Summary: This is another in a youth series that parallels Superman’s super-strength with Jesus’ infinite power.
More Powerful than a Locomotive
One of the most remarkable of Superman’s powers and abilities is his sheer strength. The old radio serial of the 1940’s boasted that Superman “could change the course of mighty rivers,” and “bend steel in his bare hands.” One of Joe Shuster’s earliest sketches of Superman bore the caption, “a genius in intellect, a Hercules in strength, a nemesis to wrong-doers...” In fact, the very first issue of Action Comics spotlighted Superman’s Herculean strength, depicting the hero hoisting a car over his head on the front cover.
But, bending steel and bench-pressing Studebakers barely scratches the surface of Superman’s seemingly unlimited strength. According to Mark Wolverton, author of The Science of Superman, “Superman’s strength…is comprised of two elements: his natural muscular strength, greatly magnified by the Earth’s environment and his double-edged capacity to use and store vast amounts of energy derived from solar radiation and food; and his ability to manipulate gravity in a limited way.”#
In essence, as Superman’s body draws and stores energy from the Sun, that energy is converted and becomes available to be called upon to accomplish amazing feats. Though Superman’s strength has never been fully measured either in or comics or film, it has been unveiled in dramatic ways.
In Superman: The Movie, Christopher Reeve’s inaugural appearance as the Man of Steel begins with peril atop the Daily Planet building. Lois Lane hurriedly boards a helicopter scheduled to fly her to the airport for an all-important rendezvous with Air Force One—the President’s private plane. Unfortunately, neither Lois nor the helicopter ever make it off the roof—at least not in the direction they planned.
Just as the helicopter lifts off, the strong winds generated by the propeller blades cause an already-loose cable fastener to break free. The now loosed cable, pulled by the force of the helicopter blades, tangles itself around the base of the helicopter, sending it spinning out of control. Within seconds, the helicopter is suspended precariously from the edge of the Daily Planet roof, its pilot unconscious in his seat.
A crowd of concerned and frightened spectators forms on the street, countless stories below, as Lois tries to climb to safety. Her attempt to save herself, however, unwittingly places her in greater danger—leaving her dangling from the helicopter by her seatbelt. By this time police and emergency vehicles flood the streets. Just then, Clark Kent steps out of the building and notices a familiar hat on the sidewalk. Recognizing it as Lois’, he looks up and spots the damsel in distress.
Clark looks immediately for a place to make the change to Superman. Bypassing the phone booth, an homage to earlier Superman tradition, he spins quickly through a revolving door, changing clothes faster than the human eye can see, emerging as Superman, the Man of Steel.
Streaking through the air just as Lois loses her grip on the seatbelt, Superman catches the intrepid reporter in freefall. Carrying Lois with his right arm, his left hand is still free to catch the now plummeting helicopter. With just one hand, Superman gracefully snatches the careening copter and effortlessly lifts it back to the roof, resting it in the center of the helipad. And, of course, the crowd goes wild.