[[caption-width-right:300:"[[CatchPhrase This looks like a job]] ''[[PowerMakesYourVoiceDeep for Superman!]]''"]]

->''"Faster than a speeding bullet!''\\
''More powerful than a locomotive!''\\
''Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound![[note]]alternately, "Able to soar higher than any plane!"[[/note]]''\\
''This amazing stranger from the planet Krypton!''\\
''The man of steel! (gong ring) SUPERMAN!"''
-->-- The iconic opening of the shorts

From the studio that brought you such classics as WesternAnimation/BettyBoop and ComicStrip/{{Popeye}}, [[Creator/MaxAndDaveFleischer Fleischer Studios]] played a major role in cementing [[Franchise/{{Superman}} the Man of Steel]] as a pop culture icon by means of these lavishly animated, massive budget short subjects which served to bring Superman to the big screen, from UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfAnimation. These cartoons were a big deal back in the '40s -- the first short, "[[WesternAnimation/TheMadScientist The Mad Scientist]]", nearly won the 1942 UsefulNotes/AcademyAward (losing to a [[WesternAnimation/ClassicDisneyShorts Disney]] [[WesternAnimation/PlutoThePup Pluto short]], "Lend A Paw"). These cartoons were among the first cartoons that were made for genuine action and drama, rather than crude comedy, which was part of what contributed to their success. Paramount in fact had such confidence in the shorts being a hit, they even had had '''trailers''' made for them -- yes, that's right, trailers for ''short cartoons.'' Try to wrap your head around that.

The Fleischer Brothers, Max and Dave, had to make similar mental gymnastics themselves at the beginning when they were approached by Paramount to make this series. Already stretched from [[WesternAnimation/GulliversTravels their ill-fated]] [[WesternAnimation/MrBugGoesToTown feature film projects]] and the terrible falling out between them, they were in no mood to take on this project, which presented considerable demands for a more realistic style. So, they tried to scare off the studio execs by saying they would need around $100,000 per short, an astronomical figure considering the typical Creator/{{Disney}} short, the biggest averaged budgeted company in animation was around $25,000. To their shock, Paramount compromised at $50,000 per short and the Fleischers just could not turn down money like that, making the ''Superman'' cartoons the biggest budgeted (adjust for inflation) animation short series in Hollywood history. And boy, [[EyeCandy does it show in the art]].

On top of that, this was the series that turned Superman into a FlyingBrick. To elaborate, at the time Superman's aerial abilities were limited to literally "Leaping Tall Buildings InASingleBound," and the Fleischers intended to adhere to this, but they couldn't animate it without it looking stupid and awkward[[note]]The only short where they tried to do this was in "The Arctic Giant", and it's about as ridiculous looking as you'd expect[[/note]]. They copped out and just gave him flight, and hence an archetype was born.

On a side note, only the first nine shorts were made by [[Creator/MaxAndDaveFleischer Fleischer Studios]], with the other eight being handled by Creator/FamousStudios, their successor. Alas, the basic American economics of the ShortFilm format in UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfHollywood, where such films earned a set fee for screenings regardless of audience interest, couldn't sustain the series and it ended as simply too expensive.

On another note, in the late forties, Columbia Pictures made an unrelated live action series of Superman serials, which featured Supes [[RogerRabbitEffect turning into an animated version of himself]] whenever he flew, reportedly due to budget constraints.

These cartoons were also a huge influence on the [[{{Franchise/DCAU}} DC Animated Universe]] as a whole, as well as filmmakers like Creator/HayaoMiyazaki.

To date, all 17 of the cartoons have fallen into the PublicDomain and are all free to view on Youtube. For your convenience, links have been provided below in the filmography.
