Review of Look, Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman

Superman Week

It’s Superman Week here on the blog. I’m celebrating the release of Superman Returns on Wednesday, June 28. I won’t get to see it until Thursday night, so my review will cap off Superman Week on Friday, but every day this week I’ll try to have a Superman-related article up for your enjoyment.

Day 1 – Review of Look, Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman

This documentary is exactly what the title implies, it’s a history of Superman as he has appeared in almost every type of media. It begins with his comic origins and covers the myriad of TV shows and movies that “the big blue boy scout” has appeared in. The documentary appeared on A&E, albeit shortened by 30min, and the DVD was released last Tuesday. As soon as I heard about it I put it in my Netflix queue. I got lucky, and the disc was shipped the Monday before it was released and I got it on the Tuesday it was released in stores. My wife and I finally watched it on Sunday morning.

Overall, the documentary was very good. It literally covered every aspect of Superman’s appearance in pop culture. The doc started with Superman’s creators, Jerry Siegel & Joe Schuster. It discussed how the idea of Superman evolved, and how every comic book company turned the idea down saying that no one wanted to read about a guy in tights jumping around on buildings (Superman couldn’t fly in his initial incarnation).

Siegel & Schuster finally got National Publications (DC Comics) to bite on the idea and Superman premiered in Action Comics #1 in 1938. The documentary didn’t just look at Superman’s impact on comics. The movie soon started covering the early serials in the ’50s and the George Reeves TV show. The doc even discussed tv shows like the once broadcast Superman Musical (based on the broadway show) in the ’70s staring Leslie Ann Warren as Lois Lane and David Wilson as Superman and the not broadcast pilot of a show called SuperPup staring midgets in dog costumes. Yes, you read that right (see pic).

The documentary is a fascinating look at the emergence of Superman in popular culture. It continues to delve into the people that played Superman, putting particular emphasis on George and Christopher Reeves and the fates that have befallen both men. That was a particularly poignant section for me. Very sweet men who didn’t deserve what fate handed them.

The doc, of course, had a nice section on the new movie with some scenes I hadn’t seen before. It definately made me ready to see the movie. I was pumped after watching it. I will be honest though, it felt a little long to me. The doc was 2 hours long and, to me, it felt it. I know they didn’t touch on a lot of stuff they could have, or delve even deeper into other Superman aspects, but even this protracted history felt long. I started losing enthusiasm towards the end, but the doc picks up for the last 20 minutes or so and I was left with an overall good feeling. I would be interested in seeing the A&E version as, like I said earlier, it’s 30 minutes shorter.

Also, a lot of the interviewees were nicely picked. Artists, writers, actors, a good mix. They even had Stan “The Man” Lee talking about Superman’s impact. That is cool. Then, Gene mutha-f’n Simmons pops up. Why is Gene Simmons on here? What does he bring to the table? It just said Comic Book Fan in his title card, but if that’s it, they could have asked Shaq or Seinfeld to participate as they are known Superman fans also. That was just a little jarring and wierd for me. Just a little sidenote.

Other than those two gripes, I really enjoyed the documentary and recommend it to any Superman fans, and non-fans, out there. It’s a great way to ramp up for the release of Superman Returns on Wednesday.

I’ll be back with another Superman related article tomorrow.

Check out the other days in Superman Week here:

Day 2 – Scary Superman Merchandise
Day 3 – Review of Christopher Reeve Superman Movies
Day 4 – Stupid Superman Powers
Day 5 – Review of Superman Returns

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3 Responses to “Review of Look, Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman”

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