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It depends on what you consider a Super Hero nygirl? The major inspiration for all the Super Hero's that were to come were two very popular classic Pulp magazine characters. THE SHADOW created by Walter Gibson (under the pen name Maxwell Grant) in 1931, and DOC SAVAGE THE MAN OF BRONZE created by Lester Dent (known professionally as Kenneth Robeson) in late 1932. Without these two important and fabulous characters the Super hero genre itself may have never came into being?


In my view DOC SAVAGE, or Doctor Clark Savage Junior was actually the very first Super hero! Doc was "THE MAN OF TOMORROW" long before SUPERMAN! Doc had THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE long before Superman! Doc had all the fancy gadgets (which he designed himself) long before BATMAN and way before JAMES BOND! Much later that thief Bond stole all of Doc's inventions, and took credit for them! Hey James, Doc designed those babies not the the British Secret Service, and certainly not you!


It?s a fact that much of Superman and Batman was hugely ripped off from DOC SAVAGE! Doc was a master of stealth, and martial arts and a genius detective just like Batman! What?s more THE FANTASTIC FOUR, also was greatly influenced by DOC SAVAGE. Among other things, Monk Mayfair Doc?s famous aid more or less is BEN GRIM! Even WONDER WOMAN was directly inspired by Doc?s beautiful female cousin. PATRICIA "PAT" SAVAGE! Doc is without question one of the greatest ever literary figures who has sadly and senselessly been ignored by HOLLYWOOD over the decades!


If you ask me, there should have been literally dozens of Movies and TV series based on this amazing character over the years! Just as many as Sherlock Holmes, Tarzen, Zorro or anybody else! Numerous plans for TV shows and movies have inexplicably fallen through the cracks though ever sense the mid 1960's! The first big screen DOC SAVAGE was supposed to be TV 's popular RIFLE MEN, Lucus McCain, CHUCK CONNERS back in 1965! Unfrotunately, it never happened!


Doc and The fabulous five MONK, HAM, LONG TOM, RENNY and JOHNNY finally did make it to the big screen 10 years later in 1975 with DOC SAVAGE THE MAN OF BRONZE, which was very loosely based on the first Savage story (Published in February 1933). TV's Tarzen RON ELY seemed a solid choice for the "Bronze Knight Of The Running Board", and for the most part Doc's aid's were pretty well cast. This film started filming as a serious dramatic adventure, but someone else took over the production (I?ve forgotten who) and promptly turned the second half of the picture into an episode of the 1960's BATMAN series! The timing of the release was poor, and the unexpected G rating killed this often entertaining, but admittedly disappointing film at the box-office. Many Savage fans were upset at what they felt was more of a Parody of The Man of Bronze, than the authentic treatment that they expected to see!


Somewhere in the Warner Bros vault is tons of discarded footage from DOC SAVAGE: DEATH IN SILVER which George Pal was well into production of in 1973 before deciding to scrap it, and make THE MAN OF BRONZE first! Much of that footage may have turned up in the planned sequel "DOC SAVAGE ?ARCH ENEMY OF EVIL", but that project never got off the ground! None the less Pal was determined to make a new Doc picture in 1979, but he died in early 1980 before production could begin!


Since than several people have kicked around the idea of a new DOC SAVAGE film, and numerous TV projects! Including an Animated series. Most recently, CASTLE ROCK ENTERTAINMENT tried to persuade the aging ARNOLD SCHWARTZENEGER to play the part. Personally, I can't ever see Arnold as THE MAN OF BRONZE! 10 years ago, I thought KEVIN SORBO would be a very good choice, today he couldn't do it any longer.


As you may have guessed I'm a huge DOC SAVAGE fan, and would love to one day finally see this spectacular and extremely influential character at long last finally get his just due in the movies!





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Of course, as gagman has said, it really depends upon how one defines "super hero". Since we discuss the film medium here (vs. comic books), perhaps your inquiry has to do with movie super heroes? If so, Judex (1916) may qualify as one of the first. TCM aired the series last Fall and the titled hero dons a cape, hides his identity, and uses inventions of his own to assist him (much like Batman), though he possesses no extraordinary physical skills. His mental acuity may be considered super human though;- )

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Doc Savage and Judex (the anti-Fantomas of his era) are all good and well, but there is a reason that their genre was called "hero pulps", not "superhero pulps". Superheroes like Superman and Captain Marvel had superpowers while 'heroes' like Doc Savage, the Spider and the Phantom had brains, muscle and gadgets. I don't know what the original poster had in mind (perhaps he was including hero pulps in the question?), but that's the usual distinction.


If the question was about comic books as suggested by the reference to Superman, then there is a brief overview at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/8580/Hist1.html I don't know much about that medium, but it looks like Superman was the first 'super'hero there.

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