A novel written in 1926 and published in 1930 by Philip Wylie, not to be confused with [[{{Film/Gladiator}} the 2000 movie of the same name]]. Not great literature, but truly genre-making. The story of Hugo Danner, whose professor father experimented on him as a fetus, so that he developed a reasonable degree of [[NighInvulnerability Invulnerability]] and SuperStrength. The plot is mainly concerned with Danner dealing with his singular condition as he attempts to find a useful place in society, which turns out to be harder than you'd think.

He suffers the guilt of killing another player on the field when he plays football and drops out of college. He gets a job in a bank, but finds he has to save a man who will suffocate inside a safe by ripping the safe open, leading his employers to attempt to find out how he managed it through (ineffectual) torture and ultimately lose his job. He has another job as a manual laborer, but loses that because he's making the other workers look bad. He finds some use for his abilities in UsefulNotes/WorldWarI, and is about to attempt to end the war single-handed when it ends of its own accord. He is ultimately appalled by the whole experience. Eventually, while helping on an expedition amongst the Mayan ruins, he takes the expedition leader into his confidence. They discuss the possibility of creating more people like himself, to be used to improve the world. Deeply concerned with the possibility, he stands on a mountain in a storm and asks God to judge. [[BoltOfDivineRetribution God provides his answer]].

This work is mainly significant because it may be the first modern depiction of a superhero, and seems to have been a great influence on the story of {{Franchise/Superman}} and Franchise/DocSavage. It also provides part of the backstory of "Iron" Munro from ''[[ComicBook/AllStarSquadron The Young All-Stars]]''.
!!Contains examples of:
* DoesNotKnowHisOwnStrength
* [[spoiler: DownerEnding]]
* GuineaPigFamily
* NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished: Instead of being thanked for saving a fellow employee from suffocating in a bank vault, Danner is immediately suspected for planning to rob the bank with his super strength at a later date, and is promptly fired and interrogated.
* ProtoSuperhero
* ShootingSuperman
* TheseLookLikeJobsForTheSuperman: Deconstructed because Hugo Danner attempts to find a MundaneUtility to his [[NighInvulnerability Invulnerability]] and SuperStrength doomed his life:
** As a child, he tries to be a BullyHunter and almost kills TheBully, scaring all the other kids who consider him a EnfantTerrible when he really is a NiceGuy.
** As a young man, he tries to go to college as a ScholarshipStudent, but he DoesNotKnowHisOwnStrength and commits an AccidentalMurder. He has to drop out college.
** Trapped in World War I, he becomes a SuperSoldier killing as many German soldiers as he can for the French Foreign Legion. He decides to become a useful SuperSoldier by InstantWinCondition: hijacking a plane, infiltrating Germany and killing the German Emperor and his generals to force a DecapitatedArmy. Unfortunately, RealityEnsues and the war ends on his own accord.
** Later he tries to be a bank teller, but he has to rip the safe open to save the life of a man. His boss considers him a peril and tries to torture him into the truth. Hugo has [[NighInvulnerability Invulnerability]] and he cannot convince his boss of his sincerity, so his boss only fires him.
** Later he does a good job in an Steel Mill and as a farm laborer, [[TallPoppySyndrome but he makes the other workers look bad]], so he has to quit.
** When he tries to be an AdventurerArchaeologist, he compares the Egyptians and Mayans and tries to explain his own life and realizes that he is TheWoobie. That motivates him to RageAgainstTheHeavens and gets a BoltOfDivineRetribution.
* UnbuiltTrope: For Superman specifically, and super-powered superheroes in general.
** {{Deconstruction}}: What actually having SuperStrength would be like, and the extent to which superheroes could affect the trajectory of history, if at all.
* WithGreatPower