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  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bored at 3:00AM View Post

    The earliest Superman from the 1930s was also an outsider, who worked against the corrupt and powerful as a champion of the underdog. It wasn't until the WW2 began that Superman became fully entrenched as a defender of the establishment.
    So I assumed this thread was about Superman being an 'outsider' because of his alien origins and his powers - not being an 'outsider' in a political sense.

    That said, I realized something interesting about Superman and his politics (or lack thereof).

    The Golden Age Superman, as I mentioned, probably didn't really feel like too much of an outsider...except perhaps in his role as a 'mild-mannered' reporter, which was pretty much an act back then. But he was a 'champion of the oppressed', a vigilante who fought against the oppressive powers of the status quo and stood up for the little guy.

    In stark contrast, the Silver Age Superman felt like an outsider because of his knowledge of his alien identity, and his preoccupation with it, but was a defender of the status quo and very much an 'insider' in that sense.

    Which makes me wonder...does Superman feel more free to take a stand against the status quo when he is secure in his identity as an immigrant human and feels at one with humanity? Does he gravitate towards the establishment and the powers-that-be of human society when he's less secure about his place among humans?

    This reminds me of that scene in Quest for Peace where Superman goes before the UN panel and claims that he's always considered himself a visitor and an observer on earth, which is why he hasn't interfered in global issues - but now he's "no longer just a visitor" and considers himself as belonging to the earth, which is why he's taken a stand on nuclear disarmament.

  2. #17
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    I think what Jerry and Joe believed was that the values Superman stood for were the values of good, honest hard-working Americans--and the values that the corrupt politicians, grifters and gangster stood for were un-American. The status quo that Superman was defending was the old-fashioned sense of equality and justice and not this new element of greed and profiteering.

    As for Superman fighting for the status quo in the 1960s, there were a fair number of stories where Supernan was against things like the arms race and mlitary aggression. And I don't think he had an outsider mentality. His love for Kryptonian culture was akin to Italian-Americans preparing Italian cuisine and African-Americans telling African folktales. Just because you're an American citizen doesn't mean you have to totally assimilate and forget the traditions of the old country--or it shouldn't. Moreover, Superman was just as preoccupied with Earth matters as he was with his Kryptonian heritage--he was greatly interested in the lives of his friends to the extent that he had rooms in the Fortress of Solitude devoted to Lois, Jimmy and Batman.

    The way that Krypton was drawn and written in the 1960s made it a fantastic extension of our world. So it wasn't alien-alien. It was American alien. I don't recall many stories from the old days that presented Superman as alien, in the sense of being objectionable. He was us, but us if we could be our best selves.

    The obsession with Superman being an undesirable stranger is something that's been imposed on the mythos by latter day writers, who grasp for some hot button issue to give their story heat.

  3. #18
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Masterff View Post
    I dont see it in this way...

    Yes Bruce has a big family, but it depends really on the interpretation, sometimes he is nice and good to everyone like in the Young Justice TV Series, who is so far my favorite take on Batman, sometimes no:
    https://screenrant.com/worst-most-wt...-did-to-robin/


    SUPERMAN mentored Kon sometimes, for example if you look at GRADUATION DAY, when Conner entered the Titans he mentored him, not long, but these day yes and he also sometimes had talks with him etc. but most of the time yes he let the Kents mentor him..

    I personally would say Superman ISNT an outsider, but he is a person who cares more for others than for himself...

    I would say for example that Diana is much more an Outsider than Superman...
    I'd definitely say Clark is a lone wolf.

    As a kid, he basically only had two friends; Lana and Pete. He might've had other kids he knew and got along with, but it really seems like he only had those two, consistently.

    As a hero, he rarely involved himself with Conner and Kara. Sure, he'd hang out with them sometimes, but rather than bringing them into his home he'd send them off with other people, and in Conner's case some really questionable ones.

    At work he's friends with Jimmy, and doesn't even share his secrets with the guy who is supposed to be one of his best friends. And he's friends with Perry and Ron, who again he doesn't share his identity with.

    Clark strikes me as the kind of guy who's really friendly and knows your name and will shake your hand.....but he keeps almost everyone at arm's length. He keeps up the appearance of being a friendly guy but he doesn't let anyone actually get close to him.

    Bruce has always been a man looking for family. Even when he's written as a total, emotionally abusive dickbag, he still keeps the family close. Bruce and Clark are very much opposites in this, I think; Bruce acts like a tough loner who doesn't need/want anyone, but secretly needs a family around him. Clark acts like a friendly guy who wants to be friends with everyone, but never actually hangs out with anyone.

