The Power of Superman’s Hugs

Something I read online has me think­ing about Superman today. Superman usu­ally bores me as a hero because he’s so pow­er­ful and so many writ­ers try to out-​​power him and write him with lame exter­nal con­flicts, when really Superman’s strug­gles and chal­lenges should be so much deeper. Superman should rarely if ever be depicted in a fight in a comic again. Here’s why:

Do you remem­ber what it was like when you were a child, and you were upset, and hurt, and scream­ing mad. And then an adult, per­haps a par­ent or grand­par­ent, they scooped you up and held you until the tears dried and the hurt stopped, just a little.

Have you ever known what it was like to feel some­one hold­ing back their strength, the gen­tle­ness in a touch that comes from this restraint?

Now imag­ine you’re a low level supervil­lain and you’re try­ing to fight that guy.

It’s impos­si­ble to over­state just how strong Superman really is. He is a god come to Earth, for all intents and pur­poses. He can move the Earth, ful­crum or not. The guy could flinch and destroy cities.

Imagine being in a fist fight with that.

If Superman were to lose one iota of con­trol, he could kill thou­sands. His entire life must be like walk­ing through a room filled with cob­webs, deter­mined to never tear a sin­gle web.

The only way in which Superman can show his true strength to ordi­nary mor­tals is with his com­pas­sion. I guar­an­tee that when Superman catches you the supervil­lain, envelops you in his arms and flies you off to prison so you can pay soci­ety for your crimes, you can­not help but to feel that com­pas­sion, that restraint, all that love and ado­ra­tion for his adopted species.

Superman’s embrace must be like the embrace of a fatherly God for those that expe­ri­ence it. Nobody should come away from him unchanged. His very pres­ence in the world should cause mas­sive rip­ples of pos­i­tive change. Nobody caught by Superman should ever return to crime, know­ing that they felt in those inti­mate moments.

Well, nobody but Lex Luthor any­way. Lex felt noth­ing, because he’s bro­ken at such a fun­da­men­tal level. And he wants every­one else bro­ken that way too. He can’t feel what Superman is radi­at­ing with every action, and he never will. So he will destroy Superman, but even more, he will destroy your faith in the hero as well.

Or per­haps they lash out like the do over and over again because they do know what its like in Superman’s embrace. Maybe their vil­lain dads weren’t around a lot and they didn’t have strong role mod­els. But if you threaten peo­ple, maybe you can get his atten­tion again. You can feel that again.

When nobody in the world cares about you, Superman still does. He has that much love and com­pas­sion because he has to.

That would make Lex the one who needs it most of all.

I’m not sure which inter­pre­ta­tion I prefer.

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One Response

  1. Dan Beeston says:

    This is a really great post J.

    This idea was touched upon in this youtube clip.
    World of Cardboard.