"The Wolfman": An Early Cape Influence?

The Wolfman - Universal Pictures
Random thoughts...As I watched The Wolfman (2010) last night, I wondered if the original 1941 film was one of the earliest depictions of shape-shifting in the cinema. I know Werewolf of London (1935) pre-dated it by six years, but were there even earlier examples? Also- I guess one could categorize Lawernce Talbot/The Wolfman as a "Transformational" character, along with Dr. Jekyll/Mr.Hyde. By that I mean one whose entire persona changes, not just his outward appearance. I know this type of story has its roots in ancient mythology and I'm sure someone, somewhere has already studied its portrayal in the cinema.

Another thought that occurred to me was related to superheroes. I tried to imagine what type of impact the original Wolfman had on impressionable young minds way back in 1941. That film's entire premise must have been a huge influence on the kids that would later become the comic book creators of the Silver Age. I mean, can you imagine how the story of a man who transforms into a monster might have sparked the imagination of boys in the audience? I have to think that the story and images in The Wolfman would have remained burned into the subconscious of those boys, only to resurface twenty years later as inspiration for a new age of superheroes.

The Wolfman's plot, which essentially revolves around a decent, law-abiding man who accidentally gains the ability to transform into a monster is familiar to any superhero fan. Of course, the obvious parallel in comics is The Hulk, but there are many others. Although, Stan Lee, The Hulk's co-creator, has cited Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde as an influence on the character's origin, I can't help thinking The Wolfman must have  played some part in Hulk's birth. Has the link between the classic Universal horror movies and comic book superheroes ever been researched thoroughly and documented? If it has, I'd love to read it.

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