Superman logo

Superman logo

The Superman logo has been tweaked not less than 25 times throughout its 75-year history. However, the changes were mostly stylistic and did not affect the main visual metaphor. So, in spite of all the alterations, the emblem has basically always been what it is now: the letter “S” inside a shield.

Meaning and history Superman logo

Superman logo history

Most of the logo alterations took placed during the first years of its existence. Although the first Superman serial was introduced in 1939, it would be fair to trace the history of the S-Shield earlier, to the 1938 Action Comics #1. Here, the Superman appears with a yellow shield, inside which a red “S” is placed. The shield has a bold black outline. The logo was modified later that year. In fact, the shape now looked less like a shield, it was just an inverted triangle. The letter “S” grew bigger and plumper. Also, the proportions of the letter were changed: the upper part became larger.

The version of the logo that appeared in the first Superman film the following year featured the same inverted triangle, while the plump “S” was replaced by a leaner one. The Superman #4, which came on screen in 1940, had a logo with a completely different color scheme featuring black, red, and white. However, it existed for as little as two episodes and was replaced by the familiar combination of yellow and red.

Introduction of the diamond shape

Superman logo

The diamond shield made its debut in 1940. It appeared in the 26th issue of Action Comics, looking very close to what it is now. The yellow shield, inside of which the “S” was placed, was surrounded by a red outline. The 7th Superman movie, which appeared the same year, experimented with the emblem. The colors were inverted, while the diamond shape was replaced by a simple shield. However, that was the last time when Superman could be seen without the diamond logo: all the following logotypes were based on the diamond shape.

Further modifications of the symbol Superman

symbol Superman

Since 1941, Superman’s chest logo has been modified more than 15 times. Most modifications, however, were hardly visible and included nothing more than slightly altered proportions or shades.

Yet, there were several remarkable exceptions from this rule. For instance, the Superman logo, which was created for the Columbia serials in 1948, featured a black-and-white color scheme.

The Kingdome Come version (1996) sported a very unusual “S” character, which was actually almost illegible. Instead of the usual yellow background, the black one was used. Also, the diamond shape was modified so that it looked more like a pentagon.

The following version, which appeared in The Electric Blue movie (1997) made a step forward in terms of legibility. However, the letter “S” was still hardly discernible for anyone who was not in the know. It also featured a completely new color combination (blue and white).

The changes in the color scheme, as well as the shape of the emblem, were connected with the new Superman costumes and powers. However, they made the icon less recognizable, which was certainly a drawback. Probably that was one of the reasons why The Animated Series, which appeared in 2000, returned to the traditional, instantly identifiable yellow-and-red shield.

The size of the Superman logo

Superman emblem

The proportions of the shield and the letter, as well as the overall size of the logo, were changed quite a few times. Probably one of the largest (if not the largest) version can be seen on the Dean Cain costume in The New Adventures of Superman. One of the smallest emblems can be seen in the Superman Returns movie, which came on screen in 2006.

Smallville emblem Superman

emblem Superman

One more daring experiment took place in 2002. In the Smallville (Mark of El) logo the letter “S” was replaced with an infinity symbol. Both the shield and the infinity symbol were given in black. The new emblem was supposed to look more alien. Yet, starting from the first episode of the Season Six, the familiar yellow-and-red shield with the “S” was used.

Batman vs Superman logo

Batman vs Superman logo

The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice film released in 2016 features an interesting tweak of the original logo. Here, we can see the emblems of the two superheroes placed one over the other. The black bat symbol becomes the background, against which the “S” character appears. The logo was unveiled two years before the movie came on screen, in 2014.

What does the letter “S” stand for?

logo Superman

The meaning of the “S” seems simple: it is just the initial of the main hero’s name. However, there are additional meanings. For instance, Jor-El wore the letter as a family crest. Also, there is a legend that it is a modified Native American symbol representing a snake and symbolizing healing powers. One more story says that the Superman emblem is actually the Kryptonian symbol for “hope”. Other explanations claim that the letter stands for slogans like “Stopping Crimes” or “Saving Lives”.

Font of the Superman logo

Font Superman logo

The letter “S” in the Superman logo does not feature any of the existing typefaces. It was created by designers with the only purpose of being used in the Superman chest shield. The shape of the letter has gone through numerous amendments. The earliest version, which was unveiled in 1938, reads very cleanly, yet it does not look unique. That was why the designers went on experimenting with the character until they created the shape that appeared in The Adventures of Superman film in 1952. In most of the films that followed they just enhanced the design with the help of slight modifications.

Color of the Superman logo

Color Superman logo

The iconic combination of yellow and red is featured in most versions of the Superman logo. However, they are not always the same shades: in some versions the colors go brighter and acquire an almost electrical quality, while in other versions they look less energetic.

From the point of view of Superman’s legend, red reminds the red sun of the Krypton, where the hero comes from, while yellow is the color of Sol (the sun). So, the combination of red and yellow means that Superman has a connection to his native planet, yet his powers are activated by the yellow sun of our planet.