It has been said that by analyzing a person’s hero, that you can learn a lot about that person. The individual that someone chooses to look up to and emulate often shows a lot about what characteristics and qualities that person respects. We usually choose heroes for ourselves based on endearing qualities such as hard work, courage, talent, discipline, or even empathy. Heroes in the real world begin as regular people who sometime accomplish great things, such as Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr. or Buzz Aldrin. Sports athletes are looked upon as heroes when they accomplish something great that no athlete has done before. Most consider our military soldiers as the ultimate heroes, as they sacrifice their own lives for the greater good of an entire country.
But each individual usually has a hero of their own. Someone they can strive to be. It could be a father, an older brother, a professional mentor, or anyone who has accomplished something by overcoming large obstacles and defying the odds. Heroes are the inspiration for the rest of us to push harder and stronger than anyone else. To be the David to the world’s Goliaths. To be a Spud Webb in a world of 7 footers. To be Ghandi in a world of hatred and anger.
Which brings us to our superheroes. Superheroes are the fictionally created embodiments of the greatest qualities ever. They bring those eternal qualities that we all strive to have and display them in circumstances where there is even more at stake. They protect cities, countries, and sometimes the entire world. And occasionally, they are there to protect all of humanity. So a person’s choice of their favorite superhero is more than just a penchant for a brightly colored cape, or a cool car, or a unique hybrid of insect and human. It is indicative of what qualities each person holds most dear and which they see as most important.
Which is why it is easy to surmise that: Superman fans lack character.
Now let us look at this objectively. By rooting for Superman, a person is basically admitting that they wish life was always easy. Superman was born with super strength, super speed, x-ray vision, the ability of flight, and oh yeah…invincibility! For the love of Zod, what more can possibly be given to Superman to stack the odds in his favor?!? He even figured out how to turn back time by flying superfast around our planet. With that skill, how can anyone ever lose a fight?
So why would we possibly tell our children to admire a superhero who was born with everything and did not need to work hard one day in his life for any of his gifts? Do we admire those born into a family of obscene wealth and then applaud them for their financial accomplishments? No. Do we admire people who win the Mega Millions as great business success stories? No. Would we call your adult uncle a great football player if he only plays against children under the age of ten??? NO! Of course Uncle Joe is going to score a touchdown every time…the entire defense is 4’6”!
What great qualities has Superman ever shown us that we can admire? Is it his ideal of truth, justice, and the American way? Sure that sounds great. But since all the odds are already stacked in his favor, then we are basically applauding the fact that ego and greed never corrupted him. Humility is important in life, but it is not exactly the greatest superpower ever considered. If anything, Superman has shown to have an incredibly selfish side over the years. Why does he even waste time posing as Clark Kent hanging around the Daily Planet? Isn’t that more time he could spend flying around Metropolis saving lives? There is no excuse for the hours wasted pretending to be a half-ass newspaper reporter. He could be cruising around using his super-hearing to look for bank robberies and kidnappings. The Metropolis Police could easily give him a police scanner and he could be wherever he is needed in an instant. But NOOOOO. Selfish Superman would rather spend all day flirting with Lois Lane and hanging around with that ass clown Jimmy Olson for $35,000 a year. Think of how many lives could have been saved because he was too nervous to ask out Lois years earlier.
And let us be honest, he is not too bright. He definitely does not have super intelligence. Superman has been outsmarted by Lex Luthor more times than we can possibly count. He barely outsmarted General Zod in Superman 2. Convincing Zod, the lesbian and a giant mute to stand outside the transformation chamber and then switching the settings is not exactly a Shakespearian plot twist. And it is not a bragging point that he never would have saved the world another time without the help of Montgomery Brewster!
We should be giving our children superheroes that inspire them to work hard and persevere. Sure Batman is rich, but he is only successful against criminals because he has trained for years to fight them. He uses his intelligence and dedication. Sure Batman can swing from skyscrapers, but it must be a lot scarier for him knowing that one false move and he plunges to his death. Superman could fall from the sky and not get a scratch. Spiderman is just a teenage boy who must use his brains to overcome bigger and stronger opponents. He feels fear but must overcome it. Wolverine is not invincible. Iron Man has a great suit but underneath he is extremely vulnerable. And Hawkeye, he….well nobody admires Hawkeye.
Now some of you may argue that your love of Superman is not based on the attributes of the superhero himself. Maybe you will say that it is his influence on pop culture that inspires you, or just the enjoyment you get from the pure entertainment of the story telling that makes you a fan. Well, in that case, all I can say is that you are an easily entertained simpleton.
Superman has been a dud as entertainment since the first comic book in 1938 straight up until what I am sure will be a disappointing movie out in theaters now: Man of Steel. The character of Superman is stiff with a side order of boring. The original television show of the 1950’s features one of the lamest ‘goody two shoe’ characters in the history of tv. It was so tough to watch that George Reeves shot himself, or asked someone to shoot him. That point is still up for debate.
While the 1978 movie Superman actually gave the notion that Superman could be cool, Superman III and IV were two of the worst superhero movies to ever have been made. It was an insult to audiences and superheroes everywhere.
Superman is so lame that his own comic book killed him off 1992. Enough said.
They tried to bring Superman back to television in the 1990’s, and of course, they faltered horribly. Smartly, they focused the show on the super hot Teri Hatcher but then they made the strongest man in the world into a cartoonish man child, incapable of even tying his shoes without the help of the intelligent, smart, and determined Lois Lane. At least Jersey boy Dean Cain was the first Superman to show Lois his Superboy without risking our entire planet for a little loving! And what was Christopher Reeve thinking?!? Margot Kidder was so ugly with her yellow teeth, cigarette breath and drugged out eyes, that I would not have risked losing a parking spot at the mall for her…no less, give up super powers for her. EWWW!
We would also be remiss to not mention the other failed attempts to make Superman cool, or even likable. The lame television show where we see Clark as a struggling teenager who has acne, can’t fly, can’t seal the deal with any girl in Smallville, and is boyhood chums with Lex Luthor?? Oh man, talk about an insult to viewers and superhero fans everywhere. Yes, that is just what the franchise needed, to see Clark and Lex throwing the ball around in his backyard. My stomach is turning right now as if I had just eaten a kryptonite brownie.
What to say about Superman Returns? When one of the guys from Harold and Kumar is your villain, you need to wrap the entire franchise in chains, tie it to kryptonite box, and drop it into an underground pool. However, I would stay to make sure it dies this time.
So if you want to raise children idolizing a superhero who has overcome no challenges, who has been given the absolute edge in every possible fight and still barely wins, who demonstrates that hard work, perseverance and intelligence are not endearing traits, and who is as exciting and interesting as a bag of rocks…then Superman is your man(alien). Go to the movies this summer and pretend to get excited for the fifteenth attempt at making this talking cardboard box seem cool, but please realize what you are doing to your children.