Geek Out Online » Blog Archive » My Top Ten Favorite Superheroes: Number 1 – Superman

My Top Ten Favorite Superheroes:
Number 1 – Superman

14

Jun

Posted by Steve

superman_1.jpgIs there really any surprise here? I think the minute that Superman wasn’t number 2 and Batman wasn’t number 1, everyone knew where this thing was going.

I am unashamedly a fan of Superman. I have been for years, even though I forgot that for a while. I said from the outset of my top ten list, and I have said several times on Geek Out Loud, that my favorite super heroes are the ones who are heroes. Superman epitomizes this. He is a hero at his very core. Every villain he’s ever faced, every evildoer to ever cross his path, even those who claim to fight for the same tenants of truth and justice have pointed out that Superman’s biggest weakness is not krypronite, rather it is his concern for the people he has chosen to protect.

I also think it’s important to point out that Superman has CHOSEN to protect the people of the world. Wonder Woman is a warrior. Batman is on a crusade. Superman would love to be able to live a normal life, but he realizes he can’t sit back with all of his power and do nothing to save mankind. It can be a bit cheesy at times, and Superman has for years suffered criticism because of his do-gooder nature. It is that nature that interests me about the Man of Steel.

A lot of people complain about how powerful Superman is, but that appeals to me as well. It is a strong individual that can wield the power of Superman and not abuse it. His immense power speaks volumes about the strength of his character.

I guess I was introduced to Superman on a bath towel in our home. Seriously. It’s a towel with an image of Superman in the pose from the famous Superman #1 cover. Only instead of the Metropolis skyline as a background, there’s space and some kind of domed city. As a kid, I watched Superfriends on Saturday mornings, and reruns on whatever channels would show them. Christopher_Reeve.jpgI also watched the old Filmation cartoons thanks to Bozo the Clown every now and again. I also watched the classic George Reeves Superman show every now and again when it happened to be showing on a Saturday afternoon. Then, of course, there was Superman the Movie and Superman II. I vaguely remember when these movies were being shown on television and how my family scrambled for a blank video tape on which to record them when they aired. Superman II was recorded after a Little House on the Prairie reunion movie. I never watched that movie…except for the end, the littel town was destroyed and there were bunnies all over the place. I digress.

My point is, that Superman has been with me for as long as I can remember, in many different forms, and he has been my favorite super hero for a long time.

Over the years, there have been many criticisms leveled at the Man of Steel. Among those criticisms are that he’s too good, he’s too powerful, and the combination of these things makes Superman boring. Therefore, I think the best way to explain my enjoyment of the character is by answering those criticisms.

As I’ve already said, I like the fact that Superman is so powerful. Let’s face it, through the years, Superman has been given some of the coolest super powers of any super hero. Invulnerability, super strength, x-ray vision, heat vision, super speed, and of course flight. Some would argue that his super breath is kinda lame. I like the power, but I can’t argue with that particular opinion. The thing about Superman is that his powers do not define him. Rather, what defines him is the use of his power. Ask anyone what they would do with the power Superman possesses and the real world answer would be something that would benefit the wielder of the power nine times out of ten. Superman, is completely different. He chooses to use his power to help others rather than himself. He chooses to serve rather than to lead. He chooses to inspire rather than to enforce. The most interesting stories to read about Superman are the stories where he has to make the decision to continue to walk that line. Mark Waid and Alex Ross’s KINGDOM COME is an excellent example of this. Superman crosses the line just slightly and begins to force others to do things his way and the results are quite destructive.

The other main criticism that people level at the last son of Krypton is that he is too good.  Referring to Superman as a boy scout has become somewhat of a backhanded comment, a little bit of an insult.   I disagree with people who think that he’s too good and that makes him boring.   Quite frankly, the fact that Superman chooses right and tries never to skirt the line of darkness makes him more interesting than Batman, Wolverine, The Punisher, or any number of anti-heroes.   Why?  Because in a world as filled with darkness and people who choose moral ambiguity over moral fiber, it’s harder to be a light than ever.  Superman is not naive.  He is not ignorant of the way the world is, but he chooses to keep his light shining as brightly as he possibly can.  That’s something that few super heroes are seen doing anymore.   It’s easy to blend in to the shadows and be a Dark Knight, there are a lot of shadows.  It’s easy to allow rage and revenge to consume the soul and become a Punisher.  It’s easy to shut out the world and ferociously attack like a Wolverine.  What’s not easy is to never cross the line.   It’s not easy to choose the light.  It’s not easy to carry the burden of doing the right thing over and over again.  Superman does it though.  Even when it’s hard to know what is right, when everything seems to be shades of gray, Superman chooses right.  That’s intriguing to me.  That’s interesting.

Finally, I find it amazing that an alien would inspire humanity the way Superman has.  How is this possible?  I think it’s because within every child there is the desire to grow up and be great.  Every child dreams of doing something with his life.  No one ever plans to fail.  No one every plans on being stuck in a monotonous job.  No one every plans on being ordinary their entire life.  Superman appeals to the child that still resides in all of us saying, “You can take what you have and do great things with it.  Don’t abuse your talent, your abilities, you time.  Use them to do the greatest things you can do.”  Though, we often don’t, we always wish we did.  Superman uses what he has to it’s fullest for the best of reasons.  That’s inspirational.  That’s something to work for.  That’s why he’s my favorite.

You know, I just realized that for the past two or three paragraphs, I’ve been writing about Superman as if he were real.  That’s what talking about the character does to me, he gets me talking like a kid again.  So, that’s it, that’s my top ten.  Now, up, up, and away.

7 Responses to “My Top Ten Favorite Superheroes:
Number 1 – Superman”

  1. Ansley Says:

    “You know, I just realized that for the past two or three paragraphs, I’ve been writing about Superman as if he were real”.

    What? You mean he’s not?! You even had me believing again that he IS someone that may appear out of nowhere and save someone on my street.

    I too was taken back to my childhood and being in front of the television with my brothers and sister, watching the Superhero of all Superheroes. I still think one of my all time favorite movie moments….EVER!…is when he saves Lois falling out of the helicpoter. Gracious alive! I LOVE SUPERMAN!

    You know I am not a regular comic book reader, movie lover or any of the things most of your regular readers may be. These days my televison repertoire is Sesame Street, Clifford the Big Red Dog and Dragon Tales…and whatever else a two and six year old may watch. But, just the other day Camden was in Wal Mart with me and saw..a Superman towel!…and he screamed, “Mommy! It’s Superman!” And so the torch is passed.

    Thanks for this post! I enjoyed it!

  2. Arshdeep Says:

    I knew it!

  3. 3 Minute Hero » Blog Archive » My Top Ten Favorite Superheroes: Number 1 - Superman Says:

    [...] My Top Ten Favorite Superheroes: Number 1 – Superman I said from the outset of my top ten list, and I have said several times on Geek Out Loud, that my favorite super heroes are the ones who are heroes. Superman epitomizes this. He is a hero at his very core. Every villain he’s ever faced … [...]

  4. Tareq Says:

    hey! jesus is going to be so angry when he finds out. he wanted your number 1 spot.

    IDEA! superman vs jesus, the movie! someone should write that.

    how would that go Steve? who would win? with your extensive knowledge of superheroes (and of jesus), you should be able to figure something out.

  5. Big B Says:

    Got to admit…I am shocked. I just knew #1 was going to be the Wonder Twins. I mean who doesn’t hear “Form of…Shape of” and simultaneously hear the ringing of the sweet Liberty Bells of America. I know…they were introduced on the cartoon first…but that is no reason to not give them their proper due.

    Superman is just one guy…there are TWO of them. And they come from the planet Exxor which is one letter from Exxon and what could be more American or more powerful than an oil conglomerate.

    (sighs)

  6. Bryan Says:

    So isnt Superman an allusion to Jesus? Im not the first person to think that I know, but I was just wondering if thats how he was written or if thats what he grew into

  7. Arkwulf Says:

    “You know, I just realized that for the past two or three paragraphs, I’ve been writing about Superman as if he were real.”

    This comment brings to mind one very important aspect of Superman that he shares with another epically influential good guy.

    Jesus H. Christ.

    That’s gotta be one of the things that I get so into with Supes. I don’t really know of another superhero that can ACTUALLY be likened to a god. Not just like, “OMG, he has super-strength like Hercules”, but that his character traits are that similar to the personification of goodness.

    Superman makes a lot of the same choices that we can see Christ making. To serve mankind, rather than rule it. To turn the other cheek. The idea that someone who essentially is not human, although appearing to be, is the one that can inspire us to be the best we can be. To lead by example, not by dictatorship.

    Then there’s the other aspect of the God Made Man, and that’s the fact that at the end of the day, they both chose to live as men. This brings with it a whole bundle of fears and insecurities that we would never associate with a god. In my opinion, THOSE are the best stories for either Superman or Christ. The ones in which they must deal with their humanity, being raised as men, and living in the world of men.

    Anywho, that’s my diatribe on the subject of Superman vs. Christ.

Leave a Reply