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Why don't you like Superman?

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  • valhalla130valhalla130 13 Dark Shield Perceives the GodsRegistered User regular
    Kryptonite, magic, electricity, other powerful being, of which there are a lot, like Darkseid, Mongul, Kalibak, Despero during the 90s, Doomsday, etc.

    All of these things have been listed as or shown to be weaknesses before for Superman. He ins't all-powerful. But people have latched on to that, and because he's a good guy (and I mean a really good guy) they've declared he isn't interesting to them. Without that angst that pervades Marvel (that I can't stand) he just doesn't do it for them.

    I chalk it up to different strokes.

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  • SolarSolar Registered User regular
    The vast majority of people who don't like Superman have never read a Superman comic in their lives

    as a Superman fan, I often wear my Superman T-Shirt because it looks cool and I'm a svelte guy who can rock a close cut t-shirt

    and a few times, people have brought it up and said they don't like Superman

    response 1) ask if they have ever read a Superman comic

    usually, they haven't, which is my cue to say "well, I think you should probably read some Superman stories before you swear off him" and at that point the conversation ends

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  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    edited January 2013
    I am one of those people who has never read a Superman comic. I have seen a few of the TV cartoons, offhand episodes of Lois and Clark and Smallville, and several of the films. I'm also familiar with the general cultural perception of Superman as a thing, regardless of accuracy to the comics. I don't like Superman because, to me, he seems like an boring narrative to write, read, or otherwise enjoy. Being very powerful aside, his background and basic history are about as vanilla as it gets (it's another Hero of a Thousand Faces) and because of that I have no interest in reading more (even if I am horribly wrong in this perception).

    Now you can say "you haven't read the comics so go do that" and that's fine, but doesn't address the larger problem that culturally he is more than what is in the comics and essentially represents an overpowered, black vs white morality hero with an implausible weakness. Batman, culturally, performs better because he seems edgy, gray, and dangerous in his narrative regardless of if he is or not in the comics. Similarly, a lot of Marvel characters (particularly Iron Man) seem to perform better because they are portrayed as more gray in morality and more limited in powers (a few, like Thor, aside).

    If this is just about the character in the comics, I guess I could get that. But these characters, particularly DC's mainstays, have been part of our cultural heritage for long enough that they are more than just their comics, they are cultural icons. And some of them, like Superman in my opinion, are excellent showings of the time period that they were created in but perhaps not as relevant or interesting in modern society.

    Enc on
  • Harry DresdenHarry Dresden Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    Enc wrote: »
    I am one of those people who has never read a Superman comic. I have seen a few of the TV cartoons, offhand episodes of Lois and Clark and Smallville, and several of the films. I'm also familiar with the general cultural perception of Superman as a thing, regardless of accuracy to the comics. I don't like Superman because, to me, he seems like an boring narrative to write, read, or otherwise enjoy. Being very powerful aside, his background and basic history are about as vanilla as it gets (it's another Hero of a Thousand Faces) and because of that I have no interest in reading more (even if I am horribly wrong in this perception).

    Superman can be hard to write correctly. That's what updating is for and the character is constantly updated every few years in all media. What do you think about his mythology?
    Now you can say "you haven't read the comics so go do that" and that's fine, but doesn't address the larger problem that culturally he is more than what is in the comics and essentially represents an overpowered, black vs white morality hero with an implausible weakness.

    We've gone over this in the thread. Krytonite isn't his only weakness. Nor is he the only super powerful hero. How strong he is can be fixed, as well. Just tone his power levels down, which does happen.
    Batman, culturally, performs better because he seems edgy, gray, and dangerous in his narrative regardless of if he is or not in the comics.

    Batman also performs better since he's in a greater amount of good media portrayals and his villains haven't been poorly used as much.
    Similarly, a lot of Marvel characters (particularly Iron Man) seem to perform better because they are portrayed as more gray in morality and more limited in powers (a few, like Thor, aside).

    It helps that Iron Man has been in a few good films recently. Superman only has Superman Returns and a few movies from the 70's, half of which are terrible. Superman's been done well in Superman: TAS and Smallville was polarizing. It isn't only because IM or Thor are less like boy scouts, but that is a factor, its just not the whole picture of why Superman has become less relevant to the public.
    If this is just about the character in the comics, I guess I could get that. But these characters, particularly DC's mainstays, have been part of our cultural heritage for long enough that they are more than just their comics, they are cultural icons. And some of them, like Superman in my opinion, are excellent showings of the time period that they were created in but perhaps not as relevant or interesting in modern society.

