- For the professional wrestler, see Jimmy Olsen (wrestler).
Jimmy Olsen. Art by Phil Noto, from 9-11: The World's Finest Comic Book Writers and Artists Tell Stories to Remember.
|First appearance||Anonymous cameo:
Action Comics #6 (November 1938)
As Jimmy Olsen:
Superman #13 (November/December 1941)
|Created by||Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster|
|Team affiliations||Daily Planet|
|Supporting character of||Superman
|Notable aliases||Mr. Action, Elastic Lad, Flamebird|
|Abilities||Possesses a wristwatch which emits an ultrasonic frequency signal that can be heard by Superman from anywhere on Earth|
James "Jimmy" Bartholomew Olsen is a fictional character who appears mainly in DC Comics’ Superman stories. Olsen is a young photojournalist working for the Daily Planet. He is close friends with Lois Lane, Clark Kent/Superman and Perry White. Olsen looks up to his coworkers as role models and parent figures.
- 1 Fictional character profile
- 2 Publication history
- 3 Powers, abilities, and equipment
- 4 Other versions
- 5 Parody/Homage
- 6 In other media
- 7 Cultural references
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Fictional character profile
Jimmy is traditionally depicted as a bow tie-wearing, red-haired young man who works as a cub reporter and photographer for The Daily Planet, alongside Lois Lane and Clark Kent, whom he idolizes as career role models. In most depictions of the character, he has a strong friendship with Superman. As Superman's friend, Jimmy has special access to the Man of Steel, thanks to Superman's gift to Jimmy of a "signal watch," a wristwatch which, with the press of a button, emits a special ultrasonic frequency signal that Superman can hear anywhere on Earth. (In Post-Crisis continuity Jimmy invented the watch himself, and Superman briefly considered confiscating it. In New Earth continuity, the watch was designed by Superman based on a larger signaling device Jimmy created.)
In many Silver Age of Comic Books, Jimmy was often seen sharing adventures with Superman, who saved him from various predicaments ranging from dangerous to merely embarrassing. This was particularly pronounced in the series Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen published from 1954 to 1974, which saw Olsen in a variety of slapstick adventures and strange transformations. Like most DC characters, modern portrayals of Olsen have been more serious in tone.
An important part of the Superman mythos, Jimmy Olsen has appeared in most other media adaptations of the character.
An unnamed "office boy" with a bow tie makes a brief appearance in the story "Superman's Phony Manager" published in Action Comics #6 (November 1938), which is claimed to be Jimmy Olsen's first appearance by several reference sources. The character was first introduced as Jimmy Olsen in the radio show The Adventures of Superman on April 15, 1940 mainly "so the Man of Steel would have someone to talk to." With Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster creating and drawing the physical appearance and giving him a bigger personality, the character moved from the radio show back into the comics in 1941, first appearing as a named character in the story "Superman versus The Archer" in Superman #13 (November–December 1941). But after a handful of appearances, he disappeared again. In late 1953, while Jack Larson was playing the character on the Adventures of Superman television show where he was referred to as "Jim Olsen", the character was revived in the Superman comics after a 10-year absence and then given his own title.
In addition to Larson, he was portrayed by Tommy Bond in the two Superman film serials, Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950); Marc McClure in the Superman films of the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the 1984 film Supergirl; Michael Landes in the first season of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Justin Whalin in the subsequent three seasons; Sam Huntington in the 2006 film Superman Returns; and Aaron Ashmore in the CW's Smallville.
During the Silver Age, beginning in 1954, Jimmy starred in his own comic book, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, which featured his various adventures with and without Superman. The stories in the title would often feature particularly outlandish situations, ranging from Jimmy being hurled back in time to Krypton before its destruction in issue #36 to dealing frequently with gorillas of all sorts. This version of Jimmy Olsen even had his own fan club.
Jack Kirby's Fourth World
Jack Kirby began by introducing a secret "D.N.A. Project" to create Mutated Humans for Good, adding "The Hairies" (a group of technology-equipped hippies), superbeings from other planets (proto-New Gods), Intergang, and Morgan Edge... and reintroduced his 1940s Newsboy Legion characters. About halfway through his run, Kirby introduced vampires, the Loch Ness Monster, and Victor Volcanum, the fire-eating archcriminal. Readership quickly dropped back to its pre-Kirby levels.
Kirby's tenure on the series ended with issue #148; and with issue #164 (April–May 1974) Jimmy's book was folded into the anthology title The Superman Family. In that series, Olsen became a more serious character who battled criminals as an investigative reporter known as "Mr. Action" in urban crime stories that rarely involved Superman. Jimmy Olsen appeared in new stories in The Superman Family #164, 167, 170, 173, 176, 179, and 182-222.
The Man of Steel
Following Crisis on Infinite Earths, the entire Superman mythos was rebooted from scratch in the limited series The Man of Steel. Despite recent modernization efforts on Superman and his supporting characters, Jimmy Olsen has not been significantly changed in the Modern Age. He is still a cub reporter working for The Daily Planet, and is still friends with Superman. His look was made over as he stopped wearing bowties, and started wearing casual clothing (though this trend started in 1970s comics). An interesting alteration to the relationship was that Jimmy designed the signal watch himself, leading to his first meeting with Superman. Superman briefly considered confiscating the watch, but decided he trusted Jimmy to use it responsibly.
While Jimmy's transformations no longer occur as regularly as they did in the Silver Age, Jimmy did become Elastic Lad on contact with the Eradicator. He has taken the identity of "Turtle Boy" in a series of pizza commercials, made when he was temporarily laid off from the Planet.
In the 1990s, Jimmy moved to Metropolis broadcaster Galaxy Broadcasting, where he became more brash and arrogant. This came to an end when he thought (wrongly) he had discovered Superman's secret identity and said he would announce it live on air. He reconsidered his actions, but lost his job for wasting the timeslot. He was again rehired by the Planet.
Jimmy later came under the angry hand of the Alpha Centurion, an alternate universe dictator with a deep-seated hatred for Superman and an eye toward Lois Lane. It was Jimmy who first uncovered his secret plot to control the world's finances through his company Aelius Industries, Inc.
June 2003 saw Jimmy Olsen as the focus of a twelve-part miniseries entitled Superman: Metropolis. Written by Chuck Austen and illustrated by Danijel Zezelj, the series focused on the futuristic technology unleashed in Metropolis by Brainiac in a previous storyline, and how it affected the everyday lives of Metropolis citizens.
Recently, Jimmy had taken a position as a regular star reporter for The Daily Planet, replacing the recently demoted Clark Kent. This caused a strain in the Daily Planet.
Jimmy's story in the 2007-08 weekly series Countdown to Final Crisis begins with an investigation into the death of Duela Dent. Tying into the Death of the New Gods storyline, Jimmy starts to develop a plethora of new superpowers, which he first discovers when he is attacked by Killer Croc while gathering information on Duela's death. As the story progresses he tries to uncover the origin of these powers and starts to discover their potential limitlessness in stories which mimic the Silver Age Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen adventures. Briefly operating as the superhero "Mr. Action", Jimmy is unable to command the respect of established superheroes in the Justice League and Teen Titans, and gives up on this particular avenue. One of these powers allows Jimmy to realize the identities of some superheroes, such as Robin and Superman, who requests that he take care of Krypto.
Jimmy is eventually tracked down by the New God Forager, with whom he begins a romantic relationship. Forager informs him that he has become a soulcatcher for the spirits of dying New Gods. The Monitor known as Solomon later tells him that his new powers are the consequence of Darkseid using Jimmy as a host for powers he wishes to use to recreate the universe in his image, knowing that "Superman's pal" is one of the world's most well-protected citizens. Later, as the events of Countdown begin to come to their close, Jimmy becomes a more confidently powerful character and is reunited with the series' other cast members on a mission to stop Karate Kid's disease from becoming a pandemic of apocalyptic proportions. Unfortunately, they fail, and the Morticoccus virus devastates an alternate Earth. Upon return to their Earth, Jimmy is captured by Mary Marvel, who had been manipulated towards evil by Darkseid. When Superman comes to save Jimmy, Darkseid takes control of the powers within him, causing Jimmy to radiate Kryptonite radiation, until Ray Palmer manages to rewire Darkseid's control from inside of Jimmy. Jimmy then transforms into a giant turtle-like creature, and prepares to take on Darkseid himself. Darkseid overcomes Jimmy, and prepares to kill him. Ray Palmer then comes out of Jimmy with the New God soul battery, and destroys it, returning Jimmy to normal.
Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen Special
He tracks down a figure connected with the past of Jonathan Drew and is told the story of how Jonathan became Codename: Assassin. His informant is quickly executed by Codename: Assassin who then tries to kill Jimmy. Jimmy is able to avoid being killed and is apparently shielded from Codename: Assassin's telepathy due to his own many physical transformations over the years.
Jimmy goes to Project Cadmus and speaks to Dubbilex, who tells him the story about the death of the original Guardian at the hands of Codename: Assassin and how cloning is such an imperfect science that the only viable clone alive went into hiding in the desert. Dubbilex then dies from injuries sustained in an earlier conflict with Codename: Assassin. Jimmy heads south to the town of Warpath, AZ, managing to avoid conflict with Codename: Assassin on the way.
Upon arriving in Warpath, Jimmy interviews the sheriff, Greg Saunders, who evades his questions. Jimmy follows him after dark and sees Saunders working with the last Guardian clone. He then confronts the clone at his home and the two speak.
With his two weeks up, Jimmy returns to Metropolis horrified from learning that a faction within the US military is actively plotting to kill Superman.
Willing to do anything to uncover the conspiracy behind Project 7734, Jimmy uses an anonymous chat server and gets in contact with Erik/Amazing Woman from Infinity Inc., who claims to have informations useful to help Jimmy. Despite being actively pursued by Codename: Assassin, who goes so far to place bugs in his house, Jimmy goes to the appointment, only to find Erik's house burned to the ground.
Jimmy pulls Erik out, who with his dying breath, shifts to his more reliable and powerful Erika form. Erik gives him Natasha Irons' number. Natasha contacts then Jimmy, telling him about the plans of General Sam Lane, his outworldly fortress and his capture, and use of a Planet Breaker weapon of Captain Atom, now codenamed Project Breach (due to his similarity to Tim Zanetti's fate).
Finally ready to uncover the truth, Jimmy is openly confronted by Codename: Assassin, who until that point had merely followed him closely. Jimmy uses his signal watch to call Mon-El. Jimmy is shot twice in the chest by Codename: Assassin, and sinks into the ocean. Despite surviving his assassination attempt, Jimmy decides to fake his death, having his documents planted on a heavily disfigured corpse. With no one knowing about his survival, Jimmy moves into the old Pemberton Camera Factory, sharing the results of his now unhindered investigations with Perry and Mon-El.
Action Comics backup and Jimmy Olsen
DC Comics has reported in solicits that Nick Spencer and R.B. Silva will be producing a monthly 10-page backup feature in Action Comics chronicling the adventures of Jimmy Olsen in Metropolis. Reported story topics include an alien civilization choosing Metropolis as the base of a major cultural celebration, and the introduction of Chloe Sullivan (from the Smallville television series) to the DCU proper. In the latest arc, he goes on a charity date with a girl named Maggie, only to discover that she somehow has ties to Mr. Mxyzptlk, and that she wants to marry him.
The last three chapters of the story are told in the self-titled one-shot, Jimmy Olsen.
Powers, abilities, and equipment
Jimmy possesses a watch which emits a high-pitched signal only Superman can hear. In a 2010 story, he claimed it stopped working some time in the past, never worked particularly well in the first place, and contacted Superman through Morse code now, anyway, but still wore it for show.
Mostly during the Silver Age of Comic Books, Jimmy would find himself temporarily transformed, for better or worse, or undergo a disguise for various purposes. The variety of transformations Jimmy received during the Silver Age is often homaged or parodied in later comics and adaptations featuring the character — for instance, in JLA: The Nail, Jimmy cites three of these transformations as his motivations behind backing Luthor's bill to outlaw metahumans and in Countdown, Jimmy is used as a spirit container for the deceased New Gods, causing him to exhibit strange powers, albeit uncontrollably, with other stories simply make passing references.
- Speed Demon — In 1956, a month before the debut of Barry Allen as the new Flash, Jimmy drank a potion produced by a Professor Claude and briefly gained super-speed.
- Radioactive — After being exposed to a radioactive substance, Jimmy began to irradiate everything in his presence.
- Super-Brain — Jimmy briefly evolved into a "man of the future" with superhuman mental powers.
- Monstrous beard growth — The machinations of the sinister Beard Band cause Jimmy to grow an immense beard.
- Gorilla — When Jimmy switched minds with a gorilla, he went about his reporting duties as a gorilla in Jimmy's clothes.
- Elastic Lad — As Elastic Lad, Jimmy by serum or by alien virus could sometimes stretch himself, akin to Elongated Man or Plastic Man. As Elastic Lad, Jimmy was inducted as an Honorary Member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. In the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity, Jimmy was afflicted with uncontrollable and painful elasticity by the Eradicator. It had to be genetically edited out.
- Alien-form — Aliens transformed Jimmy into a telepathic Jovian for a week. Fortunately, this turned out to be a Jovian week ... which is much shorter than an Earth week, about 70 hours = slightly less than three days.
- Fire-breather — An accident involving an experiment gives Jimmy fire-breath.
- Human octopus — After eating an extraterrestrial fruit, Jimmy grew four extra arms. According to Superman, this was actually a hallucination, but Jimmy suspected that Superman said this to teach him a lesson since Jimmy had foolishly ignored advice from the Man of Steel that would've saved him a lot of trouble.
- Genie — Jimmy found a genie's lamp and was tricked into replacing its villainous occupant.
- Wolf-Man — In the vein of the 1957 Michael Landon film I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Jimmy found himself transformed into a werewolf.
- Woman — Jimmy would occasionally go undercover dressed as a woman in #44, #67, #84, and #159. Grant Morrison paid a brief homage to this in the JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel and in All-Star Superman.
- Morbidly obese — Jimmy tried to get fat in an attempt to stop a jewel smuggling and to impress a Circus Fat Lady.
- Giant Turtle Man — One of Jimmy's most frequently cited transformations was that of his turning into a giant turtle man.
- Human porcupine — After rejecting the romantic advances of an imp from the 5th Dimension.
- Flamebird — This is the name he took as a costumed superhero, with Superman disguised as Nightwing, in the shrunken Kryptonian city of Kandor. These names were inspired by two native Kryptonian birds, the nightwing and the flamebird, but the relationship between Nightwing and Flamebird intentionally paralleled the crime-fighting team Batman (a night-winged creature) and Robin (a flame-colored bird).
- Bizarro Jimmy — Although Jimmy has a counterpart on Bizarro World, he was briefly turned into a Bizarro himself.
- Hippie — Investigating a colony of hippies at "Guru Kama's Dream Pad", Jimmy grew a beard and participated in a mock "hate-in". On the cover of this story's issue, Jimmy is wielding a sign that says "Superman is a freak-out!"
- Viking — Jimmy put on Viking armor and mistakenly thought he'd been transported 1000 years backward in time.
JLA: The Nail
In JLA: The Nail, an alternate reality in which a nail punctured a tire on the Kent's car, preventing them from finding the spaceship containing a baby Superman, Jimmy Olsen is revealed as the one behind all the other superheroes' troubles. Jimmy had served as an aide to Lex Luthor- who has become the mayor of Metropolis thanks to his efforts to provide Metropolis with a technologically-advanced police force to battle the threats that Superman was not there to defend the city against- following various short-lived attempts at heroism caused by temporary alteration of his DNA leaving him somewhat cynical of real heroes. Having discovered Superman's spaceship and using DNA samples to create numerous Bizarro clones, Luthor grafted Kryptonian DNA onto Jimmy—the only such 'graft' that appeared successful, as other subjects either died instantly or mutated before death. This caused Jimmy to go insane, and possess superpowers similar to Superman's, as well as mentally transforming him into a Kryptonian determined to replace human life with Kryptonian life. Jimmy played up the public's fear of superheroes via propaganda encouraging the possibility of them as alien invaders rather than the enhanced humans of the Justice Society, hoping to have them imprisoned so he could use their DNA as well in an attempt to create a stable template to create other new Kryptonians. When Jimmy attacked an Amish couple and their son during a battle with the Justice League- which culminated in a desperate attempt by Batman and Green Lantern to stop him by supercharging Batman with his ring after Jimmy defeated the rest of the team-, the couple was killed, but the son was revealed to be Superman. In this alternate reality, the Amish couple had raised Superman, and brought him up as a pacifist who was encouraged to ignore worldly affairs so that he could walk in righteousness, so he had never used his powers in conflict. Jimmy asked Superman to join him, claiming that they were virtually brothers as they shared the same DNA, but when Superman refused, the two battled. During the battle, Jimmy's body finally started to reject the Kryptonian DNA, causing him to disintegrate. His last, almost prophetic words were directed at Superman, "We should have been friends". The Justice League then asked Superman to join them, recognising that his DNA had only given Jimmy an opportunity to vent his pre-existing frustrations rather than bringing out something that was not there before.
Frank Miller's Batman
In Frank Miller's 1986 graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, an older Jimmy Olsen (James, as he is now called) is featured as the writer of a Daily Planet article titled "Truth to Power", recalling the age of heroes. In the 2001 sequel Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again he appears on various TV shows, where he attempts to reveal that the current President is a holographic projection. His attempts to publicize the truth are halted by Lex Luthor as Metropolis is destroyed (killing hundreds, including Jimmy, Lois, and Perry) by BrainIAC.
A young Jimmy Olsen makes an appearance in All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder #6, helping Vicki Vale, who he appears to be attracted to, escape from a hospital and giving her files on Batman and the Flying Graysons. This incarnation is described as a cub reporter for the Gotham Gazette as opposed to his regular position at the Daily Planet and as 'Superman's Pal'.
Superman: Red Son
In Superman: Red Son, written by Mark Millar, Jimmy is depicted as an agent of the CIA, eventually becoming the director, and soon joins Dr. Lex Luthor in his Presidential bid and becomes Vice President.
In Superman: Kal, the Jamie Olsen of the Middle Ages is an early alchemist, working with blacksmith's apprentice Kal to forge a suit of armour for Baron Luthor using metal acquired from a 'silver egg' that fell from the sky years ago. After Kal is killed in his final effort to slay Luthor, the story concludes with an epilogue where Jamie Olsen tells his apprentice, Merlin, of his friendship with Kal, noting that Kal's last action was to hide away his indestructible sword until it would be needed.
In Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman series, Jimmy shows up briefly in the Daily Planet offices in argyle socks; this Jimmy seems to be a refined version of the Silver Age vintage, with a signal watch halfway between a McDonald's happy meal toy and haute couture. He is shown with something that may be a jetpack. Issue #4 of the series focuses on Jimmy and his adventures as the one-day director of the DNA P.R.O.J.E.C.T., a leftover from the Jack Kirby-era Jimmy Olsen series. This is apparently the latest in a series of highly successful articles by Jimmy, in which he spends a day in various roles. This version of Jimmy became that reality's version of Doomsday.
In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Jimmy Olsen is an agent of Cyborg sent to spy on the Amazons. He was with Lois Lane reporting on a fashion show in Mountmatre when the Atlanteans flooded Europe. Jimmy was one of the thousands to perish in Western Europe when he tried to save an old man, though Lois survived by getting into a church steeple. Jimmy's place at the Resistance was then taken by Lois, after she got his camera, revealed to be a communications device that can transform into different forms for concealment.
DC Universe Online: Legends
In the limited comic series, DC Universe Online: Legends, Jimmy Olsen was captured, alongside Lois Lane and Perry White, in the Daily Planet by Brainiac, but was saved by Superman, with Lex Luthor in possession of the canister containing them. Later, Jimmy became one of the people who have gained metahuman abilities from Braniac's Exobytes, transforming his body into a large being with reptile-like skin.
Taking place decades after Jimmy's final appearance in Justice League Unlimited, the Superman Beyond one-shot features a now-elderly version of the character. It is revealed that Jimmy purchased the Daily Planet after Perry White's death, and now runs a successful media empire.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
- In Alan Moore and Gene Ha's Top 10, a photograph of a version of two of Jimmy's superpowered selves, merged, is shown to Andy Soames; having contracted a disease which warps powers, this version appears to be Turtle Boy, driven insane by the acquisition of Elastic Lad's powers.
- In Lord Havok and the Extremists #3, a variation of Jimmy called Robin Olsen, is shown as a member of Monarch's army.
- In Alan Moore's Supreme, Billy Friday is a young, red-haired associate of Ethan Crane/Supreme; Friday eventually becomes/merges with Master Meteor, a time-travelling villain powered by the reality-bending substance Supremium, and becomes the insane Supremium Man.
- In the 2010 movie Megamind a version of Jimmy Olsen called Hal Stewart (Jonah Hill) who is a cameraman working for TV reporter Roxanne Ritchi (a version of Lois Lane played by Tina Fey) has unrequited feelings for Ritchi, which plays into and results in him later becoming a villain called Tighten (a misspelling of the word "Titan") later on in the movie.
In other media
The first actor to portray Jimmy Olsen in a live-action format was Tommy Bond, who co-starred with Kirk Alyn (Superman/Clark Kent) and Noel Neill (Lois Lane) in the film serials Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950).
In the four motion pictures starring Christopher Reeve, beginning with Superman: The Movie, Jimmy Olsen was portrayed by Marc McClure. McClure reprised his role as Jimmy Olsen in the 1984 spin-off movie Supergirl, making McClure the only actor and Olsen the only character to appear in all five Superman films of the 1978-1987 era.
In Bryan Singer's 2006 movie Superman Returns, Jimmy Olsen is portrayed by Sam Huntington, an older and more confident, yet goofier portrayal of the character who finds it difficult to get a good shot or get any photos published. In a deleted scene included in the DVD release, a slightly inebriated Olsen is seen to complain to Clark about the fact he has not had a photo printed in several months. In the film, Jack Larson, who portrayed Jimmy in the Adventures of Superman television series, plays Bo, a bartender who talks to Clark and Jimmy. Singer originally offered Shawn Ashmore the role, but the actor declined due to his commitments to X-Men: The Last Stand. Ashmore's twin brother Aaron Ashmore played Jimmy in Smallville.
Jimmy Olsen did not appear in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel film. Some sources had suggested that the film would recast the character as a woman named "Jenny Olsen". Actress Rebecca Buller instead portrayed a character named "Jenny Jurwich".
Jimmy appeared in Superman: Doomsday, played by voice actor Adam Wylie. He is with Lois reporting the battle between Superman and Doomsday and is one the characters followed through their grieving process; his being quitting the Daily Planet and becoming a Paparazzi photographer. Lois tries to get him to come back and help her investigate Superman's supposed return, which he refuses due to him foolishly liking his new life. He does eventually help Lois after seeing Toyman dead by "Superman's" hand and they discover that this Superman is a clone made by Lex Luthor and later runs alongside Lois during "Superman's" fight with, who Jimmy calls, Rocker Superman, the real Superman. After their fight, Jimmy is happy to see the real Superman alive when Superman confirms it is him through a kiss with Lois.
Jimmy appeared in Justice League: The New Frontier. He has no dialogue, therefore no voice actor. He is always shown with Lois, and is almost killed during the final battle. He tries to take dangerous pictures during the battle.
Jimmy appeared in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. He is in the antimatter Earth as Ultraman's "Pal" and was used to bait him out. He tries to take on Luthor and Superman with super powers in battle. This Jimmy Olsen has the powers of flight, superhuman strength and durability, but despite them, he was easily overpowered by Superman. He was arrested and taken to jail along with Ultraman. In promotional materials for the film, this version of Jimmy is referred to as "Mr. Action". He was voiced by Richard Green.
Jimmy appears in Justice League: Doom, with David Kaufman reprising his role from the Superman animated series. He has a brief speaking role as he and Lois are outside the Daily Planet reporting a possible suicide jump. Jimmy is the one who identifies the jumper as a former reporter from the Daily Planet. It is really Metallo in disguise, who proceeds to shoot superman with a Kryptonite bullet.
He appears in Superman vs. The Elite again voiced by David Kaufman.
In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Jimmy is mentioned in a news segment where he announces that the fourth year of the TV writers' strike won't interfere with this year's television season.
Jimmy appears in Superman: Unbound voiced by Alexander Gould. He doesn't have a major role in the film and is present mainly as one of the cameo characters in the film. He does serve a brief purpose as Lois asks him to use his signal watch to call Supergirl, who he immediately has an attraction to.
In Superman 64 he is trapped, along with Lois Lane and Professor Emil Hamilton, by Lex Luthor. Superman has to save him and his friends in this game.
In Superman: Shadow of Apokolips for the Nintendo Gamecube and the PlayStation 2, Jimmy (again voiced by David Kaufman) makes some minor appearances and only seen in the story between game-play. He is seen in the bibliography section of the game.
Adventures of Superman
On the Adventures of Superman television series (starring George Reeves), Jimmy Olsen was portrayed by Jack Larson, who appeared as the cub reporter from 1952 to 1958. Largely because of the popularity of Larson and his portrayal of the character, National Comics Publications (DC Comics) decided in 1954 to create Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, a regular title featuring Jimmy as the leading character. Decades later in 1996, Larson portrayed an unnaturally aged Jimmy Olsen in an episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
On the television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Jimmy Olsen was portrayed by Michael Landes in the first season and Justin Whalin for the rest of the series' run. The reason cited behind the change is that Landes looked too much like Dean Cain as well as to emphasize Jimmy's youth. Landes played Olsen as a cocksure, sarcastic Generation X character, who often seemed like he was very sure of himself although usually, the opposite was true. Whalin gave a portrayal closer to previous incarnations of the character, playing Jimmy as a lovably naive rookie. When Whalin took over the role, more emphasis was placed on Jimmy's love-life and he would frequently seek out Lois, Clark and Perry's advice on these matters. Whalin's Olsen was described as being a computer whiz and these talents often came in useful to Lois and Clark/Superman, particularly in the episode 'Virtually Destroyed' where Jimmy's computing abilities come in handy as Lois and Superman battle a villain inside of a virtual reality simulator. Jimmy's home life and background is described in some detail throughout the course of the show. Although we never see her, some references are made to Jimmy's mother who is described as being overweight and having allergies. Jimmy's father Jack Olsen is a James Bond-like secret agent for the fictional National Intelligence Agency (N.I.A.) and the episode 'The Dad who Came in from the Cold' is entirely devoted to this character.
