The new Man of Steel movie comes out this Friday, but I will be seeing an early screening of it tomorrow. I am excited! You should too. In my opinion, Superman is the best superhero of all time. And it’s not just because his powers are better than all other superheroes, but it’s because Superman is just so different from all other superheroes.
And it wasn’t until my high school years where my love for Superman really took flight. (See what I did there?) It actually was a manifestation of my love of Superman growing up as a kid watching the Christopher Reeve films, kind of watching Dean Cain and not really paying attention to Tom Welling. But the fascination of this caped wonder took me. To me, he was just so wonderful in so many ways. He captured my imagination like no other superhero ever did.
My appreciation for Superman started to grow in high school but didn’t really take its full potential until I saw Kill Bill 2. The final scene stuck with me. It’s because of that final scene, I realized that Superman was someone special. Someone I admired.
Holy moly! That scene made me love Superman because it was true. All the superheroes we love like Captain America (my second favorite ever), Batman (not really a superhero, just a rich guy), Spider-Man, etc were all humans trying to use the mask to cover their identity. But Superman, he is the opposite. The blue suit and cape is his identity. His mask is Clark Kent. And the fact that Superman used his view of the human race to build the characteristics of Kent speaks volumes about us as people. That struck me.
And not only that, Superman’s weakness lies within his attempt to live within the world. Sure, Superman pretty much can do anything with his powers with only two real challenges in his life (Kryptonite and Zod), but his biggest enemy is himself.
This realization actually came to when I was on Twitter discussing superheroes with Oakland A’s pitcher Jerry Blevins (@JerryBlevins_13) when he asked that same question: Why is Superman so heralded when he has all those powers? I responded and he retweeted me.
That’s what fascinates me about Superman. Despite being all-powerful, his weakness is wanting to be human. How many times did he want to tell his friends his true identity? How many times did he want to just show off his powers but held back for the people he cared about? And how many times did he fall for Lois Lane but knew that he couldn’t.
Superman wanted to be normal. He grew up with a normal upbringing and works in a normal environment. He has feelings and emotions just like you and me. It’s just that he’s not human at all — despite looking like one and having human traits. That’s his struggle. He knows he doesn’t belong on earth. He belongs back in Krypton. But earth is all he knows and the struggle to adapt continues.
His greatest enemy is himself. To fight all the urges to be human. He knows he can’t. He has a higher calling. But sometimes, he falls from that. That’s where his immortality goes, and he becomes just like us. It’s sometimes hard to realize our responsibilities when our flesh overtakes our mind. Other than the powers, Superman is no different than us. He wants to be just like us.
No way am I saying the two are one. But there are similarities.
Last summer I read through this book on the history of Superman. It chronicled the creators of the character, the mediums it was presented and how the evolution of radio to television to film and comics all helped create the character’s identity. The creators had a Jewish background but there was no intention to have Superman share so many similar qualities like Jesus. But maybe subconsciously, that’s the way they wanted it.
After further looking through Superman’s characteristics in comparison to Jesus, it’s pretty shocking to see how close both of them are. Here are some examples:
- Both are not from this world, sent to earth by their father
- Both were raised by earth parents
- Both leave home to find themselves and their calling
- Both have power to do miracles
- Both fight a fallen servant from their place of origin
- Both fight to resist earthly temptations
- Both died and rose again
The similarities are pretty neat. What really stood out to me is that because of the similarities, is that why I love Superman? Is it because it’s like the comic book version of Jesus?
For me, it’s kind of a way for me to understand Jesus a little better. Even though the similarities are there and not all intentional, having a figure that speaks to me about Jesus in a way I understand is pretty neat. It’s a little different. And because of that, Superman is just that awesome to me.
That might be why so many people lean towards Superman. It’s probably that similarity that they can identify with and feel safe with him as a hero.
It kind of helps that Clark Kent and Lois Lane are both reporters like me. And it also helps that Amy Adams is the new Lois Lane and I have a big crush on her. She’s just so wonderfully awesome. I mean, come on!
Enough of my crushing on Amy Adams. Back to the point.
But here’s the thing about Superman that I really like. He tries so hard to get Lois to notice him as Clark. And maybe it’s truly a lack of confidence or maybe it’s the persona he’s trying to maintain. She doesn’t notice him. She notices Superman. That’s the tough part. He has a crush like we all have had before.
Lois has everything that Clark likes in a woman. Confidence, sassy, and a little naivety. It’s the complete opposite of Clark and maybe that’s why he likes her so much. And even though she is oblivious to a pair of glasses being the only visual different between Clark and Superman, it’s that nuttiness that kind of captures our love for Lois.
And I think Superman having a crush on Lois may be the biggest indicator of how much he wants to be human. Just that desire to be loved. That’s his battle. He fights that urge. And there he is, standing there wondering the what ifs. That’s the battle of keeping his identity secret — because he cares so much.
This YouTube comment I saw sums it up well:
Strongest man on earth.
Invulnerable to harm.
Chickens out of telling the woman he loves the truth.
“Out of all of us, he was the most…human.”
Eventually the secret does come out, he marries her in the comics. She brings out the the truth out of him. Only she has that kind of influence on him. And as for most guys, that’s what we look for in a woman companion. We love to be around someone that challenges us and makes us better. That’s Lois for Superman. That’s why we love those two.
And we are a little jealous of Lois because she gets to spend an evening with someone so wonderful who can sweep us off our feet. He’s such a romantic.
Have I over-analyzed all this? Sure I have. But that’s the fun with fantasy and heroes. It’s so creative and fun to wonder and imagine with the characters. Every person can have a nerdy/fandom thing they have. Superman is my fandom.
Obviously I am a major fanboy and realistically, all of this is just that. It’s not real but it’s a fun thing to follow and love. But for me, it holds a special place in my heart. He was my favorite growing up and as I’ve matured, I’ve seen him mature too. This movie this week is going to be awesome. I can’t wait to watch it tomorrow and watch it again.
For so many reasons, I am so glad that this new movie will focus on Superman’s desire to belong, to fit in. I love the “human side” of Superman and we’ll get to see that. That’s what attracted me to this character. Now I hope the rest of the world gets to appreciate him the way I see him.
And he’s a journalist, just like me. We’re both boss like that! Nothing is hotter than a guy who knows how to use his pen.
Other thoughts that I just wanted to say about Superman.
- I’ve always wanted to work in a place where a suit is required. My undershirt would be a Superman shirt. I think it’d go well with the people at work.
- Seriously, his transformation still captivates me. How he just rips open his buttoned shirt, reveals the big “S” and goes save the day.
- The fascination with Superman is so big that even the death of the actors that have played him have captured our attention, making us think that no way Superman’s actor could get hurt.
- Speaking of the above, Hollywoodland is an amazing film. And Diane Lane is in this new one too. Nice.
- I never really grew up reading the comics, that unfortunately is not in my fandom history.
- In terms of Superman in the various mediums, the movies of the 1970s will always be my go-to one. I never got into Smallville, but I should have. Maybe I’ll try again, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I didn’t see Superman Returns because it looked like crap. That Lois and Clark TV show was OK to me.
- Jerry Seinfeld might be as big of a fan as I am. He’s very big in popular culture. Just ask Cam, Dwight and Mr. Boy. Even this guy too…
- Contemporary art is nice too.
- Seriously, go read this book.
- Find me a better superhero theme song.
- I’ve never watched Superboy. I am glad I did not.
- General Zod is awesome.
- Despite all the storylines that have evolved over the years with Superman, the theme still remains the same with him. That’s why I am such a huge fan. His origin story never gets old. The way he captures our imagination and harnesses our hope for good will live forever.
- Superman III wasn’t that bad. Superman IV was pretty bad.
- He made wearing glasses cool. Thanks Superman!
- The merchandise and creativity from it is awesome as well: