Metropolis is a fictional city that appears in comic books published by DC Comics, and is the home of Superman. Metropolis first appeared by name in Action Comics #16 (September 1939).
Within the DC Universe, Metropolis is portrayed as one of the largest and wealthiest cities on Earth. Since then, Metropolis has become a city inspired by New York City, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Toronto, Vancouver, and Los Angeles. Most of the notable landmarks in Metropolis are based on real-life landmarks in New York City.
Like many other fictional cities in DC Comics, the location of Metropolis has varied greatly over the years. Metropolis is usually portrayed as a major city on the East Coast, lending to the idea that Metropolis is the DC Universe equivalent to New York City. Superman co-creator Joe Shuster moved to Cleveland by age ten, where he met co-creator and Ohio native Jerry Siegel. Originally intending to sell the Superman strips to a Cleveland newspaper, they set the stories there as well, and when the strips were re-used for the comic books, they changed the location to Metropolis. (Action Comics #2, however, mistakenly portrays Clark Kent as a reporter for the Cleveland Evening News. The earliest specific reference to Metropolis located it in New York State: in Superman #2 (Fall 1939), Clark (Superman) Kent sent a telegram to George Taylor, the editor of the Daily Star (the antecedent to the Daily Planet), addressed to "Metropolis, N.Y."
In the 1940s, Superman cartoons produced by Paramount Pictures and Fleischer Studios, Superman is said to live in New York City rather than Metropolis in the seventh cartoon in the series, "Electric Earthquake." A Native American mad scientist claims that his people are the rightful owners of Manhattan, thus placing these cartoons in New York City. In the fifth episode in the series, "The Bulleteers," however, the city had already been identified as Metropolis, as the Bulleteers address in that cartoon the population of Superman's city as "citizens of Metropolis"; and in the 13th episode "Destruction Inc.," Metropolis is even seen spelled out twice on the Metropolis Munition Works, so it can be assumed that "Electric Earthquake" is an anomaly.
In a 1970s edition of "Ask the Answer Man," a column that ran occasionally in DC publications, it was stated that Metropolis and Gotham City were adjacent to New York City; across the harbor from each other. That same column stated that Star City (the home of Green Arrow) was in Connecticut, Flash's Central City was in Ohio, and Hawkman's Midway City was in Michigan. An earlier issue of DC's fanzine Amazing World of DC Comics, however, stated that Metropolis was located in Delaware, while Gotham was placed in New Jersey. The Atlas of the DC Universe role playing game supplement, published by Mayfair Games, also claims that Metropolis is in Delaware.
A 1976 "imaginary" (i.e. out of canon) story describes the infant Kal-El arriving on Earth in that year, triggering a increase in cold war tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. In that story's version of the year 2001, Metropolis is the name given to the new merging of the Northeast Corridor of cities ranging from Washington, D.C. through New York City to Boston, to form a megalopolis.
In his 1978 work, The Great Superman Book, an encyclopedia of the first forty years of the Superman comics, author Michael Fleisher cites many, many examples which demonstrate that Metropolis equates with New York City. The most blatant of these might be the statement he cites from Action Comics #143 (April 1950), which states that the Statue of Liberty stands in "Metropolis Harbor". The Statue of Liberty, in fact, stands in New York Harbor.
The 1992 "Death of Superman" storyline depicts Doomsday on a path from Ohio through the state of New York, ending in Metropolis, and the 2005 comic Countdown to Infinite Crisis also places Metropolis in the state of New York. The mini-series JLA/Avengers depicts the city as along the multi-state Interstate 95. Its corresponding location in the Marvel Universe is forests and fields.
Frank Miller has said that "Metropolis is New York in the daytime; Gotham City is New York at night." Gotham City is home to Batman, whose activities are more often nocturnal than those of Superman, who usually operates during the day. In terms of atmosphere, Batman writer and editor Dennis O'Neil has said that, figuratively, "Batman's Gotham City is Manhattan below Fourteenth Street at eleven minutes past midnight on the coldest night in November." However, New York City has been more recently used as a locale in the DC Universe, in which it exists as a separate city from Metropolis and Gotham City; the Justice Society of America, for example, is based in New York, as were the Teen Titans.