In Smallville the series incarnation of Jimmy Olsen is first referenced in Season 2 by Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack), when she refers to a "cute boy" she met in Metropolis that made her forget all about Smallville for the summer. His name is first given in Season 4 when Chloe says that he was her "first time." In Season 6's premiere "Zod", he appears in person (played by Aaron Ashmore) on the staff of the Daily Planet and prefers to be called "James". As Season 6 progresses, Jimmy and Chloe become a couple again. At first Jimmy is jealous of Clark Kent but their relationship becomes friendly after Clark reunites him with Chloe in the Season 6 episode "Trespass".
In Season 7, Jimmy is still at Daily Planet working as a budding photographer, his relationship with Chloe is going through a rough phase due to Chloe's newfound abilities caused by an amount of Kryptonite meteor in her blood stream. They broke up in a very emotional scene in the episode "Cure" since Chloe was unable to share her secret with him. Meanwhile, Kara Zor-El (Laura Vandervoort) (Clark's cousin) has developed a crush on Jimmy and they become friends. Jimmy is smitten by her and teams up with her in episodes such as "Cure" and "Lara". They are in a relationship briefly, but they break up and Jimmy is shown to be in a relationship again with Chloe in the episode "Sleeper". In the season finale, he proposed to her but she was arrested before she had the time to answer.
In Season 8's premiere "Odyssey", Jimmy is seen waiting for Chloe at the Talon. Chloe arrives and Jimmy tells her that he takes back his proposal saying it might risk what they have between them. But Chloe disagrees. She reveals that she loves Jimmy and says that she'll gladly be his wife. She kisses Jimmy passionately afterwards. In "Committed", Jimmy admits to Chloe that he lied about his father being a Manhattan investment banker; Jimmy says his father was an alcoholic and a mechanic in Oklahoma City and has never met his mother, apologizingly for lying but she hugs him. In "Bride", Jimmy marries Chloe in the Kent barn but the reception is interrupted by Doomsday, who nearly kills Jimmy and kidnaps Chloe. Jimmy's condition is so serious he must be taken to a hospital in Star City. In "Turbulence", Jimmy sees Davis Bloome (Doomsday's human form) murder a drunk driver and becomes almost violently obsessed with proving it. Davis convinces Chloe that Jimmy is hallucinating from high doses of pain medication, ultimately ending Chloe and Jimmy's marriage and causing Jimmy to become addicted to his pain medication. In Season 8's finale "Doomsday", Chloe and Jimmy finally reconciled after Jimmy discovered Clark's secret and understood why Chloe had been with Davis to protect Clark from his kryptonian alter-ego: Doomsday. As Chloe gives Jimmy a passionate kiss, Jimmy is mortally wounded by a jealous Davis who was stripped of his Kryptonian persona by Clark and Chloe. Before succumbing to his injury, Jimmy kills Davis. At his funeral, his full name is revealed to be Henry James Olsen. His camera is given to his younger brother (portrayed by Ryan Harder). While Jimmy's younger brother's name is not mentioned, the boy is wearing a bowtie, leading to the possibility that this is Jimmy Olsen (James Bartholomew Olsen), who will befriend Superman. In Season 9 finale, Clark has a premonition about the future in 2013 where Lois Lane calls out to an "Olsen", likely calling the younger Jimmy Olsen. In the Season 10 episode "Homecoming", Clark accidentally time-travels to the future in 2017 (thanks to Brainiac 5) and reads a Daily Planet article that listed Jimmy Olsen. In the series finale, it verifies that the brother at Henry James' funeral is the "real" Jimmy Olsen, who is trying to follow his late brother's footsteps after being recruited as a news photographer at the Daily Planet. The young adult version of the character is also portrayed by Aaron Ashmore.
The DVD box set for the seventh season of Smallville includes a featurette entitled Jimmy on Jimmy. Approximately 22 minutes in length, Jimmy on Jimmy is a roundtable discussion featuring four of the six surviving actors who have portrayed Jimmy Olsen in live action: Jack Larson (Adventures of Superman), Marc McClure (Superman film series, Supergirl), Sam Huntington (Superman Returns), and Aaron Ashmore (Smallville). Michael Landes and Justin Whalin (both from Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) did not participate.
In the Super Friends animated series, he "appears" in the second episode of The World's Greatest Super Friends season, 'Lex Luthor Strikes Back', with Lois Lane. It wasn't Jimmy at all, but Lex Luthor's henchman Orville Gump in disguise.
In Superman: The Animated Series, Jimmy was played by voice actor David Kaufman. One episode was called "Superman's Pal" as an homage to the classic comic series, and Superman gave Jimmy the signal watch by the end of the episode. Another allusion to the comics made in the show was seen in the second season episode "Mxyzpixilated," where Mr. Mxyzptlk turns all the employees of the Daily Planet into animals. Jimmy is turned into a turtle, possibly as a homage.
