Which had a bigger impact on the culture of superheroes, the Batman tv show or the Superman tv show?

  I'm still going through my old vhs collection and putting it onto dvd and I came across a couple of Batman episodes from when the Scifi channel ran them.  As I watched the Superman serial last week I thought of the later tv show and realized that they were really different shows with different impacts, but Superman lasted from 1952 to 1958 while Batman ran only from 1966 to 1968.  They both impacted how the culture thinks about superheroes but Superman played it straight and Batman didn't, Superman didn't use his comic book rogues and Batman couldn't have survived without them, Superman didn't bring in Supergirl but Batman brought in Batgirl.  So many differences but for many around in the 1960's and 1970's these were the two superhero shows that created the impressions of what superheroes were.  Hard to say which of them had the greater impact, even though Batman was flashier.

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Thanks, Border. That was it.


I left out Misfits of Science (1985-86) because I don't quite think of it as a superhero show (since the characters didn't wear costumes), but I'd count The Champions, and by that standard it counts too. I remember it as having a zany comedy element, like that of The Kids from C.A.P.E.R.; but perhaps wrongly, as I saw very little of it.


If you've not heard of the Legends of the Superheroes specials, click through and be amazed. The "Legends of the SuperHeroes In Lurid Videotape!" link has images and more information.

Until I put the list together I didn't realise how many such shows there were.

A Mandrake the Magician TV movie called Mandrake appeared in 1979. I missed that, so I don't know how superhero-y it was.

According to Wikipedia and the IMDB a pilot for a projected half-hour Mandrake the Magician TV series was made in 1954, with Woody Strode as Lothar. I can't tell from them if it was ever aired.

THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN escaped the super-hero label, but he had super powers and he wore a flashy red track suit that was much more audacious than the Fantastic Four's blue jumpsuits.

I didn't think so at the time because everyone was wearing tracksuits to run back then. Also it was a very straight show, but I think they could have lingered a bit more on how Steve felt having artificial limbs, but I can see how they wanted more action than emotion. I think I might have enjoyed Electra Woman and Dyna Girl more if I had been younger, but as noted there wasn't a lot of action. Then again at that time there was a real campaign against Saturday morning tv show violence.

Jimmm Kelly said:

THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN escaped the super-hero label, but he had super powers and he wore a flashy red track suit that was much more audacious than the Fantastic Four's blue jumpsuits.

Come to think of it Monster Squad was campy at times.

So due to that cartoon, probably a result of cartoonists figuring it was easier and more dramatic, to show Superman flying than jumping everywhere, Superman may have been the first fictional/mythic character who could fly without any sort of wings or glider-membranes.  Sub-Mariner's much derided ankle wings were inspired by the winged sandles of Hermes and somehow flaming on enable the Human Torch to fly, and of course both of them first saw print about a year after Action Comics #1.  If anyone else knows of any fictional/mythical figure who could just jump up and fly like Superman without any sort of wings or device to enable flight, I'd like to know about it.  Witches on brooms don't count!
Richard Willis said:

Fred W. Hill said:

As the alpha superhero, even before the tv show, Superman was a major radio star and the radio series had a big impact on the mythos that became part of the comics, including the introduction of Jimmy Olson.

In addition to Jimmy Olsen, the radio show also introduced Perry White and Kryptonite. The Fleischer theatrical cartoons introduced a flying Superman, who previously could only jump.

Fred W. Hill said:

So due to that cartoon, probably a result of cartoonists figuring it was easier and more dramatic, to show Superman flying than jumping everywhere

I remember it being said that animating him jumping involved a lot more drawings and so cost more.

...Richard , in upper-ish Westchester County , New York , we got the seven NYC VHFs - the " Big Three " , three independents , and PBS (the " NYC " PBS may have still technically been positioned in Newark then .) .

  Other stations in fringe areas/UHF didn't come in .

...The upper end of Westchester County , I meant , a little further north/further from NYC , location not economic status , is what I meant .

It's possible he first flew on the radio show. Wikipedia says it started Feb. 12 1940. The narration in the second episode describes him as "hovering with his curious power above a quiet highway in Indiana" before he "wheels and turns in curious flight". I forget who cited this for me when the issue came up once before. The intro, in which people call "Up in the sky! Look! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!", and the accompanying sound effect, also imply he can fly. Episodes of the show can be heard at Internet Archive.


There's a page here on whether Captain Marvel flew before the comics version of Superman did. The author cites Michael Fleisher's analysis of when the comics Superman was first shown flying, but it's often very difficult to tell whether he's supposed to be flying or not in his early stories, so there might be earlier instances than Fleisher was willing to acknowledge. The leaping interpretation often only makes sense if one supposes that Siegel and Shuster didn't fully understand what taking giant leaps would involve (e.g. he seems to land where he wants and seems able to land gently, if he were leaping he would gradually slow after his take-off and move most slowly at the apogee of his leap), but that's possible.


In the first of the two Luthor stories in Superman #4 - the one with the earthquake weapon in which Luthor challenges Superman to a contest between his strength and Luthor's science - Superman pursues an autogyro at cloud-height, races Luthor's planes around the Earth (including over the ocean), and out-ascends a plane in the contest "to determine who can rise the highest above the Earth, and still return safely". One might suppose the creators understood him as leaping after the autogyro, leaping around the Earth, and leaping higher than the plane, but the sequences can also be understood as depicting flying. The opening panel of the story shows him flying above or perhaps running along electrical wires. The DC Indexes website says the issue went on sale Feb. 15 1940.

My DVD of the Fleischer Superman cartoons says the first one was released on September 26, 1941.

Thanks, Richard.

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