Superman logo

Superman Shield

The Superman "S" shield.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Action Comics #1
(June 1938)
In story information
Type Emblem
Element of stories featuring Superman

The Superman shield, also known as the Superman logo, is the iconic emblem for the fictional DC Comics superhero Superman. As a representation of one of the first superheroes, it served as a template for character design decades after Superman's first appearance. The tradition of wearing a representative symbol on the chest was mimicked by many subsequent superheroes, including Batman, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Green Lantern, the Flash, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, and many others.

Evolution of the symbol

In its original inception in Action Comics #1, Superman's symbol was a letter S with red and blue on a yellow police badge symbol that resembled a shield. The symbol was first changed a few issues later in Action Comics #7. The shield varied over the first few years of the comics, and many times was nothing more than an inverted triangle with an S inside of it.[1][2]

The shield first became a diamond in the Fleischer cartoon serial Superman. It was black with a red S outlined with white (or occasionally with yellow). The S has varied in size and shape and the diamond shape containing it has also changed size and shape. Extreme examples of this would be the very large logo on the Dean Cain costume from the television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and the comparatively small version of the shield as depicted in the 2006 film Superman Returns. It has, in most incarnations, retained its original color, while changing shape here and there. The classic logo is the basis for virtually all other interpretations of the logo.[1][2]

In the mid-1990s, when Superman's costume and powers changed briefly, during the "Superman Red/Superman Blue" comic book storylines, the shield changed colors and slightly changed shape, in accordance with the changes in the costume. In 1997's Superman Vol 2 #123 Superman's new powers forced him to find a suit that was capable of containing his new abilities. The effective material found to create Superman's suit, along with being blue and silver, was also courtesy of Lex Luthor. Not only did the colors and powers change, the logo also evolved into a re-imagined "electric" emblem. In the miniseries Kingdom Come, an aged Superman sported an S-like symbol against a black background in a red pentagon.[1][2]

In the 2000s TV series Smallville, the S symbol originally appeared as a diamond with a vertical infinity symbol (to be similar to the S), in an attempt to make it seem more alien. However, beginning with the Season Six opening episode "Zod," Clark is given a crystal bearing the S logo in the style of the Superman Returns logo and is seen several times throughout the series and specifically in the season finale when a beam shaped like the logo hits a Phantom Zone escapee. The logo also appeared in the first episode of the series, when the students captured Clark by giving him a kryptonite necklace (which they didn't know was a weakness) and tied him to a cross-like beam in a cornfield and painted a red 'S' on Clark's chest (standing for Scarecrow, which was what he was meant to be as part of a high school hazing tradition) as a reference.[1]


Initially, the S-shield had one meaning: S for Superman. One of the first alternative meanings was presented in Superman: The Movie, in which it was not an S, but rather the S-shaped Coat of arms of the House of El as it was Brando's idea to have Jor-El wear the "S" as a family crest, folklore spun off from there. After the Superman reboot story The Man of Steel, the symbol's story was that it was designed by Jonathan Kent and was derived from an ancient Native American symbol. The symbol was featured on a medicine blanket given to an ancestor of the Kent family by a Native American tribe after he helped to cure them of a plague and was supposed to represent a snake, an animal held to possess healing powers by the tribe (implying that, by wearing this symbol, Superman was a metaphorical healer). This was also included in the 1997 Superman encyclopedia. In 2004, Mark Waid's Superman: Birthright series says the S-Shield is the Kryptonian symbol for "hope" and Superman believes it may have begun as a coat of arms for the House of El. Later, writer Geoff Johns confirmed it was indeed a coat of arms, as well as a symbol for hope. In the 2013 film Man of Steel, when asked by Lois Lane what the "S" stands for, Superman states that it is not an "S", but rather the Kryptonian symbol for "hope".

In Supergirl (TV series, 2015) Season 1, episode 2 Kara states that the Kryptonian symbol stands for her family's motto, "Stronger together."

House of El

Marv Wolfman's novelization of the film Superman Returns depicts the symbol as belonging to one of the three primary houses of Krypton that brought peace to the planet after a civil uprising, a serpent coiled inside a shield, a warning not to return to the ways of violence and deception. The shield has since been taken as a coat of arms, resulting in Jor-El's continued presence in the council despite his "mad" findings. The other two are merely described, including Pol-Us' eye of vigilance and Kol-Ar's open hand of truth and justice.


In almost all versions, Superman's red cape has an all-yellow version of the logo, with a thin black (in the comics) or red (in movies, matching the red color of the cape) line separating the areas. A notable exception is in Superman: The Animated Series, where the logo was absent from Superman's cape. In the 2006 film Superman Returns, the logo appeared on the belt buckle in reverse colors (yellow diamond and S with red background pieces) instead of on Superman's cape. The logo is also absent from Superman's cape in the 2013 film Man of Steel. The commonly cited reason for the symbol's absence in the movies was that because the cape was computer generated for most scenes, having the yellow symbol on the cape would have made computer animation too complicated. In the 2011 reboot of the comic book series, on his cape is a black pentagon and S with red background pieces.


In the 1960s the tiny bottle city of Kandor, the miniaturized capital city of the planet Krypton, resided in Superman's Fortress of Solitude. Originally, certain inhabitants resembling Kal-El formed the Superman Emergency Squad and would, on occasion, leave the bottle, enter the Earth's atmosphere and gain super powers in order to aid Superman. As designed by artist Curt Swan, their uniforms were similar to that of Superman save for the 'S' on their chests which resembled the early version, the 'S' and border in red on a yellow field, but in an elongated triangle.

During the Reign of the Supermen story arc, Each of the four different Supermen was represented by a variant of the symbol, which each wore on their person.

Wearers of the Shield

Kryptonian family members of Superman wear the symbol, but sometimes it is worn to honor Superman. After the death of Superman, many DC Comics superheroes wore a black armband with the Superman logo.

Diamond and eight shield

In the television series Smallville, an octagonal silver metallic key is used in the Kawatche caves, as well as in a transport device used to travel to the Fortress of Solitude. Along the edges are imprinted Kryptonian characters, one of which is the diamond border of the Superman shield with a figure 8 inside of the diamond instead of the S. The 8-shield is later described as being from an ancient form of the Kryptonian language,while the modern symbol is the familiar S-shield. The familiar S-shield is seen in Season 9 of Smallville. It is used as Clark Kent's calling card in his vigilante actions in Metropolis. Clark, calling himself the Blur, burns the sign using his heat vision in various places throughout the city. In an episode of Smallville, Clark mentions while talking to Oliver Queen that the mark "gives people hope."[5]


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Emblem History". Retrieved 2010-09-30.
  2. 1 2 3 "S Photo History". Retrieved 2010-09-30.
  3. Teen Titans Annual (vol. 3) #1
  4. Loeb, Jeph (w). Superman v2, 174 (August 2001), DC Comics
  5. Memorable quotes for "Smallville" Rabid (2009). Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 18, 2011.

External links

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