We know the name, the cape, the logo, the hair. No, not Liberace, it’s Superman! Back in the 1940s, Superman lifted off from DC’s comic book pages and landed on the big screen. Between 1941 and 1942, seventeen theatrical shorts were produced based on the Man of Steel’s adventures.
This special DVD set of Superman: The Max Fleischer Cartoon Collection, presents these 17 shorts in a “remastered” edition. It’s even stamped with the “Authorized Edition” seal of approval. The animation is decent for the time period, and blends both cartoonish animation and more action-oriented animation together.
What is the basic plot of each story? An evil scientist, doctor, robot, criminal, etc. attempts to destroy, kidnap, or steal something in Metropolis. Lois Lane gets into trouble. Clark Kent say, “This is a job for Superman!” And Superman saves the day. Each cartoon is about 8-10 minutes long, so it’s a quick view. This, of course, would later become the template for the TV series and films that followed.
Now, here’s what made me laugh. On the back of the DVD case is the following warning: “Superman: The Max Fleischer Cartoon Collection Is Intended for the Adult Collector and Is Not Suitable for Children.” Now, I have a pretty good feeling that these cartoons played before Westerns, Sci-fi, and other kiddie movies in the 1940s, so I think kids today can handle these cartoon shorts.
The two-DVD set contains three special features:
Exclusive Sneak Peek at DC Universe’s Upcoming Animated Feature Green Lantern
I though Seth Rogen was playing the Green Lantern. Isn’t that why he lost all that weight? Wait, no, that’s the Green Hornet. Oops! Anyway, this featurette discusses the origins of the character Green Lantern, the development of the story for the animated film, and sneak peeks of storyboard drawings and animatics. Oh, and Michael Madsen voices one of the characters!
First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series: The Origins and Influence of This Groundbreaking Cartoon Series
A retrospective documentary about creating and producing the series, Max Fleischer, and the process involved in animating one of first non-comedic cartoons.
The Man, the Myth, Superman: Exploring the Tradition of “Superhuman” Heroes on the Page and Screen
Experts, historians, and comic book artists and writers weigh in on the concept to heroes and superhuman characters in myth, legend, and religion.
If you’re a die-hard comic book or Superman fan, I recommend this collection of classic shorts. For those who like old-school animation, it’s also a must-see. It also comes with a snazzy yellow cardboard case!