Opinion - Why the World Needs Superman
I’ve had two arguments in as many days…and I’m sick of it. So, I had the same thought as any sensible person: I thought I’d upstage Lois Lane. I’m going to write the article that she couldn’t at the end of Superman Returns. I’m going to write
Why the World Needs Superman
Back in the late 1930s, there was uncertainty about whether or not America could survive. We weren’t much of a world player back then…but our economy was extremely weak at the time, so many poor and hungry. There was news of horror after horror coming out of Europe and a whisper in the wind that those horrors would soon find their way onto our shores.
In a world full of very real bogeymen…we created heroes. And then, the American people did one better…we BECAME heroes. We stood up. We answered in the face of our fears. We clawed our way out of the Great Depression and we fought back against what was going on in Europe. We came to the aid of our allies, Britain and France and pushed back hard against Germany and Italy. We didn’t allow a sneak attack by the Empire of Japan to scare us further into our then isolationist stance. We stood up. A sleeping giant awoke. And the world was never the same.
It’s from this time that Superman was born. It’s from this spirit that the Man of Steel was forged.
The circumstances may seem similar. Once again, there are uncertainties about the economy. Once again, there are stories of violence and terror, not just from Europe but all around the world. But times have changed. There’s a 24-hour news cycle that takes turns either reminding us of all the reasons we should be scared and distracting us with meaningless fluff, gossip and entertainment. It speculates on not only real threats, but threats that might be or could be…and so on and so forth. In a world where superheroes are everywhere and likely more ‘real’ than they’ve ever been, it seems like now we’re doing the reverse of what we’ve done in our past…we’re inventing bogeymen for said heroes to fight.
I’ve talked about this before…we’re now more a Batman people than a Superman one. We long to be the 1%. We want to scare those that scare us. We’d rather suspect than trust. We’d rather fear for the worst than hope for the best. We assume there are shadows everywhere and that we’re safe within them as opposed to standing out in the light with no place to hide.
But fear begets fear. Violence begets violence. Mistrust begets mistrust and completely shatters the concept of community. Without a hope for the future and a willingness to stand out to face it, we’re forever doomed to be mired in the present.
So I challenge you. Put on the S.
Superman is inspiration. Superman is hope. Superman is truth and justice…and the American Way. That doesn’t make him a symbol of empire…it ties him to the collective American Dream. A future that continues to brighten…not fade into some dystopia or apocalypse. Take a look at his home: Metropolis – The City of Tomorrow. Tall skyscrapers, nearly always shown in daylight and even when it’s shown at night, there’s a golden aura…a glow…to it. The City of Tomorrow…where people look forward and move forward, where people are inspired to be better because they have a very real example right in front of them. Not a messiah. Not a demon. Not a god. A farm boy from the Midwest, raised with what has the reputation of being the core American values. He doesn’t have an absolute moral code or compass, he’s just a guy that’s trying to do the right thing.
I can very freely admit to you that Metropolis doesn’t exist.
We have to create it. We have to build it. And we won’t do that by jumping at shadows or hiding within them.
Put on the S.
There’s an old saying that the skein of your life was woven long ago. I’ll put it more bluntly. YOU WILL DIE. There’s no way around it. But there is a way to live forever. Think of those that came before that aren’t with us anymore. Maybe it’s someone close to you, maybe it’s a historical figure…whoever it is that comes to mind, they had the tenacity to pick up a torch that was left at their feet from someone who came before them and carry it forward. And in that act, they gained their own immortality…because they just popped up in your head. Had no one picked up the torch, no prehistoric man would have crossed the Bering land bridge. Had no one picked up the torch, no Viking would have made it on to western shores. Had no one picked up the torch, the United States would still be a British colony. Had no one picked up the torch, man would not have landed on the moon. Who are we to shirk our generational duty…all because we’re afraid?
Put on the S.
No, you won’t be as invincible as Superman, but when those that come after you pick up your torch and tell your story, you’ll be just as immortal.
Put on the S.
No, you may not be standing up for some ideal that’s as grand as those of Superman, but you will be seen and you will be heard and…even if it’s only within one person, you WILL make a difference.
Put on the S.
Look to the future and understand that we’re not getting there unless we work to get there. Yeah, I know that none of us owes the world a damn thing. But look at what that mentality has brought us. Is this a world you’re really happy with? Really? Do you really want something like Mad Max or The Walking Dead or any other apocalyptic future? Then stop it from happening. Step out of the shadows. Make a difference. Be a hero. Hear the call.
Put on the S.
But you’re afraid you’ll be the only one? Yeah, well, Superman has an answer for that…or at least his dad does. Whether you take Jor-El from the ‘78 movie: “He will not be alone. He will never be alone.” Or the more lofty Jor-El from Man of Steel: “He’ll be a god to them”. He doesn’t mean that in a forced worship sense. Gods are immortals with great power. So is a man that works hard, leads by example and inspires others to do the same. The legacy we leave behind makes us immortal…and the ideas we put forth give us the great power to inspire those around us and those that come after.
So I challenge you.
Step out of the shadows.
Put on the S.
You may stumble, you may fall…but someday you’ll join Superman in the sun…just as he’s always wanted. And, honestly, just as he’d planned all along.
THAT’S why the world needs Superman…to remind us of where we’ve been, what we’ve accomplished and to remind us to always keep pushing, always keep trying and always keep looking forward to a brighter future. We’ve already overcome so much…and there’s still so much more to do…so much more we can achieve.
And it can’t be done from the shadows.
“They’re a great people Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. That is why I have sent them you…my only son.”
Or, to quote Ray Bradbury on the topic of Superman, “Superman will go along with us [into the future]. No…he’ll be waiting for us there.”