Really, why is Superman Popular?

I think its safe to say that currently we are in the middle of a boom in the Superhero genre of movies. I’m not complaining, I enjoy a well-done Superhero movie very much (but they can be absolutely awful when they’re not *cough* Green Lantern *cough*[ID1] ). But one thing has been irritating me lately and it has something to do with probably the original Superhero; Superman. Matt did an article a few weeks ago in praise of Superman asking the question why is he still popular? (insert link). But I am actually at a loss to come up with an answer to that question because Superman is probably one of my least favour of all the Superheroes.


Obviously I’m writing this just as ‘Man of Steel’ is about to hit the cinemas in the UK and I must start this by saying I haven’t seen it yet. I probably will out of curiosity to see whether they have actually managed to reboot the franchise after the frankly woeful attempt of Superman Returns in 2006. That being said I’m going to try and explain why I don’t like Superman based on the current offerings available on TV, Cinema and Comic Books.


I think the problem lies in the fundamentals of Superman, he is essentially indestructible except when either Kryptonite is involved or someone from his home planet shows up to present a challenge otherwise its all a bit easy. So really the story-lines are all a variation on the two themes, which to me gets a bit stale.


Superman is also a bit too good for my taste. His motivation stems from a Godlike destiny to protect mankind, YAWN. There’s no grit or complexity to the character in what I currently have seen. It’s not like there couldn’t be either, (deep breath) he’s an orphan from another planet, which was destroyed just as his farther sent him away to protect him, raised by farmers, doesn’t age at the same rate as normal humans so anyone he gets close to will eventually die and he has virtually no challenge or threat from anyone on the planet. Now that’s something that would screw someone up, God all it takes for Bruce Wayne to jump down to the Bat Cave and start sharpening his Bat Nipples are his parents getting shot.


Yet Superman doesn’t really show any of the strain that he should, its all water off a ducks back. Even when his love interest Louise Lane dies its not to much trouble for him he just flies around the world the wrong way for a bit to turn back time. I guess the big thing for me is the unfulfilled potential with that character background you could make him so compelling. But alas so far all he’s been is wooden, uninteresting and unappealing.


I’ve tried to keep this classy by not mentioning tights or the weird curly fringe and glasses that means no one can recognise him. Oops, I guess I have now. Anyway my point is Superman may be the original, he may be the strongest, he may be the most well known of all the Superheroes but I wish they didn’t keep flogging a dead horse because as far as I’m concerned it’ll never work.



  1. I don’t think you’re giving superman enough credit. Take a look at some of the great superman stories, such as red son, birthright, all seasons or death of superman. These stories really show off the essence of superman.

  2. I loved the comic books as a kid. Because I wanted there to be a superman. I wanted there to be someone somewhere who was really super, could really save us. I started reading Superman comics when I was maybe 6 years old and followed him well into adulthood. He was part of my pantheon of heros — Zorro, Superman, the Lone Ranger. I’m glad to see the old gang again, in any form.

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