Putting Superman on the Map


The well-known back story of Superman is that he was born on the planet Krypton, grew up in Smallville, and now lives in Metropolis. Do these places have any real-world analogs, though? Where, exactly, is Metropolis located? I did a little research on a few wiki pages, and it appears that the original Superman strips were set in Cleveland, but this was changed to the more generic city of Metropolis when they were published in comic form. It seems that Metropolis is more or less an alternate-world version of New York City, as evidenced by the fact that the Statue of Liberty is sometimes said to be there. In the movies, they were essentially the same place. It’s also divided up into boroughs, the largest of which is called New Troy.

The only problem is that there are references in DC Comics to New York City as a separate location. The largely accepted answer to this question seems to be that Metropolis is adjacent to New York, still within New York State. I don’t know whether the comics really consider the logistics of another major city right next to New York, but there you go. Two cities, in fact, as Batman’s Gotham City is also in the area. Reference material for a DC role-playing game placed Metropolis in Delaware and Gotham in southern New Jersey, but I don’t know how widely accepted these alternate locations are.

There’s a Metropolis in Illinois that’s known as the hometown of Superman, but this is strictly honorary and has no effect on its location in the comics and related media. It’s like how Riverside, Iowa has been declared the birthplace of Captain Kirk, although I suppose we still have another two centuries before we find out whether that will come true. {g}


I don’t think Smallville was originally intended to be in any particular state, and there were apparently some stories in which it was pretty close to Metropolis. It was later decided that the town was in Kansas, however, which negates the possibility of the two being close together. I understand that the show Smallville (haven’t watched it myself) gets around this by placing Metropolis in Kansas as well. As for Krypton, it looks like it was decided in the eighties that it orbited the star Rao, a mere fifty light-years from our solar system. I guess it would have to be pretty close for any remaining fragments to have come to Earth.

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