    But they can be. That's what updating is for.

    Harry Dresden on
  • Oniros25Oniros25 Registered User regular
    Enc wrote: »
    I am one of those people who has never read a Superman comic. I have seen a few of the TV cartoons, offhand episodes of Lois and Clark and Smallville, and several of the films. I'm also familiar with the general cultural perception of Superman as a thing, regardless of accuracy to the comics. I don't like Superman because, to me, he seems like an boring narrative to write, read, or otherwise enjoy. Being very powerful aside, his background and basic history are about as vanilla as it gets (it's another Hero of a Thousand Faces) and because of that I have no interest in reading more (even if I am horribly wrong in this perception).

    Now you can say "you haven't read the comics so go do that" and that's fine, but doesn't address the larger problem that culturally he is more than what is in the comics and essentially represents an overpowered, black vs white morality hero with an implausible weakness. Batman, culturally, performs better because he seems edgy, gray, and dangerous in his narrative regardless of if he is or not in the comics. Similarly, a lot of Marvel characters (particularly Iron Man) seem to perform better because they are portrayed as more gray in morality and more limited in powers (a few, like Thor, aside).

    If this is just about the character in the comics, I guess I could get that. But these characters, particularly DC's mainstays, have been part of our cultural heritage for long enough that they are more than just their comics, they are cultural icons. And some of them, like Superman in my opinion, are excellent showings of the time period that they were created in but perhaps not as relevant or interesting in modern society.

    I agree that "go read the comics" is not the solution to the problems that people have with Superman. I'm just hoping that Man of Steel will finally replace Christopher Reeves in the culture's mind. As much as I love Chris Reeves, I would rather people saw Superman as a palatable option rather than a relic.

    I do, however think that "morally grey = more approachable" is a false premise, no matter how popular the theory becomes. I still hold out hope that in a few years or decades American and maybe even western culture can grow up a little and accept the fact that being a well rounded and decent human being is not a character flaw. Captain America isn't dark, broody, edgy or morally grey. Why does he get a pass? Just because he's from the past? Is it because he's killed people before? Doing the right thing is hard and it's lonely. No one knows that quite like Superman. Perfection would be an issue because it provides no avenue for drama, but Clark Kent and by extension Superman is far from perfect and hasn't been presented as such since the 80's in any medium except maybe movies (blasted movies having the highest degree of cultural impact!)

    Anyway, I'm not trying to change anyone's mind about big blue. That way lies madness. He's my kind of hero, but I'm optimistic secular humanist. Superman was practically written with me in mind. Maybe we're both antiquated, maybe that's the simple answer.

    Nintendo Network ID: Oniros
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  • Oniros25Oniros25 Registered User regular
    I didn't intend to end that last post on such a mopey note. This thread makes me sad. It speaks to the strength of my inner masochist that I keep coming back.

    Nintendo Network ID: Oniros
    3DS Friend Code: 1461-7489-3097
  • SolarSolar Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    moral and always tries to do what is best =/= simplistic and old fashioned

    people who cannot believe that it is entirely within the realms of possibility for someone to just do what is right and help others because they think it's the moral thing to do are people who need to grow up and realize that moral dubiousness does not instantly equate with maturity. characters who are aware of the worlds problems and who try to counter them in reasoned, ethical ways are far more mature than any cynical, morally-grey anti-hero.

    Superman isn't antiquated. That kind of thinking comes from the rose-tinted idea pervading western culture that people were more moral and straight-shooting back in the day, when really, the opposite is true. In an age where sexism, racism and so on are become less and less acceptable, where crime is lower than ever before, where issues of poverty and disease are treated with more concern than they ever have been in the past, Superman's idealism is entirely relatable.

    Not only that, but it's more relatable. Superman as an optimistic, humanist hero trying to make the world a better place is a far better symbol of modern progressive action than it was in the 40's, when activism was things like "gee guys, maybe we should let black people vote and drink in the same water fountains as everyone else?"

