On the Character of Superman – (2018)

I want to see a Superman story written and directed by a woman. Why? A couple of reasons.

First, so we can fully explore Superman’s emotional vulnerability. Seriously, you can’t solve everything by being strong and powerful. Most things we face in life are far more nuanced than that. Superman has been shown to have a deep love of humanity and to strongly value Truth and Justice. What happens when he’s thrust into a morally ambiguous situation? What happens when there is no right and wrong, good or bad?

I’d argue that the reason Superman is ‘boring’ isn’t because he’s overpowered and indestructible and unrelatable – but because the writers lack imagination. The greatest threat to Superman isn’t some big bad guy that hits like a truck. It’s the dark underbelly of the human experience that we can all identify with.

Prejudice, Lying, Backstabbing, Betrayal, Blackmail, Politics, Social Power, False Beliefs, Manipulation, Helplessness, Elitism, Hypocrisy, Greed, basically anything and everything we deal with in our lives. Things that make our blood boil, sends ice down our spines, or makes it difficult, if not impossible to succeed. Things that push us to the brink of giving up, or leave us with no choice but to change ourselves or our direction in life.

Things like this have been explored with other ‘super heroes’ precisely because they are not invulnerable, so they are challenged psychologically or emotionally.

Far less so with Superman.

But why Superman and not a female super hero of a similar nature? Well first, I feel like we very much did get that with Wonder Woman.

But second, because I think the world needs to see the strongest, most powerful man imaginable by a man brought to his knees mentally/emotionally/socially because it is in those ways that he is no different from any other human being. Men need to see Superman crumble under tragic circumstances that we can all identify with and that he can’t solve by strength or heroic physical feats.

Superman has the potential to serve as a prime example that strength and ability isn’t enough, even if you have those to unlimited degrees. That problems we face on a daily basis would be difficult even for him, and the tragedies that shake us too the core would have the same effect on him. We could more deeply and realistically explore mental illness, social bias, addiction, and change.

I know there’s been some progress in those areas for Superman. But I’d argue that these ideas should be part of Superman’s primary arc, and we should dump the concept of Kryptonite altogether. There are plenty of things here on Earth that could absolutely devastate Superman to the core, and men especially need to get the message that sometimes it doesn’t matter how strong you are or how much of a beating you can take or dish out.

And why a woman? Honestly, because in general women understand these things a lot better than men. They mature and learn over time how to deal with and process these experiences and feelings, while men are often taught to ignore and suppress them. So it’s my opinion that the person best suited to tell the sort of story we need to hear about Superman is a woman.

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