I often get annoyed by people who don’t read comics saying Superman is stupid or Superman is overrated or Superman is overpowered or Superman is a bad character. I believe that Superman, when written correctly by a good writer is a great character and can be the source of many great stories. In this post, I will explain why I think that many of the things people have against Superman are vastly unfair and why he isn’t as popular as many other superheroes.
Let’s start with the claim that Superman is overpowered. This is just a really dumb misconception that I want to get out of the way here. People who don’t read comics are usually more familiar with the Marvel characters because the MCU movies are so popular. And because Marvel characters are usually more grounded, people look at DC heroes as being really overpowered. I cannot stress enough how untrue this is
Yes, Superman has a lot of powers, but so do his villains. The only well-known Superman villain that isn’t able to be a threat to Superman through sheer power is Lex Luthor. However, Lex is able to fight Supes when he gets his hands on Kryptonite. And… this is where we get kind of murky. You see, Kryptonite is not needed to defeat Superman. But for an ordinary human to be able to survive more than five seconds in a fight, they will most like need to use it.
Now, let me ask you this. How many times have you heard somebody that doesn’t even read comics say to you Kryptonite is the only way to defeat Superman? A nuclear bomb goes off inside of me every time I hear that. Not only will Superman take damage from a strong enough punch, he has other vulnerabilities besides Kryptonite, such as magic. And you know what member of the DC Trinity uses magic? Wonder freaking Woman! That’s right, she can kick Superman’s ass (as she has on many occasions). But you never hear people complaining that Wonder Woman is too powerful, do you?
Another statement that is as annoying as it is untrue is that Superman has no personality. One of the awesome things about him is that DC took this really powerful character and gave him one. Superman has a complex individuality with positive and negative character traits. He is a flawed person who thinks that he can save everybody, even when he cannot.
Another major element of Superman’s personality is that people put him on this pedestal, treating him like a god. But he doesn’t want any of it. He’s just person, who happens to have these incredible abilities. There is a very beautiful Superman story called Saved by David Lapham. It’s about a huge group of people who are part of the Church of Superman and praise him, having built a whole religion around him. And they try to commit mass suicide attempts in hopes of having Superman save them. In the end, what it takes for him to stop them is showing them that he is just a person who has limitations like everybody else.
And, of course, we have to talk about how Superman is determined to fight for what’s right. He believes that he does what he does because it’s the right thing to do. And his interpretation of what the right thing to do is, comes from his adopted parents. And this brings up a very interesting idea which is explored in brilliant stories such as Superman Red Son and the Injustice series.
I hope that if you were a Superman hater, reading this post made you change your mind about this character. Now, I would like to take a minute to talk about why I think that Superman is so overlooked nowadays. And the main reason is, ironically, because he isn’t overlooked. Superman was the first mainstream comic book Superhero, shaking the world when he appeared on the cover of Action Comics Issue 1. And, frankly, he is still the most recognizable comic book character in the world. When people think of a typical superhero, they often immediately think of Superman. And that is where the problem begins.
The general, non-comic reading public sees the typical superhero as just this boring boy-scout that flies around, punching bad guys and taking cats out of trees. And Superman’s appearance very much supports this stereotype. A simple colour palette. A big, waving cape. A symbol on his chest. Not to mention that he has all of the cliche powers, i.e. super strength, super speed, flight, etc. But he fits this stereotype so perfectly because he started it.
And then we have the issue that could easily be a whole series of posts on its own. Comic book characters are part of culture and they are everywhere. However, they are fairly modern and there are still big companies trying to cash in on how recognizable these characters are. And the fact that they are so recognizable, causes them to be available to many different audiences. Let’s take Deadpool for example. Within the past 5 years, Deadpool has appeared both in LEGO Marvel Superheroes as a family-friendly comic relief character and in his own r-rated movie as an f-bomb-dropping, sex-referential badass.
And Deadpool isn’t the only character who gets this treatment. Spiderman has been in several animated children cartoons, 7 live action cinematic PG-13 movies and almost in an R-Rated movie by James Cameron all from 2000 to 2017. And if Spiderman gets this much attention, you can only bet that the most recognizable superhero would too. So, of course, Superman has also had his fair share of movies, tv shows, video games… no, not really video games. But you get my point.
And the sad thing is that most of these non-comic iterations of the character haven’t exactly been all that accurate, or at least haven’t done a good job of ending the idea that Superman is lame. Earlier in this post, I talked about how too many people think that kryptonite is the only way to hurt him. And, guess what! Man of Steel was the first Superman movie not to feature kryptonite!!! I mean, damn, it’s like Hollywood wants the character to just be a small shadow under Batman.
Actually, now that we’re talking about Bats, it might be a good time to mention that he’s also a big part of the problem. Superman may be the most recognisable member of the DC Trinity, but Batman is definitely the most popular. Why? Well, there are many reasons. A big one is the fact that Batman has had a very desirable on-screen history, especially in the 21st century. However, what I think is a big component in this whole problem of people thinking that Superman is a lame, boring, overpowered character is that what people want from superheroes now is somebody who they can relate to. And people find it a lot easier to relate to Batman who, at the end of the day, still is a human being.
So, maybe we will always just find ourselves in this vicious circle of people who read comics appreciating Superman for being such a great character and people who don’t read them, disliking him because they think that he’s a boring character. What I believe we need is a good Superman franchise. And I think that Man of Steel may have actually been a good start. The movie itself wasn’t all that great, but it showed Superman actually fighting a Superman villain, not just Lex Luthor again. Maybe this will finally be the Superman franchise that will show everybody how awesome this character is. But for now, we just need to wait and cross our fingers.
I hope that you all enjoyed this post. Please, let me know what you think of it in the comments! Share this post on your social media if you feel like you want other people to know about it. Talking about social media, don’t forget to like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram, follow me on Twitter and subscribe to me on YouTube. But that’s it from me for now. See thee soon!
By the way, if you were wondering why I didn’t post a Spiderman Homecoming review on my blog, it’s because I did a YouTube collaboration with Comic Book Kid. Check it out here: