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Things You Probably Didn't Know About Superman

Updated October 12, 2021 5.6k votes 1.1k voters 262.1k views13 items

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Superman was one of the earliest depictions of a superhero. After his introduction, capes, tights, superpowers, a quest for justice, and holy levels of righteousness became the norm. Superman has been around since 1938, appearing in comics, video games, movies, graphic novels, cartoons, and just about anything else that could possibly feature the Man of Steel.

Because he's been a part of popular culture for so long, there are probably a lot of things many fans don't know about Superman. This list highlights some of the more interesting things you probably didn't know about the Kryptonian.

  • Photo: DC Comics

    There Are More Than 20 Different Types Of Kryptonite

    Kryptonite has a long history that spans the comics, a radio show, video games, movies, and cartoons. Originally, all Kryptonite was red in color when introduced in Superman #61 in 1949. It remained that way until 1951's Action Comics #160 when it was changed to the more familiar green color. Still, that's not the only type of Kryptonite; over the years, more than 20 different types have appeared in the Superman canon.

    Red Kryptonite is probably the best known other than Green. It causes both strange behavior and odd transformations in Kryptonians. Blue Kryptonite is an imperfect form of the mineral, making it harmful to Bizarro (and the Bizarro League) and completely harmless to Superman. White Kryptonite ends all plant life on a planet, while Gold Kryptonite can permanently remove a Kryptonian's ability to process the sunlight from a yellow star, rendering them powerless.

    Other forms of Kryptonite include Silver, Pink, Purple-Spotted, Anti, Bizarro Red, Slow, Opal, Jewel, and Synthetic.

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  • Photo: DC Comics

    Superman Fights Muhammad Ali - And Loses

    A 1978 comic book storyline that pits Superman against Muhammad Ali is legendary. In the comic, aliens are out to destroy Earth if the world doesn't pit its greatest fighter against the aliens' most powerful warrior. Superman and Ali are up to the challenge, but they can't decide which one of them is the world's greatest fighter.

    To figure it out, they engage in a boxing match on the aliens' home planet, which renders Superman weak. Muhammad Ali easily defeats the Man of Steel, so he heads off to fight the alien champion. Ali is down for the first three rounds, but the fourth results in a miraculous victory. The aliens' leader then declares that the incursion is still on, so the champion terminates him for being dishonorable.

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  • Photo: DC Comics

    Superman's Powers Have Been Wildly Inconsistent

    Superman is the original superhero, and he's been around for more than 80 years, which means his story has been written and illustrated by many different people. When he first started, he couldn't fly or run at supersonic speeds, and wasn't susceptible to Kryptonite. Several other powers that are now commonplace took a while to manifest.

    At times, he had incredibly strange powers - most of which he lost. His abilities included super ventriloquism, shape-shifting, telekinetic vision, super imagination, mind control, hypnotism, matter-phasing, time-traveling, and the ability to fire off mini versions of himself from his hands.

    Crisis on Infinite Earths helped to rein in a lot of these powers, and John Byrne's The Man of Steel solidified his powers and strength to the levels seen today. Had he kept even a quarter of his previous powers, Superman would look very different.

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  • Photo: DC Comics

    Superman's First Appearance Is The Holy Grail For Collectors

    The first appearance of Superman came in the pages and on the cover of Action Comics #1. The comic sold for 10 cents, and depending on the grade of the book today, it's worth as much as $3.2 million. Very few copies of Action Comics #1 exist, making it exceptionally rare.

    It's even harder to find a copy that is professionally graded at or around Near Mint condition. It's the holy grail for comic book collectors, and often the most coveted book of any collector. Nicolas Cage once bought a copy, which was taken and found 11 years later. It's unknown exactly how many copies still exist, but estimates are around 50 to 100 copies. Fewer than 10% of those are graded above 4.0, making anything close to mint condition rare.

    As of 2020, Action Comics #1 holds the record for being the most expensive comic book ever sold. An auction on eBay in 2014 resulted in $3.2 million, the most money ever paid for a single comic book to that date. That particular book was graded in Near Mint condition by Certified Guaranty Co. (CGC), which gave it a 9.0 grade, with pages that were still white. That's the highest grade the CGC or any other professional grading service has given to Action Comics #1.

    The record was broken when a copy sold privately for $3.25 million in 2021.

    Action Comics #1 is also rare and expensive because the last page of the book was part of a coloring contest. Kids could tear out the page, color it, and send it in. Comics weren't collectible back then, so most people threw the remaining pages into the trash.

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