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Max Fleischer’s Superman DVD Review

Posted 8 years ago by Movies

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Ever since I was little and I had a VHS set of public domain cartoons, I’ve loved the 40s Max Fleischer Superman shorts. To this day, I still think they are the best incarnation of Superman in film. The stories are simple, the action is awesome, and it takes place in the time that Superman was created, the time that he seems the most relevant in.

Like Popeye, these have been available on the bargain-bin DVDs for a while, but in horrible quality. I’ve gotten a couple as Christmas presents in the past, and I ended up throwing them away. Thats why I was super pumped when I heard that Warner Bros. was releasing them the right way. Max Fleischer’s Superman: 1941-1942 is the equivilant of the awesome
Popeye sets they’ve been releasing (and that I still need volumes 2 and 3) and it is just as great.

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The set contains 17 shorts, which means it has the shorts produced by Max Fleischer and the shorts by Famous Studios. The Fleischers also produced the classic Popeye, Betty Boop, and Out of the Inkwell cartoons. They had a great sense of weight and movement, and Superman was a great character for them to take on. A lot of the shorts involved massive villains like robots and a King Kong-ish gorilla. Terror on the Midway is still one of my favorite animated shorts.

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The set also includes some cool bonus features. There’s a feature called The Man, The Myth, Superman, discusing Superman’s place in the history of mythology and storytelling. There’s also a feature specifically on the Fleischer cartoons including some cool interviews, including Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, who are huge to people like me who grew up watching Batman: The Animated Series, obviously inspired by the Fleischer cartoons.

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Another cool thing about these cartoons is that they still appeal to kids, not just animation buffs like me. Since my wife and I have been married (almost a year) we’ve had a fun tradition called Cousins Camp where all of our nieces and nephews stay with us for a week, while my sisters and their husbands take a vacation. When they stayed with us this summer, they fell in love with the classic Popeye shorts. Kids who grew up in the 3D animation age were sitting there laughing hysterically at Popeye. I was so surprised that I started testing them and making them watch old Disney shorts and the bad DVD versions of these Superman shorts. They loved them just as much.

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I love the red-on-black emblem.

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If you haven’t seen these, or have only seen then on VHS or on YouTube, you have to
get this set. My only wish is that they had released this on Blu-ray. They could have easily scanned the 35mm prints in at full HD resolution, but hopefully they have that planned for later. When they do, my new blog (launching soon) will be ready to cover it.

  • JP

    Love the classic Superman cartoons, hope they bring back the Red on Black logo for the next iteration.

  • Could not agree more about the black superman emblem. Great review.