Atom Man vs. Superman

Atom Man vs. Superman is a 1950 Columbia Pictures film serial and the second Superman movie serial featuring Kirk Alyn as Superman. When Lex Luthor blackmails the city of Metropolis by threatening to destroy the entire community, Perry White, editor of the Daily Planet assigns Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent to cover the story.[1]

Atom Man vs. Superman
Superman vs Atom Man
Promotional poster
Directed bySpencer Gordon Bennet
Produced bySam Katzman
Written byDavid Mathews
George H. Plympton
Joseph F. Poland
Based onCharacters
by Jerry Siegel
Joe Shuster
StarringKirk Alyn
Lyle Talbot
Noel Neill
Tommy Bond
Music byMischa Bakaleinikoff
CinematographyIra H. Morgan
Edited byEarl C. Turner
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • July 20, 1950 (United States)
Running time
15 chapters (252 minutes)


Lex Luthor, the Atom Man, invents a number of deadly devices to plague the city, including a disintegrating machine which can reduce people to their basic atoms and reassemble them in another place. But Superman manages to thwart each scheme. Since Kryptonite can rob Superman of his powers, Luthor decides to create a synthetic Kryptonite and putters about obtaining the necessary ingredients: plutonium, radium and the undefined 'etc.' Luthor places the Kryptonite at the launching of a ship, with Superman in attendance. He is exposed to the Kryptonite and passes out. Superman is taken off in an ambulance driven by Luthor's henchmen, and he is now under the control of Luthor. Superman is placed in a device, a lever is pulled, and the Man of Steel vanishes into "The Empty Doom".



Lyle Talbot, who had previously starred as Commissioner Jim Gordon in the 1949 Columbia Serial "Batman and Robin", here portrays Lex Luthor (and also Luthor's alter-ego "Atom Man"). In his "Atom Man" disguise, Talbot as Luthor, utilizes a vaguely German accent and wears an ominous mask fashioned from a "Metallogen Man" robot costume left over from 1945's "The Monster and the Ape". Despite their onscreen personas, Talbot (Lex Luthor), who wore a rubber scalp to create the impression of baldness,[2] and Alyn (Superman) spent much of their time, when not shooting, exchanging recipes; both actors shared an interest in cookery.[2]

Special effects

The final set piece shows Metropolis under attack by "poorly animated" flying saucers and a torpedo.[2]

The flying effects were somewhat improved in this film than in the original, by the simple expedient of turning the camera on its side. Kirk Alyn stood with arms raised in front of a cyclorama, while a wind machine and smoke pot were placed above him (out of frame). This gave an inexpensive illusion of flight. Longer shots continued to use cartoon animation of the Man of Steel.

Critical appraisal

In their book The Great Movie Serials, Jim Harman and Donald F. Glut describe the serial as "far more gimmicky and gadget prone" than the first Superman serial. In addition to this, they also found it to be "flawed by the same Katzman cheapness."[2]

Home media

In 2006, the Atom Man vs. Superman serial was still available for purchase on VHS videotape, where it was first released back in 1989 as a double tape box set. The serial was also offered available in two separate VHS tapes as Volume 1 (Chapters 1 - 7) and Volume 2 (Chapters 8 - 15). It was officially released on DVD by Warner Home Video, along with its predecessor, 1948's Superman, on November 28, 2006 as Superman - The Theatrical Serials Collection.

Chapter titles

  1. Superman Flies Again
  2. Atom Man Appears
  3. Ablaze In The Sky
  4. Superman Meets Atom Man
  5. Atom Man Tricks Superman
  6. Atom Man's Challenge
  7. At The Mercy Of Atom Man
  8. Into The Empty Doom
  9. Superman Crashes Through
  10. Atom Man's Heat Ray
  11. Luthor's Strategy
  12. Atom Man Strikes
  13. Atom Man's Flying Saucers
  14. Rocket Of Vengeance
  15. Superman Saves The Universe


See also


  1. ^ "Marc Lawrence to Play Heavy". The Cessnock Eagle And South Maitland Recorder. 40, (4083). New South Wales, Australia. 6 November 1951. p. 5. Retrieved 8 March 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ a b c d Harmon, Jim; Donald F. Glut (1973). "9.". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. pp. 215–217. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9.
  3. ^ Cline, William C. (1984). "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 250–251. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.

External links

Preceded by
Cody of the Pony Express (1950)
Columbia Serial
Atom Man vs. Superman (1950)
Succeeded by
Pirates of the High Seas (1950)
George H. Plympton

George H. Plympton (September 2, 1889 – April 11, 1972) was an American screenwriter. He was born in Brooklyn, New York.

A prolific screenwriter, Plympton collaborated in almost 300 films. His earliest known credits date back to 1912 as he concentrated almost exclusively on westerns. During the sound era he switched his focus to serials mostly for Columbia, Republic and Universal studios, co-scripting and adapting such chapter plays as Tarzan the Fearless (1933), Flash Gordon (1936), The Spider's Web (1938), The Phantom Creeps (1939), The Green Hornet (1940), Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940), The Masked Marvel (1943), Chick Carter, Detective (1946), Brick Bradford (1947), Superman (1948), Batman and Robin (1949), and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950). Active until 1957, he also was one of the principal writers on Columbia's Durango Kid and Jungle Jim series.

Plympton died in Bakersfield, California, at the age of 82.

Jungle Manhunt

Jungle Manhunt is a 1951 adventure film written by Samuel Newman and directed by Lew Landers. It is an entry in the "Jungle Jim" series of films starring Johnny Weissmuller.

Kirk Alyn

Kirk Alyn (born John Feggo Jr., October 8, 1910 – March 14, 1999) was an American actor, best known for being the first actor to play the DC Comics character Superman in live-action for the 1948 movie serial Superman and its 1950 sequel Atom Man vs. Superman, as well as Blackhawk from the Blackhawk movie serial in 1952, and General Sam Lane in 1978's Superman: The Movie.

List of comics and comic strips made into feature films

This is a list of comics or comic strips that have been made into feature films. The title of the work is followed by the work's author, the title of the film, and the year of the film. If a film has an alternate title based on geographical distribution, the title listed will be that of the widest distribution area.

Where noted with "char" or "concept", the character(s) or concepts from a work have been used, but the script may have been original and not based on a specific work.

Lyle Talbot

Lyle Talbot (born Lisle Henderson; February 8, 1902 – March 2, 1996) was an American actor on stage and screen, known for his career in film from 1931 to 1960 and for his appearances on television in the 1950s and 1960s. He played Ozzie Nelson's friend and neighbor, Joe Randolph, for ten years in the ABC situation comedy The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. He began his movie career under contract with Warner Bros. in the early days of sound film. He appeared in more than 150 films, first as a young matinee idol, the star of many B movies, and later as a character actor. He was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild and later served on its board. Talbot's long career as an actor is recounted in a book by his youngest daughter, The New Yorker writer Margaret Talbot, entitled The Entertainer: Movies, Magic and My Father's Twentieth Century (Riverhead Books 2012).

Million Dollar Racket

Million Dollar Racket is a 1937 American film starring Herman Brix.

Noel Neill

Noel Darleen Neill (November 25, 1920 – July 3, 2016) was an American actress. She is known for playing Lois Lane in the film serials Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950), as well as the 1950s television series Adventures of Superman. She appeared in 80 films and television series in her career spanning 66 years.Following high school graduation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Neill took up professional acting and modeling in the early 1940s before landing the role of Lois Lane. She later appeared in various productions of the Superman franchise. Frequently cast as the parent or another relative of the main character: Neill appeared in the 1978 Superman feature film, the 1980s TV series Superboy and the 2006 film Superman Returns.

Prince of Pirates

Prince of Pirates is a 1953 swashbuckler film directed by Sidney Salkow.

Savage Mutiny

Savage Mutiny is a 1953 Jungle Jim film starring Johnny Weissmuller.