    Solar on
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  • Oniros25Oniros25 Registered User regular
    Solar wrote: »
    moral and always tries to do what is best =/= simplistic and old fashioned

    people who cannot believe that it is entirely within the realms of possibility for someone to just do what is right and help others because they think it's the moral thing to do are people who need to grow up and realize that moral dubiousness does not instantly equate with maturity. characters who are aware of the worlds problems and who try to counter them in reasoned, ethical ways are far more mature than any cynical, morally-grey anti-hero.

    Superman isn't antiquated. That kind of thinking comes from the rose-tinted idea pervading western culture that people were more moral and straight-shooting back in the day, when really, the opposite is true. In an age where sexism, racism and so on are become less and less acceptable, where crime is lower than ever before, where issues of poverty and disease are treated with more concern than they ever have been in the past, Superman's idealism is entirely relatable.

    Not only that, but it's more relatable. Superman as an optimistic, humanist hero trying to make the world a better place is a far better symbol of modern progressive action than it was in the 40's, when activism was things like "gee guys, maybe we should let black people vote and drink in the same water fountains as everyone else?"

    Couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks, man. I needed that.

    Nintendo Network ID: Oniros
    3DS Friend Code: 1461-7489-3097
  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    We could pretty much end the thread with Solar.

    Bravo sir.

  • HardtargetHardtarget There Are Four Lights VancouverRegistered User regular
    I know this thread is old and solar already won it but still my quick contribution:

    I always feel like people who don't like Superman have just not read any good Superman. Here then is my list of stuff that any person should read to understand why Superman is awesome:
    Red Son (a Great elseworlds tale to get you started)
    Birthright (probably his best origin)
    ...For The Man Who Has Everything (nice little Alan Moore story)
    All-Star Superman (more great storytelling)
    Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow? (the end of the silver-age of superman)
    Superman For All Seasons (superman coming of age story, great for new readers)

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  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    Solar wrote: »
    moral and always tries to do what is best =/= simplistic and old fashioned

    people who cannot believe that it is entirely within the realms of possibility for someone to just do what is right and help others because they think it's the moral thing to do are people who need to grow up and realize that moral dubiousness does not instantly equate with maturity. characters who are aware of the worlds problems and who try to counter them in reasoned, ethical ways are far more mature than any cynical, morally-grey anti-hero.

    Superman isn't antiquated. That kind of thinking comes from the rose-tinted idea pervading western culture that people were more moral and straight-shooting back in the day, when really, the opposite is true. In an age where sexism, racism and so on are become less and less acceptable, where crime is lower than ever before, where issues of poverty and disease are treated with more concern than they ever have been in the past, Superman's idealism is entirely relatable.

    Not only that, but it's more relatable. Superman as an optimistic, humanist hero trying to make the world a better place is a far better symbol of modern progressive action than it was in the 40's, when activism was things like "gee guys, maybe we should let black people vote and drink in the same water fountains as everyone else?"

    I find no flaw in Superman's morality, only in its interest as a narrative device.

    I agree with a lot of what you say here, though that wasn't really what I was getting at. I don't think there isn't a place for black vs white morality, but I do think there isn't as much of a place in cinema/mixed media for it as there was 50 years ago. This is, I think, because there is so much media now that more dynamic and complex characters, regardless of morals, typically become more interesting as there is an element of unpredictability to their actions. Batman and other morally ambigious characters aren't more common now because we don't have a need for people standing up for what is good but because we have a massive inventory of that script and it has been essentially beaten to death. Heores like Superman, well, you know their responses. For all the great reasons here you know where he will stand and how he will fight. That's good for a foil, but in most narratives presented these days it's not satisfactory. You need to keep your audience guessing in some fashion, and that's difficult to do when you have an unstoppable force of good charging at the immovable object of evil. We have seen literally hundreds of films and thousands of novels of the great hero fighting the dragon. At this point, our narratives tend to show some other conflict to keep things fresh and interesting. It's less about the actual ideals and more about what would be interesting to a viewer, and in that I think we will probably disagree.

  • SolarSolar Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    Batman is just as an incorruptible force for justice as Superman

    he acts in no less of a heroic fashion in his own way

    if you like Batman because you think he is morally interesting and dislike Superman because you think he is morally boring then you are a hypocrite because morally they are very similar, which is why they are such close friends. Their methods and demeanour may be different, but their ideals of freedom and justice a essentially the same.

