Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

The town where Superman lives

By Kevin Pilley, for CNN
updated 1:43 PM EDT, Thu June 6, 2013
Metropolis' official Superman, Josh Boultinghouse, (back row, center) poses with winners of the 2012 costume contest, part of the town's annual Superman Celebration. This year the event takes place from June 6-9.
Metropolis' official Superman, Josh Boultinghouse, (back row, center) poses with winners of the 2012 costume contest, part of the town's annual Superman Celebration. This year the event takes place from June 6-9.
HIDE CAPTION
Abundance of superheroes
Not averse to hard labor
When you run out of Kryptonite, try toilet roll
Local 'Supermen' compete
Smallville stars join the party
How many Supermen does it take to break a record?
Supertykes
It's all in the cape
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Are you toned and tall with black hair? You could be Superman for 2013
  • Superman celebrates his 75th birthday this year, with a new movie and the Superman Celebration
  • Metropolis, Illinois, hopes to break record for largest-ever gathering of people dressed as Superman

(CNN) -- Editor's note: Watch CNN's TV theme week Comic Book Heroes from June 10-17 on World Report, CNN Newstream and I-desk.

Last year I failed to become Superman. Not a super man, the Superman.

The search for the official Metropolis Superperson is an annual and international event.

Organizers receive hundreds of photos from people who aspire to be a muscular, bullet-proof fictional character with no visible genital definition.

Meet the new Superman

But before I could hand in my resume and lie -- "I've traveled 20 million light years from my home. I look upon my powers as a gift. Not mine but to anyone who needs them" -- I was told I had to be over six foot, have black hair rather than no hair, be around 30 years old and have a 12-13 American shoe size.

"Buff and with no accent," said the lady from the Metropolis Chamber of Commerce, knowing that she was no Miss Teschmacher.

"Our first Superman was the local Baptist preacher. Everyone wants to be Superman. We get applications from everywhere. Even Japan."

Just a regular nuclear reactor-supplying town

For most of the year the Illinois town of Metropolis in the American Midwest is a quiet place, with a population of 7,000, a riverboat casino and a mill churning out material for nuclear reactors.

No one bench-presses any cars. No one freezes anything with their breath. Although the local burritos can help you exert the propulsive force of very high winds.

For all your world-saving gardening needs.
For all your world-saving gardening needs.

And some of the keg beer is similar to Kryptonite, immobilizing you with pain and nausea, and robbing you of your powers of taste.

But for a few days in summer (June 6-9, 2013), the town becomes soop central, putting on the "Superman Celebration."

This year is a big one: the Diamond Jubilee.

Remarkably, though the great man is 75, his adventures continue.

Not with hair re-seeding or knee replacement surgery, but with a new movie.

Zack Synder's "Man of Steel," starring Brit Henry Cavell, Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner, is released on June 14.

The big party in Metropolis will have superhero-related celebrity autograph sessions from the likes of Margot Kidder and Michael Rosenbaum, a Smallville prom, a Superman mastermind quiz (everyone knows Clark Kent parts his hair the different side to Superman), a fans' film festival and, of course, a $1,000 First Prize lookalike pageant ($25 entry).

Town mayor, Billy McDaniel, will be on hand to swear in visitors as "honorary citizens" of his friendly community on the Ohio River near the Kentucky border.

Share your Superman memories and images

Most Supermen gathered

There's also a chance to become a Guinness World Record holder by being part of the world's largest-ever gathering of people dressed as Superman.

The record is currently held by 437 Canadians.

Says Mayor McDaniel: "The annual Superman Celebration brings so much more than just tourism to our small community. It brings out the superhero in all of us."

You can also buy a personalized brick ($75) to be placed around the pedestal or walkway to the Lois Lane statue on the corner of West Eighth and Market, between the chiropractor and "the home of super financial services" -- the bank.

John Glover (left) and Cassidy Freeman from the series \
John Glover (left) and Cassidy Freeman from the series "Smallville" are just two to have posed with Superman's legs.

Or you can have your photograph taken standing between Superman's legs underneath the 22-foot, $120,000, vandal-resistant bronze Superman statue in Superman Square in the "Home of Superman."

It's meant to bring good luck. President Obama posed there and he got re-elected.

Beneath the sculpture is the inscription "Truth, Justice -- the American Way."

"It's our second statue," the lady from the Chamber of Commerce says. "The first one was fiberglass and he was short, fat and ugly. People thought he had big feet and looked like Prince Charles.

"He also seemed to suffer from an ocular condition."

The Super Museum will be open.

It's curated by former Californian housewares salesman and self-professed "Superman nut," Jim Hambrick, whose 100,000-plus item collection includes the suit worn by George Reeves in the first color television episodes of "Adventures of Superman."

The town and the world can't wait.

Gift shops will stock anti-thrombotic support tights. Sponsors of Metropolis's 35th Superman Celebration include Thor's Gym.

Superman speaks

Joshua Boultinghouse is the resident Superman.

"I enjoy portraying Superman because for four days out of the year I get to be the man I always try to be," he says. "I don't mean being invulnerable. I mean I get to represent all that is good, honest and pure about humanity.

Strongman events separate the Superboys from the Supermen.
Strongman events separate the Superboys from the Supermen.

"I think we all (for the most part) aspire to be like that, but for four days especially I have to be like that in front of the fans and especially for the children.

"And it gives me hope that maybe one day we all can be like that."

D.C. Comics' Superman first appeared in June 1938. Three quarters of a century, 2,000 comic appearances and six movies later, the Man of Steel hasn't changed a great deal.

Except he's no longer bald.

Superman was created in June 1933 by an Ohio writer named Jerry Siegel and Canadian illustrator Joe Schuster as a follicularly challenged baddie who read minds.

Then came the makeover modeled on Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Alter ego Clark Kent was named after matinee idols Clark Gable and Kent Taylor, with his looks based on comedian Harold Lloyd.

DC Comics' Metropolis was named after the title of a Fritz Lang movie.

Metropolis, Illinois, has been Metropolis since 1889. Its only factual claim to fame is that The Birdman of Alcatraz is buried there.

Metropolis was Robert Stroud's hometown.

The local newspaper is called "The Metropolis Planet." It's not called "The Daily Planet." It's a weekly.

The town's chief other attraction is a telephone box. In it, rather than undress, I looked through the local directory. But couldn't find one Clark Kent.

Only a Stanley and a Wendell.

The Superman Celebration takes place in Metropolis, Illinois, from June 6-9; www.supermancelebration.net

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:09 PM EDT, Sun April 13, 2014
What's New York's most popular attraction? Which world city gets photographed the most? Answers are revealed by a new photo-tagging ranking.
updated 9:13 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
The lessons we learned and changes we made as a result of previous airline accidents.
updated 1:14 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Bontá mia! An Australian chef takes home top honors at the Pizza World Championships in Italy.
updated 4:06 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Easter break packing tip: pants with elastic waistbands.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Thailand is now celebrating Songkran, the Thai new year. But along with the watery revelry come deadly roads.
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Inspired by the Masters? Playing these courses will make you feel like a pro, even if you don't swing like one.
updated 3:30 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
A mother-of-two explains how to fly with kids without making everyone else on the plane hate you.
updated 8:49 PM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
As the new season of "Game of Thrones" approaches, we pick out 20 stunning spots in one of its most oft-used locations.
updated 5:40 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
They're hot, they're popular, they're stylish. Now they're your tour guides to Italy's fashion capital.
updated 12:10 AM EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
A quarter of the year's flown by, it's time to plan a vacation. TripAdvisor's list of Top Destinations should help.
updated 1:23 AM EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
You may not have those $10 Heinekens and $6 bags of M&M's to kick around anymore. Happy now?
updated 3:25 AM EDT, Mon April 7, 2014
Japan isn't a country to which you just show up and wing it. Here's how to arrive prepared.
updated 10:02 AM EDT, Thu April 3, 2014
The Economist is latest to dogpile on the reputation of U.S. airports; one industry leader says he knows why.
updated 2:23 AM EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
Laojun Mountain Natural Reserve gave out bags of mountain air to Chinese residents. After seeing these photos, you'll want some too.
updated 9:04 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
Forget space. Our very own planet is ripe for investigation. Here are some of the spots we know least about.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT