Atom Man -vs- Superman The 1950 Serial- Columbia Pictures - Kirk Alyn
The first Superman serial was a 1948 15-part black-and-white movie serial starring an unaccredited Kirk Alyn (but billed only by his character name, Superman) and Noel Neill as Lois Lane. It is notable as the first live-action appearance of Superman on film and for the longevity of its distribution. The serial was produced by Columbia Pictures, directed by Thomas Carr (who later directed many early episodes of the Superman television show) and Spencer Gordon Bennet, produced by Sam Katzman and shot in and around Los Angeles, California. The series was originally screened at movie matinees and after the first three scene-setting episodes, every episode ends in a cliffhanger. The Superman-in-flight scenes are animations, in part due to the small production budget.
Kirk Alyn ... Superman/Clark Kent Jack Ingram ... Anton
Noel Neill ... Lois Lane Terry Frost ... Brock
Carol Forman ... 'Spider Lady'
Tommy Bond ... Jimmy Olsen
Pierre Watkin ... Perry White
Republic Pictures tried twice to make a Superman serial. The first attempt was replaced by Mysterious Doctor Satan (1940) when licensing negotiations failed. The second attempt was advertised for 1941. This time there were two obstacles that eventually prevented productions. DC Comics (the publisher of Superman) insisted on absolute control of the script and production, and the rights were tied up by the Paramount cartoon series. Sam Katzman acquired the live action rights in 1947. He tried to sell to Universal but they no longer made serials by this time. He also tried to sell to Republic but they claimed "a super powerful flying hero would be impossible to adapt" despite having done so in 1940 with The Adventures of Captain Marvel. Republic were also no longer buying properties for adaptation by 1947. Columbia accepted and ended up making the most successful serial ever made.