Pre-Depression era American had a stronger connection to the notion of free enterprise, hard work, and individualist success. However, the years of the Great Depression spread fear and disillusionment in American society; as society questioned the flawed institutions that saw millions starving on the street. Outlaw and gangster films started to become significantly more popular because the masses still admired the individual spirit and the motivation to succeed where normal economic institutions have failed. During this time of strife, the American people strongly identified with anti-heroes that defied a broken system and profited, despite the odds. At this time of economic chaos, the desire to gain power and upward mobility was stronger than ever. And the American public liked the idea of superhuman powers that could make the pursuit of money and fame easier. Soon, all sorts of mental and physical supermen started appearing in newspaper comics and sci-fi pulp magazines. In fact, Andrae argues that the populace liked super heroes that had so much power and wealth that they physically posed a threat to society; a feeling that stemmed from a distrust socio-economic system of the day. With the depression came a new view on the financial situation of the country. While power and wealth was attractive to the masses, invariably, a superman who has both would be hated and blamed for taking advantage of the institutions and being a factor in the collapse of the economic system in the first place. Businessmen who existed in positions of society with power were the ones whose irresponsible actions led to the crash of the market and the Depression in the first place. However, during this time, Americans still had a strong sense of individuality and the American dream was to become successful with your own two hands. Thus, Superheroes in literature were generally defined as strong warriors for social justice that at many times, were at odds with the law. Siegel’s and Shuster’s original Depression era Superman was lawless, powerful, and wanted by police. And while he kills if necessary, Superman had a strong moral code to not use his powers for money or evil. This strong moral code resonated with public’s need for impartial justice in a system with corruption in unions, political parties, and government officials.
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