Will Superman be able to save us from the haze? Maybe not, but his fellow red-underwear-wearing compatriot, Captain Planet might have a fair crack at it.
Superman is an icon who has inspired many copycats.
Let’s look at some other characters inspired by the Man of Steel.
(1) Mighty Mouse
Mighty Mouse was first drawn wearing a blue costume with red trunks and a red cape, similar to Superman, but over time this outfit changed to a yellow costume with red trunks and a red cape, his most popular color. An anthropomorphic rodent, Mighty Mouse can fly, is super strong & invulnerable. He has X-ray vision and telekinetic powers that allowed him to command inanimate objects and turn back time.
Japanese animator Osamu Tezuka has said that Mighty Mouse inspired him to name his well-known character Mighty Atom (also known as Astro Boy). He also chose to imitate Mighty Mouse’s signature flying pose with one arm stretched ahead with a clenched fist.
(2) Captain Marvel
Shazam, also known as Captain Marvel is a fictional comic book superhero, originally published by Fawcett Comics and later by DC Comics. He is the alter ego of Billy Batson, a youth who works as a radio news reporter and was chosen to be a champion of good by the wizard Shazam. Whenever Billy says ‘Shazam’, he is struck by a magic lightning bolt that transforms him into an adult superhero empowered with the abilities of six historical figures. He is granted the powers of S, for the wisdom of Solomon, H for the strength of Hercules, A for the stamina of Atlas, Z for the power of Zeus, A for the courage of Achilles & M for the power of Mercury. DC comics eventually sued Fawcett comics with a copyright infringement suit alleging that Captain Marvel was a copy of Superman (a hero he was outselling in the 1940s). DC acquired the rights to Shazam’s Marvel family in 1991 & has tried to integrate it to its DC Universe with mixed fortunes.
(3) Captain Planet
Synonymous with the kids of the 90s & created by Ted Turner himself, Captain Planet flies in to save the day with his wry one-liners when the Planeteers are overwhelmed. He does not wear clothes but elements of the Earth that are integral to his composition. He is able to rearrange his molecular structure to transform himself into the various powers and elements of nature. Captain Planet’s outfit is not culture specific. He has a grass-green proto-mullet, crystal blue skin, earthy brown eyes, a fire-red chest, gloves, trunks, and boots and a sun-yellow globe insignia.
While Captain Planet appears almost invincible & could literally blow the haze away from our shores, his ironic vulnerability to pollution is a dead ringer for Superman & kryptonite. His chiseled jaw line, blue & red outfit & boy scout sense of righteousness simply add to the similarities, although his philosophies are very different.
Once his work is done, Captain Planet returns to the Earth, restoring the Planeteers’ powers. When he does this, Captain Planet reminds viewers of the message of the series with his catchphrase, “The Power Is Yours!” telling us that we all have the power to end the destruction of the earth if we work together as one world rather than fighting each other.
(4) Power Girl
Real name Kara Zor-L, Karen is the Earth-Two counterpart of Supergirl and the first cousin of Kal-L, Superman of Earth-Two. The infant Power Girl’s parents enabled her to escape the destruction of Krypton. Although she left the planet at the same time that Superman did, her ship took much longer to reach Earth-Two.
Possessing all standard Kryptonian powers, she is a member of the Justice Society of America and the team’s first chairwoman. Power Girl sports a bob of blond hair; wears a distinctive white, red, and blue costume; and has an aggressive fighting style. Unsurprisingly, she was ninth in Comics Buyer’s Guide‘s “100 Sexiest Women in Comics” list
Marvel Comics‘ publisher Stan Lee said in 1978 that when DC Comics created Power Girl after Marvel had introduced Power Man, “I’m pretty annoyed about that. …I’ve got to ask the Marvel lawyer. She’s supposed to be starting a lawsuit about that and I haven’t heard anything. I don’t like the idea. You know, years ago we brought out Wonder Man, and DC Comics sued us because they had Wonder Woman, and … I said okay, I’ll discontinue Wonder Man. And all of a sudden they’ve got Power Girl. Oh, boy. How unfair.”
Created originally an incredibly violent version of Superman, the idea was that Supreme would be Superman if he lacked his incredible moral code. Supremium is the source of Supreme’s power. As a child, Ethan Crane found a meteorite composed of pure Supremium, which turned his hair white and gave him many super-powers, such as flight, invulnerability, super-strength, super-intelligence, super-speed and more. Supreme was famously rebooted by legendary comic book writer Alan Moore into a tribute to Superman during the Silver Age of Comics. Moore based his storylines and characters off classic Superman comics. He introduced new characters like Supreme’s sister Suprema (a homage to Supergirl) and Radar the Hound Supreme (a homage to Krypto) By doing this, he was able to take a modern day spin on classic comic book stories and archetypes. His run won the 1997 Eisner Award for Best Writer and is considered to this day to be a masterpiece.
(6) Atom Ant
While Singapore was celebrating its independence in 1965, Hanna-Barbera’s introduced its very first superhero, four-limbed talking insect who walked on his hind legs, wearing an oversized t-shirt with a giant ‘A’. Atom Ant operated out of an anthill in the countryside, where he possessed such things as a mainframe computer and exercise equipment. His powers mostly consisted of the ability to fly, superspeed, incredible strength, and invulnerability. His catchphrase was “Up and at ‘em, Atom Ant!”
He was often contacted by the police, who sent him out on an assignment. Some of these missions parodied those of Batman. The police force was constantly shown to be underfunded and inept, as they relied on Atom Ant to do all their police work. The only two police officers were the chief and deputy chief. The department only possessed one rusted patrol car. Atom Ant fights various villains including recurring ones like Ferocious Flea and mad scientist Professor Von Gimmick.
Contributed by Dilip Kumar