Why Superman Is More Relevant Than Ever

Why Superman Is More Relevant Than Ever

The world is changing fast, but the Man of Steel can keep up.
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He’s the original superhero, a hugely successful media brand, and one of the most iconic characters in history. So why isn’t he more popular today?

We’ve all heard that Superman isn’t cool anymore. He’s a relic of a simpler time, the argument goes, and today’s audience needs darker, edgier heroes. The Big Blue Boyscout is just too straight-laced and blandly wholesome to cut it in these troubled times. It may sound convincing, but there's plenty wrong with that line of thinking.

For starters, let’s have a little history lesson. Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1, way back in 1938. He was the creation of two young Jewish men, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who grew up in the Great Depression. Both were the children of Eastern European immigrants, and their families struggled to make ends meet. In his last interview before his death in 1992, Shuster recalled drawing his first comics on discarded wallpaper because he couldn’t afford to buy drawing paper. At the time, he was such a shy, awkward kid that it’s believed he was the inspiration for Superman’s unassuming alter-ego, Clark Kent.

The very same year Action Comics #1 was released, Adolf Hitler was named Man of the Year by ‘TIME,’ after he invaded Czechoslovakia and the rest of Europe allowed him to in the Munich Agreement. Anti-semitism was already commonplace in the 1930s America, and now a racist maniac was quickly becoming one of the most powerful people in the world. Make no mistake, Superman was not created in an idyllic past, but during one of the most troubling times in world history.

Before gaining careers in the comic book industry, Siegel and Shuster collaborated on a 1933 story called “The Reign of the Superman,” about a man who gains telepathic powers and attempts to conquer the world. That same year, Siegel decided that Superman should be a hero, rather than a villain, and began developing the character that would debut five years later as a crime fighter taking on gangsters, wife beaters, and corrupt politicians. This change is a perfect example of the hope that Superman represents: it suggests that someone with incredible power might choose to help the weak, rather than seek individual gain.

Superman remained one of the most popular comic book characters in the following decades, eventually appearing in the iconic 1978 film adaptation starring Christopher Reeve. When people complain about Superman being corny, outdated, or too perfect, this is the Superman they’re referring to. He’s cheery, courteous, and even saves a cat from a tree. ‘Superman: The Movie’ stands out in the crowd of darker films that the 1970s are known for, but it proved to be a massive success. Between a severe recession, unrest in the middle east, and increasing fears of terrorism, the social climate of the 1970s was not entirely different from today. Superman has always thrived in difficult times, specifically because he stood in contrast to the bleak world around us.

Superman’s relevance hinges on the fact that he represents everything we want to see in the world: those in power defending the weak, people standing up for what they believe, and the collection of hopes and values best termed the American Dream. After all, Superman’s creators were the children of immigrants, and Superman himself is a refugee from a doomed planet. The core story of Superman is one of a child finding refuge in America, discovering his abilities, and using them for the good of society. Ultimately, that is the essence of the American Dream, not getting rich or buying a house in the suburbs. The fact that the quintessential American hero wasn’t born in America says a great deal about our national identity. If we really consider Superman to be irrelevant to the world of today, I think that’s serious cause for concern given what he represents. Superman is the embodiment of our better nature, the humanist ideal wrapped in a cape. He doesn’t represent ideas that we’ve outgrown, but rather the ideas that we’re in danger of giving up.

There’s nothing wrong with darker heroes. In fact, many of them are very compelling characters. As living, breathing human beings, it can be appealing to see heroes that struggle with their inner natures and don’t always do the right thing. However, we should be able to relate to Superman’s hopefulness every bit as much as we relate to Wolverine’s psychological trauma. Superman is the every-man, a regular guy with a supportive family from a small town, working in the big city and hoping his pretty co-worker notices him. It’s not the power that makes him exceptional, it’s the choice to do what he can to make other people’s lives better, the same choice in front of each and every one of us.

I’m not saying you have to like Superman. If you happen to prefer Batman or Iron Man, feel free to continue doing so (better yet, write an article about why you like them so much). However, if we dismiss Superman as irrelevant, we do a disservice to the ideals he represents. If nothing else, maybe read a comic or two before you make up your mind.
Cover Image Credit: DC Comics

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I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.
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Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.

Why?

Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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