As one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the DC Universe, Metropolis stands as symbol of optimism and progress. Frank Miller once described Metropolis as “New York in the daytime” in both look and feel. Aside from it being the home of Superman, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Lex Luthor what is actually known about the city itself?
Well, considering the surprising number of sites dedicated to charting every facet of the city’s entire history, it’s safe to say plenty is known. However, you’re all busy people. You may not have time to filter through pages of climate graphs and crime statistics, so allow us to break it all down and present you with the 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Metropolis.
10. It’s nicknamed “The Big Apricot”
Metropolis’ other, less fruity nickname – “The City of Tomorrow” makes sense due to the city being founded on ideals of progress. The city is at the forefront of technological advances and so it being considered a futuristic place makes sense when taken on its own terms, outside of the link between Superman’s nickname of “The Man of Tomorrow”.
The more attention-grabbing nickname of the two – “The Big Apricot,” is an obvious parallel to New York’s “Big Apple” moniker. However, the important question of why an apricot was specifically chosen as the large substitute fruit goes unanswered. Apples have played a crucial role in fables and stories for centuries, but what have apricots done to deserve such a high honor? Does an apricot a day keep anything away aside from digestive discomfort? Exactly.
It may be possible we’re overthinking this.
9. Metropolis’ location has varied over the years
It’s generally agreed that Metropolis is a major city in the Northeastern United States. However, exactly where it’s meant to be when it comes to pinpointing it on a map is open to interpretation. The fact that it doesn’t simply replace New York City and that NYC exists as its own separate entity in the DCU seems to be the only consistent thing. Several big name villains have threatened DC’s NYC and Nightwing set up his base of operations there.
Possible Metropolis locations have ranged from Delaware, to being New York adjacent, to being located in New York. Smallville‘s version of Metropolis was in East Kansas, near Dodge City, about 100 miles from Smallville itself. Perhaps the biggest deviation is presented in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which cranked everything to 11 and made Metropolis not just a city, but an entire district like Washington, D.C., with set photos showing cars with license plates from “Metropolis, D.M.”
8. How close Gotham is to Metropolis has also changed
Metropolis and Gotham are often portrayed as two sides of the same coin. Metropolis is prosperous and built on science and technology which runs in complete parallel to Gotham’s history of industry. Unlike Metropolis, Gotham is decayed both structurally and morally, making it the perfect project for both sides of Bruce Wayne. They’re thematically linked, but the distance between the two cities has varied by hundreds of miles.
The biggest change in geography occurred in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where the two are on opposite sides of a big bay. To quote Zack Snyder: “It’s like Oakland and San Francisco, kind of.” Whether this new geography is now established in the DCEU or whether it was purely to get a cool shot of the Bat Signal in the sky being visible from Metropolis still remains to be seen.
7. The city went through multiple name changes before becoming Metropolis
Much like New York City, the land that Metropolis would end up occupying was sold to European settlers by Native Americans. Dutchman Paul de Vries egotistically named the land “De Vries Village” in the 1600s and it stayed that way for a century. In 1775, it was defended by Tomahawk’s Rangers and a especially a man named Dan Hunter. The name of the monstrous narcissist De Vries was done away with and the settlement was named “Fort Hunter” in honor of Dan the man. As time went on and the population grew, the name evolved into “Huntersville” before becoming “Hunter City.”
After adventurer and scientist Waldo Glenmorgan took up city residence, he started a scientific gold rush that soon became a city-wide attitude and led them to rename themselves to the futuristic sounding “Metropolis.” Metropolis’ equivalent of Times Square, is named Glenmorgan Square after the man and his contribution to the city.
6. Several real-life cities have inspired it, not just New York City
New York City is the most obvious inspiration point for Metropolis. It’s in the same area, has huge skyscrapers and shares some of the city’s Art Deco architecture. Several of Metropolis’ landmarks are even based on real life places like the “Emperor Building”, an clear nod to the Empire State Building.
However, co-creator of Superman, Joe Shuster originally modeled Metropolis’ skyline on Toronto, the city he was born and grew up in. The City of Toronto would later name a street “Joe Shuster Way” in honor of this fact. Shuster moved to Cleveland when he was ten and where he’d later meet co-creator Jerry Siegel. When the pair first drew comic strips featuring Superman, they based him in Cleveland as they had the intent to sell it to local newspapers. Once the character started to gain traction, Clark Kent was soon established as a Metropolitan.
