Why does Superman get deconstructed?:

Total posts: [145]
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76 Sijo25th Feb 2012 05:05:12 AM from Puerto Rico
[up]x5: I actually agree with all that. Superman is law-abiding enough that he would not interfere in other countries but he's also too moral to ignore massacres or disasters. Even the Marvel-level Superman would definitely keep an eye *on the whole world* though he'd rely more on his reporter skills (making his job useful for once) to find out where and how to help. I'm sure this is what he does in the comics now, just that they rarely show it.

But the Silver Age Superman? That guy could've, for example, just gotten rid of ALL the radioactive elements on Earth, and so eliminated the threat of Nuclear Annihilation (that we STILL face today, we just don't think about it anymore.) In fact, in the (in)famous Superman Red/Superman Blue story (the Pre Crisis one I mean) Superman goes on to solve all the problems in the world, up to and including eliminating evil! Sure that was just an "imaginary story" (eg. not canonical) and it involved Superman gaining superintelligence (not to mention splitting in two) but still, reading it brings a "Hey yeah, with all those powers and technology, why doesn't he do more for the World than just foiling villains?" This dichotomy followed him for a long time (and was the focus of many stories ex. the fourth Superman movie) which is probably why DC decided to power him down after the Crisis. And for the most part he's stayed that way (except when writers like Morrison insist on ignoring the point.)

Now don't get me wrong: I loved those Silver Age stories, and I still do. But its inner logic just doesn't fit with the at-least-halfway-realistic modern superhero setting. Then again, just as there's no reason why we can't have both regular and dark versions of a character simultaneously (just in separate realities) nothing stops us from also having Lighter and Softer ones now.

edited 25th Feb '12 5:09:50 AM by Sijo

I need a drink
The discussion of the technology Superman possesses and how very little any of it is used towards making a better world is actually one of my favourite moments in Irredeemable. Upon talking about the possibilities sharing his technology could bring, another character (whose based on the 10th Doctor) actually goes on to say that mankind is simply not ready and that doing so would be akin to "giving an orang-utan a grenade.

It's a very pessimistic view on humanity that doesn't at all fit in with the very idealistic tone of Superman, but it is an idea I do respect. I mean, if you were Superman, would you risk unleashing what might very well be a harmless device on a world where the likes of Lex Luthor, Dr Sivana and the Ultra Humanite are roaming around?

I would actually like to see a story where Superman's intelligence and scientific expertise was actually just as big a focus as his physical attributes. I would love to see a character like Leo Quintum at S.T.A.R Labs blowing the breeze with Superman over their latest discoveries.

Not many writers seem to remember this, but Clark is a geek over things science.
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.
though he'd rely more on his reporter skills (making his job useful for once) to find out where and how to help.

Yeah. That was actually the original reason for the "Clark Kent" persona in the first place. Early Superman stories gave the impression that Superman was the real identity and Clark Kent was just a disguise. This was later reversed to give him more of a juxtaposition to Batman and also because his parents were alive in revisions.
79 HandsomeRob25th Feb 2012 07:58:59 PM from Shining time station , Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
The freaky train with a face!
More on-topic, Superman gets deconstructed for a number of reasons; the main one, of course, is because writers (speaking as a writer myself) are lazy, cynical bastards. Superman is the biggest, easiest target available for superheroic deconstruction, far and away the most recognizable cape in existence, and arguably one of the, if not the most idealistic. It's an irresistable combination. Instant, effortless recognizability, coupled with an idealism that sets our cynical teeth on edge, makes for a target too tempting to resist.

Reading that depresses me a little. So basically, there are many writers who simply can't believe that someone like Superman could exist, and tear him down, writing what they think he would really be like. I can kind of understand it (even I think that someone with Supes' powers would use them for purely his own gain at best), but is it that hard to believe in people's better nature.
As a sentient train, I am morally against any kind of de-railing.
a Xeno Drac of Outworld
[up] As one of those who loves Superman because he's unambiguously a good guy, I also find it a bit disconcerting. This is why I was so excited by Bryan Singer wanting to reverse the prior scripts' (failed) attempts at making Supes Darker and Edgier, and instead trying to validate why Superman's inherent goodness is his relevant quality to the world at large...

...But then Superman Returns sidelined that idea only to be an homage of the old films, and ignore the moral implications of Superman fathering, and then abandoning, a Super-Son, twice.


edited 27th Feb '12 1:06:27 PM by frodobatmanvader

Lex is the antithesis of Superman not because he's brains and Superman is brawn, but because he echoes him in many many ways. Both Superman and Lex are gifted individuals, but while Superman does not feel his uniqueness sets him above humanity, Lex DOES. The best villians, in my opinion, echo their hero in some way.
I need a drink
Lex also echoes Superman in another way: Where as Superman is the epitome of human goodness and decency, Luthor is basically the worst parts of humanity rolled into one. The same could be said for another of my favourite Superman villains, Brainiac. Superman is essentially the benevolent alien, using his gifts to help us and our planet, but Brainiac is, again, the worst possible things we associate with aliens: He's cold, he's distant, he's emotionless. He's basically everything Lex thinks Superman is.

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.
83 IndirectActiveTransport28th Feb 2012 07:13:21 PM from Chicago , Relationship Status: Coming soon to theaters
You Give Me Fever
This has gone on how long? Anyway

"People say kids can't understand the difference between fact and fiction, but that's bullshit.Kids understand that real crabs don't sing like the ones in The Little Mermaid. But you an adult fiction, and he starts asking really f****ing dumb questions like "How does Superman fly? How those eyebeams work? Who pumps the Batmobile's tires?" It's a f****ing made up story, you idiot! Nobody pumps the tires!"

Does not address my complaints at all. I'm not asking how Superman flies, I'm asking why he flies faster than anything on Earth can react to. I'm not asking how his heat vision works, I'm asking why it is so hot nothing on Earth can withstand it. I'm not asking how his super strength works no. I didn't ask why his powers work, I asked why his powers are so big for someone who lives in a city and fights crime.

If Superman can see in seven different spectrums, why does he ever get hit by a punk with kryptonite bullets? With his super speed he should see it before the rounds has fully left the barrel and have moved out the way. When Reed Richards Is Useless how is any amount of Lex Luthor finances going to trouble Superman without making our hero look like an idiot? Thor and Silver Surfer have great power too, but they aren't loving a woman of Kleenex, they aren't balancing a news job and a secret identity. They aren't main opponents to fragile rich guys. Their main enemies can eat the Earth. Figuratively in Surfer's case and literally in Thor's, they don't even live on Earth so it makes since they have enough power to destroy it.

If I was asking how his powers work, Superman does a better job than Thor and Silver Surfer. His powers come from the sun, the other two are because, that's why.

edited 29th Feb '12 12:50:41 PM by IndirectActiveTransport

That's why he wants you to have the money. Not so you can buy 14 Cadillacs but so you can help build up the wastes
[up] Because that's how the writers choose to write him?

As to the "Why the Clark Kent identitiy, and why the Lois Lane thing" I'd say it's because part of Superman's subtext is the fantasy of possessing hidden depths. Ah ha, I may look like a mild mannered citizen, but when the need arises you'd be amazed by what I can do. Too bad that girl I like can never see how awesome I really am...

Clark Kent IS Superman's vulnerable side. Without him, he'd just be perfect and god-powerful and inaccessible.
a Xeno Drac of Outworld
[up][up] Very well put, even though it flies in the face of my saying he's fine the way he is. Even though I hate how reinterpretations always make him evil just to be different, I do think that trying something different with his life as Clark Kent would be a breath of fresh air.

Sadly or not, newspapers are a dying format, and so it's much harder to relate to a guy working at a newspaper. Even just changing the paper to one that is more internet-based would do wonders to make him relevant. I always thought his being the "fastest typist" was a funny nod; what if he did code for the website? What if we saw him get laid off and, in an effort to preserve his identity at the least, he has to find a different job or a different career altogether? What if he didn't bother, and thus his old friends wonder why their old friend fell off the map? (That aggravated me in Superman Returns. Clark shows up at just the same time as Superman, and no one bats an eye? Seriously?) What type of different career would fit Superman?

This is the one silver lining of hope I have for the upcoming Superman film. All the set pictures taken seem to show 'ol Kal-El doing something other than just "grow up idyllically in Smallville; get a job at Daily Planet; become a superhero." If only my confidence in either Zack Snyder or David S. Goyer was, y'know, confident...

edited 29th Feb '12 10:19:01 AM by frodobatmanvader

[up] Didn't they just kind of do that (changing the Daily Planet to a more multi-media sort of production) over in the New 52's Superman book?
87 TeChameleon2nd Mar 2012 09:30:24 AM from Alberta, Canada , Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Irritable Reptilian
And once again, we're back to one of the things I hate most in comics (or at least those centered on a major corporate-owned IP); everyone knows that Clark Kent is a newspaper reporter. Therefore, that is what he'll always be, since any attempt to update his job will ultimately fail, either through negative fan reaction, a new writer wanting to write stories about the Superman they grew up reading, or just one of the endless merry-go-round of reboots (poor Perez & Wolfman... I don't think they realized that the real title of their multiverse-killing storyline was "Crisis of Infinite Reboots").

And it's not even that it's that hard to believe in any kind of goodness in humanity; it's more the Anna Kerinina dictum. It's HARD to write a story where the lead character is a for-real paragon of humanity, at least if you want to dodge a crapton of Unfortunate Implications, Mary Sue-ism, Pollyanna-vision (one of the big red S' lesser-known powers), or any of their giant stack of associated/similar (and story-breaking) tropes. Not saying it's impossible, or shouldn't be done, just that it's not easy; with this in mind, I refer you back to my previous statement about writers.
88 Sijo2nd Mar 2012 10:26:48 AM from Puerto Rico
For the record, Clark Kent was a *TV News reporter* for the entire Bronze Age Of Comics; he still occasionally wrote for the Daily Planet, but his real job was at WGBS. That was part of the attempt to update him for the times back then (the other part was reducing his power level, though that didn't stick.) It lasted surprisingly long, it wasn't until the Post-Crisis reboot that he was a full-time newspaper reporter again.

edited 2nd Mar '12 10:27:47 AM by Sijo

89 C0mraid3rd Mar 2012 05:42:48 AM from Here and there
I'm not getting the issue with Kent being a reporter. Sure it doesn't fufill the original purpose, but it's just as suitable as any other profession he might take up.

As for this insistance that newspapers are dead, well unless the situation is considerably different between the US and the UK. They may, may be dying slowly. But there's still a large enough readership base who won't consider moving to another medium for their news.
Am I a good man or a bad man?
90 Wackd3rd Mar 2012 11:53:56 AM , Relationship Status: You're a beautiful woman, probably
That's true. I mean, newspapers are still around. It's not like they've ceased to exist.

Once newspapers are, in fact, dead in the ground and not a single one is being published, then we can start bitching.
I think being Superman would be awesome. I'm guessing I'm not alone in that. The question is, what would it really be like to be Superman? It is a question a lot of people have spent a lot of time thinking about. Larry Niven wrote an article speculating about his sexuality (both in preference and execution). Being an alien with super-powers would be cool but would I really like being the last of my kind? Being invulnerable sounds pretty nifty but is it worth making enemies with creatures powerful enough to break my otherwise invulnerable nose?

And what about my Secret Identity? All those amazing powers and I choose to hide behind a hunch and a pair of nerd glasses? What does that say about me as a person? The list goes on. For every neat power Superman possesses, there are questions. For instance, Superman seems pretty well behaved for a super-strong child whose adopted human parents had no reliable way of punishing him as a child. How did the Kent raise him?

I'm not saying Superman is a poorly written character. On the contrary, he is a well-written character who has been written for decades. The guy has got a lot of baggage. Deconstruction is all about unzipping all those carry-on suitcases and seeing what's inside of them.

edited 20th Sep '12 12:41:46 AM by EugenePickett

92 TamH7020th Sep 2012 03:31:05 AM , Relationship Status: Faithful to 2D
I still to this day think Quentin Tarantino's evisceration of the entire Superman Mythos in his script for Kill Bill Part Two, as delivered by the late, great David Carradine, is the best description of what someone with superman's powers would actually feel like towards us humans.
[up][up] That's not original to Tarantino. He took it, almost word for word, from Jules Feiffer's intro to The Comic Book Heroes. It was written in the late '60's/early 70's, and I'm forced to wonder if Feiffer still feels that way. It's an exceptionally cynical take on a character who is not even remotely cynical.
95 Eagal20th Sep 2012 08:30:41 PM from This is a location. , Relationship Status: Waiting for Prince Charming
This is a title.
IMO, it's Tall Poppy Syndrome. People don't like the fact that Superman is Incorruptible Pure Pureness and they try to bring him down by showing what kind of person he would be if he were real.
The madness is catching.
96 Wackd20th Sep 2012 09:00:16 PM , Relationship Status: You're a beautiful woman, probably
Because no real person would ever devote their lives to selflessly helping others, superpowers or not.

The fact that someone like that seems so implausible to most people bugs me on a metaphysical level.

edited 20th Sep '12 9:00:31 PM by Wackd

97 HandsomeRob20th Sep 2012 09:46:44 PM from Shining time station , Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
The freaky train with a face!

People do have a hard time believing it.

It's a viscious cycle. People don't believe someone is selfless, so anyone trying to be selfless gets that quirk grinded out of them. thereby proving the cynical ones right.

I do admit, even if I believed someone would try to be that good, I don't think they could keep it up for long. And what would you do with that much power but be either a saintly saviour, or the biggest damned tyrant imaginable?

There aren't many options.
As a sentient train, I am morally against any kind of de-railing.
98 Eagal20th Sep 2012 10:32:16 PM from This is a location. , Relationship Status: Waiting for Prince Charming
This is a title.
[up][up] & [up] Exactly. The whole thing is wonky from start to finish.

edited 20th Sep '12 10:32:27 PM by Eagal

The madness is catching.
Raven Wilder
I think what people find implausible isn't that someone with so much power would use it to help others, but that such a person would, in their free time, choose to work the daily grind and get shot down by the person they're attracted to.

When you think about it, the whole double-life thing is pretty weird. The way he guards the secret so closely, even from people who know both his personas very well, it can sometimes feel like he's ashamed of being Superman.

. . .

And now I'm envisioning a Deconstruction where Ma and Pa Kent, wanting to keep their superpowered son from drawing unwanted attention or developing an uncontrollable ego, use borderline abusive parenting techniques to instill humility in him, to the point where he's pathologically afraid of standing out or making other people feel inferior, and has to adopt a quasi-split personality to actually use his powers in public.

edited 20th Sep '12 10:52:24 PM by RavenWilder

"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
I need a drink
Well if you had all that power and the predisposition to help everyone in the world, wouldn't the daily grind be a welcome reprieve. Mr Incredible said it best: "Who wants to be super all the time?"
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.

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