Superman

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by urbandefault, Jan 18, 2020.

  1. The Realist

    The Realist Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I love 'em all, but the first season is indeed the best.
     
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  2. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I don't think that there's no room in the world of Superman for stories about existential despair, but I don't think Superman himself is the appropriate character to explore those concepts through. I would argue that it should be another character who suffers from existential despair, and that Superman's example should be what helps them overcome it.
     
  3. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    An Orphan.

    Almost the last of his species.

    His only hope of having a baby without too many congenital defects is to make love to his underaged first cousin.

    Consider "Super Senses". He hears and sees and smells everything that everyone does or says that is sinister or benign within a thousand miles of where he is standing, and he just has to ignore a lot of horrible things.
     
  4. Dee1891

    Dee1891 Commander Red Shirt

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    Why not? Superman is just another individual with flaws, virtues and emotions like anyone else. Having superpowers shouldn't change that.
     
  5. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Correct. Anyone using the inapplicable slur is childishly obsessed with the need to make the character their Santa/Daddy who delivers toys, rather than how the character's creators envisioned and delivered him.

    In the real world, there have been and always will be people beyond negotiation, beyond conventional defeat and are unrelenting in their evil acts. No audience--using that as their historical awareness of such evil--is going to see a villain of that nature (e.g., the antagonists of Captain America - The First Avenger or Man of Steel) as needing to be handled with kid gloves when they have no intention--other than total death and destruction. To have Superman keep running his head into a wall trying to argue or do the George Reeves tired, finger-wagging BS with someone initiating a plan of Zod's nature, would make him seem utterly clueless. Man of Steel's Superman killed as a last resort to save a family--and a world. Few things could be more heroic than that.

    Ah, but thinking Superman cannot have flaws is the result of placing him on Mount Santa/Daddy as the smiling toy dispenser who--somehow--is not the character as originally created, or the one who shares the same world/threats as the other DC characters, where--when necessary--heroes kill.
     
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  6. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Again, I don't think the job of a Superman story is to be psychologically realistic or plausible to adults. Superman stories are children's moral power fantasies at their core, and I don't think Superman is supposed to be "just another individual with flaws, virtues, and emotions like anyone else." The world is full of stories about flawed individuals with emotions like anyone else. Give me something different from Superman.
     
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  7. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Watch the whole thing and stay with it until the end.

     
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  8. Vincent van Ghoul

    Vincent van Ghoul Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I agree and I love Superman because grief drives him to break a forbidden rule of interfering with human development. Flaws don't mean failure. For me, it's a logical exploration of an alien on Earth, feeling like an outsider. I feel like struggling helps with the relatable nature with an otherwise unrelatable character.
     
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  9. theenglish

    theenglish Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There have been plenty of stories where Clark or Kal have had to wrestle with their internal emotions--that's where great stories come from. He's been angry, lonely, depressed, without direction, and felt hopeless at various points. He's invulnerable but his friends and family are not--the point of a lot of Superman stories is that he's suffered emotionally or been tempted to cross some kind of similar line.
     
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  10. The Realist

    The Realist Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's a false binary to suggest that Superman can only be (a) completely without an inner life or any psychological depth, or (b) constantly drowning in misery and angst. Lots and lots of ground between those two extremes.
     
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  11. theenglish

    theenglish Vice Admiral Admiral

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    For me, that's part of the greatness of the character--he's been around so long and has appeared in so many stories by different writing teams that a lot of different facets have been explored.
     
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  12. Vincent van Ghoul

    Vincent van Ghoul Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Indeed. I prefer variety than just one mode. I don't think having him struggle takes away from the character.
     
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  13. Commander Troi

    Commander Troi Quoter of Quotes Premium Member

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    ^ Yes, very much this.

    There's a story I still remember from my childhood (this is early to mid 70s) where a "space pirate" manipulates Kal into helping her die. He really had a hard time dealing with it, but eventually saw that she was miserable in her semi-immortality. He also remembered Pa Kent telling him that death is part of life. Kal's struggle in the story has stuck with me for 45+ years. That's pretty powerful.
     
  14. The Realist

    The Realist Vice Admiral Admiral

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    :lol:

    :techman:
     
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  15. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Absolutely! And also, children's stories can get very dark. But I also think there are limits to how far children's stories can go and still be children's stories, and Superman (I'm italicizing it to emphasize the difference between Superman the narrative and Superman the character) should broadly respect those limits, I think. Essentially I think the emotional baseline of Superman ought to be something like the emotional baseline of Paddington II, and the limits of its darkness should go about as far as, say, a Harry Potter book (Harry Potter being a really good example of stories that explore dark ideas but always bring it back to an emotionally safe place for the children in the audience). I don't think it would be appropriate for a Superman story to, say, go to the kinds of places that The Walking Dead or a Cormac McCarthy novel would go. There need to be limits on how far and how dark Superman the narrative, and Superman the character, can go, or else you're not really writing Superman or Superman anymore.
     
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  16. Commander Troi

    Commander Troi Quoter of Quotes Premium Member

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    Over and above the ending, that was an excellent video! Thank you for sharing it.
     
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  17. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    For Superman, none of his great stories come from the horrid, childish Weisinger period, the very height of that Santa/Daddy characterization.
     
  18. The Realist

    The Realist Vice Admiral Admiral

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  19. theenglish

    theenglish Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Superman stories don't tend to be dark and certainly not as dark as a McCarthy story or the Walking Dead. But his stories have not been at the emotional baseline of "Paddington" in decades. Harry Potter is a good example if you are thinking about the Harry Potter of the later novels, after he witnessed Cedric's death.
     
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  20. YLu

    YLu Commander Red Shirt

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    It's really two separate intertwined questions: 1. Should the character be willing to kill if necessary? 2. Should there be stories where he's forced to kill?

    They're not actually the same thing. A writer can manipulate a story's circumstances to make pretty much any action "necessary." If a nuclear bomb was about to go off unless Superman decapitated a five-year-old because the activation device is inside his skull, then yes, congratulations, you've created a scenario where Superman decapitating a five-year-old is necessary. Good job on re-iterating the millionth version of the trolley problem -- a.k.a. baby's first philosophy course -- I guess.

    If the bomb could only be de-activated if its microphone hears Superman's voice saying a bunch of ethnic slurs -- because the villain is just that evil -- then you've created a story where, for the greater good, he's forced to say ethnic slurs.

    "Is there value in telling that story?" is a different question. Do I believe Superman would start spouting racist crap if it genuinely was the only way to save lives? Absolutely! Do I believe there's value in a story where he's forced to make that choice? Not really.
     
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