Yesterday I spent the day at Six Flags Magic Mountain with our student ministry. It was a great day of hanging out with students, talking while waiting and riding roller coasters. One ride I didn’t make it on was Superman: Escape from Krypton. Even though I didn’t make it on the ride, I saw Superman paraphernalia and souvenirs all over the park.
Constantly seeing the Superman logo reminded me that Superman is totally lame.
Superman isn’t one of my favored nerdclinations. My interaction with Superman is limited to the movies, the first season of Smallville and a couple comics here and there. I would say that I have the same knowledge of Superman as the average person. And, armed with that knowledge, I have come to the conclusion that Superman is lame. Here are some reasons why.
I feel like Superman’s creator Jerry Siegel wanted to create the world’s only super hero. In order to achieve that goal, Siegel gave Superman every possible super power.
He can fly. He’s super fast. He has super strength. He can shoot lasers out of his eyes. He has frost breath. He is indestructible.
Superman is basically the X-men in one character. He is almost all-powerful and has persisted, even through his death. In order for a character to be interesting or humanized, he needs to have some amount of vulnerability. Otherwise the character becomes a paragon, an ideal too far removed from real life to truly care about. Superman has become that to me.
“But wait,” you might say to me. Superman isn’t invincible; he is vulnerable. If he’s exposed to Kryptonite, radiated rocks from his homeworld, he will lose his strength and eventually die. I can understand how irradiated rocks from Krypton might be dangerous to Superman, but I don’t understand how they are available in such large quantities. There seems to be a limitless supply of debris from the destroyed planet of Krypton. I thought that most meteorites were rather rare, but apparently Kryptonite can be found by anybody with a garden spade and a little time.
As stated above, it’s difficult to connect with a character who is completely invulnerable. Without any cracks in the armor or skeletons in the closet, it’s really difficult for an audience to connect with a character. Superman is all of that and more, which ultimately makes him boring and completely uninteresting. The greatest super heroes are those with tortured souls like Batman and Wolverine. There is some substance to their characters because they aren’t perfect, because they have some baggage and because they’re not bland boy scouts. Superman doesn’t have a tortured soul; he has no internal conflict. He always does the right thing, which makes for a great friend but a horrible comic book character.
I understand that our culture is fascinated with Superman because he always does the right thing. In spite of how the world is falling around him, Superman stands as an incorruptible pillar for truth, justice and the American way. Superman has the potential to be a moral paragon for a society desperately in need of one.
But I’ve already got a moral paragon in Jesus, which means Superman is nothing more than an overpowered boy scout with his underwear outside his pants.
How do you feel about Superman?