Superman's first appearances in movie theaters came in the form of the Fleischer cartoon shorts of the early '40's, which debuted about two years after Superman's first appearance in comics and soon after his radio show debuted. Nowadays, the cartoons (readily available on DVD) are viewed as masterpieces, with their fluid animation and art deco stylings. This blog article looks at some of the critical reaction of the time -- and how much of it was negative. A lot of the negativity stems from the stereotype that animated shorts were supposed to be comedic, not adventurous. Some of it is difficulty buying the adventures of a man clad in circus tights who flies (or leaps, in the earliest shorts) through the air and bends steel -- after all, the concept of costumed superheroes was brand new.
The most surprising criticisms are of the animation quality. Critics call the animation "jerky" and "terrible"; and complain that Superman looks like a wooden puppet. Anyone who has seen these shorts will find it difficult to believe these critics actually saw them, since the animation is anything but jerky.
Ironically, about 20 years after the last Superman short was made, Superman had perhaps his greatest animated success -- in Filmation's "The New Adventures of Superman," which essentially created the genre of the Saturday morning superhero cartoon, but which was animated far more statically (and cheaply) than the Fleischer cartoons.
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