I recall hearing people (deservedly) ridiculing the Superman movie (Superman I with Christopher Reeve) for the "fly faster than the speed of light, so he can reverse time and go back to the past" plot device.

Was that ability of his made up for the movie, or was it actually present in any DC comics?

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    Related, but possibly not a dupe: How did Superman turn back time in the first movie?
    – phantom42
    Oct 28 '13 at 13:04
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    You're right, gaining the ability to levitate and shoot lasers from ones eyes just by being exposed to radiation is much more realistic.
    – bitmask
    Oct 28 '13 at 14:32
  • A similar question @ComicVine: Did Superman ever reverse time in the comics?
    – Time Lord
    Oct 28 '13 at 15:10
  • I always figured Superman wasn't "reversing time", but was simply traveling back in time himself. We share Superman's perspective and see time "going backwards" relative to him, just like when Superman runs faster than a speeding locomotive, he sees the train backing away into the distance. Jul 8 '16 at 13:11
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    To be fair, the way the movie played out wasn't that he moved faster than light and traveled back in time, it was that he flew around the Earth against the direction of rotation, which made the first stopped the Earth from spinning, then made the Earth rotate backwards, and THAT turned back the flow of time. Oh wait, that's much worse. Jul 8 '16 at 14:11

Can he reverse the flow of time for an environment outside of himself by traveling faster than light, (as he does in the Superman movie)? No. This was some bad hand waving done to rationalize even worse writing. Superman never had such a power in the comics.

Has he on the other hand traveled through time to different periods by flying faster than light? Yes. Pre-Crisis Superboy was a regular time traveler using the FTL method. But he never used this power to intentionally alter the past significantly if he could help it.

  • In the past, (mostly in the Silver Age) when he traveled through time, the only person he was able to affect was himself. This was a particular iteration of Superman who was able to fly back and forth through time with relative ease. See: Time Trapper for an understanding of this particular version of Superboy.

One of the more noteworthy stories involving the Time Trapper came after the reality-altering mini-series Crisis on Infinite Earths and the 1986 revamp of Superman's origin, which removed Superboy from Superman's and the Legion's history. Given the problems this posed for Legion continuity, it was later revealed that the Time Trapper created a pocket universe from a slice of time in the distant past, and altered events in this reality so that an Earth resembling the pre-Crisis one was formed, complete with its own Superboy. The Time Trapper then further manipulated the timestream so that whenever the Legion would travel into the past to visit the 20th century (or Superboy visited the Legion's future), the two would be directed into each other's worlds. However, the "pocket universe" lacked a Kryptonian Supergirl, and thus was not a perfect answer to patching Legion continuity. (The "pocket universe" was later revisited and made the point of origin for a non-Kryptonian Supergirl, also known as Matrix).

  • Depending on the writer, Superboy could take people with him through time if he carried them in a vehicle of some sort. In the picture below, he was taking his parents into the past to see pirates...

enter image description here

Travel through the fourth dimension, color coded for your convenience.

  • Most newer versions of Superman, as an adult, has had a limited capacity for time travel once writers got over the idea of time travel and had begun altering Superman's powers from their godlike state. Silver Age Superman, one of the mightiest versions of the character, was the last time Superman time traveled without a technological or magical device.

  • With that said, Superman #141 is one of the most famed of the FTL Superman's time travel stories where he travels back in time to visit Krypton before it's destroyed. He meets and interacts with his parents before the destruction of the planet.

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Superman #141, November 1960, "Superman Returns to Krypton", written by Jerry Siegel.

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    What exactly is the difference between going back in time alone and what we see in the movie. IIRC we see the earth reverse direction in time with only Superman being the one to end up in the past.
    – DampeS8N
    Oct 28 '13 at 20:04
  • The difference is: The implication is the entire world is affected when he turned back the entire planet to go back in time. The world changed direction. This may have been a stylistic shorthand for the viewer to know everything was being changed, but for the literal among us it meant everything was being reverse and in some way changed. Since we only see the result of the change and not the actual reason Lois doesn't die, we are left to assume somewhere in there he changed something, we just don't see it. Oct 28 '13 at 20:32
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    I can't argue the last part, but wouldn't a reversed timeline be exactly what Superman see's while doing the trick? If the whole earth were being 'time traveled' into the past, it wouldn't reverse. It would.. I don't know. It would appear next to itself in space?
    – DampeS8N
    Oct 28 '13 at 21:12

Superman easily has the ability to travel through time. Not just back to the past but also to the future. Think about it, he travels 13 trillion times the speed of light when not minding the atmospheric pressure, he moves so fast that he converts his own body, an object that obviously contains mass, into pure energy. That's fast enough to bend reality to his own will. This means that he litterally has time in his hands. He is able to move both himself and the whole world back in time. In the movie: Superman 2, he reversed the time of the Earth's entire solar system just by moving fast enough to reverse the direction of the globe. If he did the same thing just the opposite direction, he could move the earth to its future. This is a feat that not even the Flash is able to do. Simply because the Flash has trouble moving past the speed of light he's only done it once and it was such a big deal. Supes travels to distant galaxies at over 200 billion times the speed of light and gets back in seconds.

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