This post will be more of a summary. My opinion is at the end.
The 2 hour US TV special from 2006 is a chronological look at the history of the Man of steel in its various media forms such as comics, books, TV, movies etc from the beginning up until today.
The duel role of Clark Kent and Superman was a predecessor for other superheroes like Batman and others. People can relate to his more vulnerable and human side as Clark, and look up to his heroic qualities.
At the beginning in the first comic, Superman was an evil figure, later he became more physically strong, he began to leap, even later he flew.
Superman was seen as a mythical symbol of hope, strength and moral certainty to a struggling nation during the depression in the 1930s and also later on. Superman doesn’t pass judgement, he just helps.
He transcended nationality, became an inspiration for Americans and immigrants, an ideal to strive towards. Superman is the ultimate embodiment of the American dream, proof that an immigrant can come to a new land and achieve their potential.
It’s suggested Superman could be interpreted as a secular messiah in the 70s comics, an allegory as he descends from the heavens. Similar to an old testament story about Moses who escaped, his mother and father where about to be killed by the Egyptians, in his case Krypton. Just like Moses Superman arrives as an immigrant and was adopted. But they argue Superman doesn’t become a hero to substitute for religion, but is a hero in a mythology sense. Superman’s attitude is perhaps what you yourself can choose to do, if you want to be a hero. Superman's challenge is to continuously see good in people, and to see good, when others don't see it.
But the TV special is not without its faults in my opinion. It focuses on the American attitude towards Superman, hardly anything is said about the international audience. I thought the first hour and the last 5 minutes were the most insightful, the second half about the movies was a little shallow, it didn’t explain very well how C. Reeves flew in the movies, which I thought was disappointing. It also doesn’t really illuminate why the movie became a success, as they kept saying Superman was on the decline in comics and TV in the 70s, but perhaps there is no explanation for that rejuvenation?
Any thoughts on Superman, readers?