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Why does Superman get deconstructed?:

Formerly G.G.
While Superman isn't hardly the only hero that gets deconstructed, it just seems that lot of comics seem to focus on how unrealistic Superman is. Superman is the pretty much the trope namer for the modern superhero but compared to the flawed Marvel heroes, Superman just feels like a Mary Sue with no flaws other than that he is too nice. That is not to say that he doesn't have any flaws or there cannot be good stories with Supes but why does Superman get taken apart?

"How far will one go for the sake of justice?"

"As far as it takes."
It could be that writers see a Deconstruction as a way of analyzing or de-Sueing him.

  1. Supeman is the most recognizable superhero, so deconstructing him will strike a chord with most people.
  2. Superman is seen as "dull", because he's the ultimate example of The Cape. People in Real Life, particularly those who see us living in a Crapsack World, have a hard time believing Superman is "realistic".
  3. Tropes like Like Reality Unless Noted, Reed Richards Is Useless and other forms of Status Quo Is God don't really work when you have a guy who is a Physical God running around. There is no way the world as it exists today would exist if a person of Superman's power level actually existed. However, thanks to Money, Dear Boy, DC Comics will never actually explore that as far as it could go.

I need a drink
Simple. He was the first, the one we all picture in our heads when somebody says Superhero whether you appreciate him or not. He was the game changer, the blank slate, without Superman there would be no superheroes, at least not in the way we recognise them.
Theres sex and death and human grime in monochrome for one thin dime and at least the trains all run on time but they dont go anywhere.
Raven Wilder
Alongside Batman and possibly Spider-Man, Superman is the most well-known superhero out there, and of the three he's easily the least realistic. So if you want to deconstruct a superhero that even Small Reference Pools will get, Superman is your go-to guy.
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
 6 Sijo, Wed, 28th Dec '11 5:16:24 AM from Puerto Rico
I am afraid of no ghost!
He's just been around too long. When people have to make up new stuff all the time to sell a character -or at least recycle stuff without being noticed- they tend to explore whatever angles they can find. And admittedly, Supes can be both a blank slate AND too powerful to write sometimes.

edited 28th Dec '11 5:17:46 AM by Sijo

Forum talk is just casual talk. It's not a debate you have to win.
Formerly G.G.
Its like the only real weakness of Supes is that DC hasn't made enough money with him. I know its supposedly Kryptonite but its effectiveness varies from story to story, not to mention he gained immunity to it in one story. I guess the reason he gets deconstructed because he is definition of the boring invincible hero.
"How far will one go for the sake of justice?"

"As far as it takes."
 8 johnnyfog, Wed, 28th Dec '11 8:37:56 AM from NYC Relationship Status: They can't hide forever. We've got satellites.
Mornin'.
Also, he's the ultimate jingoist hero. I don't mean that negatively, but in the real world, a demigod who aligns himself with one country is going to cause unrest. That's why Doctor Manhattan worked so well — he wasn't a jingoist, but he wasn't above nationalism. And he ultimately couldn't overcome his otherworldly-ness, either. Compare with John Horus who is in interesting in his own way but, at the end of the day, is another superpowered maniac who decides he's fit to rule.

That said, does Superman really get deconstructed more often than other heroes?

edited 28th Dec '11 8:38:11 AM by johnnyfog

What I lacks in brains I make for in…um…I make up for in…in…um…gummy bears. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Yeah, I'd say he does. He's a Fountain of Expies. Batman would be a close second, then Captain America, then Wonder Woman. Wolverine expies were popular during The Dark Age of Comic Books.

Spider-man doesn't get deconstructed often because the character is a deconstruction.

edited 28th Dec '11 11:38:05 AM by KingZeal

 10 The Badinator, Wed, 28th Dec '11 4:13:07 PM from THE FUUUUUTUUUUUURE
I'm so tired of hearing that Superman is "too perfect" as a character. Maybe during the height of the Silver Age, but other than that, are you even reading the same comics I do? Superman has to deal with a litany of internal conflicts and self doubt — not on the level that Spider-Man does, but still. He can be overbearing, distrustful, bull-headed, naive, occasionally even arrogant, and he's constantly struggling with whether or not he's doing enough with his power and the temptation to do more than he should for people, and that's before we even get into his identity crisis (although that was resolved when he finally married Lois). Just because there's no EVIL in the man doesn't mean his character lacks dimension.

edited 28th Dec '11 4:14:00 PM by TheBadinator

I honestly get tired of seeing Superman go through some angsty, self-doubting, "Am I Really Making A Difference" phase. And for the most part, I blame the people who argue, "It makes him more human and believable!" Okay, maybe it did the first time. Maybe the second time. But, aside from a teenage Superman/boy or a Year One story, Superman should be way past that shit by now. You're talking about a man that, of his own free will and completely free of charge, will go out and stop an erupting volcano, or at least evacuate innocent people, to save lives by the thousands. Who gives a crap if Superman can't solve world peace, fix the hunger crisis, or cure cancer—just because the man doesn't solve all of humanity's problems doesn't mean he isn't an absolute boon to the world.

So, whenever I read a story like Grounded, where Superman goes through some sort of self-defeatist phase, it makes me facepalm.

And the same is true every time I read a story in which Captain America questions his patriotism. Haven't we been through this crap already?

edited 28th Dec '11 6:40:38 PM by KingZeal

I honestly get tired of seeing Superman go through some angsty, self-doubting, "Am I Really Making A Difference" phase. And for the most part, I blame the people who argue, "It makes him more human and believable!" Okay, maybe it did the first time. Maybe the second time. But, aside from a teenage Superman/boy or a Year One story, Superman should be way past that shit by now. You're talking about a man that, of his own free will and completely free of charge, will go out and stop an erupting volcano, or at least evacuate innocent people, to save lives by the thousands. Who gives a crap if Superman can't solve world peace, fix the hunger crisis, or cure cancer—just because the man doesn't solve all of humanity's problems doesn't mean he isn't an absolute boon to the world.

Indeed. He's more believable and interesting when his main flaw is overconfidence.
Currently taking a break from the site. See my user page for more information.
He is perhaps the best known super-hero there is. Show his shield in any country that has seen print or television, and they'll know what it is. Also, he gets deconstructed because there's a lot there to deconstruct. He echoes the stories of Jesus Christ and Moses, he's emblematic immigrants in America, there's the essential duality of his character, the idea of great power used responsibly in the service of mankind, etc, etc. If all other super-heroes fall away and are forgotten, I'd wager that Superman wouldn't be.

I'd say he's far from too perfect; just look at Clark Kent. If you accept the idea that Clark is not a mask but an aspect of Superman's personality, then he's a very human character. When people say he's unrealistic, what precisely do they mean? His powers? If so, he's no more unrealistic than any other super-powered character. If it's his morality coupled with his great power, then I'd say that says more about the critic than the character; there have been lots of examples of powerful, morally responsible individuals throughout history.
 
[up]The problem a lot of people have with Superman is that he's often taken beyond merely "moral" and into Always Right territory. Also, a lot of the villains he fights are too far below him in power.

edited 29th Dec '11 6:42:54 AM by silver2195

Currently taking a break from the site. See my user page for more information.
I dunno about "always right"—even in the Silver Age, Superman made mistakes. It was just that during that time, he was much more confident in himself.

But I do agree about him fighting against villains weaker than him—but that was mostly a consequence of the times. Superman predates the "supervillain". He was created as a super powerful crusader for justice, and at the time, he was pitted against common thugs and diabolical madmen to show how one Übermensch could clean up the world. It wasn't until much later that he gained a Rogues Gallery. And even then, some depictions (such as the George Reeve TV series) didn't feature any supervillains at all.

But the villain problem is beyond fixed. Superman's rogues gallery has expanded so wide over time that there's really no excuse.

I need a drink
Wait. Weak villains? What are you guys talking about? You have Lex Luthor, Mr Myxyzptlk, Metallo, The Parasite, Bizarro, Brainiac, General Zod, Toyman, The Kryptonite Man, Solaris the Tyrant Sun and fucking Darkseid! What weak villains? I mean in that list of names alone you have

  • The worlds most intelligent sociopath
  • A 5th dimensional being
  • A Cyborg powered by Kryptonite
  • A creature who can absorb your powers
  • A reversed clone
  • An alien supercomputer
  • A rogue Kryptonian
  • A mad man whose weapons could be in the hands of children
  • A guy with kryptonite coursing through his veins
  • A living Sun and the God of Tyranny himself

Am I the only one who sees the challenge?! And those are just the inidividuals! Don't get me started on the groups like Intergang and the Superman Revenge Squad.
Theres sex and death and human grime in monochrome for one thin dime and at least the trains all run on time but they dont go anywhere.
Formerly G.G.
To be fair to the villains, the villains he fights often compensate for being intelligent and actually using their heads (sometimes). It isn't some action shonen manga or Dragon Ball where some villain beats up the hero with no effort until the hero gets better and beats said villain. Superman is often pitted against foes who were smarter than him although there are some characters such as Darkseid who can give him a fight. The hero winning every battle he comes across can be kind of boring, who can challenge a guy who pull planets with a chain and close black holes by crushing them?
"How far will one go for the sake of justice?"

"As far as it takes."
[up] Oh come now. The "pulls planets with a chain" and "crushes black holes with his hands" comment is at least 35-40 years out of date, and was the product of a time when Superman comics were much more whimsical, less about action than about instilling in the reader a sense of wonder. Superman's kind of in a Catch-22 situation in that people complain if he's too powerful, then if they de-power him (which has happened several times, actually) they complain he isn't powerful enough. As far as his winning every battle, I'm not sure that's actually a true statement so much as an error of perception. He doesn't win every battle; read a Superman comic from the last 30 years or so and you'll see that he doesn't. Do you find him boring based on experience, or just by reputation?

It's said that the best villains echo their hero in some way; I've found this to be true of Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman (not every villain does this, just the best ones, it seems). Superman's best villains tend to be gifted/super-powerful individuals who either abuse their gifts or feel that their gifted nature makes them superior to humanity, or alien/extremely powerful beings who seek to threaten or dominate humanity.
 
Wait. Weak villains? What are you guys talking about?

I said some of the villains, not all. I was mostly thinking about people like Prankster and Toyman, and also all those Let's You and Him Fight storylines where people like Batman are treated as threats to Superman.

edited 29th Dec '11 8:20:03 PM by silver2195

Currently taking a break from the site. See my user page for more information.
Indeed. He's more believable and interesting when his main flaw is overconfidence.

So agreed. The best Superman ever, as far as I'm concerned, is Justice League Unlimited's bitter, jaded Superman who often seemed on the verge of saying, "I'm FREAKING SUPERMAN, why don't you all just SHUT UP and do as I say already?"

I'm personally really tired of Superman Expies. The book Hero by Perry Moore was particularly aggravating, since it used both Superman Expy tactics (Superman-as-egotistical-asshole, Superman-as-villain) at once (and incurred massive Celebrity Paradox at the same time). Irredeemable also fell very flat to me because I had seen so many things in it already in Invincible and Astro City, and seen them done better in those works.

edited 30th Dec '11 10:41:16 AM by TheEvilDrBolty

I'd take stomach a Superman pastiche if they mixed in other archetypes so they could comment on both. How about a Doc Super? A Thor-El? Doctor Kent, Savior of the Supernatural?

Mix and seem fresh. That's what I'd like to see.
 
 22 English Major, Fri, 30th Dec '11 3:39:25 PM from The 5th Circle of Hell
All haill Atroticus!
My take is that Supes is an idealized figure. See, Superman is a Messianic Figure. He was popular during the Fifties, early Sixties, and Nineties; when times were good and people were relatively optimistic about the future. And yeah we had that whole Y2K thing going on, but that solidified Supes' popularity as a symbol of hope in uncertain times. We still had hope. And his popularity was reflected in the Lois and Clark, the animated series, and the Death Of Superman event.

Now? Corporate corruption in the government, an economic collapse, two conflicts in the middle east, and unrest in the world. We've lost faith and hope, and by extension we've stopped liking that big blue boy scout because where was he when the economy collapsed? Where were the heroes when we needed them most?

I've got the same thing going when I watch a Frank Capra movie: so much idealism about what this great nation can do leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you realize the Potters, Taylor and Luthors are running the show and got us in this mess.

Now we like Batman because we feel we need someone working outside the law to bring the corrupt to justice: a dark avenger.

Oh and on another note: Captain America is popular now because he's a human representation of what makes America great. He appeals to conservatives because he's an idealization of America's greatness and he appeals to liberals in that while he does wear the flag as his costume, he's still moderately progressive in quitting during Watergate, recruiting a multi-ethic team, and even speaking out against the Tea Party. Unlike Superman, he's human.
With blood and rage of crimson red ripped from a corpse so freshly dead together with our hellish hate we'll burn you all that is your fate
[up] How does that jibe with Superman's original interpretation back when he debuted in '38, as a "hero for the common man" who used his powers to dish out justice and comeuppance to corrupt and powerful 1 percenters? He was massively popular then. Or with his current interpretation in Grant Morrison's Action Comics, which pretty much echoes that original Superman?
 
Raven Wilder
The problem with Superman's powers isn't that they make it hard to give him a challenge; it's that they make it hard to give him an interesting fight scene. And, really, this is a problem all Flying Bricks have: they're so powerful that the environment they're fighting in doesn't matter.

I mean, suppose you've got Superman fighting someone who's just as strong and fast as he is. You could have Superman hit the villain with a car, and you could have the bad guy throw Superman into a building, but what would be the point? They're both so tough that they might as well be hitting each other with styrofoam. Same thing goes for if one of them tries to take cover behind a wall or something. And, if both of them can fly, they don't have to worry about having the high ground or any other battlefield logistics like that; they can just take to the air to solve that problem. Add in the fact that Superman's fighting style is usually Good Old Fisticuffs (there'd probably be some backlash if he started using fancy martial arts moves all the time), and the end result is a fight scene where two guys float in mid-air punching each other. That can be cool at first, but after several years it starts to get old.

Now, sure, the villains don't have to be Flying Bricks like Superman; they can have more unusual powers in order to spice things up. But then you're left with Superman getting into a lot of fights where he's the boring guy using brute-force to win against more interesting opponents. That doesn't exactly help his image either.
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
Formerly G.G.
[up] Not to mention, not a lot of them could pose a challenge in a straight up fight. There is a reason why Lex Luthor is a popular villain the Superman stories.

edited 30th Dec '11 11:57:04 PM by GAP

"How far will one go for the sake of justice?"

"As far as it takes."
Total posts: 145
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