    People like Batman more because people feel that Batman is more complex because his parents were killed and that's why he fights crime, because they feel that Batman's lack of powers and reliance on gadgets and skill are somehow more compelling and less contrived than Superman's powers and gadgets and skills (which is utterly wrong, they are both equally contrived and more importantly equally not contrived), and because Batman often acts like a jerk (or has since DKR), which people feel makes his personality more complex.

    And, while Batman is compelling and complex for all those reason, Superman is just as compelling and complex, but because people don't understand that thinking through the repercussions of someone with Superman's powers and the effect on the world, carefully considering how one acts and what relation one has with the authorities, philosophically exploring, with reason and logic and wisdom, how one should behave with such power, is just as compelling and complex as anything Batman does.

    Superman is a fantastic study of the responsibility of power, the importance of humility and compassion, the need for moral courage and discipline, and the brightness of a future where we work together to make a better world for everyone. He's the ultimate shining hero, but not arbitrarily so, his eternal wellspring of hope and courage and empathy for his fellow beings are what make him super, as he proves all the time.

    Yes, we do like dynamic and complex characters in the modern age, because it isn't the 40's any more and we enjoy our stories to be more morally coherent and complex (and less, like, racist and sexist). Yes, we like to see characters who can back up and explain their choices in ways we can understand, so that we can see how those choices weave into a narrative that is both exciting and also meaningful.

    Superman can do all those things. And people who think he can't because he always does the right thing are being immature because they fail to realize that doing the right thing takes far more courage, and strength, and reason, than not giving a shit and doing what you want and only going after the bad guy because they made you angry for whatever reason and you want revenge.

    If people don't understand that then that is their own childish lack of understanding of the nature of compassion, courage and morality, not Superman's failing as a character.

    Solar on
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  • WybornWyborn GET EQUIPPED Registered User regular
    I've said it before and I'll say it again: Superman is really cool in Kingdom Come and everyone should read it. It's a story where he's basically as strong as every other hero on the planet combined (save one) and he still manages to be really interesting in it.

    Also my wife likes Superman because he combines almost absolute power with absolute restraint

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  • ED!ED! Registered User regular
    If people don't understand that then that is their own childish lack of understanding of the nature of compassion, courage and morality, not Superman's failing as a character.

    So basically, if you don't like Superman you just don't get it.

    I enjoy the Elseworlds tales, animated series and "special stories" in continuity, but overall Superman is not an interesting character to me, not because there aren't interesting things to do with him but because most writers don't seem able to do that (within the confines of continuity).

    "Get the hell out of me" - [ex]girlfriend
    Enc
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    edited January 2013
    This isn't about me particularly liking Batman either, to clear that up. I think that audiences poll better with batman because there is more you can do with the character and his action have more direct holds and consequences for everything he does (not saying Superman lacks these, just that they aren't either easy to convey in narrative and typically are also less interesting because the worst threat he can face is "Will I compromise my morals" versus total defeat). Maybe the current run of Superman comics have changed him in this fashion, but my cultural layman perspective of Superman is that he pretty much just punches anything that attacks earth until it stops moving, often while being thrown into large buildings. Yes, there is more than that (such as the world of cardboard speech shows quite well), but that's the two second at-a-glance common perception and that is all the general audience looking at the character will see unless somehow the writers bring more to the table to the mainstream audience.

    I get that Superman, being essentially god, has to juggle with the great power he has and that is neat and interesting. But not really as a main character. When my main concern is not to blow up the bad guys too hard, that's still not much of an internal struggle that's going to convey well in narrative form. While absolutely a great philosophical question, it's pretty boring to watch a guy deliberately pulling punches in comparison to a scrappy, skin of the teeth victory of someone overcoming a much more powerful enemy while wrestling with more dynamic personal and professional hardships. Superman essentially starts out with an entire deck and has to choose if he wants to play a royal flush or play nice and just throw three aces. The audience knows this from the start. While this struggle is good and shows a lot of important dynamics people, especially children, can learn from that doesn't make it compelling as a narrative next to losing something tangible and horrible for being defeated.

