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The Superman Curse

by Les Hewitt

DC Comics began life as Detective Comics. Nowadays, like Marvel Comics, its known for its abundance of Superheroes such as Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. During 1933 two friends, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, combined their imaginations to come up with the Superhero that single-handedly began the entire genre. Five years after selling their idea to Detective Comics, Kal-El, to give him a Kryptonian name, made his debut in Action Comics #1 and went on to not only save the world hundreds of times over, but to dominate it. Quickly becoming an American icon and global phenomenon, Superman spawned an industry that covered everything from television to film franchises to merchandising.

superman curse

Is there a curse surrounding Superman? Image: George Reeves as Superman in the episode Superman and the Mole Men.

Even before the presses rolled on that first incarnation of the Man of Steel, misfortune was already at play. Both Siegel and Schuster sold more than just the idea to DC Comics; they sold the copyright itself and, for many years afterwards, missed out on all the income that their original concept would create. While the pair did end up with the royalties that they considered that they should have had, it took almost an entire lifetime to accomplish.

What happened to the boys might simply be a case of corporate exploitation and naivety, as they were not the only hopefuls looking to turn an idea into a powerhouse juggernaut of a franchise. They were just among the handful that had the right ideas at the right time.

Since the early days of Superman though, a great many people involved with the legendary superhero have suffered some misfortune or catastrophe. This catalogue of woe simply cannot all be written off as mere coincidence.

  • George Reeves was one of the first actors to portray Superman in the 1950s television show The Adventures of Superman. He played the title role for 6 years. When he was only 45, Reeves suffered a fatal gunshot wound that was officially ruled as self-inflicted, but many believe that it wasn’t.
  • Christopher Reeve brought Superman to the big screen in 1978. Eight years after making his final appearance in Superman 4, George’s namesake was involved in a horse riding accident that left him paralyzed for the rest of his life.
  • In the same film franchise, Marlon Brando made a cameo as Jor-El. In 1990, Brando’s son was found guilty of the shooting of his half-sister’s boyfriend and sent to prison for a decade. Half way through his sentence, Cheyenne Brando took her own life.
  • Margot Kidder is best known as Lois Lane. She went missing for several days in April 1996 before being found in a paranoid and delusional state.
  • Richard Pryor stole the show in Superman 3 in his role as Gus Gorman. Three years after, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Lee Quigley also had a cameo in the first Superman film in 1978. He was the newborn that was sent to Earth amid Krypton’s destruction. Lee was found dead in his mid-teens due to complications with substance abuse.
  • Muriel Hemingway appeared in the final Superman film in 1987. Muriel’s older sister, Margaux, was found dead from an overdose of sedatives. Muriel has always refuted this conclusion.
  • Three members of the production crew for Superman Returns were victims of minor accidents. One was assaulted and mugged. Another fell down a flight of stairs and the third smashed into a glass window. Kate Bosworth, Lois Lane in this reboot, blamed her break-up with Orlando Bloom solely on the curse.
  • Superman 64 was a video-game that was released to poor reviews on the Nintendo 64. Bad graphics and glitched gameplay are among the negative comments. It has been voted as the worst game ever released on the Nintendo 64 system.

Critics of the Superman Curse will inevitably insist that these instances are nothing more than simply a case of bad luck. Other actors that have been involved in Superman productions have managed to avoid becoming another statistic. Dean Cain has had a successful career after playing his version of the 1990s television Superman series Lois & Clark. The same is true of Teri Hatcher, probably even more so. More modern Supermen Tom Welling, Henry Cavill and Brandon Routh have yet to taste any misfortune due to their involvement in Superman. In fact the latter pair dismiss the idea of the curse outright.

Superman has even appeared on Broadway! The star of the 1966 musical It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman! was Bob Holiday. According to Holiday, the notion of a curse is a silly one and says that his experiences have been highly beneficial and ‘nothing but good’. After his stint on Broadway ended, he became a very successful businessman in Florida until his retirement.


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Sites pulled 23 May 2015

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