[[folder: Fleischer/Famous Superman Filmography]]
* "[[WesternAnimation/TheMadScientist The Mad Scientist]]": September 26, 1941
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb8iYqIVBzQ The Mechanical Monsters]]: November 28, 1941
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cXE65pPtj8 Billion Dollar Limited]]: January 9, 1942
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvtUaXiKGug The Arctic Giant]]: Feb 27, 1942
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDcSJD7w5gU The Bulleteers]]: March 27, 1942
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wx4i5haGRI The Magnetic Telescope]]: April 24, 1942
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=st9UIZt9qZk Electric Earthquake]]: May 15, 1942
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLC-C4aabM8&feature=fvst Volcano]]: July 10, 1942
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b55dgTgcZf4 Terror on the Midway]]: August 28, 1942
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Okl9vSJCRNg Japotuers]]: September 18, 1942
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLVOAgXX_b0 Showdown]]: October 16, 1942
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fGF0ZGlggw Eleventh Hour]]: November 20, 1942
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlYBhVcSjJc Destruction Inc.]]: December 25, 1942
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiN-9xsP9l4&feature=related The Mummy Strikes]]: February 19, 1943
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=squbp0WXWto Jungle Drums]]: March 26, 1943
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9uvXnWkCvQ The Underground World]]: June 18, 1943
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsETxcZZAOM Secret Agent]]: July 30, 1943
!! Tropes Employed In This Series Include:
* AffectionateParody: The WesternAnimation/BugsBunny short "Super-Rabbit" by Creator/ChuckJones, as well as the PrivateSnafu short "Snafuperman," which even features a brief snippet of the theme song.
* AnimationBump: The whole series held no punches when it came to flaunting its huge budget, and the action scenes really pushed the Fleischer animators to their limits.
* ArtEvolution: Compare Lois' design in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAjCyN5ruFA#t=178s the first short]] to her in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb8iYqIVBzQ&feature=player_detailpage#t=208s the second]].
* AttackOfThe50FootWhatever: "The Arctic Giant."
* BeneathTheEarth: "The Underground World."
* BetterManhandleTheMurderWeapon: In "The Mummy Strikes", an Egyptologist is killed by a tomb's poisoned needle booby trap. His assistant picks up the needle and gets her finger prints on it, so she is naturally arrested for it. Fortunately, Clark Kent and a professor find another booby trap and manage to clear her name.
* {{BFG}}: The superlaser cannon used in "The Mad Scientist".
* BigApplesauce: At least one of the shorts, "The Electric Earthquake," takes place in New York instead of Metropolis.
* BigElectricSwitch: "The Arctic Giant". After the generator malfunctions, two knife switches are pulled out to turn it off.
* BoundAndGagged: Lois, several times.
* {{Bowdlerise}}: Several home video copies of the first short (even Warner's "Authorized Edition" and ''Superman'' Ultimate Collector's Edition [=DVDs=]) cut short the scene where Clark asks Perry White, "Don't you think that's a dangerous mission [[StayInTheKitchen for a woman]]?"
* BraidsBeadsAndBuckskins: Averted with the villain of "The Electric Earthquake," who dresses in a suit and tie and later a mad scientist's lab coat. His Native American ancestry is only used as an explanation of why he's blowing up the city.
* TheCameo: Hitler himself makes a brief one at the end of "Jungle Drums," angrily switching his radio away from the newsflash of the destruction of his U-boats to a song ("Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" (!)) as he hangs his head in frustration.
* CatchPhrase: "This is a job for Superman!" and other variations of it.
** "Thanks to Superman."
* CircusEpisode: ''Terror on the Midway'', where Superman has to save spectators from a [[KillerGorilla ferocious gorilla]].
* ClarkKenting: This version seemed to favor the idea that Clark was the "real" personality and Superman was a "mask" over forty years before ''ComicBook/TheManOfSteel'' reboot nailed it in place. One way of maintaining this "mask" involved Clark Kent speaking in a higher-pitched voice than Superman. (The voice actor, Bud Collyer, also starred in ''Radio/TheAdventuresOfSuperman'', where this voice change became the only way for listeners to tell Clark and Supes apart.)
** In "The Magnetic Telescope", he even used Lois' confusion to steal a kiss as Clark.
* ClumsyCopyrightCensorship: Apparently, Warner could only secure one clip featuring the Paramount logo. They ended up tacking this one clip onto the end of nearly every short on their DVD, creating an abrupt change in music.
* CollapsingLair: The Mad Scientist's lair, after Superman overloads the cannon.
* CoolCar: The Flying car from "The Bulleteers."
* CutLexLuthorACheck: Most of the villains have non-monetary goals, or doesn't use all ''that'' impressive technology, but the inventor villain in ''The Mechanical Monsters'' invented and built remote-controlled giant mechanical machines... and used them to rob banks, jewelery stores, etc.
* DamselInDistress: Lois Lane has a complicated relationship with this trope. Generally speaking, if Lois isn't being BoundAndGagged at the hands of the villians, she's being put in a DeathTrap, menaced by a rampaging monster, or at the mercy of some natural disaster, all so Supes can swoop in and save her. ''However...''
