Robot 6

We lost out on the Amazing World of Superman

superman park

Metropolis, Illinois, is best known for its official designation as “Hometown of Superman,” and the celebration it holds each June in honor of the Man of Steel. But as Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan writes at Gizmodo, the little city on the Ohio River once had much loftier goals — namely a theme park called the Amazing World of Superman.

The project was proposed in the early 1970s, just when the economically struggling city needed it most. Metropolis had already co-opted elements from the Superman comics — its newspaper was named The Metropolis Planet, there was free “kryptonite” available in the city hall — but an amusement park would have been a game-changer. And DC Comics endorsed the idea, declaring Metropolis “Hometown of Superman” in January 1972, a decree repeated five months later by the Illinois State Legislature.

What’s more, Neal Adams was commissioned to create the concept art for the Amazing World of Superman (above, part of a commemorative comic from DC tied to the proposed attraction), which would include a towering replica of the Fortress of Solitude, a Bizarro Playground, a hotel, and an enormous statue of Superman that stood astride the parks entrance like the Colossus of Rhodes. The price to Metropolis? A mere $50 million (or, about $270 million in today’s dollars).

But of course, the Amazing World of Superman never materialized, as the 1973 oil crisis dashed hopes for a booming tourism business in Metropolis and other cities. Unfortunately, Metropolis never got its amusement park, but it did get a Superman Museum and a smaller-scale statue. Oh, and a riverboat casino.

Read more about the Amazing World of Superman at Gizmodo and in a 2008 post at Comic Coverage.

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Comments

11 Comments

Oh what could have been.

I have a feeling that this would be destined to be one of those abandoned amusement parks, much like Boblo Island from my home town of Detroit or Autoworld from nearby Flint. There might be a short spike of interest after the movie, but after that, Supe’s rep was in the wringer as the “Big Blue Boy Scout” (and the sad, mulleted attempts to try to ditch that epithet) made him not quite popular in the following years.

However, that Neal Adams sketch? Holy crap, that is super fantastic! I love everything about it. It’s got a lovely retro look that was probably out of style by the time the 1970’s rolled around, but man does it ever scream Space Age in the best way possible!

Oh the trouble I could get into just trying to climb on to the key.

Ah, nothing spells a day of wholesome family fun like a leisurely stroll under the massive crotch of a handsome, muscle-bound giant in blue tights as you enter the amusement park. Brings back memories…

Schnitzy Pretzelpants

August 22, 2013 at 5:02 pm

@El Santo.

I hear you on Autoworld, and agree that this Amazing World of Superman likely would have become a white elephant.

But Boblo Island?

Boblo Island had a helluva good run: 1898 to 1993? If the Superman theme park lasted almost 100 years, I think it would be classifiable as a success.

@Schnitzy:

Oh, I know Boblo had a good run.

I’m just pondering that the 80’s to the 90’s were just not a good time for the smaller amusement parks in general. I remember going to Boblo pretty frequently in the 80’s on school trips, and I also remember that it was going downhill pretty fast. The state of those paddleboats, for example, were getting pretty shoddy.

Neal Adams is such a talented guy. It’s amazing the things he’s done outside of comics…and of course inside.

I think Six Flags should do a DC Universe theme park. There’s a lot you can do.

When I read this as a child, I wanted to go to this so bad I was about to go blind. My poor parents; they had a hell of a time convincing me that it didn’t exist.

Metropolis is still worth a visit if you’re in the area! Sadly, the town also took a hit when bypassed by the Interstate.

Yeah…..I remember seeing this art as a little kid too. I wanted it to happen in the worst way. But looking back at the time period, I don’t think it would have lasted very long either. I also doubt that it could have looked as good as that Neal Adams drawing.

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