Date of Project


Document Type

Honors Thesis

School Name

College of Arts and Sciences


Political Science

Major Advisor

Dr. Aaron Hoffman

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathryn West

Third Advisor

Dr. Casey Baugher


Since his debut during the Great Depression in 1938, Superman has become an American cultural icon. His symbol is not only known throughout the nation, but the world as well. Despite this, many consider Superman to be irrelevant and unrelatable to reality because he is written as an outrageously overpowered being with “boy scout” morals. However, he has not always been written this way. This research seeks to uncover the connections between Superman’s various narratives and the changing social and political ideas of American Society throughout history. Specifically, the objective of this study is to establish whether Superman has changed and whether these changes reflect certain attitudes within a given era of American history. In order to achieve these goals, I look at patterns in Superman’s interactions with his environment in the Action Comics series, such as his voiced views, actions, and his relationships with friends, family, and villains. Comic issues are studied based on these five time periods: Creation Years (1938-1939), World War II (1941-1945), the 50s and 60s (1950-1969), the 70s and 80s (1970-1989), and lastly, the 90s and 2000s (1990-2010). The findings from this study concluded that Superman indeed has changed based on the time period he was written in and in a way that represented the evolving beliefs of American Society. This study serves as evidence for comic books to be legitimized as a relevant media in academic literature, as they can play the role as metaphors for real-life issues that can be taught in a creative and provoking manner.