“Thus, by action and by example, Superman embodies a populist ideal, that it doesn’t matter who one’s parents are, no one can impose their will on the world. And it doesn’t matter how powerful one is, it matters how one chooses to use that power.”
From a nice post on Tor.com here.
It’s interesting that I’ve never really liked Superman; I haven’t particularly enjoyed reading any of the comic books, and didn’t think any of the films were up to much. I think the reason is that I’ve always found the character to be a little disappointing, for the very reason the author of the essay says he’s great: the fact that he has it within his power to completely remake Earth society, to be the benevolent dictator of a global utopia where no-one needs to worry about war, or famine–where all they would have to give up is a chunk of free will.
But he doesn’t, he chooses instead to offer himself as an example of how people should live their lives, and hope humanity will get there on their own. It’s noble, sure, but that choice always rubbed me the wrong way.
You know who had the right idea? This guy.