In 2004 an article in Time Magazine offered an explanation for why Batman comics consistently outsold Superman. The Problem with Superman said that Superman was too perfect, and people can’t relate to perfect. We prefer a hero like Batman who has as many personal issues as he does gadgets on his belt.
But there’s hope for Superman. Man of Steel comes to theaters this June, and if the trailer is anything to judge by, Hollywood has managed to update Superman without resorting to a complete personality transplant.
Clark Kent hides a secret, one so big that it would change our world if people learned the truth, but keeping that secret means denying everything he is. He knows what he’s capable of, and he can either leave humanity to fend for itself or he can become its protector. Either he sacrifices everything good about himself, or he forever sets himself apart from the human race. Alien. Freak. Outsider.
Kryptonite, fragments of Superman’s home planet, drain his physical strength. They also represent his true weakness: his identity. Earth is not his home. He can live among us, but he will never be one of us.
Strangely enough, it’s in his alien nature that we can relate to Superman. The fear of rejection is visceral, bone-deep, and it’s one we’ve all experienced. That fear makes Superman just a little more human. Not quite so perfect.
We’ll see whether or not the movie lives up to the trailer’s promise, but I’m excited to find out.
©2013 Kim Vandel