    Even with the morality question you are showing, Superman is likely less interesting in the same situation than, say, a soldier in Vietnam who is human, weak, and with more pressures upon him and still chooses to do the right thing a la The Things They Carried not because the struggle is any different but because there are more compelling factors you can bring into play. Or, whats more, stories like Schindler's List show a morally terrible character with the same power to do nothing and profit choosing to do the right thing and, in the end, loses everything but the respect of those who he saved. That's simply a more dynamic way to approach the same material with greater complexity and leaves the audience with more questions about right and wrong than simply doing the right thing, saving the day, and flying off into the sunset.
    Solar wrote: »
    If people don't understand that then that is their own childish lack of understanding of the nature of compassion, courage and morality, not Superman's failing as a character.

    This is incredibly degrading. If we don't like Superman we lack morality in some childish way? Are you serious?

    Enc on
  • WiseManTobesWiseManTobes Registered User regular
    Another thing I've noticed that was rarely brought up, is Superman isn't just about the powers, some of the best moments , from both cartoons and comics, was Superman being human, just chilling out and giving his thoughts on life to his family and/or friends. Or when there isn't a menace and he just gets to enjoy life, it's fun to watch Superman enjoy life, because he enjoys the hell out of life, it shows you why he wants to do what he can, because he truly loves being alive and living in what he feels is the best way he can.

    Also, when he pranks Batman!

    Steam! Battlenet:Wisemantobes#1508
    Enc
  • AmiguAmigu Registered User regular
    I didn't really get Superman until I read Allstar. 

    In a way Miller really poisoned the character for me. I think that Batman is central to the argument of why people don't like Superman. They're always brought up in unison like "Well batman is a hero despite just being a man. It's easy for Superman." and that's a fairly compelling argument. But it's also a very "novice" argument. You hear it from people how haven't really read -that- many comics. 

    Batman is actually also ridiculously overpowered in narrative terms. The fact alone that he "knows kung fu" is so cheesy and dated, he also has a really annoying habit of bumbling into death traps an muscling his way back out, he is a perfect human being, can shrug off bullet wounds (I'd like to see a talley of how many times he's been shot) etc etc so in reality the argument is a little dumb. 

    Then there's the whole polarity between the two, Batman the gritty underdog and Superman the big dumb boyscout. That's the one that Millar really drilled into the minds of a lt of people I think (although in another way he also honors supes as an elemental force). 

    It's true, Superman just cares -so much- and is such a good guy that people can't handle it. 

    But that's where his strength lies too when used correctly like in Allstar. He's just a inexhaustible beacon of hope. He has all that power and can just relax and be entirely free and creative and passionate. He can probably see the four parasites to every one body cell on you and the five potential tumors in your brain and hear you fapping every night but he'll save you anyway and he'll do it again and again and again. 

    I think it's quite clear why Miller, who IMO is a pretty nasty person, can't really wrap his head around that. Neither can Lex. 

    I think a rad Superman story weds to tick a few boxes:

    1) show how futile things are in a way (he will outlive us all, he is a lonely god, he can see an hear everything that is wrong in the world) and show how he stands defiant and even compassionately anyway

    2) Address to some extent the whole "why doesn't Superman come to Gotham" issue. If it were my role I'd do it by tuning down his super speed and having him entangled in larger problems 

    3) show his adventurous and creative side, saving the last alien specimens from a planet under a dying sun, exploring the bizarro universe, doing battle with gods etc

    By the way I think that Superman actually makes some morally ambiguous decisions. I mean remember that scene in Allstar where he says something along the lines of "there's a a way to everyone's heart" and spares that alien sun which seem to have at best an insect/lovecraftian mind? A lot of heroes would have blown that thing up and the reader wouldn't have blinked an eye. His compassion extends beyond even what seems rational.

    Since my rant was pretty ranty and incoherent Ill leave you guys with this mindless ones article which sums up my thoughts far better 

    BitD PbP Character Volstrom
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  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    This is a fantastic summary of who Superman is

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiTWeu0nOKs

  • SolarSolar Registered User regular
    Enc wrote: »
    This is incredibly degrading. If we don't like Superman we lack morality in some childish way? Are you serious?

    No, that is not what I said at all. What I said was that if you feel that Superman's system of morality is simplistic then you have a childlike understand of morality. Which is not to say you are immoral, because children can be nice without understanding or being able to really articulate why, but it shows a lack of understanding.

