From Wonder Woman to Watchmen, it’s not easy to envision what pop culture would be like today without the impact of superheroes. It’s also not easy to comprehend how any comic book about a flying alien, or a furious green monster, or a super-soldier who defeats a whole army by himself has anything to do with the worlds of technology and science. But as we all know, appearances can be deceiving.
Although the influence of superheroes on modern culture is undeniable, the influence of modern culture on many superheroes remains hazy to this day. Comic creators, perhaps often wanting to maintain a little mystique, have historically been hesitant to get explicit about their inspirations. But when thinking through 80-plus-years-and-counting of our favorite caped crusaders changing slightly with the times, their real world analogues become clearer and clearer.
Science and science fiction
One of comics’ most iconic heroes might also be the perfect example of this. Since his first appearance in Action Comics #1 in 1938, Superman has adapted to the times. The “Man of Steel” we saw in 2017’s Justice League didn’t just happen overnight, after all. Superman’s long term evolution is the result of many transformations and technological advancements throughout the decades.