by Jake on April 18, 2013

Man Of SteelWith ‘Man Of Steel‘ set to hit theaters June 14th, there has been a lot of talk about Superman lately. Comic book movies are big deals lately, and this is a big-budget epic that Warner Brothers is hoping will give them a chance to catch up with Marvel.

While the Batman movies have generally been good for the fans and the studio, DC’s other comic book heroes haven’t fared as well lately – Green Lantern being a case in point. And when ‘Superman Returns‘ failed to reignite the character, a lot of thought went into what could be done with Superman to make him a hit.

And he SHOULD be a hit. Superman should be the number one superhero in the hearts and minds of the public. Nothing against Spider-Man or Iron Man or even Batman, but the grandaddy of them all should be top dog.

Sadly, a lot of people don’t really care about Superman. Some feel he’s outdated, too much of a Boy Scout, a little too goody-goody. Others believe that the character is simply too powerful to be interesting, that he’s unrelatable. Batman is a dark, brooding, violent and mortal crimefighter; audiences have responded well to that.

But the whole Boy Scout thing is a matter of interpretation. When Superman was created, he was a social crusader who often ran afoul of the law and was perfectly willing to use fear and intimidation to subdue his enemies.

And as for being too powerful, that too has changed over the years. And really, Thor, the Hulk, these are incredibly powerful beings, yet they seem popular enough.

So these arguments, at least, are not necessarily set in stone.

So why is Superman relevant? Why do we need him? Let’s take a look at some aspects of this character that make him worthy of the title of the greatest superhero of all time…


Only Kevin Smith can judge me

There were crimefighters and heroes with strange powers before Superman, of course. Some of them even had secret identities and wore costumes. But the comic book superhero simply did not exist until Superman. Every single superhero ever created since is essentially a ripoff or a copy. So if you liked ‘The Avengers‘, thank Superman. If you liked ‘Dark Knight‘, thank Superman. If you liked ‘Daredevil‘, thank God you don’t know how to reach me. Seriously, get help. But then thank Superman.

Superman isn’t just some guy who put on tights and started hitting crooks – there is a great deal of cool sci-fi to the story. Superman is a refugee from a lost world, a space alien who lives among us. This allows for some great storytelling options.

Superman represents wish fulfillment. He can FLY. He can wear a cape and not look stupid. He’s like a Prince Charming character, slaying dragons and rescuing damsels in distress. His world is just like ours, but with magic and incredible technology and all the things we wish we had. And the love story between he and Lois Lane is just pure romance: the ultimate dream man and this all too human woman finding each other and overcoming the obstacles between them.

Alex Ross - Superman ForeverHE’S NOT ONE OF US
Superman looks human, but he has incredible powers. He could easily conquer the entire Earth – or destroy it. But he never would, because…

Clark Kent isn’t just a disguise that Superman wears. The infant Kal-El was raised by a farmer and his wife, the Kents, with humility and simple values. This upbringing makes Superman the hero he is, because he chooses to help others, rather than himself. Which means -

Superman is better than we are, not because of what he can do but because of what he chooses to do. He is a positive role model for people of all ages. Superman does the right thing to the best of his abilities, simply because it IS the right thing. Batman is just a head case bent on revenge. Iron Man is an egomaniac with a drinking problem. The Hulk is a giant green monster having a hissy fit. Thor is a self-involved musclehead.

Superman is a champion.

Of the comic book movie heroes, only Captain America comes close to representing what Superman represents, with Spider-Man a close second.

The guy is strong, handsome, built like a Greek god, smart, successful and charming. He’s admired by men and desired by women. He’s not just muscle: he has brains, too. Most superheroes are one or the other, but Superman is smart AND strong. At least as Superman. Underneath it all…

Superman & AquamanHE’S A TOTAL LOSER
Clark Kent is insecure, socially awkward and shy. This isn’t part of the disguise – Superman is really like that! We can all relate to him, because he’s the ultimate outsider, the nice guy who finishes last – but is magnificent on the inside. He is not one of us, so he tries desperately to fit in. But underneath all that, he’s actually something very special. Another great lesson to be learned, there.

In the end, Superman is an inspiration. He’s someone who is on our side, who just wants to help. Like soldiers, firefighters and policemen, he risks his life in the service of humanity. He can do things we all wish we could do and he’s not been corrupted by his power.

Children and adults need a light in the darkness. Superman is that light. While we cannot do the fantastic things he does, we can aspire to do good and to help one another. It’s nice to have someone to look up to, even if that someone is fictional. His story is like a Greek epic, yet we can identify with him. And that is why the world will always need Superman.

Plus, the guy can fly, punch out giant robots and shoot lasers out of his eyes. I mean, how awesome is that?

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