The latest film in the Superman canon hits theaters this week, as "Man of Steel" sees Henry Cavill donning the famous cape as Clark Kent for the first time. With the summer tentpole expected to open up to a $100 million weekend in the U.S. and do massive business globally, I decided to swap some e-mails with fellow staffer Dan Barrett across the Atlantic (Dan manages our page over on facebook.com/guinnessworldrecords and our Twitter @GWRNews. So go there and say hi!). We traded some thoughts on our favorite Superman records found in the official GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS database.
5.) Fastest marathon in superhero costume (male)
Mike: Alright I have to admit off the bat that this is cheating a bit, because the current record holder for fastest marathon in a superhero costume belongs to The Flash. Well, at least to Stephane Hetherington, who dressed as The Flash to run the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2 hr 33 min 58 sec in 2012. But at the 2011 Virgin London Marathon, David Stone (above) ran dressed as Superman for a then-record time of 2 hr 42 min 46 sec. Weirdly enough for a guy with super speed, that's the only time out of seven record holders in this category that somebody dressed as Superman. Dan, you must have a superhero in mind to dress as when you run your first marathon, right?
Dan: I guess we’re just lucky The Flash is also a DC comics superhero and not one from Marvel, or we’d have an all-out war on our hands! Though on that note, I think I’d have to go with the Hulk as my superhero dress-up character of choice for running a marathon. Shirtless and shorts seems a LOT more practical than Batman’s cowl, full-body suit and heavy utility belt to me. Though long distance running could well be my kryptonite…
4.) Most portrayed superhero on television
Dan: This should come as no surprise to anyone who watched a lot of TV in the 90’s – both a live-action series starring Dean Cain (Clark Kent/Superman) and Teri Hatcher (Lois Lane), AND an animated series were both in heavy rotation for a number of years back then. This isn’t counting of course the older Superman shows, or the more recent 10 (yes, TEN) years of Smallville, featuring a young Clark/Superman.
Mike: Totally makes sense that the king of the superhero hill has had the most TV portrayals, with four live-action series. I was just becoming a teenager when "The Adventures of Lois and Clark" was finishing its TV run in the 90s, and let's just say the somewhat attractive Teri Hatcher made me quite fond of that show over any of the others featuring "Supe."
3.) Largest gathering of people dressed as Superman
Mike: This is our most recent record on the list, as it was achieved just earlier this month by employees of the U.S. retail brand Sears. It was done to celebrate the "Man of Steel" release (which, of course, also happens to be the reason for this post) and 566 people came together for the record (above). As far as team-building lunch events go to break up the workday, I think getting to dress up in the freshest new Superman cape is a pretty good deal — certainly cooler than your average trust falls.
Dan: Those are some really good Superman costumes they’re wearing! It’s great to see such attention to detail was taken with this attempt, and I’m sure all those involved appreciated it. As you say, I’m sure it was a lot more enjoyable than most work events. It’s just a shame we at GWR don't have enough employees to break it! Well, that and the fact we’re not allowed to hold records; we have to be impartial, after all…
2.) Largest collection of Superman memorabilia
Dan: Herbert Chavez of the Philippines doesn’t just have a collection numbering 1,253 Superman-related items (that figure as of 22 nd February last year, he surely has more now) – I hear he’s also had a number of plastic surgery procedures to make himself look more like his idol. With your years of records management experience, Mike, what can you tell us about this; why is it we don’t have a record for this also?
Mike: It's true, having judged records for some 3.5 years I've learned a thing or two about what does or doesn't make a good one. While Herbert's memorabilia collection fits our rules, his attempts to look the most like Superman do not. All records need to be measurable and standardizable (which a collection of items is), not aesthetic and subjective (which is why a record for looking the most like a superhero is not). Although I must admit, Herbert (pictured atop this post) does look like he'd be ready to apply for a reporting job at The Daily Planet any day now. Or like he'd be ready to pose for the album cover of "Bad."
1.) Most expensive comic
Mike: The granddaddy of all Superman records: where it all began. The most expensive comic is Action Comics No. 1, published in 1938, a copy of which sold for $2.161 million (then £1,388,850) in November 2011. Mentioning it is like mentioning the name "Babe Ruth" to a baseball fan. This comic featured the first appearance of Superman and has rightfully gone on to hold mythic status as it launched an icon, a superhero, and a character who's fought for truth, justice, and the American way (had to slip that in there as the token American in this blog post!) for more than 75 years. Iron Man and the Avengers may be the hotness these days, but let's not forget the original superhero.
Dan: Babe who? Wait, isn’t that a chocolate bar over there? As the token Brit in this post, I must feign at least some ignorance of your Yankee history! Back to the record in question, it seems only right that Superman be the character front and centre in the most expensive comic book – as you say, he was the original pants-on-the-outside superhero. You mention the popularity of the rival Marvel series, but Superman is far from forgotten – the new Man of Steel film is the reason we wrote this, after all!