I AM A GOD: WHY IT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO MAKE SUPERMAN A DRAMATICALLY INTERESTING CHARACTER
Unlike Batman, a mere mortal relying on technology and craftiness to help him save the day, there’s little that can challenge Superman without seeming extravagant. To avoid strictly having the Man of Steel battle giant robots and bloodthirsty alien invaders, writers in the ’70s and ’80s attempted to muster up internal drama. There are comics where Superman’s greatest adversary is embarrassment. He’s faced self-imposed exile. Alan Moore famously pitted Superman against his own dreams in “For the Man Who Has Everything.” There was even a run where Superman defied his own mantra and killed General Zod. Eventually the whole DC comic universe imploded with the infamousCrisis on Infinite Earths, paving the way for the writers to go bonkers with Superman’s origins. Anything to squeeze a bit of introspection out of the character.
Does it work? In the end of these arcs, Superman is still a character who can conquer any problem. He has to be — he’s a comic book character. But there are heroes who walk away from a problem changed because they’re dimensional in their world views. Superman is always good and he’s strict about it. Any deviation feels “out of character.” In the last 15 years, comic writers have responded to that by making Superman’s origins more important than his career as the hero we know and love.
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