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Author Topic: Is Superman a boring superhero?  (Read 3468 times)
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« on: June 25, 2006, 05:01:04 PM »

I was always a Marvel guy growing up.  I loved Spidey and the X-Men, Fantastic Four, the Avengers and all the rest.  I never really liked DC comics much although I also never really read Batman much.  Now that I'm grown I do like Batman a lot.

All that is a prequel to my saying I think Superman is one of the most boring superheroes ever created.  I didn't really like him as a child.  He always seemed like he was too perfect.  It's like when you are playing games with your friends and you tell him how your Sword of Doom will beat his Axe of Justice and he counters with "Well my Axe of Justice can transform into a Thermonuclear Doomsday Device and destroy the universe!!!"  Suddently the game isn't as fun anymore.

That's Superman to me - the Thermonuclear Doomsday Device.  He has pretty much unlimited powers, perfect teeth and wears a ridiculously bad costume.  Sure Kryptonite blah blah blah.  Okay I get that.

So I'll see the movie and I'm sure it will be okay but the whole time I'll be thinking about better superheroes.
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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2006, 05:14:27 PM »

The creators of the animated series discussed that.  Their version of Superman is actually depowered a great deal, just so they can have some kind of tension in the stories.

Also, lots of things end up happening to Superman so can't rely solely on his powers (like Mr. Mxyzptlk).
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2006, 05:29:09 PM »

Quote from: "unbreakable"
Also, lots of things end up happening to Superman so can't rely solely on his powers (like Mr. Mxyzptlk).


See, to me, that's rather a crutch and drives me nuts when people do that.  If a hero is so overpowered that you have to have special rocks or magical powers to turn off the hero's power in order to have any tension, then the hero's simply too powerful.

Professor Xavier was like that in some regards as well; his telepathic powers needed to be toned down a little.  Of course, since he has virtually no physical prowess (aside from upper body strength in some interpretations), that's at least a drawback that a writer can use to add tension to a story, but his telepathy was still too powerful in most instances.

It actually drives me nuts how often Claremont would come up with one excuse after another to deprive the X-Men of their powers.  When that's done once in a great while, sure, that makes an interesting plot device. When people are doing it all the time, though, that sure makes it a lot less interesting.
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« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2006, 07:26:40 PM »

Xavier also had his own reasons for limiting the usage of his powers, and Magneto, his nemesis, is also immune to his powers.

There was an article about comics that covered Superman.  Namely that he was too perfect except for one weakness.  THey said how current comic writers were doing things like showing more of his normal life and how he has a lot of difficulty just being Clark Kent.

I think this is about the extent of what you can do with the character without resorting to arbitrarily toning down Superman's powers.

In Justice League, I noticed that Superman was a real wimp.
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2006, 09:18:08 PM »

Focusing more on Ken is a decent move, but makes it too much like Spiderman, IMO.

Also IMO, Lois is a bigger weakness to Superman than kryptonite.  Superman does a good job taking care of himself, but a brutha can't be everywhere.
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2006, 09:49:57 PM »

I never liked Superman, I liked the Reeve first two movies, but not the character himself.

The problem for me is that what should be the essence of his character, being a stranger in a strange land, is totally undercut by his supreme powers.  Imagine being sent away from family and friends FOREVER to a crazy, violent planet with a bunch of alien lifeforms...pretty bad right?  

Now imagine that when you get to this world, nothing on that planet, none of the aliens, can so much as put a scratch on you because you have what are Godlike powers from their perspective.  All of a sudden, it doesn't seem like a bad deal at all.  Especially since the aliens all look similar to you, enough so that the alien females are actually attractive to you.  You have SCORED my friend!
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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2006, 11:27:20 PM »

I think the fact that he is nearly invincible makes him more interesting...  while the rest of the superheroes still have to look out for themslves first and foremost because they can be physically hurt, Superman practically *must* put other people before himself.  He can't say "too bad, this gig is too dangerous for me" - he has a moral imperative to help those who *can* be hurt - the entire human race.  And even despite his invincibility, he can't save *everyone*.  That would be a much easier pill to swallow if he were just as susceptible to injury and death as the people he was trying to protect.
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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2006, 11:32:25 PM »

Quote from: "gameoverman"
I never liked Superman, I liked the Reeve first two movies, but not the character himself.

The problem for me is that what should be the essence of his character, being a stranger in a strange land, is totally undercut by his supreme powers.  Imagine being sent away from family and friends FOREVER to a crazy, violent planet with a bunch of alien lifeforms...pretty bad right?  


That isn't entirely accurate, since Clark has no first-hand memories of Krypton, having been raised on Earth by the Kents since he was an infant.

Quote
Now imagine that when you get to this world, nothing on that planet, none of the aliens, can so much as put a scratch on you because you have what are Godlike powers from their perspective.  All of a sudden, it doesn't seem like a bad deal at all.  Especially since the aliens all look similar to you, enough so that the alien females are actually attractive to you.  You have SCORED my friend!


It is a good deal.  In fact, it's probably the dream of most adopted children.

Actually, the real interesting thing about Superman is that he doesn't use his powers to increase his actual POWER over others.  He is content to enforce the will of the authorities, rather than being the authority himself.  In political terms, Superman is a citizen, just like everyone else.
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« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2006, 05:31:28 AM »

superman is the best hero out there.  Well, my hero Tongue
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« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2006, 08:07:26 PM »

In the interest of full disclosure, I also have to admit to being a fan of the big blue boyscout.
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« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2006, 08:33:36 PM »

I think he's an interesting character in a moral sense. He's basically dedicated his existence in order to protect the lives of his adoptive planet, even though he will never truly be one of them/us. He does it out of his own sense of righteousness. He does it because he knows he can, and it would be wrong of him to do otherwise. A little bit of a Jesus figure, but without the certainty of having to ultimately sacrifice himself.

This is why I wish Superman II had been better, because I think it's a great idea to see Supes go up against someone with his powers, but without his morality. A Kryptonian conqueror, basically. (And I think that was kind of what JJ Abrams was going for with his Superman draft.)
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« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2006, 10:46:24 PM »

That's another thing about Superman I don't like- everyone assumes he is intrinsically good.   Where does his sense of right and wrong come from?  It's because he was raised in middle America, by middle Americans.

Imagine if he had been raised in the Soviet Union, he wouldn't still be fighting for American values.  It was the luck of the draw, in other words.  They never explore that aspect in his character(in the movies or tv shows that is).
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« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2006, 11:28:48 PM »

Or if he DID land in the states, right in the backwater town where Deliverance happened.

 :shock: We'd all be screwed.

Literally.
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« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2006, 11:55:46 PM »

Quote from: "gameoverman"
That's another thing about Superman I don't like- everyone assumes he is intrinsically good.   Where does his sense of right and wrong come from?  It's because he was raised in middle America, by middle Americans.

Imagine if he had been raised in the Soviet Union, he wouldn't still be fighting for American values.  It was the luck of the draw, in other words.  They never explore that aspect in his character(in the movies or tv shows that is).

Wasn't there an alternative take on Superman called Red Son which had him land in a Communist country and he became their weapon of warfare?
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« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2006, 12:31:07 AM »

I was gunna say, that would actually be an interesting side take - and then you say they did it. Geek out! Where's a comic book store around here? ...
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« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2006, 12:55:03 AM »

Quote
Or if he DID land in the states, right in the backwater town where Deliverance happened.

 We'd all be screwed


well, at least hes, um "faster than a speeding bullet" - so itd only be brief suffering...
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« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2006, 01:31:38 AM »

If they would go back to the original Superman concept it would be a lot better. He didn't fly he just jumped,sort of like the Hulk. He ran faster than a speeding train. That was about 100 mph in those days. Etc.
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« Reply #17 on: June 27, 2006, 01:45:35 AM »

Quote from: "Dafones"
I was gunna say, that would actually be an interesting side take - and then you say they did it. Geek out! Where's a comic book store around here? ...

Here's the Wikipedia article on Red Son: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Son

Looks pretty cool.

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« Reply #18 on: June 27, 2006, 03:21:14 AM »

I ordered "Red Son" from Amazon.  It should be ariving any day now.  Every time I order I try to throw in a graphic novel or two.

It came HIGHLY recommended, so it was pretty high on my list.
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« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2006, 04:23:50 AM »

Interesting ... but he's still a "good" guy. For a moment I thought it was going to be a story where Kal-El was raised in a Cold War era Russia and fought against the States.
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« Reply #20 on: June 27, 2006, 04:29:13 AM »

I'm trying to find out more info, but I heard about a story (not a comic) where Superman had been born in Nazi Germany.  The Nazis still lost, and Superman was being held as a war criminal, where he comitted suicide due to his feelings of guilt over what happened during the war.
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« Reply #21 on: June 27, 2006, 02:46:47 PM »

That's a little hardcore.
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« Reply #22 on: June 28, 2006, 09:07:18 PM »

Quote from: "unbreakable"
I'm trying to find out more info, but I heard about a story (not a comic) where Superman had been born in Nazi Germany.  The Nazis still lost, and Superman was being held as a war criminal, where he comitted suicide due to his feelings of guilt over what happened during the war.
What? No way. That's really hardcore.
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« Reply #23 on: June 28, 2006, 09:59:14 PM »

Well, I have good news and bad news.

The good news: the story is "Ubermensch!", by Kim Newman.  It is in a short story collection called "Famous Monsters".

The bad news: it seems the book is no longer in print, and is something of a collectable ($150-$300+).

This looks like a job for the public library!
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« Reply #24 on: June 28, 2006, 11:10:29 PM »

Quote from: "unbreakable"
Well, I have good news and bad news.

The good news: the story is "Ubermensch!", by Kim Newman.  It is in a short story collection called "Famous Monsters".

The bad news: it seems the book is no longer in print, and is something of a collectable ($150-$300+).

This looks like a job for the public library!


If you really want it you can buy a used copy of New Worlds from Amazon for around $1.
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« Reply #25 on: June 29, 2006, 12:42:25 AM »

Oh cool, thanks!  I was looking for other books, and kind of came up short.
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« Reply #26 on: June 29, 2006, 10:44:57 PM »

Damn... I got my Amazon orders, and I guess I didn't order Red Son yet.  But, I did get Hellboy 1 and 2, as well as some Alan Moore stuff.

I'll really need to make sure I get Red Son on my next order.
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