* DamselOutOfDistress: ...In ''Billion Dollar Limited'', at the first sight of robbery, she unhesitatingly picks up one of the fallen guards' tommy-guns and ''fires back''. She then makes her way to the engine and repeatedly sounds the whistle, which quickly alerts everyone (Including Supes) that the train is in trouble. She only has to be bailed out when the robbers lob a ''bomb'' at her. Other shorts, particularly the earlier ones, have her performing similar feats of competency and only really put her in "distress" when she would logically just be completely outclassed as a normal human being.
* DarkestAfrica: The setting of ''Jungle Drums.''
* DeadHandShot: In "Destruction Inc." and "The Mummy Strikes".
* DefiantCaptive: Despite her frequent distress, she always manages to seem self-possessed and/or defiant until the last moment, when it really looks (to her) like this time she's not going to make it. (Superman has a tendency to arrive JustInTime.)
* DeadpanSnarker: Maybe the earliest instance of Clark usually having a smart answer for each of Lois' jabs.
* DeadUnicornTrope: The "cliche" of Clark turning into Superman in a phone booth is based primarily on TWO of these cartoons: "The Mechanical Monsters" and "Bulleteers". In the first cartoon, Clark is with Lois when he ducks into a phone booth to...[[UnbuiltTrope call in the story to the Daily Planet.]] While he's on the phone, Lois sneaks away to investigate the story further. Clark finishes the call, steps out, sees Lois is missing, and only then goes back in the booth to change into Superman. In "Bulleteers", Clark changes in the phone booth for no apparent reason, helping to solidify in the public's mind that this is how he "always" changes into Supes. The earliest known comic where he does this was in a newspaper strip that came out later the same year as "Bulleteers". In that strip, Clark even [[LampshadeHanging thinks to himself]] [[{{Deconstruction}} that this is a fairly uncomfortable place to change clothes in]] [[JustifiedTrope and that he's doing it here only because he's in a hurry.]]
* DeusExMachina: Superman himself. In nearly all of the shorts save "Eleventh Hour", he doesn't pop up until more than halfway through the cartoons, acting on the established threats.
* DigitalDestruction: Warner's DVD compilation has superb restorations of the cartoons, with no DVNR damage or digital interlacing; however, it does include some jarring auditory changes, such as missing sound effects from the opening credits of "Electric Earthquake" and "The Magnetic Telescope", and a jump in the prologue of the first short.
* DisneyVillainDeath: One of the nazi henchmen in "Jungle Drums" gets killed while grappling with Superman atop the AntiAir gun they've disguised as a large stone idol. He takes a leap at Superman but accidently goes over the edge and plunges to his death. We dont see the impact, but we do see his hand bounce to a stop.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: The Nazis robes in "Jungle Drums" are ''very'' reminiscent of the ones worn by the KKK. Very fitting all things considered.
* DressingAsTheEnemy: Done by Lois in "Jungle Drums" where she steals the robe of a dead Nazi Agent in order to use the Nazi-bases radio to warn the Allies of a planned submarine attack. [[spoiler: This fails when the Nazi commander spots Lois's high heels under the hem of her robe.]]
* EarthquakesCauseFissures: From the short "Electric Earthquake."
* EarthShatteringKaboom: The way Krypton gets destroyed in this series.
* EscapedAnimalRampage: The cartoon "Terror On The Midway" features Superman attempting to stop the chaos created when several circus animals escape their cages and restraints, including a giant ape.
* EverythingsBetterWithDinosaurs: "The Arctic Giant."
* EverythingsBetterWithMonkeys: The giant ape from "Terror on the Midway."
* EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep: The mad scientist from the first short is known by everyone in Metropolis as... the mad scientist. [[NoNameGiven He doesn't seem to have a name]].
* EvolvingCredits: The opening speech quoted above underwent a revision after Superman developed flying powers.
-->Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to soar higher than any plane! This amazing stranger from the planet Krypton...
* ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin: Pretty much all of the names of each short.
* EyesAlwaysShut: Clark seems to have his eyes closed much of the time, like his [[http://www.supermanhomepage.com/multimedia/Wallpaper-Images/golden-age1.jpg golden age counterpart at the early days]].
** Much like [[ComicBook/{{Shazam}} Captain Marvel]].
* FiveRoundsRapid: The cops in "The Mechanical Monsters."
* ForScience: The motivation behind the scientist from "The Magnetic Telescope," who was willing to risk human lives for his experiments.
* FriendlyRival: Lois and Clark. Lois always tries to get a story before Clark gets it, or without him.
* GodGuise: Its heavily implied that the Nazi commander and his men are posing as gods to the African tribe serving them in "Jungle Drums", altough not stated outright.
* GoingForTheBigScoop: Lois, ''always''.
* TheGreatestStoryNeverTold: After Lois submits her article about the events of "The Underground World", Perry White tells her and Clark that their readers would find it too unbelievable, and burns it.
* HarmlessFreezing: In "The Arctic Giant" a Tyrannosaurus Rex frozen for millions of years is accidentally thawed out and goes on a rampage.
* HeroicMime: Not as Clark Kent, but Superman doesn't seem to talk when he's on the job.
** Until "The Arctic Giant", that is.
* HotScoop: Lois.
* ImmuneToBullets: Aside from Superman, ''The Mechanical Monsters'' has the introduction newspaper imply that significant measures to stop the mechanical monsters, but it only amounts to a large number of guards using a automatic rifles. The bullets simply bounce off the armor, and the robot simply walks into the building as if there's no opposition. These robots are still destructible (as demonstrated by Superman fighting them).
* InvincibleHero: Admittedly, the characterization is pretty shallow and the conflicts are ''very'' one-sided. Still, the villains are shown to be ruthless and unstoppable before Superman jumps in, and there is a real sense of wonder about his fantastic abilities. So, the final analysis? Heroic, yes. Invincible, yes. [[BoringInvincibleHero Boring]], '''''[[ShowyInvincibleHero hell, no]].'''''
* JungleDrums: Right there in the title of "Jungle Drums".
* {{Kaiju}}: What the "dinosaur" from ''The Arctic Giant'' would actually be today. It even looks a lot like Franchise/{{Godzilla}}, making this OlderThanTheyThink.
* KillerGorilla: The plot of "Terror on the Midway" is kicked off by one accidentally getting released in the circus. Its tamer was nowhere to be found.
* KillerRobot: The eponymous machines from "The Mechanical Monsters."
* LavaPit: Or rather, molten lead pit.
* {{Leitmotif}}
* MalevolentMaskedMen: The train robbers from "Billon Dollar Limited". They're shown briefly unmasked just before they begin the heist.
* MickeyMousing: A Fleischer staple of course. For example, a laser shoots Supes along to the background music in one of the shorts.
* MySuitIsAlsoSuper: Superman's cape can redirect the flow of molten lead without even getting singed. Justified in that it actually DID have this ability in the Golden Age of Comics, an early comic shows that the fabric in Superman's spaceship was used to make his costume, and was almost as indestructible as him.
* [[NiceJobBreakingItHero Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!]]: In "The Magnetic Telescope," the police destroy the generator powering the eponymous telescope, just as it's pulling in a massive comet through the atmosphere.
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: Lois bears more than a passing resemblance to Rosalind Russell's "Hildy Johnson" in ''Film/HisGirlFriday'' (1940).
* OhCrap: When the boss from "Showdown" discovers that the Superman he's talking to isn't his mook in disguise, but the ''real'' one.
* PaperThinDisguise: One of the villains from "Showdown" impersonates Superman at the behest of his boss. Thing is, aside from obviously not having any powers, the henchman looks ''nothing'' like Superman, he's not even muscular.
* PoliticallyIncorrectVillain: The Nazi commander in "Jungle Drums" makes it clear that he despises the natives who are his allies. TruthInTelevision of course, because, well, [[ThoseWackyNazis Nazi]].
* PublicDomainAnimation: All 17 of the cartoons.
* RemovingTheRival: In "Volcano" Lois steals Clark's pass to go investigating the eponymous volcano alone [[GloryHound and get sole credit for the story]].
* RetCanon: Superman's ability to fly came from these cartoons.
* {{Rotoscoping}}: Used to make the bulk of the animation. Interestingly, according to the book "Hollywood Cartoons", some of the animation wasn't rotoscoped and was drawn freehand by the animators themselves!
* RuleOfCool: Superman easily repels a deadly laser beam in the first short, then proceeds to ''punch'' said laser beam. ''Repeatedly''.
* RunawayTrain: "Billion Dollar Limited"
* SceneryPorn: A lot of the art deco backgrounds.
* ShootingSuperman: In "Billion Dollar Limited."
* ShoutOut:
** The ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' episode "Christmas with the Joker" makes a subtle one to the first short of this series by recreating the superlaser bombardment of Metropolis, right down to a bridge being blown apart, except in that case it's the Joker using a giant cannon on Gotham.
