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Mind Your Business: Superman Stole the Fortress of Solitude

Mark Simon discusses how the man of steel might just be the man of steal.

Mark Simon, the artist of bronze

Superman is a thief. 

That’s right, he’s the man of steal. 

It’s hard to believe that the altruistic character I grew up with is not quite what he seems to be. 

Superman first appeared in the comics in 1938. However, the original superman, Doc Savage, the man of bronze, first appeared in pulp magazines in 1933. There are many elements of Doc Savage that were used in the creation of Superman. 

Was it just coincidence? Could this really be?

For those of you under the age of 90, you may not realize that Doc Savage was the number one pulp fiction action-adventure hero in the 30’s and beyond. There are over 180 Doc Savage books. That’s right. Over 180. Almost all of them were written by Lester Dent, or as he was credited, Kenneth Robeson.

So, what did Superman steal?

The fortress of solitude for one thing. Doc Savage’s fortress was hidden in the arctic. He used it to get away, to store dangerous technology and devices taken from his villains. Sound familiar?

Here’s another good one, in an ad for Doc Savage in the early 30’s he’s referred to as Superman.

1934 ad for Doc Savage magazine, reprinted in The Classic Debut Adventures of Doc Savage published by Sanctum Productions.

How about Doc Savage’s real name, Clark Savage, Jr. 

Clark Savage…written by Lester Dent..…Clark..Dent….get it?

He was also called the Man of Bronze. What’s stronger than bronze? Maybe steel?

Plus, Doc was a perfect physical specimen, did no wrong, led a chaste life, and he was super smart.

Yeah, Jonathan Kent raised a thief.

So, does this matter now? Plenty if you’re director/screenwriter Shane Black. Black is in development on a new Doc Savage movie.

Here’s Black’s quandary. Does he stay true to Doc Savage and have the Man of Bronze steal away to his arctic Fortress of Solitude? Millions of people are likely to think he stole the concept from Superman.

Black is aware of the issue. In a video posted on, he said, “Doc Savage was the basis essentially for Superman because his name is Clark, and he has a fortress of solitude.”

Luckily we’re talking about the writer/director of Iron Man 3 and writer of tons of great movies like Lethal Weapon, so I’m sure he won’t wuss out. The best thing that could happen is for fanboys to get into debates of who had the Fortress first, which would be great marketing for the movie. 

So are you Team Supes or Team Savage?

I’m Team Savage.


Mark Simon, is the president of Animatics & Storyboards, Inc. and the author of Storyboards: Motion In Art, and the Facial Expressions series of books. Check out Mark’s new storyboard site, with tons of videos.