How Superman Defeated the Ku Klux Klan

In the 1940s, The Adventures of Superman was a radio sensation. Kids across the country huddled around their sets as the Man of Steel leapt off the page and over the airwaves. Although Superman had been fighting crime in print since 1938, the weekly audio episodes fleshed out his storyline even further. It was on the radio that Superman first faced kryptonite, met Daily Planet reporter Jimmy Olsen, and became associated with "truth, justice, and the American way." So, it's no wonder that when a young writer and activist named Stetson Kennedy decided to expose the secrets of the Ku Klux Klan, he looked to a certain superhero for inspiration.

In the post-World War II era, the Klan experienced a huge resurgence. Its membership was skyrocketing, and its political influence was increasing, so Kennedy went undercover to infiltrate the group. By regularly attending meetings, he became privy to the organization's secrets. But when he took the information to local authorities, they had little interest in using it. The Klan had become so powerful and intimidating that police were hesitant to build a case against them.

Struggling to make use of his findings, Kennedy approached the writers of the Superman radio serial. It was perfect timing. With the war over and the Nazis no longer a threat, the producers were looking for a new villain for Superman to fight. The KKK was a great fit for the role.

In a 16-episode series titled "Clan of the Fiery Cross," the writers pitted the Man of Steel against the men in white hoods.

As the storyline progressed, the shows exposed many of the KKK's most guarded secrets. By revealing everything from code words to rituals, the program completely stripped the Klan of its mystique. Within two weeks of the broadcast, KKK recruitment was down to zero. And by 1948, people were showing up to Klan rallies just to mock them.

This story originally appeared in a 2008 issue of mental_floss magazine.

What Movie Did the Actors Who Played These Superheroes Appear in Together?

Mark Ruffalo Filmed a Death Scene for Hulk in Avengers: Infinity War

Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios

It’s no secret that not even the cast of Avengers: Endgame fully knows what happens in the upcoming film. The actors have let on that they are just as much in the dark as we are, making recent interviews with the stars pretty tough to conduct.

Not only is Marvel fooling fans by giving us scenes in trailers that might not even happen, but they’re also fooling their cast, because apparently they’ve filmed dummy scenes and not everyone was given a full script.

Knowing that getting any real details about Endgame is virtually impossible, some interviewers have given up asking much about the new film altogether and have instead asked about 2018's Avengers: Infinity War. That was the case when Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo revealed to Yahoo! that he filmed a scene for the 2018 film where he lived, and one where he died.

“I didn’t know until I saw the movie,” Ruffalo said of his character’s fate in Infinity War. “For one take, I did disappear, and then the other one I didn’t.”

Considering that Ruffalo, along with fellow Avenger Tom Holland, is known for accidentally dropping spoilers, it would make sense that the Russo brothers would leave him wondering what happened to his character.

“It’s like Survivor," Ruffalo said, noting that he was pretty sure he was going to be turned to dust like so many of his co-stars. "It’s like: Who’s gonna get kicked off the island? And I probably should’ve ... It’s like Project Runway for leakers.”

We can’t wait to find out how Hulk and the remaining heroes will avenge their fallen brothers and sisters when Avengers: Endgame hits theaters on April 26.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER