Max Fleischer's Classic Superman Cartoons Getting an HD Remaster

Warner Bros. Discovery announced yesterday that they have meticulously remastered Max Fleischer's beloved animated Superman shorts from the original 35mm source elements, and will release them in high definition for the first time this spring. The release, branded as Max Fleischer's Superman 1941-1943, will be available to purchase Digitally on HD and on Blu-ray May 16, 2023. The shorts have been in constant release, but since they fell into the public domain, anybody can just make a cheap copy and sell it at the dollar store on DVD. For years, that seemed to discourage Warners from putting big money into making high-quality releases, but fans are finally getting what they've been hoping for.

Superman made his comic book debut in 1938, appearing in Action Comics #1 (dated June 1938, but officially published on April 18, 1938), and he became so popular, so quickly, that by the early '40s, he had a radio program, and acclaimed animator Max Fleischer gave the character his initial animated spotlight, producing 17 theatrical animated shorts from September 1941 to July 1943 that further elevated the character's profile, and added many significant aspects to his canon – including coining many of Superman's patented catchphrases and attributes.

The distinctive look and feel of the Fleischer cartoons helped reshape the Man of Steel in the comics, and the cartoons themselves have remained fan-favorites for decades. A quick appearance by the Fleischer-style Superman costume in Superman & Lois got fans so excited that, two years later, it's still the most-shared clip in the series on social media.

Warner Bros. Discovery says that their "advanced remastering process" began with a 4K, 16-bit scan of Fleischer's original 35mm successive exposure negative. Staying true to the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.37-to-1, the highest quality raw image was then scanned and then entered into the recombine process – utilizing special proprietary software to merge the successive exposure Technicolor negatives into a single RGB color image. The end result are pristine animated shorts that have been restored to the animators' originally intended production quality.

Well known radio actors Clayton "Bud" Collyer and Joan Alexander reprised their famed The Adventures of Superman radio show roles for the Fleischer/Famous Studios animated shorts as Superman/ Clark Kent and Lois Lane, respectively. Jackson Beck provided the voice of Perry White and the show's primary narrator. Additional voices, many of whom had participated in the Superman radio program, were provided by Jack Mercer, Grant Richards, Julian Noa, Lee Royce, Max Smith, Sam Parker and Carl Meyer.

Max Fleischer's Superman 1941-1943 will be available on May 16, 2023 to purchase Digitally in HD from Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Google Play, Vudu and more, and on Blu-ray at major retailers both online and in-store. You can see the specs for the release, as well as a first look at the new cover art, below.

(Photo: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment  )


⦁ Superman (Mad Scientist) – 9/26/1941
⦁ The Mechanical Monsters – 11/28/1941
⦁ Billion Dollar Limited – 1/9/1942
⦁ Arctic Giant – 2/27/1942
⦁ The Bulleteers – 3/27/1942
⦁ The Magnetic Telescope – 4/24/1942
⦁ Electric Earthquake – 5/15/1942
⦁ Volcano – 7/10/1942
⦁ Terror on the Midway – 8/28/1942
⦁ The Japoteurs – 9/18/1942
⦁ Showdown – 10/16/1942
⦁ The Eleventh Hour – 11/20/1942
⦁ Destruction, Inc. – 12/25/1942
⦁ The Mummy Strikes – 2/19/1943
⦁ Jungle Drums – 3/26/1943
⦁ Underground World – 6/18/1943
⦁ Secret Agent – 7/30/1943


New Featurette – Superman: Speeding Toward Tomorrow – Superman's exploits in the Fleischer series modernized the monomyth of the Greek godlike hero and expanded and romanticized the prevalent themes of sci-fi and fantasy. It was this combination of heartfelt storytelling, relatable heroes and amazing visuals that has endeared the Fleischer series to fans as one of the greatest superhero stories of all time. This featurette explores the visual storytelling as the lavish animation, with special attention paid to all the atomic age technology, pushes science fiction closer to becoming a powerful social and pop culture force.

Featurette – First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series – The Origins and Influence of This Groundbreaking Cartoon Series – A gathering of contemporary animators, comic book & animation historians, and legendary Fleischer artists examine these beloved shorts, focusing on the animation and the breakthrough techniques that created it, as well as studying the title character's place in history.

Featurette – The Man, the Myth, Superman: Exploring the Tradition of Superman Heroes on the Page and Screen – A fascinating study of Superman-esque characters throughout history – in ancient myth, literature and film – that bring forth imaginative, super-human qualities, captivating audiences and enduring the test of time.