Defending Superman: Hope, Not Trope

by funwithjedi on January 29, 2013

I'm unashamed in my love for Superman.

Most people have set ideas about Superman, usually about how Batman or any Marvel character are better than him. These ideas have always bugged me, so I'm trying to set the record straight in the only way I know how.

But first, I want to set the tone for this blog entry: I am going to table the "god-like" powers for now. While I can easily make the case that Superman isn't "too powerful", I won't. That really isn't the point. Ultimately, powers are secondary to character. If the robust nature of Marvel's bullpen is any indication, the abilities of a character aren't what set the course for how popular they are. It's ultimately the real-world concepts that the characters remind audiences of.

For me, the ultimate value to Superman is that of Clark Kent. At first, readers may not understand Clark Kent. As Superman's connection to civilian life, he's clumsy, awkward, and weak. He's constantly undervalued and ignored. He's so vulnerably human, no one thinks he can possibly be Superman. Most readers (and some writers) see that as Superman going out of his way to keep his identity secret.

But to me, Clark Kent is semi-autobiographical. I was born with Asperger's Syndrome, a condition related to Autism that affects every aspect of my life. Most notably, it makes me socially awkward, shy, clumsy and overall difficult to get along with. That's the Clark Kent factor. You don't need to be Autistic, however, to feel alone, to feel underrated. You also don't need to be Autistic to know that people don't see your potential.

Enter Superman. While Clark Kent is mocked by society around him, he's comforted by the fact that he is the world's best-kept secret: He's Superman. He can do anything. He has the infatuation of the girl he's secretly infatuated with. He stands up to evil, and he's idolized, not mocked. He's the idealized version of Clark Kent. The greatest aspect of Superman stories is that they speak to us as humans, it reminds us that we are more than what people think of us. That deep down, we can all be Superman.



lucstclair's picture

I was never really a huge fan of Superman, like you said, it’s easy to dismiss the character as perfect or too powerful. Now even though he’s an alien, his human side shines a thousand times brighter than the sun that energizes his very powers, which makes him the most human of all super heroes. Thanks for the great blog FUNWITHJEDI, I now see Superman in a whole new light.

Loved the film and the new interpretation…so glad they didn’t do the typical and show Superman flying around town saving people and stopping crimes, this was finally a much larger scale, that is what Superman is. I will always love the original films no matter what…super man jackets superman leather jackets

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