In Justice League Jimmy makes a brief appearance in Superman's nightmare (in which Superman, uncontrollably strong, hugs him so hard he kills his friend) in "Only a Dream", with David Kaufman reprising the role. He makes a cameo at Superman's funeral in "Hereafter." A photographer with orange hair appears beside Clark at the beginning of "Starcrossed." Though his face isn't shown, it is likely Jimmy.
Jimmy had several cameo appearances in Justice League Unlimited, including one episode where Huntress used sleeping gas on him, tied him up, taped his mouth shut, and used the signal watch to attract Superman. In the episode "Chaos at the Earth's Core", several heroes battle a giant turtle that has a thatch of red hair. Bruce Timm has confirmed this is a reference to Jimmy's Giant Turtle Boy persona, "but it was more economical time-wise to have him revert to cute little turtle than naked, confused photographer."
Jimmy appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Battle of the Super Heroes", voiced by Alexander Polinsky. The episode references him with his misadventures of him being transformed into a giant turtle, and having quills thanks to Mxyzptlk.
Jimmy appears in the Young Justice episode "Depths".
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- The Spin Doctors had a minor hit with their song "Jimmy Olsen's Blues" on their album Pocket Full of Kryptonite, in which they portrayed Jimmy Olsen as infatuated with Lois Lane and jealous of Superman, a problem which he hoped to solve with the aforementioned "pocket full of Kryptonite." In the period after the song became popular, artist Jon Bogdanove, who at the time was the regular penciler on the Superman: The Man of Steel comic, would occasionally depict Jimmy wearing a Spin Doctors T-shirt.
- Often, Superman pastiches have featured notable Jimmy analogues. For example, in Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, Mighty Mouse's greatest fan was a young mouse named Scrappy with a shock of red hair.
- Alan Moore's comic series Supreme featured Billy Friday, a cynical British comic book writer, very unlike Jimmy in personality, but who underwent weird transformations similar to those of the Silver Age Jimmy.
- On the show Boy Meets World, Topanga refers to a photographer as a "Jimmy Olsen freak."
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Zeppo", characters twice refer to non-superpowered sidekick Xander Harris as Jimmy Olsen.
- Professional wrestler Corey Branson took the moniker Jimmy Olsen in a few New York promotions such as NWA Upstate.
- The Teamo Supremo episode "You'd Better Start Calling Me Chief!" revolved around an accident-prone newspaper reporter and photographer named Ollie Jimson who followed the titular trio around, screwing up their attempts to catch the bad guys.
- In The Sopranos episode "Cold Stones", Silvio Dante reacts to a piece of already heard news by responding that Carlo Gervasi is a "regular Jimmy Olsen."
- In the horror film House of 1000 Corpses, Grandpa Hugo asks one of the main characters if he is "Jimmy Olsen, cub reporter for The Daily Arsehole".
- In the drug comedy film Tyrone, the character Tyrone played by Coolio calls one of the main characters a "Jimmy Olsen lookin' mother f'er".
- In "The Boyfriend", an episode of Seinfeld, Keith Hernandez tells Jerry that he loved his Jimmy Olsen bit.
- Comic Book Guy mentioned Jimmy Olsen in the Simpsons episode "Husbands and Knives".
- On an appearance on HBO's Costas Now, author and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Buzz Bissinger said to sports blog "Deadspin" founder Will Leitch, "You're like Jimmy Olsen on percocet".
- In season 3 episode 11 of Desperate Housewives, Carlos refers to Gabrielle's boyfriend as Jimmy Olsen because of the page boy cap he wears.
- Dar Williams mentions Jimmy Olsen in her song "Are You Out There".
- In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Jimmy Jones, a major fan of Ben Tennyson and his aliens, is a homage to both Jimmy Olsen and Rick Jones from The Incredible Hulk.
- In Mad, Jimmy is seen hosting a commercial in which Superman appears.
- In the series How I Met Your Mother on the episode "Third Wheel", Barney says that watching Ted go for the belt would be like Jimmy Olsen capturing Lex Luthor while Superman watches impotently from the bedroom.
- Rapper Mr. MFN Exquire mentions Olsen in the song "Poisonous Thoughts" off Inspectah Deck's Czarface album.
- Wallace, Daniel (2013). Superman: The Ultimate Guide to the Man of Steel. Dorling Kindersley. p. 126. ISBN 978-1465408754.
- Wallace, Daniel; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1930s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "Action Comics #6 (November 1938) The Man of Steels's future pal Jimmy Olsen made his first appearance within this issue of Action Comics, although he was identified only as an "inquisitive office-boy."
- Action Comics #6 (November 1938) at the Grand Comics Database
- Markstein, Don (2008). "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on July 10, 2014.
- "Lightning Bolts" Black Lightning 3 (July 1977)
- Wallace "1940s" in Dolan, p. 37 "Superman #13 (November–December 1941) Jimmy Olsen made his first appearance as a named character in this issue."
- Superman #13 (Nov.-Dec.1941) at the Grand Comics Database
- Irvine, Alex "1950s" in Dolan, p. 73: "Jimmy Olsen got his own adventures in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #1. A comic remarkable for its inventiveness and longevity, it ran for 163 issues."
- Sims, Chris (September 29, 2010). "The 10 Most Insane Jimmy Olsen Moments of All Time". ComicsAlliance. Archived from the original on April 21, 2014. "With 163 issues of outright madness, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen somehow managed to out-crazy every other DC comic in the Silver Age."
