I believe that in so many ways a superhero doesn’t have to be truly super to be a superhero, they just have to be looked up to by those around them. In the words of Syndrome from the movie, The Incredibles, “When everyone is super then no one will be.” In many ways superheroes are portrayed as larger than life and more perfect than any human or humanoid could ever truly be. In my opinion this is not something that makes a superhero, a superhero. Yes, agree that superheroes should be larger than life but at the same time they need to have human flaws and characteristics the way everyone else does or they won’t be relatable. We should be able to look up to superheroes but at the same time see them as being like us, being human, with flaws, as relatable to us.
According to Jeph Loeb and Tom Morris in Heroes and Superheroes, “There can be darkness in a character as well as light, as there is in any human life, but that darkness must ultimately be constrained by the good and noble, or we have left the realm of the properly super heroic.” (Pg. 14). This is saying that in many ways superheroes are allowed to have weaknesses but their strengths must win out in the end, their noble fight for just must defeat the evil they are fighting against and they must in the end triumph over whatever or whoever the enemies are that they are facing. This darkness and weakness is their human side the part within them that struggles with the same things we struggle with, the things trying to overtake them and over come them, the same way many of us have struggles and weaknesses but their superhuman sides must be stronger then their human sides at the end of the day.
According to Heroes and Superheroes, “The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘hero’ as a term coming down to us from Greek antiquity, and as meaning ‘man of super-human qualities, favored by the gods.’ The second definition given is ‘illustrious warrior,’ and the third is ‘man admired for achievements and noble qualities.’” (Pg. 12). One example of a superhero who proves these definitions true and exhibits all three of them would be Superman, he one of the most popular superheroes that I can think of at the moment. He happens to be from another planet and possess superhuman powers such as superhuman strength, the ability to fly, and the ability to shoot lasers out of his eyes, in many ways he is an illustrious warrior because of his fight for justice against evil in this world, because of his willingness to fight evil this makes him noble in many ways, showing himself to be humble and noble enough to fight for and protect the beings who have established a life on this planet that is not his own, that is foreign to him, a race of beings that he isn’t even a member of, yet he is still willing to fight and stand up for them in the face of danger.
In the words of a conversation between Clark Kent and his mother, “‘I still don’t understand why your taking the train when you can just—’ ‘Flying’s too fast, Mom. I want this to take time. I want—I need to think.’ ‘You’ve had years to think about this, Clark.’ ‘I know, Mom, but this is different. This—This is real.’” (Superman Earth One). This conversation shows that in many ways Superman might be larger than life with his superpowers but at the same time he has flaws and needs time to think about things he is going through the same way we as human beings do. This is one thing that is in many ways making him seem so much more human then we expect him to be. He also seems to be having an identity crisis in this version of the story of his life:
“‘Where did I come from? What am I doing here? Who am I? What am I?’ ‘We don’t know son. God’s honest truth is, we just don’t know.’….. ‘I tried every dye I could, but the material from the ship doesn’t change colors. In the long run, it’s good thing…people will be staring at the colors instead of your face.’ ‘wouldn’t it be easier if I had a mask or something?’ ‘Yes, it would…but you can’t wear a mask.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘When people see what you can do, when they see how powerful you are, they’re going to be terrified, a mask would only add to that. They’ll need to see your face, so they can see that there’s no evil in it..to see the gentleness and decency in you…and know they have nothing to fear. The mask—The mask is what you’ll have to wear the rest of the time.’….. ‘You’re not just different from every other man, Clark. You’re more powerful than any man in history…You’re unique in the world. Extraordinary. Not just any man… and more than just a man… a super-man…SUPERMAN…’” (Superman Earth One)
He is experiencing an identity crisis which is a normal human dilemma to have and to feel. He doesn’t know who he is, whether he is Clark Kent or Superman or both. He can’t decide for himself or find who he is inside of himself, so he keeps looking to other people to show him who he is and who he needs to be but he won’t be able to find who he is from other people. He has to decide for himself who he truly is and can’t let other people tell him he is or who they think that he should be, in other words he has to decide his identity for himself other people can’t and won’t be able to make the decision for him, he has to make his own identity himself. The idea of someone finding themselves or deciding on their own identity is a normal human weakness, a struggle of finding who they are, their own person.
Superman or Clark Kent is a Kryptonian, the only living member of an almost extinct race, who lives on earth among human beings, raised by his adopted human parents in Smallville, Kansas. This is may be one of the reasons for his identity crisis. He doesn’t know if he is the human being, Clark Kent or the Kryptonian, Superman, in his mind he can’t be both. He doesn’t know who to embrace, who to be and who he needs to let go of and leave behind. Through out SuperMan Earth One, he is hesitant to put on the supersuit, especially when Earth is threaten by an enemy of Superman, that he didn’t know he had. Because he was among the humans but not one of them he doesn’t know what he identifies with, human or Kryptonian. He doesn’t know whether he is a human or a krytonian, causing him to be hesitant to identify with either one of them. Because of this identity crisis he is even more human than a human because he is not human but is experiencing a human problem and a human struggle is going on inside of him showing a human side of him.
In the end Superman or Clark Kent ultimately has to decide who he is, who he should be, and who he wants to be himself. He finally decides to embrace both his human side and his Kryptonian side showing that he is more human than a human with flaws of his own that people can relate to and at the same time larger than life with his superhuman powers of flight, strength and the ability to shoot lasers out of his eyes. When in Superman Earth One, when he decides to finally put on the Superman suit to save the citizens of Metropolis and Planet Earth as a whole, it is because he realizes that right now he needs to be Superman and show that side of him and as soon he finishes the battle, wins, and defeats those attacking him the human beings he lives among he can go right back to being Clark Kent and show that side of himself. He is both Superman and Clark Kent, more human than a human being, yet larger than life, flawed with weaknesses, but the same time perfect with amazing superhuman abilities that everyone looks up to. He is all definitions of a hero, a man of superhuman abilities, an illustrious warrior, and admired for his noble deeds, show he is both perfect, strong superhero and flawed, weak human being at the same time.