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.

Eddie Redmayne Reveals the DC Villain He Wants to Play

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

While Eddie Redmayne is hardly a Hollywood newcomer, but there's one area of cinema he hasn't tapped into yet—and is apparently interested in exploring.

The Academy Award winner recently spoke with IMDb at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he and other stars were asked which supervillain they'd love to play if they could choose. Redmayne has previously played bad guys in films such as Jupiter Ascending (2015) and Hick (2011), however he hasn't taken a stab at any comic book adaptations. As reported by ComicBook.com, the actor chose DC's Riddler.

"I’d love to play The Riddler," Redmayne declared. "Just putting that out there."

His The Aeronauts co-star Felicity Jones said she'd play a character from Roald Dahl's 1983 book The Witches, to which Redmayne pointed out that it was too late. The classic story, which got its first big-screen adaptation (starring Anjelica Huston) in 1990, is being adapted again with Anne Hathaway and Stanley Tucci; the film is due out in 2020.

Though the question posed to Redmayne was purely hypothetical, it could happen. Matt Reeves's The Batman is set for a 2021 release, and so far only star Robert Pattinson has been cast, leaving plenty of villain roles up for grabs.

Russo Brothers Explain Why They're Not Surprised Spider-Man Is Out of the MCU

The Russo brothers visiting The IMDb Show on April 23, 2019 in Studio City, California.
The Russo brothers visiting The IMDb Show on April 23, 2019 in Studio City, California.
Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb

While those of us on the outside of the film industry were shocked to hear of the deal between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios dissolving, which effectively removed Spider-Man from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, some filmmakers were not as surprised about the news.

Avengers: Endgame directors Anthony and Joe Russo recently sat down with The Daily Beast, where they explained that they knew that the separation was likely considering how difficult it was for the companies to make the deal in the first place.

The Russo brothers brought Spider-Man (Tom Holland) into the MCU in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. "We were extremely passionate about it," Anthony said. "This is something we really wanted to happen, and fought a long time internally at Marvel to make it happen."

"It wasn’t easy," Joe added. "[Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige] went through a lot."

They went on to paint a picture of the production process. “There were a lot of ups and downs," Joe continued, "and [Feige] kept walking into our office and we’d go, ‘Look, we’ve got to do it with [Sony],’ and he’d go, ‘OK, I’ll figure it out,’ and walk back into his. He was looking for the way out. He wanted to open that door and have us go, ‘We figured it out! We don’t need Spider-Man!’ because it’s a lot of work to get two major corporations to play nice with each other, and the fact that it happened at all, we should all be dancing and celebrating that we got that little bit of time."

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER