Over at The New Republic, Glen Weldon explains how the comic-book hero and symbol of America has fared over the years. In the 1930s he was a “protective older brother.” During World War II and the first decade of the Cold War he was “Father Knows Best.” In the 1960s he was the “Morose Uncle.” In the 1970s he was a “Guidance Counselor.”
A closer look at the character’s history reveals that in fact the entire notion of Superman exists in a state of perpetual flux. The reason he has endured for three quarters of a century is that he continually evolves to reflect the culture around him. To sample a Superman comic, radio show, television episode, or film from any era is to get hit with a potent dose of the prevailing zeitgeist. There, plain to see, lie the obsessions, fears, hopes and values of the time, stripped to their essence and shoved into baby blue tights.