Superhero movies now, with the technology and CGI, have become quite mainstream. The movies are now easy to make and with beyond possible themes. But there was a time when the tech support wasn’t available, still, superhero movies were made. They weren’t as common but certain filmmakers were brave enough to use available equipment and make the movies. These movies aren’t as popular now due to technical inferiority. But they showcase the wonders of filmmaking. Here’s a list of Pre-World War II superhero movies you didn’t know exist.
The Mask of Zorro (1920)
The famous masked vigilante made his first appearance in the serialized novella The Curse of Capistrano(1919) by Johnston McCulley. After that, he has been a part of movies, TV shows, stage productions, comic books, and video games. He is also said to be the inspiration behind the Dark Knight of DC. His first appearance on-screen was in The Mask of Zorro (1920). Actor Douglas Fairbanks played the lead role. According to film historians, the film is a landmark in the development of the action-adventure genre. The film has been remade twice.
Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925)
After the huge success of The Mask of Zorro, Fairbanks returned for a sequel to the film. This time the actor played the son of his character in the previous film. The son follows in the footsteps of his father to become a masked vigilante. Zorro too appears at the end of the movie, which allowed Fairbanks a dual role. While the first film was set in California, the sequel takes us to Spain. Where the son of Zorro, Ceaser, goes to school. He is framed for murder by a love rival. So fakes his death and goes hiding, wearing a mask to conceal his identity.
Flash Gordon (1936)
In 1934, the comic strip of Flash Gordon came out. It told us the story of a titular hero, living on a planet called Mango, as he battles the evil ruler, Ming the Merciless. Flash finally defeats Ming in the 1950s and returns to Earth. He, then, becomes an astronaut who travels to other planets. The series was considered one of the most influential comic book strips of all time. In 1936, the superhero got his first movie, it was the second highest-grossing film of the year.
Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars (1938)
The cast of the first film, all reprising their roles in the fifteen-chapter sequel, Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars. The movie was a lower-budget production, as it had some stock footage of its prequel as well. This movie too turned out to be a box office success. But the radio show “War of the Worlds” had caused a panic in listeners who didn’t realize it was fictional. Orson Welles had to publically apologize for the confusion caused by his radio production.
The Spider’s Web (1938)
A pulp magazine superhero, The Spider, was a millionaire playboy who had his own vigilante justice brand. He fought against the criminal underworld in New York City and left a red dot on the forehead of the ones he killed. The Spider’s Web was the first film based on the pulp series. The violence was toned down in the film and his costume was changed a little. It was highly successful among the audience and critics. Stan Lee’s Spider-Man is inspired by this character.