It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a super-septuagenarian!

Happy birthday, Man of Steel!

It's 75 years today since a certain strange visitor from another planet debuted on the cover of Action Comics No. 1. The colorful character of Superman instantly seized the public imagination in his super-strong grip and has held onto it ever since: "Man of Steel," which will reboot the Superman film franchise, opens June 14.

For a guy more than seven decades old, Superman looks, well, super. But that's not to say he's stayed the same throughout the years. See how the iconic hero has changed throughout his never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way.

Action Comics 1 DC Comics
Though dated June, Action Comics No. 1 was published on April 18, 1938. Art by Joe Shuster, who co-created the character with writer Jerry Siegel.
Superman No. 53 DC Comics
Wayne Boring drew this cover for the Man of Steel's 10th anniversary in 1948 and continued as Superman's main artist through the 1950s. He is responsible for defining much of the character's chiseled, muscular image.
Superman 167 DC Comics
Superman is menaced by his two greatest foes in a classic cover by artist Curt Swan from late 1963. Swan drew hundreds of Superman stories from the 1950s through the '80s and is considered one of the character's definitive artists.
Superman No. 234 DC Comics
Artist Neal Adams' dynamic style made him a fan favorite. This dramatic cover is from late 1970.
New 52 Superman No. 1 DC Comics
In 2011 DC Comics started all of its superhero comics over from Issue 1, including Superman. This cover by George Perez shows tweaks to his costume design, including the removal of the familiar red trunks.
  • Slideshow Photos

    Christopher Reeve As 'Superman'

    Men of Steel

    From comics to movies, the many incarnations of Superman.

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    Birth of a hero -

    Cover illustration of the comic book Action Comics No. 1, featuring the first appearance of Superman in June 1938. The character was created by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel in 1932, and they sold the idea to Detective Comics (now known as DC) in 1938. The first issue told the story of how Superman's father sent his son in a rocket to Earth moments before his home planet, Krypton, exploded.
    Getty Images
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    Matinee idol -

    Film poster for an episode of a 1948 "Superman" movie serial starring actor Kirk Alyn as Superman battling a "reducer ray." A new chapter of the story showed once a week at movie matinees. The serial proved so popular that another one followed in 1950, "Atom Man vs. Superman."
    Getty Images
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    TV's first Superman -

    George Reeves as Superman stands behind a group of armed men in the television series, "Adventures of Superman," which ran from 1954 to 1958. Reeves' death is still shrouded in mystery. On the morning of June 16, 1959, just days before his planned wedding to Lenore Lemmon, he was found fatally shot in the head. Though authorities determined his death was a suicide, rumors still abound that foul play could have actually been the cause. Ben Affleck portrayed Reeves in a film about the controversy, "Hollywoodland."
    Getty Images
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    Christopher Reeve -

    Christopher Reeve uses his body to bridge the gap between broken train tracks in Richard Donner's 1978 film "Superman." Reeve played the Man of Steel in four films. In 1995, Reeve was paralyzed from the neck down after being thrown by his horse. He became a crusader for stem-cell research before his death on Oct. 10, 2004.
    Getty Images
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    Landing Lois -

    "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" aired from 1993 to 1997, and starred Dean Cain and "Desperate Housewives" star Teri Hatcher. The series focused more on the relationship between the characters than the heroics. In the series, the two characters get married.
    ABC
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    Superman goes electric -

    An artist's sketch of an updated Superman is shown in this 1977 release from DC Comics. The makeover has Superman weaing a white-hot and blue outfit; he lost his traditional powers and became an electromagnetic being who could draw power from electrical sources and phase through solid objects. The suit helped him contain his energy. He still had a human counterpart, Clark Kent, but as Kent, he had no powers.
    DC Comics
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    Toon titan -

    "Justice League," about a team of superheroes, ran from 2001 to 2004 on Cartoon Network. The series featured Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl. The series was followed by "Justice League Unlimited."
    Cartoon Network
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    Small-town hero -

    Tom Welling stars as Clark Kent in "Smallville." The series debuted in 2001 on the WB and moved to the CW. Created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, the series followed the adventures of a young Clark Kent in the town of Smallville, Kansas, before he becomes Superman. In this scene Kent finds himself living in Metropolis and under the influence of red kryptonite.
    The WB
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    Rebirth -

    Brandon Routh donned the famous cape in "Superman Returns." In this version, Kevin Spacey co-starred as Lex Luther, while Kate Bosworth played Lois Lane.
    Warner Bros.
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    New 52 Superman -

    In 2011, DC Comics rebooted its entire line of superhero comics and started them all over from No. 1, including its Superman titles. In the new storyline, Superman never married Lois Lane and his alien nature is emphasized. His costume also underwent some tweaks; his red trunks are gone, for example.
    D.C. Comics
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    'Man of Steel' -

    Henry Cavill, perhaps best known from "The Tudors," plays Superman in "Man of Steel," the June 2013film that reboots the hero's movie franchise.
    Warner Bros.
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