Superman's 1940s Animation: How It Changed Everything (A Look Back) | SYFY WIRE

WATCH: A look back at the Superman Fleischer cartoons of the 1940s

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May 3, 2018, 3:46 PM EDT (Updated)

A mere three years after the Man of Steel made his first-ever appearance in Action Comics #1, Fleischer Studios was producing Superman cartoons that ran before feature films during the early 1940s. As you'd expect, they featured the Last Son of Krypton fighting against mad scientists, murderous robots, and a defrosted monster from Siberia.

When America entered World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the cartoons became a lot more patriotic. Suddenly, the famous DC superhero was foiling Axis plots and getting on the nerves of Adolf Hitler himself. That same year, Fleischer was absorbed by Paramount, renamed Famous Studios, and became Paramount's first animation division. It was during this time that Superman really became the country's flag-waving sweetheart, the paradigmatic emblem of truth, justice, and the American way. Take that, Steve Rogers!

The 17th and final Superman cartoon was released in 1943, but the collection of classic films endured for decades, influencing the art styles of Alex Ross, Hayao Miyazaki, Frank Miller, and Kerry Conran.

Continue on to the video below to watch our in-depth retrospective on the Fleischer Superman cartoons in honor of the hero's 80th birthday!

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