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Top Five Superman Nicknames

Top Five Month continues (check here to see an archive of all the top five lists featured so far) with a look at the top five nicknames for Superman!

Enjoy!

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Supes is a pretty good, informal nickname that you see people occasionally call Superman. Didn’t Byrne have a problem with that name, by the by?

Big Blue – people HAVE called him Big Blue, right? I’m not imagining that, I don’t think.

Strange Visitor (From Another Planet) – this is okay, but a bit on the weird side.

5. Smallville

Technically more of a Clark Kent nickname, but Lois uses it to refer to Clark when he is Superman, too, so I think it counts – and it should count, because it’s an awfully cute nickname. Who originated the concept of Lois calling him Smallville? Was it the cartoon series or Lois and Clark?

4. The Metropolis Marvel

When is the last time anyone actually called him the Metropolis Marvel?

Still, for a long while, this was a major nickname for Superman.

3. The Last Son of Krypton

I like this one – it has a real cachet to it – however, it is not as dynamic as the next two names.

2. The Man of Tomorrow

This name was so good, they even named an ongoing series Superman: The Man of Tomorrow!!

1. The Man of Steel

This, though, has to take the top spot, no doubt about it – forgetting that it was an ongoing series for over 100 issues by this name, forgetting that it was such a notable name that another popular hero came about just based on this nickname, it is STILL the clear choice, just based on how often it is used and the familiarity the public has with the name.

That’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

49 Comments

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

July 5, 2008 at 3:39 am

No love for The Action Ace?

Smallville – I’m pretty sure it was the cartoon (at least it’s where I first heard it uttered) but I must admit I barely saw the Lois & Clark series.

Also, despite the negative connotation ,”The Big Blue Boy Scout” or “Boy Scout” was another “popular” nickname that was used alot back in the day. Thank God it wasn’t on this list.

> 1. The Man of Steel

Trivia: In Sweden, Superman’s name is “StÃ¥lmannen”, literally meaning “The Steel Man”. In Finland, it’s “Teräsmies”, meaning the same thing.

Trivia:
In Germany, Superman is ‘Superman’. I guess ‘Ãœbermensch’ wouldn’t be quite politically correct, or at least would have a bad aftertaste, for obvious historical reasons.
A nickname for him was ‘der Stählerne’, which would translate as ‘the one who is made of steel’.

Wasn’t he called ‘The Big S’, too? – I like that name.

Beta Ray Bill

July 5, 2008 at 4:18 am

“The Man of Tomorrow” is unequivocally the best. It has such a nice ring to it. Very modern. Ha. But seriously, it’s great.

‘Son of Jor-El’!

I think Smallville was a Byrne innovation.

“The Man of Tomorrow” I think is the best. It’s kind of like “The Dark Knight Detective” or “The Ghost Who Walks.” Its a shame most heroes don’t have one. Does Wonder Woman have one other than you know…Wondy? If Superman was written with the phase “The Man of Tomorrow” and even “Big Blue” in mind as opposed to “The Man of Steel” we’d get a much better Superman I think.

Every Superhero and Mystery Man needs a classic descriptive four word nickname.

I’ve got… well, I *had*, before the kids destroyed it… a calendar from the Justice League cartoon that, I presume, couldn’t get the licensing rights to the individual characters’ actual names, so it referred to them by their nicknames instead. It was actually cooler that way. Each of the seven core characters had a pinup in the calendar with just their nickname:

The Man of Steel
The Darknight Detective
The Amazon Princess
The Emerald Gladiator
The Winged Avenger
The Manhunter from Mars
The Fastest Man Alive

More trivia: In Russian ‘Man of Steel’ translates as Stalin. Funny old world.

In French, we call Superman… Superman!

I favor “the Last Son of Krypton” myself. It is literally true, or close to it anyway, and that matters a lot to me.

Superman is not remotely made of steel, and except in very early concepts isn’t a “Man of Tomorrow” in any way either. It bothers me to see such a straight-arrow character nicknamed in such batlantly innacurate ways.

Besides, I just love the concept of Supes as the ultimate grateful immigrant :)

To try and make Supes some sort of alien-in-denial (as he was for most of his post-Crisis career, alas, to the point of thinking of himself as a earth native during Invasion!) is IMNSHO a mis-step that impoverishes both the character and the concept. Superman is a far greater icon when he is above such silly chauvinism and manages to see the greater picture, to aim for the greater good as opposed to the immediate confort of being mistaken for a “native”.

Incidentally, for that very same reason he is a better character when he ditches the quasi-american colors, as during his Jurgens-penned “Last Son of Krypton” phase.

Not a coincidence, I suppose…

Isn’t Wonder Woman “the Amazing Amazon”?

And, Luis–disagree completely. Superman is the perfect immigrant metaphor, a refugee from across the stars who is nevertheless incredibly devoted to Truth, Justice an the American Way.

More Trivia:

In Brazil, Superman is translated to Super-Homem.

In the 50´s, when the comic began publication, the editors decided to translate the names of every character, because they thought kids wouldn´t relate with english names.

