This is a complete list of the alternative versions of Superman, including all media forms such as the DC Comics Multiverse, Elseworlds imprint stories and screen (film and television) adaptations of the character.
Superman, also known as Kal-El from Krypton, adopts the identity of Clark Kent when not fulfilling his superhero role. The character, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, has been continually published in a variety of comic book titles, with the Justice League series emerging as a best-seller in January 2012. Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, he went through a distinctive reboot. To accompany discrepancies in the aging of Superman across several decades, his earliest stories were retroactively portrayed as having taken place on an alternative world called Earth-Two. The Multiverse used to explain these characters later gave way to an "evil" version of Superman from Earth-Three and other "What if?" scenarios. The Multiverse system was discarded in the Crisis on Infinite Earths miniseries, following which an adaptation of the mainstream "Earth-One" Superman was rebooted in John Byrne's The Man of Steel miniseries in 1986. Variations in the character were eventually defined by the varying Superman origin stories, such as the subsequent Superman: Birthright reboot by Mark Waid in 2003.
The single-Earth continuity would still allow for the dichotomy of a good and evil Superman by introducing an alternative version of Superman's Earth-Three double, Ultraman in the Antimatter Universe surviving the Crisis, as presented in JLA: Earth 2. Alternative Supermen were also depicted using literary devices such as time travel and "Hypertime". The subsequent sequel to Crisis, titled Infinite Crisis, would see a brief return of the Golden Age Superman, Kal-L as well as the teenage Superman of a world without heroes, who survived the original Crisis. Due to the events of the sequel, as revealed in the subsequent weekly maxiseries 52, a new Multiverse, consisting of fifty-two alternative Earths, was created with most worlds featuring new alternative depictions of Superman.
In addition to these "official" variations of the standard Superman character, a number of characters have assumed the title of Superman in many variant stories set in both primary and alternative continuity. Following the storyline of The Death of Superman and during the subsequent Reign of the Supermen storyline, a number of characters claimed the mantle. In addition, Bizarro, for instance, is an imperfect duplicate of Superman. Other members of Superman's family of characters have borne the Super- prefix, including Supergirl, Superdog and, in some instances, Superwoman. Outside comics published by DC Comics, the notoriety of the Superman or "Übermensch" archetype makes the character a popular figure to be represented with an analogue in entirely unrelated continuities, for example rival publisher Marvel Comics parodies Superman through the character Hyperion.
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Famous quotes containing the words superman, alternative and/or versions:
“The superman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the superman is to be the meaning of the earth! I beseech you, my brothers, be true to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes! They are poisoners, whether they know it or not.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche (18441900)
“No alternative to the
—Denise Levertov (b. 1923)
“The assumption must be that those who can see value only in tradition, or versions of it, deny mans ability to adapt to changing circumstances.”
—Stephen Bayley (b. 1951)