entertainment. Warner has owned Superman publisher DC Comics since 1969. These films are in the public domain and have been available on the Internet Archive (as well as other corners of the Internet) for quite some time, but now Warner Bros. has officially released the remastered initial nine from its DVD collection on YouTube.