Long before Ben Affleck started thinking about suiting up as the man of steel, Superman was all over the big screen. And we're not talking about the underrated 'Superman Returns,' the Christopher Reeve movies or even the clumsily executed 1948 serial.

Back in 1941, Fleischer Studios acquired the rights to the comic-book superhero, who had made his debut three years earlier and was growing in popularity. The company was run by a pair of brothers, Max and Dave Fleischer, who had cut their teeth on a series of influential 'Out of the Inkwell' shorts in the '20s that combined live action and animation. By the following decade, they were making the great Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons.

'The Mechanical Monsters' was the second of the 17 Superman shorts that the Fleischer Studios produced in the '40s. Adapting superstylized animation, the nine-minute short from 1941 has influenced everything from Hayao Miyazaki's classic 'Castle in the Sky' to the not-awful 2004 Jude Law-Gwyneth Paltrow movie 'Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.'

With an army of robots, a mad scientist and Lois Lane bound and gagged over a pot of boiling something or another, it's one of the best Superman outings to ever hit the big screen. You can watch it above.