- Rozum, John (December 18, 2012). "The Twelve Best Covers Of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on April 10, 2014.
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- McAvennie, Michael "1970s" in Dolan, p. 141 "Since no ongoing creative team had been slated to Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen, "King of Comics" Jack Kirby made the title his DC launch point, and the writer/artist's indelible energy and ideas permeated every panel and word balloon of the comic."
- McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 159 "DC's 100-page Super Spectaculars were proving popular, so DC said goodnye to Supergirl, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane, and housed the characters together in Superman Family. Continuing the numbering from where Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen ended, the series featured classic reprints with new tales in the lead spot."
- Wells, John (February 2013). "Superman Family Portraits". Back Issue (TwoMorrows Publishing) (62): 44–54.
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- Binder, Otto (w), Swan, Curt (p), Burnley, Ray (i). "Jimmy Olsen, the Bearded Boy" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 23 (September 1957)
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- Binder, Otto (w), Swan, Curt (p), Burnley, Ray (i). "The E-L-A-S-T-I-C Lad" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 31 (September 1958)
- Siegel, Jerry (w), Swan, Curt (p), Klein, George (i). "The World of Doomed Olsens!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 72 (October 1963)
- Pérez, George; Jurgens, Dan (w), Jurgens, Dan (p), Janson, Klaus (i). "I Sing the Body Elastic" The Adventures of Superman 458 (September 1989)
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- Binder, Otto (w), Swan, Curt (p), Burnley, Ray (i). "The Human Flame-Thrower!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 33 (December 1958)
- Bernstein, Robert (w), Swan, Curt (p), Forte, John (i). "The Human Octopus!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 41 (December 1959)
- Bernstein, Robert (w), Swan, Curt (p), Giunta, John (i). "Jimmy the Genie!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 42 (January 1960)
- Binder, Otto (w), Swan, Curt (p), Kaye, Stan (i). "The Wolf-Man of Metropolis!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 44 (April 1960)
- Bernstein, Robert (w), Swan, Curt (p), Kaye, Stan (i). "Miss Jimmy Olsen!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 44 (April 1960)
- Dorfman, Leo (w), Swan, Curt (p), Klein, George (i). "Leslie Lowe, Girl Reporter!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 67 (March 1963)
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- Dorfman, Leo (w), Schaffenberger, Kurt (p), Schaffenberger, Kurt (i). "The Day They Unmasked Mr. Action" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 159 (August 1973)
- Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #44 (April 1960); Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #67 (March 1963); Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #84 (April 1965); and Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #159 (Aug. 1973) at the Grand Comics Database
- Morrison, Grant (w), Quitely, Frank (p), Quitely, Frank (i). "Earth 2" JLA: Earth 2 1 (January 2000)
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- Siegel, Jerry (w), Swan, Curt (p), Klein, George (i). "The Human Porcupine" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 65 (December 1962)
- Hamilton, Edmond (w), Swan, Curt (p), Klein, George (i). "The Dynamic Duo of Kandor!" Superman 158 (January 1963)
- Siegel, Jerry (w), Forte, John (p), Klein, George (i). "Jimmy Olsen, the Bizarro Boy!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 80 (October 1964)
- Binder, Otto (w), Costanza, Pete (p), Costanza, Pete (i). "Hippie Olsen's Hate-In!" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 118 (March 1969)
- Dorfman, Leo (w), Schaffenberger, Kurt (p), Colletta, Vince (i). "Olsen the Red, Last of the Vikings" Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 154 (November 1972)
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- Kay, Don (January 23, 2013). "Who is Jenny Olsen and why is she in Man of Steel?". Blastr. Archived from the original on October 7, 2013. "One character has been missing from that list: Jimmy Olsen, the young Daily Planet photographer who often tags along with Lois on assignment and usually has to get rescued along with her by Superman...it's possible that the character does appear in the movie -- but radically re-imagined as a woman."
- Woerner, Meredith (January 21, 2013). "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen could look a LOT different in Man of Steel". io9. Archived from the original on September 26, 2013. "Rumor has it Jimmy Olsen is now Jenny Olsen. A quick search over at IMDB confirms that actress Rebecca Buller will be playing a character called Jenny Olsen. And there's no mention of Jimmy."
- Rosenberg, Alyssa (January 25, 2013). "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen Might Be Getting a Sex Change". Slate. Archived from the original on May 28, 2013. "Over the past several days, a rumor, based on both still photos and IMDb credits for Zack Snyder's upcoming Superman movie Man of Steel, has spread throughout the nerdosphere: that Snyder's made an important change to the Superman canon, turning Superman's pal, cub reporter Jimmy Olsen, into a girl."
- Dickens, Donna (June 5, 2013). "Where Is Jimmy Olsen In The New Man Of Steel Movie?". BuzzFeed. Archived from the original on June 11, 2013. "Rebecca Buller appears to be playing Jenny Jurwich, Assistant."
- Kapur, Isabella (June 5, 2013). "The Man of Steel Female Jimmy Olsen Theory Appears to Be Dead". The Mary Sue. Archived from the original on October 26, 2013. "It appears that actor Rebecca Buller may not be playing Jenny Olsen, as we thought, but an assistant by the name of Jenny Jurwich, based on evidence from a higher quality image of a Man of Steel shot."
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