    But like I said before, Clark's not morose or depressed (most of the time). He's quite happy and well adjusted with his life and his small circle of close friends. So he doesn't look like a loner or an outsider on the surface.
    Last edited by Ascended; 05-26-2019 at 04:33 PM.
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  4. #19
    The Celestial Dragon Tien Long's Avatar
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    Hey all. I just want to say thanks for a lot of these great posts. First off, I'm going to check out the stories that you've suggested. While I like stories where Superman is punching the crap out of Darkseid, Zod, and Doomsday, I'm definitely in the mood for more initimate and (no pun intended) human stories.

    As for what constitutes being an outsider, I like this notion that Superman's powers give him an outlook on the world that humans don't have. That fuels his outsider perspective. At the same time, it strengthens his compassion. The sense that he knows through his powers that we're all lonely and thus can find commonality with loneliness seems to fuel his empathy. "Status quo" can mean many things and I liked how we saw that Superman doesn't support the status quo of those who are rich and greedy. Rather, he fights for the oppressed, whether they were the impoverished of the Great Depression or the undocumented migrants of today.

    One of the other things I'd like to ask in regard to Superman being an outsider if he's experienced discrimination. Indeed, it's a hard question that I think Superman has asked himself. Yes, he's an alien with incredible powers and has lost his home. However, he's been accepted, welcomed, and formed relationships with others. At the same time, I'm willing to bet that there have been individuals who would get angry at Superman considering himself to be an outsider. When has he ever been negatively treated because of his race, gender, or sexual orientation?

    For me, I think a counter to this would be that Superman has been labeled as a threat. Yes, he's been accepted for doing the right thing, but Lex Luthor hates him because he's an alien. There have been any stories where the government has tried to get rid of him because he's so powerful? Have there been stories where humans have hated him for being an alien?

    So, has Superman experienced discrimination or not? Can his experiences be likened to someone who has been discriminated for their race, gender, or sexual orientation? Or maybe that's just the biggest false equivalency ever?
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  5. #20
    Mighty Member Vordan's Avatar
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    New 52 Superman was hated at the start of Morrison’s run when people found out about his alien nature. Birthright Superman was hated for his alien nature due to Lex setting up false flag Kryptonian attacks. I think Johns had Superman deal with xenophobia in Secret Origin and he definitely dealt with it in Superman & the LOSH arc by Johns. There have been others but those are the most recent. I would hesitate to draw a direct parallel to what Superman faces and what other targeted groups face though.

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vordan View Post
    New 52 Superman was hated at the start of Morrison’s run when people found out about his alien nature. Birthright Superman was hated for his alien nature due to Lex setting up false flag Kryptonian attacks. I think Johns had Superman deal with xenophobia in Secret Origin and he definitely dealt with it in Superman & the LOSH arc by Johns. There have been others but those are the most recent. I would hesitate to draw a direct parallel to what Superman faces and what other targeted groups face though.
    For NEW52 I will also never forget Karas relationship with Kon El (that she labeled him Abomination etc.)
    how Clones were seen on Krypton, that H'El wanted to kill Kon El to prove his loyalty, called him also abomination etc.

  7. #22
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tien Long View Post
    So, has Superman experienced discrimination or not? Can his experiences be likened to someone who has been discriminated for their race, gender, or sexual orientation? Or maybe that's just the biggest false equivalency ever?
    As Vordan said, there have been a few times where someone's played the "alien" card and Clark has experienced discrimination, but it's generally rather rare. And I feel like it's largely a false equivalency anyway. I think the more appropriate parallel is that Clark's "white passing." He's not human, not, technically, even white, but he looks it.

    I dont think that's a great parallel either, but it's the closest I can think of. Clark's experience with, dynamic, and relationship to earth and its peoples is a very unique thing and you're not going to find a great fit if you try to draw a comparison to something else. But I'd say white passing is as close as you're likely to find.
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  8. #23
    Extraordinary Member Robotman's Avatar
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    Siegel and Shuster were children of Jewish immigrants, so there’s always been a facet of the “immigrant’s story” in Superman. Keeping traditions from the old country alive while trying to integrate into American society. Superman has the good fortune of being able to blend in with humans but there has to be a feeling of being an outsider at times. In All Star Superman when Lex finally sees the world through Superman’s eyes he can see how beautiful and fragile every is. I think Superman would feel a bit like an outsider since he can view the world in ways no one else can.