So Clark became Eduardo/Edu (Edward/Ed) and Lois became Mirian. Go figure.

A few years later they droped the name Eduardo, but Lois only got her name back in the 80’s, after the first Crisis was published!

I always like “the immigrant from the stars” it was kinda lofty but it sounds great.

My love for the old DC 80-Page Giants is well-established on CBR’s “Classic Comics” forumm\, & one of my favorite features in those great comics when I was a kid was “Superman Around the World” in JIMMY OLSEN #113 (the 50th 80-Pager), a 2-page spread showing SUPERMAN covers from around the world. My favorite foreign translation — NEMBO KID (for “Cloud Boy”), from Italy.

I first heard the Smallville nickname in the Lois & Clark series. The cartoon series came later.

Byrne’s problem with the nickname “Supes” is with fans using it; he thinks it’s disrespectful. When someone pointed out that various members of the Justice League use it all the time, he replied that when fans joined the Justice League, they could use it as well.

Ugh. Byrne’s freakouts over nicknames are what makes it impossible for me to ever take him seriously.

I always liked a scene where a de-powered Superman gathered some weapons from defeated henchmen and said something how he’s always called a boyscout, and their motto is ‘be prepared’.

I’ve always liked Supes, and to a lesser extent Big Blue. And “Smallville” is adorable. On a similar note, I love it when New Frontier Wonder Woman calls him “spaceman.”

The Mad Monkey

July 5, 2008 at 10:56 am

I thought that, in France, they called Superman…”Jerry Lewis Royale”.
:D I’m just teasing/kidding, of course…

I honestly don’t believe I’ve ever really had a preference to his nickname. Although, I guess being the pre-COIE fan that I am, I’ll go with the classic “The Man Of Steel”.
“Smallville” is a cute nickname…but only Lois can get away with saying it. Anyone else and it would just be wrong.

Jacob is correct. I just read the Byrne run, and Lois uses the Smallville nickname a few times in those issues.

Cool info, Ralph. I never knew that name thing. It reminds me of how anime was treated in North America in the ’90s.

“Metropolis Marvel”? Never heard that one. I must admit, the first two I thought of were “Big Blue” and “Supes.” I prefer them both to “Metropolis Marvel.”

As for Wonder Woman — when has anyone called her “Wondy”?! [shudders] That doesn’t work at all. I would echo two previous posters who cited “Amazing Amazon” and “Amazon princess” though.

I never got “Man of Tomorrow”, actually. It makes him sound like an exhibition at the 1940s World Fair.

“In the far-off future, the year 1970, everyone will be able to do this!”

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 5, 2008 at 2:20 pm

What about “PJG” for Pajamas Guy? ;-)

Byrne is WAY too sensitive about a lot of comics & superhero stuff.
Lighten Up.

Supes would be my choice.
I remember him being called “the Big S” and also I’m sure, “The Big Blue S”-
That may have been Guy Gardner–who wanted it to sound a little like an insult.
But I’m not sure.

“Big Blue – people HAVE called him Big Blue, right? I’m not imagining that, I don’t think.”

I always thought it was a counter to Captain Marvel being “The Big Red Cheese”.

How ’bout “the Big Blue Boyscout”. Hasn’t some villian refered to him as that?

“To try and make Supes some sort of alien-in-denial (as he was for most of his post-Crisis career, alas, to the point of thinking of himself as a earth native during Invasion!)”

So then it’s wrong of, say, real immigrants to the US to think of themselves as American? Considering that he was ‘born’ in the US*, raised by Americans, and spent much of his childhood thinking of himself as one, I’d say he’d be more inclined to think of himself that way, as an American, and definitely as an adopted son of Earth. At most, he be Kryptonian-American, or Kryptonian-Terran…? I don’t see anything wrong with that portrayal. But then again, I tend to favor the viewpoint that Clark is the real identity, and Superman the alter ego (as opposed to say, Batman).

*Not sure if this was retconned back to his pre-Crisis origins…

Last son of Krypton has the nicest ring to it..sounds real epic

“So then it’s wrong of, say, real immigrants to the US to think of themselves as American? Considering that he was ‘born’ in the US*, raised by Americans, and spent much of his childhood thinking of himself as one, I’d say he’d be more inclined to think of himself that way, as an American, and definitely as an adopted son of Earth. At most, he be Kryptonian-American, or Kryptonian-Terran…? I don’t see anything wrong with that portrayal. But then again, I tend to favor the viewpoint that Clark is the real identity, and Superman the alter ego (as opposed to say, Batman).”

I actually agree for the most part. However, none of it changes the fact that he is definitely an alien from another world. He is a wasted opportunity for seeing the world as a single entity. J’onn, the Martian Manhunter, actually fulfilled that niche in a couple of ocasions – but oh, what marvelous stories couldn’t we have with Clark as the naturally stateless person that he was sort of born to be :)

Then again, although I like Clark as the real identity, I grew up during the 1970s, a golden age of the Kryptonian heritage. Kal-El is a rich identity and a rather enjoyable one.

I liked when Superman ran into Ra’s al Ghul a few years back (I want to say Joe Kelly’s run?) and Ra’s referred to him only as “Icon.”

