Friday, December 7, 2012
No Love for Superman?
It's been talked about before. People lamenting Superman for being boring. He's so powerful and indestructible, there is never a sense of danger for him. And, how can we relate to such a boy scout who can do anything? He is a god among men, living with us without being one of us. I thought a lot about Superman as I prepared to take over Superman Beyond, but I also reflected on the character as I wrote Captain Atom.
Yes, Superman is an alien. He is way powerful, virtually indestructible, with abilities we can only dream about. He leads a seemingly charmed life - loving parents, trusting friends, a job he cherishes, and let's not forget an unbending moral spine.
That last part is what I think is the problem. It's not the power and strength. We can relate to the Hulk. It's not the impervious nature. We relate to Wolverine. Tony Stark thrives in his career. Peter Parker has loving people in his life. It's that pesky morality. As flawed humans, we have a hard time connecting with someone who seems to make all the right decisions with ease. Superman never wavers in his heart. He knows the right thing to do and simply does it. There is no battle, no inner-struggle. And, that is what makes him so very inhuman. Ironic, isn't it? His empathy, his ability to relate to us makes him seem foreign to us.
It even explains why some actually loathe Superman, hoping more than anything that he gets knocked down a peg or two. Because Superman serves as a mirror to our own behavior. He's the ultimate role model, and it frustrates us because we cannot live up to his gold standard. He's kind, responsible, and even-tempered. There isn't a mean bone in his body. And, he makes it look so damn easy. He doesn't belittle people to make himself feel better. He doesn't lash out in anger or greed or fear. Don't get me wrong, humans possess all the same altruistic traits. We are not monsters. But, our behavior ebbs and flows. We have moments to be proud of and moments to abhor.
Superman never has those lapses in judgment.
As for me, I don't loathe him or think he is boring. I admire him. He was always meant to be the beacon on the hill. The trick is to strive to reach the light without being dismayed when it exposes our own failings hidden in the shadows.