** ''Superman: Doomsday'' makes two -- in The Fortress of Solitude, the flying car from "The Bulleteers" and one of the robots from "The Mechanical Monsters" make "blink and you'll miss 'em" cameos (although one must beg the question where he got them, since the bullet car was completely incinerated in its short, and Superman destroyed all of the robots from Mechanical Monsters-or better yet, why he even has them laying around out in the open in his fortress in the first place).
** The ComicStrip/{{Popeye}} cartoons which Famous was making at the time made some shout outs to this series, with one of them, "She-Sick Sailors", having Bluto dress up as Superman to try and woo Olive. Incidentally, the theme when Clark changes to Superman is suspiciously similar to the "Spinach power up" jingle in the Popeye cartoons.
** There's another shout-out to the Fleischer Superman cartoons in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'': The robots in the episode "Deep Freeze" are basically a cross between the robots from The Mechanical Monsters and the robots from Creator/HayaoMiyazaki's ''Anime/CastleInTheSky''.
** Whether or not its intentional, the scientist in "The Magnetic Telescope" resembles [[ComicBook/{{Shazam}} Captain Marvel's]] nemesis Dr. Sivana. And to a lesser degree, to [[ComicBook/LexLuthor that bald mad scientist that causes trouble for Metropolis]].
** ''Film/SkyCaptainAndTheWorldOfTomorrow'' producers openly admit the giant robots were based on the Mechanical Monsters.
** ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'' has a few situations where Supes punches an energy beam to reach the emitter. Like when he first met Brainiac.
* SilenceIsGolden: These shorts used dialogue very sparingly. Superman's stunts in particular often have no accompaniment other than music.
* TakenForGranite: In "The Underground World", the professor and Lois Lane comes across a statue of the professor's long lost father, who originally discovered the caves, but disappeared into them. Lois soon realizes that the statue IS him, and the Birdmen of the Underground World intend to turn them into statues as well.
* TitleSequenceReplacement: Sometimes, shorts come to home video with their openings replaced with the prologue from the first. Also, sometimes "The Mechanical Monsters" lacks the part of the opening where Superman shows off his XRayVision (later used to find out which robot contained Lois).
* TooDumbToLive: Lois, most of the time. In the first short, Lois insist that she'd cover the story on the mad scientist alone without Clark and despite Perry's saying "no".
-->'''Lois:''' Thanks, Chief. ''(walks off)''\\
'''Clark:''' But, Lois... Chief, don't you think this is a dangerous mission?
** How about the villain from "The Mechanical Monsters"? What does he do when he sees that Superman is trouncing his robots? Leg it while Superman is busy? Of course not, he stands there like an idiot until the last robot is demolished and Superman throws the pile on the control console. Then he tries to hold Lois hostage, but instead of trading her life for safe passage, which Superman would uphold if he agreed to do so, he tries to kill her and THEN runs for it. Yeah, he ends up in jail.
* {{Trainstopping}}: As Superman usually does.
* TransformingMecha: The mechanical monsters from the eponymous cartoon.
** Creator/HayaoMiyazaki would use a robot very similar to the robots from "The Mechanical Monsters" in the second ''Lupin the Third'' TV series, as well as in ''Anime/CastleInTheSky''.
* WartimeCartoon: The later Famous Studios shorts went in this direction, resulting in some very unpleasant ValuesDissonance.
* WaveMotionGun: The huge laser in the first short.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: The villain in "The Electric Earthquake" is a Native American with obviously legitimate land claim grievances given his people's terrible history interacting with Europeans, and whose first public appearance is in the ''Daily Planet'', where he tries the legal and moral route of getting his story published in the paper (Heck, Clark clearly thinks he has a good point.) It is only the fact that both the piece of land he wants people to vacate is ''the island of Manhattan,'' one of the most densely populated places on Earth; and that after it is rejected he decides to stoop to making terrorist threats and has the destructive means and will to carry them out, that is obviously beyond the pale.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: We never do find out why the villains in "Destruction Inc" plotted to blow up the munitions factory, let alone killed the night watchman.
* WingedHumanoid: The bird-men in "The Underground World."
* TheWorldIsNotReady: Perry White decides to burn Lois's photos of the Underground World and pull the plug on the story, reasoning that no one would belive such a tale (even if Superman is involved). In his defence, it does sound ridiculous if you think about it.