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Atom Man vs. Superman is a 1950 film serial starring Superman. Lex Luthor (Lyle Talbot), secretly the Atom Man, blackmails the city of Metropolis by threatening to destroy the entire community. Perry White (Pierre Watkin), editor of The Daily Planet, assigns Lois Lane (Noel Neill), Jimmy Olsen (Tommy Bond) and Clark Kent (Kirk Alyn) to cover the story. It follows 1948's Superman serial.
Lex Luthor, the Atom Man, invents a number of deadly devices to plague the city, including a disintegrating machine which can reduce people to their basic atoms and reassemble them in another place. But Superman manages to thwart each scheme. Since Kryptonite can rob Superman of his powers, Luthor decides to create a synthetic Kryptonite and putters about obtaining the necessary ingredients: plutonium, radium and the undefined 'etc.' Luthor places the Kryptonite at the launching of a ship, with Superman in attendance. He is exposed to the Kryptonite and passes out. Superman is taken off in an ambulance driven by Luthor's henchmen, and he is now under the control of Luthor. Superman is placed in a device, a lever is pulled, and the Man of Steel vanishes into "The Empty Doom" (which bears a similarity to the Phantom Zone of the comic books). Most of chapter 7 is a repeat of the origin story from chapter 1 of Columbia's first "Superman" serial, and this serial also finds a way to work in stock footage from Ken Maynard's 1936 Avenging Waters (also directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet ). The serial features several elements re-used in later Superman features: the Man of Steel is exposed to synthetic Kryptonite during a public function, as he is the motion picture Superman III. When he escapes from "The Empty Doom", the headline of the Daily Planet proclaims: Superman Returns.