5. There’s a real Metropolis in Illinois, officially named “the hometown of Superman”
When the small city of Metropolis, IL learned that they shared the name of Superman’s adopted hometown, it started a decades-long love affair with the character for them. They have a Superman statue in front of their courthouse, have a dedicated Superman museum and hold an annual “Superman Celebration” which draws in nerds from around the world. They even have a popular newspaper called “The Metropolis Planet” with a similar logo to The Daily Planet’s one, except for a familiar-looking caped man proudly standing on the globe.
In 1972, DC Comics declared the city as “the hometown of Superman,” which was later made official by Illinois government. Since then, the city has been incorporated into the comics playing itself as a smaller Superman obsessed town. Metropolis, IL had a starring role in Superman #92 story “Massacre in Metropolis!” when an alien warrior named Massacre landed in the town and started causing chaos, believing it to be Superman’s home.
4. Metropolis, IL was nearly home to a Superman theme park, complete with a 200-foot-tall Superman statue
When state legislature made the “hometown of Superman” stuff official, it wasn’t just because they wanted to pay tribute to the Man of Steel. At the time, the city was in a slump and needed a way to generate cash. The Superman tie-in publicity was the start of the city trying to get back on its feet.
In 1973, it was decided that DC and Metropolis would mutually benefit from a theme park to be built, called “The Amazing World of Superman.” Comic artist Neal Adams drew up the tentative plans that included an enormous Superman statue standing at the park’s entryway. It was to contain a massive Fortress of Solitude and a villains’ gallery as well as the unsafe-sounding Bizarro Playground, a movie theater and a supermarket.
Unfortunately, plans fell through when the U.S. suffered an oil crisis and people drove fewer long journeys in an effort to save money, making The Amazing World of Superman another candidate for the Awesome Things That Cruelly Never Happened pile.
3. Metropolis sustained over $700 billion dollars of damage due to the events of Man of Steel
Whatever your position on Zack Snyder’s divisive Man of Steel, there’s no arguing that the finale contains a lot of destruction. With the combination of the World Engine dubstepping everything to dust and Supes’ fight with Zod crumbling everything else, little was left standing of The Big Apricot by the time the credits rolled.
In 2013, disaster experts were asked how much the final bill would be as well as the projected number of dead, missing and injured, using real-life disasters as a model. The final total was given as $750 billion with a $3 trillion predicted impact on the economy. For comparison, the 9/11 attacks cost $55 billion with a $123 billion economic impact. Justified or not, Metropolis almost got completely leveled and it’s something it still bears the scars of in Batman v Superman.
2. The city still stands in the 30th and 31st Centuries
We know that business is currently booming in Metropolis, but what about the future? Nothing can last forever, right? Well, Metropolis seems to be doing fine thousands of years later, according to the Legion of Super-Heroes comics.
With growth that makes Zack Snyder’s district shenanigans seem restrained, it turns out that Metropolis continued to expand in size and population, covering the majority of Massachusetts and all of Rhode Island and Connecticut. Some stories have gone even further like Superman vol.1 #300, which made Metropolis a megalopolis of the Eastern Seaboard, covering Washington, D.C., Boston and New York City. According to Brainiac 5, New Metropolis has “78 million sentient inhabitants”. Whether this number includes the average idiot on the street as well as children and animals is never addressed.
1. The Hall of Justice wasn’t always in Metropolis
The Hall of Justice is one of Metropolis’ most iconic buildings. It was created in 1973 as the headquarters of the Super Friends, the long-running Saturday morning cartoon show chronicling the adventures of Superman, Batman, Robin, Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Its dome shape and massive fountain in the courtyard were inspired by the Cincinnati Union Terminal, a former railroad station turned museum.
According to the Super Friends comics, the Hall of Justice was located in Gotham City. Later continuity put it in Metropolis. However, none of this was considered regular DC canon. DC officially incorporated the Hall of Justice into its continuity in 2007, but instead of a being the Justice League HQ, it was turned into a museum dedicated to superheroes and their work, with exhibits filled with confiscated villainous memorabilia like costumes and weapons, all lamely deactivated and made safe by the party-pooping Batman.