Son of Geronimo

Son of Geronimo is a 1952 film directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and starring Clay Moore, Rodd Redwing, Tommy Farrell, Eileen Rowe, and Bud Osborne. It was the 50th film serial released by Columbia Pictures. It is based in the historical figure of Geronimo, prominent Native American leader of the Chiricahua Apache, who defended his people against the encroachment of the United States on their tribal lands for over 25 years.

Spotlight Scandals

Spotlight Scandals or Spotlight Revue is a 1943 American musical comedy film directed by William Beaudine.It was the first of a four picture contract comic actor Billy Gilbert signed with Monogram Pictures. Butch and Buddy, the team who appeared with Gilbert at Universal, travelled with them. The film was originally called 24 Hours Leave.

Superman (serial)

Superman is a 1948 15-part black-and-white Columbia Pictures film serial based on the comic book character Superman. It stars an uncredited Kirk Alyn (billed only by his character name, Superman; but credited on the promotional posters) and Noel Neill as Lois Lane. Like Batman (1943), it is notable as the first live-action appearance of Superman on film, and for the longevity of its distribution. The serial was directed by Thomas Carr, who later directed many early episodes of the Adventures of Superman television series, and Spencer Gordon Bennet, produced by Sam Katzman, and shot in and around Los Angeles, California. It was originally screened at movie matinées, and after the first three scene-setting chapters, every episode ends in a cliffhanger. The Superman-in-flight scenes are animations, in part due to the small production budget.

It was a "tremendous financial success" and played in "first-run theatres that had never before booked a serial." The serial was a popular success that made Kirk Alyn famous and launched Noel Neill's career. A sequel serial, Atom Man vs. Superman, also directed by Bennet, was released in 1950.

Superman ice cream

Superman ice cream is an ice cream that comes as a swirl of three colors: blue, red, and yellow, the three colors of Superman's costume. The name of the ice cream comes from the colors of the comic book superhero Superman, though it is not licensed through DC Comics.

Texas Wildcats

Texas Wildcats is a 1939 Western film starring Tim McCoy.

The Adventures of Superman (novel)

The Adventures of Superman is a novel by George Lowther. It was first published in 1942 with illustrations by Joe Shuster, the co-creator of Superman. A facsimile edition was released in 1995 by Applewood Books, with a new introduction by Roger Stern.

This book is the first novelization of a comic book character, and also the first Superman story credited to someone other than Jerry Siegel. It was Lowther who first provided many now-familiar details of Superman's birth and early life. The first two chapters provided the first detailed description of the planet Krypton, and renamed Kal-El's parents Jor-El and Lara who previously had been named Jor-L and Lora. The next three chapters dealt with Clark Kent's childhood on the farm of his adoptive parents, Eben and Sarah Kent. (In the comics, the Kents suffered through many name changes before settling on Jonathan and Martha in 1952.) In the sixth chapter, Clark arrived in Metropolis and got a job with the Daily Planet, while the remaining eleven chapters deal with a mystery involving ghost ships and Nazi spies.

The book is illustrated with four full-page color illustrations, six full-page black-and-white illustrations, and numerous sketches, all examples of Joe Shuster's work.

The Enemy General

The Enemy General is a 1960 American drama war film directed by George Sherman and starring Van Johnson.The film was shot on location in Europe.

Three of a Kind (1944 film)

Three of a Kind is a 1944 American comedy film directed by D. Ross Lederman and starring Billy Gilbert.

Tommy Bond

Thomas Ross "Tommy" Bond (September 16, 1926 – September 24, 2005) was an American actor. Bond was best known for his work as a child actor for two nonconsecutive periods on Our Gang (Little Rascals) comedies (first as "Tommy" and later as "Butch"). Also, he is noted for being the first actor to appear onscreen as "Superman's pal" Jimmy Olsen, having portrayed the character in the film serials Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950).

Trouble Chasers

Trouble Chasers is a 1945 American comedy film directed by Lew Landers and starring Billy Gilbert and Shemp Howard.

Films produced by Sam Katzman
Victory Studios
Other 1930s
Jungle Jim series
East Side Kids
The Teen Agers
Rock musicals
Comic strips
Live-action films
Animated films
Related characters
Single films
See also
Pre-war serials
War-time serials
Post-war serials

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