I always liked the Metropolis Marvel…it kinda refers to the awe people had when superman would show up and do something amazing..like stop a bus..or out run a train. I think the last time this was really used was in relation to the superboy/conner kent character right when he first showed up..Last Son of Krypton is also a personal favorite

Hmm, Cully got one I’m surprised I forgot-“the Big Blue Boyscout”

I think Lex Luthor called him that, and perhaps Batman during the period when the two of them were barely on speaking terms.

To try and make Supes some sort of alien-in-denial (as he was for most of his post-Crisis career, alas, to the point of thinking of himself as a earth native during Invasion!) is IMNSHO a mis-step that impoverishes both the character and the concept. Superman is a far greater icon when he is above such silly chauvinism and manages to see the greater picture, to aim for the greater good as opposed to the immediate confort of being mistaken for a “native”.

Incidentally, for that very same reason he is a better character when he ditches the quasi-american colors, as during his Jurgens-penned “Last Son of Krypton” phase.

That is strictly your opinion that he is a better character when he ditches his ties to America. I’d personally disagree.

No matter how people try to shoehorn the Superman image into their own internationalist, globalist view of the world, that’s simply not the intent of his creators and it’s not a bulk of the character’s history. It’s simply wishful thinking on behalf of some comic fans who really like Superman but are uncomfortable with patriotism because they find it crude, jingoistic and naive. So they create this mythology in their head saying that Superman was always intended to be internationalist, that he is big enough to see “the big picture” whatever that means, etc.,etc. Simply not true, and it’s revisionism at its worst. Superman is an American icon and has always thought of himself as American, even while embracing his alien roots. There are just too many instances of the phrase “Truth, Justice and the American Way” along with pictures of Superman with flags, American eagles, meeting with US presidents, etc. to just sweep under the table as incidental.

If the distinctly pro-American, patriotic history of the character bothers you, feel free to ignore them. Or try to get a new character created that is as internationalist as they come and swears no allegiance to a particular country and rally behind that character. But to try to revise a character into something he was never intended to be and claim in the face of all evidence that he was actually always intended to be that way is just ridiculous to me.

Don’t forget Spitcurl. I likes Spitcurl.

Wasn’t he also called the Metropolis Kid for a while?

Theno

One other thing…who’s to say Superman can’t be both? Someone who sees himself as an American, but also sees the greater good and wants to help mankind as a whole? The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I could understand if Clark/Superman had grown up alone in a cave his whole life…but he wasn’t. He was raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent, and I doubt they raised him as an alien (“Hey Clark, we’re off to the local 4th of July Celebration, but since you’re a foreign alien freak, you can’t come, or participate in the celebrations in any way. Oh, and be in bed by 9pm.”).

The propaganda posters in “Red Son” with “Our Comrade Of Steel” on them were a great touch to that story. One of the reasons that story worked so well in the first place was the juxtaposition of such a quintessential American icon. The international angle seems a bit skewed to me in that regard. How about Farmboy from Miller & Lee’s The Goddamn Batman?

I’ve always liked the epic feel of “Last Son of Krypton” and “Smallville” is an adorable and appropriate Lois-ism that I love.

“Man of Tomorrow” is probably my favorite, not because Superman represents some kind of World’s Fair sci-fi future world, but because Superman represents the best that humanity can aspire to be. Not the super powers but the morals and ideals and heroic actions-Superman leads the way to a world of tomorrow where humanity doesn’t need him anymore, because we’ve followed his example to get there.

In spanish as in other languages, Superman is called “Superman” and Batman is called “Batman”.

Ralph,
In Brazil, Superman is no longer translated to Super-Homem. They just call him “Superman”. Seems to me like a copyright thing, but they still translate Wonder Woman to “Mulher-Maravilha”.

Ethan Shuster

July 7, 2008 at 8:15 pm

I think Guy Gardner favored the “Boy Scout” monicker. In fact, you could probably write a whole column on Gardner’s insulting nicknames for every hero.

I always liked “smallville” and “hack from nowheresville” and the various names they came to Teri Hatcher’s Lois’ head in the early seasons of Lois and Clark. They really made it work.

Let’s not forget that he’s recently had a new one introduced in “Smallville” – “The Red/Blue Blur”. I mean, it’s Clark’s nickname from before he becomes Superman, and it’s only because that’s the only photographic evidence of him people have been able to take, but I think it still counts.

And in other “Smallville” nicknames, I am fond of the way Bart Allen calls him “Stretch.” I don’t know that that one’s ever been used before, but I like it.

I loved the proto-Justice League episode of “Smallville” where they all got codenames and “Impulse” and Clark didn’t get to pick theirs so Clark ended up as “Boy Scout.” Nice callback.

big blue boy-scout FTW

Dhoom'sdey-Bollywood Villain

June 3, 2011 at 1:16 am

Actually there is altogether 16 diiferent Nicknames for Superman. But Im not sure of all of it tho.
Some of the nicknames are not official ones becoz it was only used as quips by some of the unknown or citizens in metropolis in the comics.

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