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The Difficulty of Writing Superman

While Superman has become an icon around the world, writers are put in a difficult spot when writing the character. How do make Superman relatable when he is impervious to anything, or anyone? What made some of the well known Superman stories so good, and how have they integrated the character into our modern times? Maybe what makes him an interesting character in not what he is weak to, but instead, what he symbolizes as a superhero.

  • Perhaps both sides are a factor here. What makes Superman relatable to me is what he is weak too. Superman is impervious to anything but magic and kryptonite and the DC universe is rife with magic. In fact, Captain Marvel could probably go toe to toe with Superman and survive and the Batman has proven capable too. Superman gets hard to write when he has no weakness at all because everyone, both the writer and the reader, know he will pull out fine. Of course, even with his weakness, we know that and that's where the symbolism comes in. As a superhero, and as a human, Clark Kent. – SpectreWriter 5 years ago
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  • Another point I'd like to add about the difficulty is how people view him. Many people see Superman as an alien like God because of the powers that he has, despite the notion that they're powers to us, but not to him and other kryptonians. Another aspect that people believe he's Superman before Clark Kent just because he's from another planet, making it harder to relate to him when they see him as an alien. While others like myself, see Superman as human despite his origin because of how he was raised on earth. He lived his life among humans, all of his values were taught by his loving adoptive family, and he became Superman as a way that people can have someone to inspire them as he's the symbol of hope. With that, Superman is the disguise for Clark so he can use his powers for the greater good and help those in need no matter the situation. He's Clark Kent before Superman, the problem though is that the different viewpoints affect the writing so Superman's character is not only difficult, but also inconsistent since everyone has a different viewpoint for how Superman should be portrayed. – MajoraChaLa 5 years ago
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  • It's nearly impossible to make Superman relatable. I feel like for whatever reason we are bored by his perfection, but also unwilling to see him become more human and flawed. We see idealism in him, just think of songs that have lines like "I'm no Superman" or "Isn't there a Superman to sweep me off my feet". He's become far more of an icon than a character, and people don't like their icons messed with. This backs writers into the corner of balancing the way the world wants him to be and writing him in a way that will actually be interesting. – SomeOtherAmazon 5 years ago
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  • I see the point of what you're trying to do here, but I think it might be hard to talk about the character in a vacuum here. There have been good runs on Superman: maybe refocus to think about particular creative approaches to Superman that you think worked or didn't, and try to draw your lessons from that? So, I really liked Steven Seagle's run a few years back, and am enjoying the new books from Pak and Kuder and Gene Yang. Maybe you could isolate particular runs and build an essay from that? – MattDube 5 years ago
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