    Oniros25
  • SolarSolar Registered User regular
    Also Schindler's List is a fucking awful movie

  • SolarSolar Registered User regular
    Also Superman is awesome the end

    Centipede DamascusLibrarianThorneOniros25
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    Solar, one day you will discover that it is ok for people to have different opinions about material.
    Solar wrote: »
    Enc wrote: »
    This is incredibly degrading. If we don't like Superman we lack morality in some childish way? Are you serious?

    No, that is not what I said at all. What I said was that if you feel that Superman's system of morality is simplistic then you have a childlike understand of morality. Which is not to say you are immoral, because children can be nice without understanding or being able to really articulate why, but it shows a lack of understanding.

    It may not be the specific words you used, but is the implication by context. Just as here you are specifically saying that I have an immature understanding of morality. Just because someone does not like the same things as you, or appreciates things in a different way, that doesn't make them less moral at all. You have essentially resorted to ad hominem to justify your point, while creating a strawman of me to attack. No where did I, or will I, say that morality (Superman's or otherwise) is childish- only that the plots surrounding such stories are both common and often directed to children's audiences. The reasons this is are similar to the point you make above, look at almost any children's movie: the vast majority of them are black and white, good and bad, and about the good guy staying true to his morals and defeating a bad guy. Lots of great films are released each year for all audiences with this premise, but that's also the reason why so few people are interested in them compared to more complex narratives. Again, we have seen that plot repeated over and over again.

    No one is saying you are bad or wrong to like Superman, or that it isn't possible to create an interesting Superman story (maybe someone did earlier that ruffled your feathers so much). From my perspective, I find Superman less than interesting and, historically, so too have modern audiences compared to more successful showings by characters with greater narrative flexibility (Batman, Spiderman, etc). Maybe the comics have done a better job- but that really won't change the layman's mind about the character (and it is the average viewer, not comic fans, that Hollywood and other media are trying to capture), and nor will you do so by essentially attacking them, calling them childish, or telling them to "go read the comic" as a way to say the character is interesting. That's no more logical than me saying your political point is invalid because you haven't read every memoir, discourse, and bill written by the politician in question.

    We don't have to agree on this. But you seem to think your opinion is right, anyone else's opinion is wrong and childish, and that this is some global and unassailable truth: "the end". Especially when talking about morality, perhaps if you thought about this you might see why I find this position both degrading and contradictory.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    edited January 2013
    Oniros25 wrote: »
    Anyway, I'm not trying to change anyone's mind about big blue. That way lies madness. He's my kind of hero, but I'm optimistic secular humanist. Superman was practically written with me in mind. Maybe we're both antiquated, maybe that's the simple answer.

    Oniros, before Solar's nonsense derailed this, I wanted to agree that I think he is a great humanist ideal. I too own a Superman shirt (along with a ring, smoking jacket, and boxing shorts)- all of which were gifts after writing a paper on Superman as representing modern secularism. I think Superman represents an excellent thought problem, ideal, and would absolutely love to see him shifted to more a mentor character than a mainstay in and of himself. I also see there as being a lot of potential in the character as a discussion of Othered rhetoric, which seems to be in part what the new film is working towards from what I've seen in the preview. That said, I think it will be more interesting as a subject of deconstruction than an action flick and doubt it will have anywhere near the commercial success of other characters, but maybe we will be pleasantly surprised!
    Kyougu wrote: »
    This is a fantastic summary of who Superman is

    worldofcardboardspeech.youtube

    Agreed. This is probably his best moment and the most critically analyzed dialogue he has (and arguably, outside of the over-published "Great Power/Great Responsibility" scene, the most mainstream critical use of a comic book character currently in publication). I've seen this speech used to talk about everything from the US as Hyperpower to likening Superman to the Mass Media. It's a very useful bit of dialogue and interesting for a watch... but really also shows why Superman stories are difficult to work with. He can win at the beginning, and you know this at the first second of the film, which makes it very, very difficult to paint the struggle as truly conflicting or equal. Outside of the animated show, I don't think any of the visual mediums have really come close to tackling it well.

    Enc on
  • SolarSolar Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    Enc wrote: »
    We don't have to agree on this. But you seem to think your opinion is right, anyone else's opinion is wrong and childish, and that this is some global and unassailable truth: "the end". Especially when talking about morality, perhaps if you thought about this you might see why I find this position both degrading and contradictory.

