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Author Topic: Why is it some people don't like Superman?  (Read 14434 times)
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Council of Wisdom
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« on: February 08, 2007, 05:51:16 AM »

I mean, have you guys ever noticed this?

I think I started to understand why when I was reading TARZAN AT THE EARTH'S CORE today. You've got to remember, Tarzan was a truly fascinating character; JUNGLE TALES OF TARZAN showed us Tarzan climbing a tall tree to challenge the Moon to a fight (!) and Tarzan has many personality traits that are absolutely fascinating: his curiosity, his savagery alternating with his sophistication, and so on.

And YES, Tarzan was a super-macho, outdoorsy, rugged, larger than life character whose arrows never missed.

But somewhere around TARZAN, LORD OF THE JUNGLE, Burroughs was mostly on autopilot with lost cities and beast-slayings and forgot to make Tarzan likable. You had the usual stuff about Burroughs reminding us time and again how mighty Tarzan is, and how great a shot Tarzan is, and how huge-dicked Tarzan is...and because Tarzan was no longer likable, I started to resent him.

So, in TARZAN AT THE EARTH'S CORE, Tarzan actually got LOST. I'm not joking, it was because of Pellucidar's never setting inner sun.

Let me tell you, I had to laugh at Lord Greystoke like that ugly kid from THE SIMPSONS.


"Hey, next time, try Google Maps, huh?"   Grin

Likewise, Superman, as a character, is all about the excitement and thrill of power, and this sense nothing is impossible for him.

But if Superman isn't likable, if Superman isn't interesting, you start to RESENT him.

Combine this with the totally true belief that Superman is an "old fashoined" kind of hero (which is not necessarily a drawback, it's merely who the character is) and you get a lot of people not liking the character.

( Incidentally, I don't entirely believe Superman is entirely "old fashoined" in the same way, say, Buck Rogers is, because...well, did you see that scene in SUPERMAN RETURNS where Superman got shot in the eye and the bullet flattened? WOW, that was cool; the character has a great deal of untapped and very contemporary ability to make jaded modern audiences say "wow, that's amazing." If Superman is an old man, he'd be one of those skydiving, marathon-running, sunglasses-wearing sex maniac old men in beer commercials. )

A lot of the reason people think Superman is uncool is because of misconception. If you want to see a caricature of how Superman haters view the character (and the DC Universe in general), read Englehart's "Serpent Crown" arc, a pointed critique of DC's original universe.

The "Squadron Supreme," a semi-Justice League, are the uncool defenders of the status quo that work for the hypnotized wearer of the Serpent Crown, President Nelson Rockefeller (I can't think of a single leftist conspiracy theory of the sixties that didn't involve him; try to imagine if Ken Lay ever became President). The Squadroners speak in dialogue that is over-the-top, especially compared to the straight-talking, hip, liberal Avengers.

Hyperion, the Superman analogue, is an arrogant muscleman that believes might makes right, a scary and thickheaded "true believer" who boasts of his status as the planet's greatest defender all the while having a vague, alien passive-aggressive contempt for earthlings.

In the context of the political and social events of the 1970s, having a less patriarchial, Charlton Heston-esque Superman, as played by Christopher Reeve, was a pretty good move.

The most revolutionary thing that the SUPERMAN movie did, its most lasting impact on the character, was to have there be real passion between Lois and Superman, to the point where, at Lois's death, Superman breaks down.

What's got to be remembered is that Superman and Lois didn't really have chemistry in any popular medium before. George Reeves and Noel Neil were pretty chaste, Fleischer Superman had better things to do than play kissyface with dames, and even in the comics, Superman avoided Lois for the better part of his existence.

I would argue that the creation of a romance between Superman and Lois in that film was one of the steps they took to have a "likable" Superman and build away from the false pop culture image of Superman that was personified by Hyperion. One of the truly scary things about Hyperion, as written by Englehart, is his sexlessness, with comments like "I will never understand the courting rituals on this planet."
« Last Edit: February 08, 2007, 07:02:46 AM by JulianPerez » Logged

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Last Son of Krypton
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2007, 06:45:58 AM »

He's the grandaddy of the them all. The first, arguably the greatest, and he stands for very positive and universal things. He thinks beyond himself not out of guilt, vengence, or even circumstance, but because it's right and he needs no other reason. In short, when you're the top you are an easy target.

The single greatest act of overcompensation in comics is the Batman can beat Superman thing. Nevermind the inherent stupidity of two greatest heroes the world has ever known coming to blows or the fact that need for Kryptonite plus being up against super-speed, heat-vision, and invunerablity is a gigantic handicap, I don't care what kind of prep-time you got. It's funny how Superman gets dissed for being too powerful but Batman can act as though he got a copy of his own script in the mail, read seven pages ahead of the next scene and it's ok. 

I had one guy at work say to me "he has it too good". I never got a full explanation of what he meant as he was leaving the room when he said it but it kinda stuck in my brain for awhile. Maybe some think there isn't enough of a defining element of tragedy to him (which is kinda laughable when you think of the scope of tragedy in his origins) or that his life just isn't depressing enough I guess.

Some mistakenly connect the character with conformity which I think kinda comes from a rather narrow and uninformed perception of what past eras were really about and/or a knee-jerk and rather stupid reaction to images of him in front of the flag or as someone trying to maintain order. It's the same thing Captain America gets a lot where patriotism and blind obedience to an administration are viewed as basically the same thing.

Some just seem to wear cynicism like a badge of honor and take it to ridiculous extremes so anything that symbolizes hope or even fun is suspect. They only way they can even begin to wrap their brain around it is if it's deconstructed and dissected down to dust particles. It has to be challenged and ultimately proven wrong on some level.

..and some simply like characters in the vein of Wolverine and Punisher better only instead of being content to like anti-heroes or characters with an edge to them they must loudly rebel against anything that doesn't fit that bill. .. and of course guess who is the most unlike those characters out of all superheroes?

I agree with you about the movie. I mean Superman basically defies the cosmic law of not interfering in human history that time for the most human reason of all, love. I think it's good example of writing the character with a slant more towards the Kryptonian doesn't mean the absence of being able to relate to him.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2007, 04:40:25 PM by Kuuga » Logged

Superman Family
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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2007, 04:04:41 PM »

These are all statements I've seen and/or heard.  I don't understand any of them.   Huh?

1)  Superman is too powerful. 

What gets me about this one is that there are several comic book characters more powerful than Superman.  Somehow, somewhere people got the idea that Superman can do anything.  I think it's Weisinger hangover.  Even though most readers these days don't even know who Weisinger was.

2)  Superman is a big blue boy scout.

Yes he is.  And what's wrong with that?  This for some reason is a character flaw to some people.  It's considered uncool.  Come to think of it Fonzie had similar values and he was cool.   Roll Eyes

3)  Superman is boring.

Why is Superman boring?  The answer to this is usually "Because you can't relate to Superman."

4)  You can't relate to Superman. 

This one is my favorite.  What it really means is that Superman doesn't always dwell on his problems or seem to get depressed.  People feel that there isn't enough human drama when it comes to Superman.  This may be the case but does everything have to be a drag?  Sometimes I just want good old fashioned action/adventure and fantasy.

Bottom line is Superman has an image problem.  He's considered old fasioned and unhip.  I happen to like Superman for these reasons.  It's refreshing to have a character who still has good moral values and principals.  Even if it is considered uncool.

« Last Edit: February 08, 2007, 04:10:07 PM by shazamtd » Logged

"Is there no one on this planet to even challenge me?!" - General Zod (Superman II)
Great Rao
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« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2007, 09:10:50 PM »

I had one guy at work say to me "he has it too good". I never got a full explanation of what he meant as he was leaving the room when he said it but it kinda stuck in my brain for awhile.

I think this comment hits the nail on the head.  The people who don't like Superman are the people who are already prone to envy and who focus on the bad side of everything.   If you live next to a rich guy, you can either think, "he has all that money and I don't - therefore he's lazy and must not have done a lick of work in his life and I don't like him" and look at him with dusgust and envy everytime he drives by (like Lex Luthor would); or you can think, "wow, he must be a hard worker and a respectable guy - I'm glad it's all paying off for him" and look at him with admiration when he drives by, happy that his presence is improving the neighborhood.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2007, 09:13:20 PM by Great Rao » Logged

"The bottom line involves choices.  Neither gods nor humans have ever stood calmly in a minefield forever.  Good or evil, they are bound to choose.  And when they do, you will see the truth of all that motivates us.  As a thinking being, you have the obligation to choose.  If the fate of all mankind were in your hands, what would your decision be?  As a writer and an artist, I've drawn my answer."   - Jack Kirby
Super Monkey
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« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2007, 11:48:47 PM »

Basically pessimistic people do not like Superman and optimistic do like Superman.

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« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2007, 01:05:17 PM »

Basically pessimistic people do not like Superman and optimistic do like Superman.

Super Monkey are you saying that Byrne is a pessimist guy? Wink

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Silver Age Surfer

« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2007, 10:28:02 PM »

Since I did all my Superman reading before I was 12 (other than coming back to those stories many years later - in my 40s), I didn't need for him to have a romantic interest.  It was cool that he was friends with Jimmy Olsen, the Legion, Justice League, etc.

I liked Tom Corbett, Chip Hilton, Tom Swift, and the Hardy Boys as well, and all those "heroes" practically ran away from women.
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2007, 09:01:00 AM »

I liked Tom Corbett, Chip Hilton, Tom Swift, and the Hardy Boys as well, and all those "heroes" practically ran away from women.

That's quite interesting, because before I encountered American comics, and Superman in particular, my heroes were all from European comics, especially the entirely sexless Tintin. One of the things that interested me about Superman was that not only were there women prominently featured in the cast, but the main character had a relationship with one of them - and a rather complicated one, at that.

Between the revolution and the firing-squad, there is always time for a glass of champagne.
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