Does Superman need fixing?

In this article, Tony Guerrero says that Superman is basically too damn good to be an interesting character. Super strong, super fast, super intelligent, super ethical…super boring? What could be done to make him a character worth caring about?

I’ve felt that way for as long as I can remember. Don’t know how to fix it, though. Superman bores me.

The one thing I would do to fix him is eliminate his superspeed. Not the ability to fly fast, the superhuman reactions.

If you’re holding Lois at gunpoint, he can grab the bullet out of the air before it hits her. It just makes it too easy to do too many things. It also is the seed for the stupider of his super-effects.

Just give him action-hero level reaction speeds and he’s a lot more fun. He can fly at Mach 90, but he can’t do it in a city, because he’ll hit something.

Give him a hobby, or a make him a fan of something or another, or give him a favorite food or drink. If he has a beer, what does he like? Does having super taste buds ruin most meals for him? What does Clark Kent listen to on the way to work?

Supes has always bored me, as well. He’s basically a god; there’s really no serious challenge for him, unless it’s got some of the multiple megatons of kryptonite that has been found on Earth. If he can’t bleed, it’s hard to believe that he can fail.

Give him to Joss Whedon. There’s no telling who’s going to die in a Joss Whedon project.

Superman is definitely harder to film than Batman but it is film-able. They did it in 1978 pretty well.

As was discussed in the recent thread about the trailer for the new movie, he’s a good man who happens to have super powers who inspires the rest of us to be better people. There’s a movie in that.

The problem isn’t that he is god-like. The problem is he is god-like and totally predictable. Any reaction of his could be predicted by a six year old child. He is his powers-he might as well be a robot for all we know about him.

This is one of the oldest discussions in the world. My answer is, and has always been : No, he doesn’t need fixing. Not every character needs to interest every person, and personally, I find Superman more interesting than Marvel’s crop of whiny ‘everymen’.

As for being predictable - every well-written, sane comic character is. It’s called consistency. If you knew as much about the life of your neighbor Joe Smith as you do about Superman - the history of his choices, mainly - then you’d find Joe Smith pretty predictable too.

Everyone wants to be Superman, there’s the attraction.

The problem is in creating stories for said Godlike being that aren’t boring and repetitious.

I don’t like him much and find him boring. I see that the last movie that came out a few years ago tried to give him a flaw, but “deadbeat dad” is not exactly an admirable flaw or one you can resolve in many good ways.

For me, a work of fiction is made 97% by its characters. Story and everything else comes a distant second. Maybe if Supes was surrounded by more interesting characters it might help, but then I fear it would be like the show Dollhouse where every single character around the main one is far, far more interesting. I was bored out of my mind with Echo. I get pretty bored with Supes, too.

When I was a kid, I loved World’s Finest Comics and DC Comics Presents, where Superman would team up with Batman and other superheroes. But when I grew up and reread some of those issues, I realised how strained they were – so many of them featured kryptonite or magic that it was terribly kludgy and repetitive.

I know what kind of beer my friends drink, what kind of movies they go to, what nightspots they visit, what sports they are interested in, and some of their hobbies, and I don’t find them boring at all. Does the dude just shut down when he gets to his apartment? Does he get upset or happy or sad or anything when certain subjects come up? A human emotion or reaction to be manipulated would be a a much more interesting weapon to wield than a glowing green rock.


Well that’d make a good story.

It turns out Supes was a robot all along and the real Clark Kent/Superman is locked up at the Fortress of Solitude and is less super than the robot. Somehow he escapes, the world finds out the truth and penis ensues.

No, of course not.

You don’t put the man in danger, you put people or the world in danger. He isn’t omnipresent - just damn fast. When you need him to hit someone and have a good brawl, use an equally suped-up character. A New God or Kryptonian for certain.

On the psychological side, play up how his boy scout Midwestern values initially grates against but ultimately inspires the malaise of the real world.

He needs more physical vulnerability for sure. After that, hit him in the soul. Reveal that the story he knows about his father is all a lie. Then let him find out that his goody-two shoes act has been exploited for evil purposes for years.

Can’t speak specifically for hobbies, though he has been known to play video games with Jimmy, but he’s a baseball fan, and his favourite food is beef bourguignon. With ketchup.

Note, I didn’t make any of that up, it’s all directly from the comics. (In fact, his love of beef bourguignon has gone beyond being characterization to a slightly overused tic with some writers.)

Which just points out the whole ‘he’s BORING’ thing invariably comes from people who aren’t actually familiar with the character at all.

Well, they kinda did this bit in Twilight, but it was Superman’s problem long before those books were ever thought of…

Sex with Lois Lane - in short - he couldn’t, without killing her.

You could always do a story about how his sexual frustration informs his character. Maybe he doesn’t give it any thought because of the whole “woman of kleenex” thing, but at some point shooting slimy holes into the ceiling above your bed doesn’t cut it anymore.

Or, if you didn’t want to go there, you could always do a story with Lobo.

I think Superman should go back to his first-issue roots and be seriously depowered, and the emphasis put not on his Super-ness, but on his Formidable-ness, his doggedness. This would include cutting back his strength considerably - he could perhaps lift a car, stopping a train would be taxing as hell, cut out flying and go back to his super leaps, cut out the optic powers like heat vision, cut down the invulnerability so cracking open cement with his skull can daze him or a large enough shell could penetrate his skin, cut down the superspeed so that he only runs about 100mph, not Flash fast. Then, it would be interesting to see a villain like Metallo ragdoll Superman all over Metropolis, but have Superman still come out on top. Or not even be the strongest in the Justice League anymore, but still respected among his peers for his formidable-ness.