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Who Flew First? Captain Marvel or Superman?
Monday, September 29, 2008
Captain Marvel flies in Whiz Comics #5 (Jun 1940)Captain Marvel drops a bag of snarling beasts in the ocean in Whiz Comics #6 (Jul 1940)As Captain Marvel grew in popularity, the rivalry between him and Superman only increased. Even today, fans are generally partisan when it comes to liking the Man of Steel or the World's Mightiest Man!

And although Captain Marvel has often been called a clone or second-rate Superman, he had quite a few firsts over the Man of Tomorrow — including the power of flight!

In Whiz Comics #5 (Jun 1940), it is clear that Captain Marvel is flying as he out paces a commercial prop plane and challenges it to keep up! In Whiz Comics #6, Cap sends a bag of snaling beasts to their watery graves while hovering miles out over the ocean. In Whiz Comics #7 (Aug 1940), Cap floats in mid air allowing an enemy plane to crash against his mighty chest! And in Whiz Comics #9 (Oct 1940), Derek Markon, a citizen of the kingdom of Elba, exclaims to Cap, "What are you, anyway — a man or an airplane?"

Captain Marvel prepares to let a plane crash into his chest while floating in mid-air in Whiz Comics #7 (Aug 1940)Captain Marvel flies away while being compared to an airplane in Whiz Comics #9 (Oct 1940)On the other hand, Superman, according to comics historian Michael Fleisher in The Original Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes Volume 3 featuring Superman, states that "By October 1943 Suerman has clearly acquired, without qualification, the power of flight (Action Comics #65: The Million Dollar Marathon). That said there were a few instances in earlier issues that gave the impression of flying: Superman #10 (May-June 1941), Superman appears to hover while in Action #43 (Dec 1941) "Superman gives every indication of actual flight..." although Fleisher points out that "in the ensuring year, events occur that make it appear that Superman cannot fly..."

Wikipedia points out that it was the Fleischer Brothers Superman cartoon series that forced National's hand to grant the Man of Steel the power of flight since it would be easier to animate.

At any rate, whether Superman first flew in May-June 1941 or October 1943, Captain Marvel had already beat him by flying in Whiz Comics #5 (June 1940).

Shazam! Fun Fact Text

By Captain Marvel's fifth adventure in Whiz Comics #5 (Jun 1940), he had given up leaping in favor of flying!

In his sixth adventure, Caps sent a a gigantic bag full of of Sivana's snarling beasts to their watery grave while hovering miles out over the ocean!

Superman showed off his power of flight three years after Captain Marvel in Action Comics #65 (Oct 1943).