Superman AKA Clark Kent is a classic superhero.Created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, in 1933, Superman made his debut in June 1938 in Action Comics #1.
And this timeless hero’s story still continues.
Through innumerable comic issues, tie-ins, collectibles, live action TV shows, movies and animated features, this American icon’s story has transcended across the globe as a modern pop culture icon, revered for the ideals he signifies.
This is not a blog post about who he is or what he does, rather an understanding of what makes him such an icon? What makes Superman, Super?
To begin, let’s explore a bit of his origin. Superman was born in Krypton and sent to an alien planet when his planet collapsed, making him a lone survivor. After arriving here, he was raised in Kansas from where he moved to Metropolis to be a journalist. His story begins from this point onwards.
Clark, for all his super-human ability, encompasses all of us. As an alien, he is trying to adapt to the ways of this world, an emotion we all can relate to. We all are trying to fit into a largely alienated world. Be that socially, emotionally or physically, we are all looking for a way to connect to the rest and the idea that a man with so much capability has the same issues, makes him so relatable.
Clark’s idea of alienation is best understood when he encounters people and relics from his home planet, Krypton. The Fortress of Solitude is a safe space in which he alone exists and finds solace. The Fortress is a manifestation of a safe haven, a sacred space where he can rest and reflect on his intertwined life, with one foot on Krypton and one on Earth. For most of us, the Fortress represents a space which is a comfort zone like home, where we can choose to be the person we want or need to be without judgment or condemnation.
When I read Superman’s story, I am amazed by his endearing spirit and excellence that his ability grants. Every young boy or even a grown up can relate to wishing, that they too had the ability to fly. While the idea is fantastical, the ability to fly away or perform magnificent feats doesn’t take away the struggles he has to face. Superpowers don’t let you get rid of your own demons even if they are too super. When Clark is not Superman, he is in awe of Louis Lane’s beauty and skills and is unsure around her, something that is weird to think about. Superman having insecurities gives him a raw sense of humanity, instilling the idea that he is just like all of us.
I could go on and on but I think the summary of this post can be found in what my friend Sharath said.
“Personally i think he is timeless because he is the ideal version of who we want to be. We desire to be like him, have his powers. The scenarios we run through in our head if we had his powers….its an easy fix to our daily problems. But then there is another aspect of him: the lone survivor who is misunderstood, wants to fit in and assimilate, do good for others and protect the planet….Zack Synder did a brilliant job of highlighting those aspects of superman wherein he is a loner who has pain in his heart and yet at the end of the day he thrives because of his goodness and who he is, not just his powers alone.