Superman Logo Evolution

Superman Logo Evolution

History knows millions of logos both successful and awkward like here.

But the Superman logo was the first one that appeared on T–shirts.

We can say even more: it set the trend of putting superhero icons on T-shirts.

Hurrah to designers! Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, a sign of Superman had to display something between a police badge and a diamond.

The first Superman logo was the symbol of the hero’s desire to protect; the second one conveyed invincibility.

These images along with the “S” letter made a bright sign that, despite numerous stylistic changes, come to us almost unchanged.

There are a lot of Superman fans among DesignContest stuff.

Not so long ago, we recalled the idols our childhood idols. It appeared that almost all of us are big fans of Superman.

That pushed me to delve into the history and collect a few more interesting facts.


The Beginning, or Action Comics 1 Time: 1938

Action Comics 1 is the first comic book with the classic superhero on the pages.

It's incredible success has opened the Golden Age of comic books.

Superman is the most recognisable superhero appeared on the wide screen.

However, his thorny path was full of ups and downs, accompanied by a lot of banal circumstances.


superman logo history


As you see, the first superman logo is represented by red S letter on a yellow police badge symbol.

It had remained unchanged since the release of Action Comics #7.

However, the shield had been varied during the first three years of the comics.

In 1941, just three years after the first appearance of Superman in front of the audience, Paramount Pictures got interested in the production of animated short films to show in cinemas right before the new movies.

Paramount hired Max and Dave Fleischer and provided them with an unprecedented budget of $50 000.

As the result, there were produced 17 short films under the banner of Fleischer Studios and Famous Studios.




The length of the short movies was about 8–9 minutes, and in the absence of a single supervillain (Lex Luthor appeared in the comics a year before, in April 1940, but wasn’t screened), the main threats to Superman and Metropolis were mad scientists, giant robots, earthquakes, volcanoes, gangsters, a giant gorilla, and a giant lizard (10 years before the “Godzilla“). The first steps have been made.

Then, the time for playing Superman had come.

His arrival took place in 1948 in the four-hour film series of 15 episodes named as just “Superman.”




Each of the series had a length of 15-20 minutes and a cliffhanger ending.

As it had been expected, the series became hugely popular and had given rise to “Atom Man vs. Superman,” released in 1950.

Although the visual effects and the actor’s play were far from the perfect, being the first game adaptations of comics about the Man of Steel, both series made a splash and are forever in the history.


A Long Way to 1978


In November 1974, the rights to a full-length adaptation of the comics about Superman were purchased by Alexander Salkind, his son, and his partner Pierre Spengler.

Their plan was to make two films immediately and release them within a short interval, saving on overall production.

The seriousness of intentions of the producers led to a rush in the choice of a potential stage director, screenwriter, and leading actor.

Salkind’s were interested in celebrities only, whose star statuses were sometimes unsuitable for the particular material.

Mario Puzo was hired as a screenwriter right after Alfred Bester, previously invited science fiction writer, was considered as insufficiently known.

Too many celebrities were seen as potential Superman – from Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman to Muhammad Ali.

Guy Hamilton was hired as a stage director.

However, the process remained slow: when Puzo finally emerged with two scenarios written on 500 pages, Robert Benton, David Newman, and his wife – Leslie Newman – had to reduce that amount by all means.

As a result, the scenario was reduced to 400 pages in length by the July 1976 and was distinguished by deliberately absurd comedic tone typical for Batman Batman of 60’s but not suitable for American cinema of 70’s, full of his seriousness and naturalism.

However, the pre-production started in Rome and ended right after the commencement when Brando found out that he could get on a trial for actions he made during shooting “Last Tango in Paris.”

The team moved to England, but only to find out that Hamilton cannot stay at home for longer than 30 days due to tax evasion.

Either an actor or a stage director had to leave…and the choice was obvious.

In January 1977, inspired by “Omen,” producers hired Richard Donne for the production of both films.

Finally, that the project began to come out on the right path.

Donner refused of the previously written version of the script and hired Tom Mankiewicz for the rewriting.

However, the writers subsequently refused to recognise the work of the latter, so Tom Mankiewicz was mentioned just as a “creative consultant” in titles while the Puzo, Benton, and Newman were shown as stage directors.

It was decided to take an unknown actor for the leading role, but the search process was too slow.

Finally, in February 1977, Christopher Reeve took his chance. The shooting began on March 24, 1977. According to the plan, they were supposed to end up in seven or eight months but eventually took nineteen.

Donner, who had no strictly defined budget and time frame, shoot too much material, and at the end, Warner Bros had to spend additional $ 20 million and move the release date to the winter of 1978.

By October 1978, when the second film was 80%, it was decided to suspend shooting and focus on the finishing of the first movie.

“Superman” appeared in December 1978 and completed a trio of blockbusters (the other two were “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”).




70’s was the time when a rare blockbuster succeeded. But the efforts were not in vain.

The history of Superman fitted into a three-act standard, in which each of three acts belonged to a separate genre: the first half an hour – to an old-fashioned space fantasy; the second half an hour – to American cinema of 50's with a cozy atmosphere and endless farm fields of Kansas; the last part – to urban comics which put idealism and heroism in gray dust of the street.

In fact, the only serious weakness of the film was Luthor, who was too annoying, and it would seem that there is nothing easier than to go back and finish the job.

But Salkind fired Donner right after the triumphant release.


13 years of Silence After 1993


So, Donner was replaced by Richard Lester, who had to reshoot everything that was possible.

However, the radical changes were introduced in three moments only – in the beginning, in the mid, and at the end of the movie.

After Donner and Tom Mankiewicz had left the franchise, Superman was entirely in the hands of Salkinds (producers), Newman’s (screenwriters) and Lester (a film director).

Unfortunately, “Superman 3” was a complete failure: the scale and serious perception of the material disappeared as if they had never existed; the liveliness and wit in dialogues have been reduced to zero.




After that failure, Salkind’s sold the rights to Cannon Films.

Although it could be a new start, the company had more than 30 films in production and didn’t even consider “Superman 4” as an important film.

Moreover, the company reduced the film budget $ 35 to $ 15 million.

The most offensive thing is that unlike “Superman 3,” the fourth part did have the bright ideas, interesting and not stupid: the participation of Superman in the nuclear race and nuclear man as an antagonist could be absorbing! But not in this case.

“Superman 4” became a barely tolerated nonsense with one of the worst effects ever shown in cinemas.




However, the company soon went bankrupt, and the rights were returned to Salkinds.

In the early 1990s, Ilya Salkind, Cary Bates, and Mark Jones wrote two versions of the “Superman 5” scenario, in which they told the story of death and resurrection of Superman.

Christopher Reeve was to return to the primary role.

But the project did not come live: in early 1993, Warner Bros bought the rights and referred them to Jon Peters.

I bet the studio couldn’t assume at that time that the world would have to wait 13 years for the next appearance of Superman on the big screen.

“The Return of Superman” was released in June 2006 and gained some success among critics and audiences, but it was not enough from the commercial point of view: total expenses of about $ 330 million were closer to the total income ($391 million) that had been expected.

Also, it quickly became a commonplace to criticise the film for its lack of action, the choice of Kate Bosworth for the role of Lois Lane, and too logical inconsistencies, and excessive total commitment to the original film.



Man of Steel


While working on the screenplay of “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns,” Goyer came up with the idea of restarting the history of Superman, which he immediately shared to Christopher Nolan.

After some time, Warner Bros. announced its new project “Man of Steel,” directed by Zack Snyder.




It has opened a new history of adaptations of Superman.

“Man of Steel” is a complete rethinking of all the myths about the hero, a new beginning and a new starting point.

The restart was successful – for the first weekend, the film collected about $ 128 million, which ensured a bright future.


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the Future


That’s the story of confrontation of two primary superheroes of DC Comics, which should form a new Warner Bros. universe.

This is a continuation of the previous movie, expanded by the space combat, larger scale, and greater number of characters.




Warner Bros. and DC Comics are going to release “Justice League” in 2017, which tells about a team of superheroes of DC Comics universe (of course, including Superman).



Author Bio: Brian Jens is a logo designer from DesignContest – the top-notch crowdsourcing platform in the niche. Brian is not limited to design field – he always tracks trends, tendencies, and novelties in many markets, including filmmaking. Brian is always in touch and ready to research the most burning questions regardless their origin. Feel free to send your ideas and get the quick response.


If you wish to discuss how we can develop your brand or provide graphic design for your product or business, email us at: [email protected]

Inkbot Design is a Creative Branding Agency that is passionate about effective Graphic Design, Brand Identity, Logos and Web Design.

T: @inkbotdesign F: /inkbotdesign


Superman Logo History Of The Superhero Symbol
  • A Lex says:

    I would have loved the article if it was focused on the evolution of the logo (designers, design considerations, fashion, etc) instead of the history of the character. In fact there are other versions of the logo (future superman, soviet superman, etc) you are missing.

  • >
    Share via
    Copy link