I understand why most people don’t “get” Superman. How can anyone relate to super human with unlimited power? That’s the big problem with Superman. This is no fault of the character. I put the blame on how Superman is written. I think the common mistake is to make him relatable by giving him weaknesses that he has to deal with.
Superman is given kryptonite, or a love interest, or a family, or an inescapable past. All of these are designed to be pressure points that a villain can manipulate him with.
Something like kryptonite makes him weak, but it isn’t his weakness. This misses the mark, because Superman already has a built in weakness that should be exploited in every story.
His true weakness is the fact that he can’t be everywhere at the same time; he can’t save everybody. A frustrating thing for someone who is a Christ-figure; a savior of the world. He came from another realm not to rule the world, which he could so easily do, but to be one of us and to save us from ourselves.
How do you save a planet that’s hellbent on destroying itself from the inside out? And how do you approach a character that has already fulfilled the needs of safety, acceptance, self esteem, and self-actualization?
A Superman story shouldn’t be about super powers, or secret identities, or being the sole survivor of the planet krypton, they should be stories about him having more faith in us than we have in ourselves.
Every person Superman encounters in a Superman story should either inherit or reject his values of truth, liberty, justice, and life and show the consequences of that decision. A Superman story should be about how WE can be better, how WE can find safety, how WE gain acceptance, how to build OUR self esteem, and how WE achieve self-actualization. A Superman story isn’t about HIS character growth, it’s about OUR character growth.
That’s Superman’s true power. Not leaping over buildings, melting steel beams with eye lasers, or flying faster than a speeding bullet. His power is changing people.
One person can’t save an entire world, but one person can inspire a world to save itself.
And that’s a story that needs to be told right now.