Superman has faced off against a number of enemies before, including Lex Luthor, Doomsday, Bizarro, and even Batman. But in 1946, Superman pummeled the Ku Klux Klan in a controversial radio broadcast of The Adventures of Superman, then the most popular radio show at the time. Now, that 71-year-old story of Superman taking on real-life supervillains will become a movie.
Deadline reports that Lotus Entertainment and Paperchase Films will tackle an adaptation of Richard Bowers’s 2012 nonfiction book Superman Versus the Ku Klux Klan: The True Story of How the Iconic Superhero Battled the Men of Hate. The movie, which is just called Superman vs. The KKK, will detail activist Stetson Kennedy’s heroic efforts to discredit the Klan using America’s beloved superhero. Without a doubt, it’s one of Superman’s finest hours.
After decades of obscurity, membership of the Ku Klux Klan surged at the end of World War II. Stetson Kennedy, a renowned historian who worked closely with African-American author Zora Neale Hurston, infiltrated a chapter, pretending to join the Klan in order to gain evidence of criminal activity. When Kennedy went to the police, he found they were apathetic or even sympathetic to the Klan, forcing him to turn to another powerful figure: Superman.
Kennedy gave the producers and writers of The Adventures of Superman his intel, including code words and rituals performed by the Klan in an effort to demystify and mock the organization. In a multi-part story arc titled “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” Superman beats up the “Clan,” who were clearly stand-ins for the real Klan, while the show exposed the group’s secrets, rendering them as ridiculous as they always have been.
The Klan tried to retaliate, including a boycott of Superman sponsor Kellogg, but the Man of Steel did his damage. While the Klan is, unfortunately, still around, their reputation was forever tarnished all because the Last Son of Krypton kicked their asses in front of America’s youth. The story has been told and retold many times before, with Bowers’s 2012 book being a pretty definitive account. There’s no release date and no director has been tapped for the project just yet, but let’s hope Zack Snyder isn’t on the shortlist.
You can listen to “Clan of the Fiery Cross” on YouTube.