Superman is not my favourite super hero. In fact, I’ve found that the older I get, the more I'm drawn to a different kind of protagonist. A more relatable, less perfect, more 'edgy' sometimes anti-hero.
But every so often, I like to (or maybe need to) spend some time with Supes. Sometimes it's the Donner movies, sometimes my favourite cartoons, or sometimes I just sit back with a comic. You see, it took me a few years to understand properly that maybe I’m NOT supposed to relate to Superman because he's flawed like me, he’s supposed to be someone I should aspire to be like, BECAUSE he’s not flawed like me.
The first time I ever saw a superhero movie was Richard Donner’s Superman. I was just 8, and it filled me with a sense of wonder. It left my eyes sparkling with joy…and hope. Superman made me want to be exactly like him. Not for his powers, but for HIM. He was charming, nice to everyone no matter what he was going through himself, and he ALWAYS made the right choices and not the easy or seductive ones. He almost always had an infectiously genuine smile on his face.
People seem to remember he’s an alien with powers and forget that he’s also really just a farm boy from from Kansas. A farm boy with values. His Earth parents, the Kents, raised him with love, protection and wisdom. His greatest strengths are still humility and empathy.
When Supes is in a spot, he isn't too proud to seek advice from others, usually the Kents or the spirit of his biological and very cosmic father, Jor-El. But across the comics and cartoons we’ve also seen him take advice from the likes of Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. He doesn't discriminate between mortal humans and god like aliens. He doesn't hold one superior above the other, because he knows that wisdom and strength can come from anywhere, and from anyone. It is perhaps this understanding that makes him want to help humans from a place of humility, and not from the god complex that most assume.
It makes sense that we’re attracted to heroes with more obvious flaws. Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne either occasionally succumb to, or are sometimes wholly consumed by anger, fear, vengeance and guilt. They can hurt people, even the ones they love, just like you and I would. This is one of the things that makes them more relatable, and hence popular.
Recent versions of Superman (you know the ones I’m talking about) have tried to make him more like these heroes, which I think is a mistake. Because as much as the world loves heroes that remind us of ourselves, the world still needs heroes that show us what we can be when we are at our absolute best. The world needs Superman.
Scribe: Saurabh Roy
Captain's Log: Saurabh Roy is the lead-singer and frontman of Bombay-based trio The Lightyears Explode. Using his formidable knowledge of pop-culture and superheroes, Saurabh has been channeling his expression through music and now via his first ever post for Geek Fruit, NERDISM! Yeah, we did that to a Punk musician! Next up, trying to get Batman to play monopoly with us.