    Any implication you take from my statement is up to you, buddy. I stand by it though, if you think Superman is morally simplistic then you have a flawed understanding of morality. You can dislike him all you like and that's fine (and not immoral, obvious), but if you think his morality is simplistic then you are incorrect.

    Note here that I don't mean you as in you, because you are clearly into Superman, I mean you as in the general public who erroneously believe Superman to be dated. Which, I don't even know if they do, I think most people who think Superman is boring because he is a good guy with loads of power are teenagers who are going through that time (which everyone does, I know I did).

    Solar on
  • valhalla130valhalla130 13 Dark Shield Perceives the GodsRegistered User regular
    I don't understand the arguments that Supes can "win at the beginning." Is this to mean that we know he will win in the end? really? Because it seems to me that in most stories, we always know "in the beginning" that the hero will win. Regardless of who it is. Batman will always win. So will Superman. So will Spiderman. So will Captain Carrot and the Amazing Zoo Crew.

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  • Sage_CatharsisSage_Catharsis Registered User regular
    Because Lex Luthor is right. Philosophically.

  • nightmarennynightmarenny Registered User regular
    Because Lex Luthor is right. Philosophically.

    That Superman makes humanity weak? If so then no he isn't.

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  • -Tal-Tal Registered User regular
    Lex would have a damn good point if Superman wasn't completely and honestly a Good Person

    Lex cannot believe that such a person could really exist and why would he, look how many real people don't like boy scout Superman

    also Superman burned off his hair

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  • SolarSolar Registered User regular
    Yeah but really

    Lex is just an awful person who uses his theories about philosophy to cover for the fact that he's just jealous, in a really petty way, of Superman

    "If it wasn't for you, I could have saved everyone! I could have saved the world!" "You could have saved the world years ago Luthor, if that's what really mattered to you." That exchange is Lex and Superman distilled down, I think.

    Centipede Damascus
  • nightmarennynightmarenny Registered User regular
    Solar wrote: »
    Yeah but really

    Lex is just an awful person who uses his theories about philosophy to cover for the fact that he's just jealous, in a really petty way, of Superman

    "If it wasn't for you, I could have saved everyone! I could have saved the world!" "You could have saved the world years ago Luthor, if that's what really mattered to you." That exchange is Lex and Superman distilled down, I think.

    Another little bit of subtext in their relationship is that Lex is proof that Superman doesn't make humanity weak. Lex is partly as capable as he is because of his rivalry with Superman. Lex would never be this accomplished if he had no one to strive against. Even if he does waste himself on fighting the good super alien.

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  • -Tal-Tal Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    His jealously isn't entirely unjustified, it's easy to resent someone who was born with superpowers and didn't have to earn their status, which is why I like the idea of Lex being born poor. And again that unearned power would be a real problem if Superman wasn't Superman

    basically Lex focuses too much on Superman's powers and not enough on his personality, which is what inspires people to do good unto others so every man can be a superman

    -Tal on
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  • SolarSolar Registered User regular
    But I think that's the trick. It's totally understandable and human to be jealous of Superman, we can all relate to that. What makes Lex so despicable is that he only ever acts on that jealousy, it consumes him to the point where he could have been an amazing hero but now he's just a despicable villain. That's why Lex is such a great villain, he's human and we can see exactly why he is like he is, but we can still condemn him for it, he's still a bad guy.

    -Talnightmarenny
  • Crimson KingCrimson King Registered User regular
    Superman is great because you can have a five-page internet discussion about the philosophical implications of his existence.

    I actually think, however, it's doing Luthor a disservice to reduce his motivations to jealousy. I have always understood Luthor as That Guy Who Doesn't Like Superman taken to ludicrous extremes. He's the guy who thinks Superman is too boring, too perfect, that he must be hiding something because no human being could ever be that genuinely good. He's the guy who doesn't have enough faith in humanity to believe that there could be that amount of good in someone. He thinks that this moral perfection, by existing, actually diminishes mankind by being forever out of our reach. So, paradoxically, this lack of faith leads him to champion humanity against what he perceives as an alien presence in their midst.

