What does your favorite superhero represent?
Superheroes are undoubtedly popular. These entertaining movies seem to have taken over Hollywood. It’s made closet comic book lovers to publicly express their love! The box office rejoices every time a new superhero movie comes out. Even when these movies are bad (I’m talking to you Snyder…) they still make bucket loads of money. But there has been a shift in opinion lately.
“Almost every time there’s a popular thing that nearly everyone likes, you can almost guarantee that among those who don’t like it will be a brave few who are willing to publically say why they don’t and why nobody else should.” The Guardian
Those “brave few” have started to become more than just a few. It’s an actual cultural phenomenon. It has always happened and probably always will. It’s just like how you hated the popular kids in high school… It seems everyday (at film school) I have a conversation defending superheroes. So, I decided to write this and defend superheroes, specifically Superman, against any haters. Although, ‘haters gonna hate’, hopefully, I can change a mind or two.
Anybody who knows me, knows I love Superman. I assume most people think it’s because I look like a chubby Clark Kent. I mean… compared to Superman, who isn’t chubby? But my love for Kal-el goes farther than just a sexy alter ego. I genuinely believe superheroes represent a moral or value and teach the public through epic action, campy dialogue, and extreme characters.
What makes Superman super? Flight? Super strength? Freeze breath? X-ray vision? Heat vision? Tights? A cape? I understand we are talking about a comic book hero, but really ask yourself these questions. Batman has no super powers, but he is super. So, by default, it’s not his powers that make Superman a superhero. It’s what he represents. It’s the fact that he has all these powers but uses them the way he does. He could have these powers and never use them. If he did that he wouldn’t be a superhero, but he would still have the powers. It’s the actions the character makes that changes him from a very talented alien to an actual superhero. The same goes for every comic book hero out there. It’s not the abilities that make the hero, it’s the actions that hero takes. Those actions reflect what they stand for.
Each superhero stands for something. Usually, it can be summed up in a word or two. Don’t believe me? Think I am taking comic books too seriously? Keep reading and let me know if I’m wrong.
Most people look at Ironman (especially now) and think he is just a playboy or a hypocrite. He stuck it to the man, then he fought with the man. He just wants to be a celebrity. He is the only hero to come right out and say “I am Ironman”. Well, think about the character’s actions.
In every movie and comic, Tony Stark is looking forward. He asks himself “how will these actions affect my future, our future, or the future?”. He might not live life the way most superheroes do, but he represents progress. Always looking forward, always improving and always doing it for a better existence of mankind.
I know! How could a gigantic green man who doesn’t really say anything represent something significant? We all have a dark side. Some of us more than others, but we all can lose control. The Hulk represents that part of us. The Hulk is caught up in anger and is the worst part of Bruce Banner, yet he can control that and channel it for the better. I would argue that The Hulk is one of the most evolved and impressive superheroes in Marvels cannon. The Hulk represents self-mastery. Iron Man proved in Civil War that he can’t control his anger. Superman, Batman and Thor have all done despicable things when they lose control of their emotions. The Hulk is the only one who is able to channel the worst parts of himself into fulfilling something productive.
There are almost too many morals and values Cap represents to pick just one. Let’s see; strength, courage, humility, patriotism and many more. The one I feel reflects the best, especially after Captain America Civil War is loyal. Loyal to the truth and justice. He is loyal to Bucky, loyal to his country and loyal to his friends. He fights for what is right, whether it is publically viewed as such. He will never betray and never leave you to fight on your own.
This one is easy. Wonder Woman is the daughter of a God. If there is anything that has remained consistent across the changing of Gods in history, it’s truth. Remaining true to self, as well as living life by truth. She fights for mankind because she can see many of us that value truth in our lives. She even has freaking the “lasso of truth!” In different movies and comics, Wonder Woman has been easy to deceive or very difficult to deceive. Either way, it reflects her attachment to truth. She either thinks truth is important to all, thus deception isn’t a possibility. Or she knows truth should be important to all but isn’t. She will always fight for truth!
This one is easy. Batman has stood for one thing for the entirety of his existence – justice. Ever since his parents were killed and the man’s punishment wasn’t just, Bruce has dedicated his life to ensure that doesn’t happen in Gotham anymore. Batman doesn’t offer mercy. He doesn’t care about mercy. He believes in justice. Society can’t offer mercy. The punishment must match the crime. He doesn’t need to be liked or understood. Justice just needs to be served.
Now for my personal favorite and why Superman is the best. Superman represents one of the most important values in the world – hope.
“Superman, when he goes after somebody, is essentially not trying to beat them, he is trying to save them from themselves…” – Max Landis
“You will be different, sometimes you’ll feel like an outcast, but you’ll never be alone.” – Superman
“You’re much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.” – Superman
“Dreams save us. Dreams lift us up and transform us. On my soul, I swear . . . until my dream of a world where dignity, honor and justice becomes the reality we all share . . . I’ll never stop fighting. Ever.” – Superman
The “S” on his chest literally means “hope” on Krypton. He represents hope for the future. Hope in individuals and in mankind in general. He represents hope in the fact that he doesn’t live like a god. He chooses to be one of us because he represents the hope that maybe we can become that empowered. He sends the message that if you are just a nerdy, no name, journalist in a failing paper, you can still be freaking Superman. He is the best parts of human kind. He could destroy us all, but he chooses not to. He chooses to fight for a better future!
I know people have some serious problems with Superman, and I have answers for them all! I will make a video where I address some of the most prevalent issues with the Man of Steel.
Superheroes are important. They give the young (and young at heart) an example, fictional or not, of what we can become. I have the choice to either try and save humanity or destroy it, every day – maybe not on the scale Superman can, but I still make that choice. Every character in fiction or nonfiction represents something(s). Super heroes are values and morals wrapped in tights. That’s why they are popular and that’s why they should be.