Despite being one of the most famous superheroes, Superman still gets picked on by a fair amount of fans. And you know what? I confess that I was once one of the fans who thought he was a lame character. Back when I was growing up, I was all about Spider-Man, Batman, the Ninja Turtles, the X-Men, and a few others. Superman, though? The idea of a "boy scout" who is ridiculously powerful and has only a few blatant weaknesses just wasn't appealing to me.
Two decades later, he's one of my favorite comic book characters and I think he's a great hero. However, I still see people rip on the Kryptonian almost every day. They think he's boring or it's just his powers that make him amusing. I can understand since I once shared that opinion, but if you're one of those people, I hope I'll be able to change your mind about the Man of Steel. Now, this article doesn't exist to say that Clark Kent is the "best" or "cooler" than your favorite character. The objective here is simple: prove that Superman isn't uninteresting.
Despite all of his powers -- faster than a speeding bullet, so on and so on -- it's his personality which makes him such an iconic character. People recognize the symbol on his chest and his superhuman abilities, but it's his unyielding optimism which makes him such a special character. While some strike fear into their enemies or give their allies the confidence to rush into seemingly impossible odds, Kal-El is all about lifting up your spirits, being the best person you can possibly be, and always finding a positive approach to your situation. He's about casting aside those depressing or angry thoughts and moving forward with a clear head and enthusiastic thoughts. It's about seeing a glimmer of hope in what feels like a sea of darkness and holding on to it, no matter what.
If you're going to get a good handle on who Superman is and what makes him uplifting, there's a lot of comics we could recommend (feel free to make recommendations for your fellow readers in the comments section below). ACTION COMICS #775 is one that immediately comes to mind, though. Superman's a symbol of hope and overwhelmingly positive, but is a mentality like that fitting for the modern era? Has the world become darker and a more brutal kind of hero is needed to tackle the new breed of villains and crime? Why should someone worry about him when they know he's very unlikely to cross the line? In an age where some characters have no gripe putting a bullet in a criminal's head or stabbing a villain in the chest, why should someone be concerned about Supes? All of these issues are addressed in Joe Kelly's memorable issue and, when all is said and done, Big Blue refuses to change his ways. When the world tells him it needs a different kind of hero -- a more savage one -- he evaluates his methods and realizes he's exactly what this world needs. Instead of embracing hate and rage -- emotions that are easy to give into -- he believes everyone should strive for taking the moral high ground. It's not easy, but that's exactly the point. Taking a life shouldn't be easy and, in a world with so many powers, abilities and technology, there should more than often be another way to resolve the conflict.
In the end, Superman fools them into thinking he'll kill -- which is a solid example of his gifted mind and tactics -- and he does so to prove just how ugly and effortless that approach is. Instead of taking the easy way out, heroes should aim for inspiring others. Now, that's not to say everyone should apply the no-kill rule, but in his case, it's seriously admirable. He's one of the most powerful people on the planet, yet he shows excessive restraint and, instead of simply solving everything with a massive punch, he often finds a way to use his brilliant mind to resolve a conflict. It's not Superman's powers which make him special, it's how he applies them. Abilities like that could corrupt others, but Clark manages to hold onto his ways and always strives to be better.
"Okay, maybe he does sound pretty cool. But the whole secret identity thing is just so dumb. Come on, it's just glasses!" Yeah, it is pretty tough to believe so many people that encounter Clark Kent and Superman on a somewhat regular basis are fooled by that, right? But the thing is it's more elaborate than just making his hair a tad different and putting on glasses. Superman's confident and encouraging. He soars through the air with a smile on his face and he stands tall with great posture and oozes a positive vibe. Clark Kent, however, is more timid, tends to slouch and his speech is less poised.
To us, it's beyond obvious that Clark Kent is Superman. How could we not know, right? To one of Clark's co-workers, they're very unlikely to think he's the Man of Steel because everything about him is the polar opposite, and that's exactly the point. Sure, he's tall and in phenomenal shape, but he does everything possible to conduct himself in a way that draws no parallels to the hero. Superman's self-assured and proud. Clark? He's unlikely to show any big signs of bravery. So even though they share physical attributes, Kal-El's able to hide them a bit with poor posture, slightly altering the way he speaks, and his personality means no one is likely to draw any connections to the iconic hero.
The next time you're faced with a moral dilemma, ask yourself, "What would Superman do?" You obviously can't resolve it with his super speed, heat vision, or super strength, but the question is essentially asking, "What's the right thing to do?" I know it may sound silly to some since we're talking about a fictional character, but he really can be an inspiring hero. There's enough darkness and despair in the world as it is. Superman reminds us that it's okay to look at the glass half full and remain optimistic, even when everyone around you isn't. If you begin to look at things the way he does, maybe -- just maybe -- you'll end up inspiring others, too. The world could use a little more positivity and that's exactly what Superman represents. If you still think that's lame, then so be it. But for everyone else, hopefully this has helped you respect the character a little more and you now feel motivated to read (or re-read!) some of his terrific stories. There certainly are more than a few to choose from!