    I think there's an element of "fuck you, I want to be special" but I also think he has genuine philosophical differences with Superman. He's jealous of a power he can never have and he thinks that merely the fact there exists a power unattainable by man diminishes not just him, but humanity as a whole. He's only wrong because Superman is a human: a wonderful, saintlike human, but flawed nonetheless. But Luthor will never realize that, and that's his tragedy. He's a lot like Milton's Satan in a way: railing against a greater power simply because he can't stomach that there is a greater power.

    (If anyone jumps in here with "but Superman's not a human, he's an alien!", then I will bite off their tongue. He's a human in every way that counts.)

    Centipede Damascus-Tal
  • Harry DresdenHarry Dresden Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    Solar wrote: »
    But I think that's the trick. It's totally understandable and human to be jealous of Superman, we can all relate to that. What makes Lex so despicable is that he only ever acts on that jealousy, it consumes him to the point where he could have been an amazing hero but now he's just a despicable villain. That's why Lex is such a great villain, he's human and we can see exactly why he is like he is, but we can still condemn him for it, he's still a bad guy.

    Lex wouldn't change if Superman didn't exist IMO. Half the time he's pissed about Superman messing with his latest criminal enterprise, not that he's jealous of Supes powers. Instead he'd either focus on getting jealous about any other super-hero fucking with his plans, from Batman to Martian Manhunter or he'd continue trying to conquer the world only this time there's one less super-hero obstructing his path to victory.

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  • KingofMadCowsKingofMadCows Registered User regular
    Luthor is ambition, unbound by empathy, compassion, ethics, or morality. Superman has everything that Luthor wants but Superman doesn't use his powers to their "full potential" because he allows himself to be "restrained" by morality and compassion.

    Luthor hates Superman because he thinks that Superman being an example of compassion and empathy for humanity holds the human race back. He believes that humanity should follow his example and not anything get in the way of the quest for knowledge, power, and control.

  • Sage_CatharsisSage_Catharsis Registered User regular
    Also the idea that superman can perceive an enlightened substrata of the universe all the time (Lex Luthor have a moment of enlightenment in all star superman) make even less sense why he doesn't... Explain to people who are at the higher levels of government ...

    This is silly. I don't like superman because he just breaks my suspension of disbelief that the world would look like anything normal with him around. And starting his movie with a bank robbery doesn't help.

  • Linespider5Linespider5 ALL HAIL KING KILLMONGER Registered User regular
    Eh, Superman just normally doesn't get a fantastic enough setting to have fun in. A lot of times the people working with him don't think on a big enough scale or involve things that are rich with possibilities, and that's really necessary in order to make Superman shine.

    Superman works when Metropolis is as big and exciting as he himself is. When it turns into just a big city full of people, the whole thing fails, and we get bad Superman stories. We're talking about a guy at the forefront of the human experience, who goes and does stuff in space for kicks.

    Most of the time he gets written like he's just some kind of...flying bulldozer with good hair. Superman is very much the sort of character who is only as good as the person who writes him.

  • Centipede DamascusCentipede Damascus Registered User regular
    Also the idea that superman can perceive an enlightened substrata of the universe all the time (Lex Luthor have a moment of enlightenment in all star superman) make even less sense why he doesn't... Explain to people who are at the higher levels of government ...

    How do you explain to someone what things look like that they have no way of experiencing? Why would trying to describe those things affect government officials in any way?

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  • KingofMadCowsKingofMadCows Registered User regular
    There is also the fact that Superman doesn't want to become a prophet. He sees the danger of people following and worshiping him like a god.

  • SolarSolar Registered User regular
    Eh, Superman just normally doesn't get a fantastic enough setting to have fun in. A lot of times the people working with him don't think on a big enough scale or involve things that are rich with possibilities, and that's really necessary in order to make Superman shine.

    Superman works when Metropolis is as big and exciting as he himself is. When it turns into just a big city full of people, the whole thing fails, and we get bad Superman stories. We're talking about a guy at the forefront of the human experience, who goes and does stuff in space for kicks.

    Most of the time he gets written like he's just some kind of...flying bulldozer with good hair. Superman is very much the sort of character who is only as good as the person who writes him.

    I agree that Superman deserves and works best when the world around him is more of a super-world, Metropolis is the city of the future with advanced technology and scientists and so on going on. Also when aliens are around and known about and the world deals with them and Superman is part of that. Amusingly enough, he works the best when Metropolis is as metropolitan and complex and futuristic as it reasonably can be.

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