    I hate stories where teenage Superman uses his powers to be a high school football star. The Kents would know that any wrong move by Clark, who was still learning to use his powers and control his strength, could lead to the deaths of a lot of people. It’s way better if Clark is presented as a “nerd” or outcast in high school.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robotman View Post
    Siegel and Shuster were children of Jewish immigrants, so there’s always been a facet of the “immigrant’s story” in Superman. Keeping traditions from the old country alive while trying to integrate into American society. Superman has the good fortune of being able to blend in with humans but there has to be a feeling of being an outsider at times. In All Star Superman when Lex finally sees the world through Superman’s eyes he can see how beautiful and fragile every is. I think Superman would feel a bit like an outsider since he can view the world in ways no one else can.

    I hate stories where teenage Superman uses his powers to be a high school football star. The Kents would know that any wrong move by Clark, who was still learning to use his powers and control his strength, could lead to the deaths of a lot of people. It’s way better if Clark is presented as a “nerd” or outcast in high school.
    I actually prefer Clark as being the one who is uninterested in being the football star. I think that whole idea rests on the Byrne inversion where Clark is a regular Joe who just happens to have these powers as opposed to the Golden/Silver/Bronze idea that he always held himself to a higher standard because of who his powers made him.

    The same way I prefer the outsider status to be one where Clark wants companions, but ones on his level. He doesn't pine like in Smallville to be "one of us", but rather wishes we were able to see and experience things only he can.

    "When Lana is deep in thought she gives off the same color you do when you're harvesting, Pa"
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  10. #25
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Clark View Post
    The same way I prefer the outsider status to be one where Clark wants companions, but ones on his level. He doesn't pine like in Smallville to be "one of us", but rather wishes we were able to see and experience things only he can.
    Exactly.

    Clark, I think, has no reason to want to be human. Yes, he's very fond of humanity and he loves us, but to be one of us isn't something I think Clark actually wants, outside of the occasional bout of melancholy. But he has all the reasons in the world to want us to see things the way he can see them. (that whole "it's all just us, in here together" line from Lex in All-Star)

    There's also been the times when Clark has found a society he'd actually fit into; the 31st century, New Genesis, etc. Those are places he definitely feels some kind of kinship, or at least "sameness" with, and every time he discovers such a place a part of him is tempted to stay there. But earth is home, even if he doesn't exactly fit in, and he has a duty, so it's back to Metropolis he goes.

    That's a hell of a message, I think, to give up what you (think you) want to do what you need to. It's perfect Superman.
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  11. #26
    Extraordinary Member Robotman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    Exactly.

    Clark, I think, has no reason to want to be human. Yes, he's very fond of humanity and he loves us, but to be one of us isn't something I think Clark actually wants, outside of the occasional bout of melancholy. But he has all the reasons in the world to want us to see things the way he can see them. (that whole "it's all just us, in here together" line from Lex in All-Star)

    There's also been the times when Clark has found a society he'd actually fit into; the 31st century, New Genesis, etc. Those are places he definitely feels some kind of kinship, or at least "sameness" with, and every time he discovers such a place a part of him is tempted to stay there. But earth is home, even if he doesn't exactly fit in, and he has a duty, so it's back to Metropolis he goes.

    That's a hell of a message, I think, to give up what you (think you) want to do what you need to. It's perfect Superman.
    That’s one of the beautiful things about Superman. He is this all powerful god who can see how beautiful and fragile everything is but he’s not trying to force humanity into being good, he leads be example. “You will give the people of earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.”

  12. #27

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    Shuster's old country was Canada. What from that country would he have added except for the tendency to over-apologize?

    Superman's presence in the Legion helped him feel less like an outsider, if the stories he and Lightning Lad were sharing in Action 864 were any indicator. His Earth parents gave him the values he carries today and he was the one to inspire and pass on those values a thousand years later. If anything, the Legion made him appreciate himself more.
    Last edited by The Frozen Reptile; 05-28-2019 at 08:28 AM. Reason: add info

  13. #28
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    Joe Shuster's parents were Jewish immigrants from Europe (the Netherlands and the Ukraine) who came to Toronto. As a boy, Joe delivered the TORONTO DAILY STAR--which is how Clark ends up working for the DAILY STAR. Shuster modelled the skyline of Metropolis after the skyline of Toronto.

    Since Joe seems to have been the more introverted of the two--Jerry stole Joe's girlfriend, Joanne (Joe's model for Lois), away from him--he's more of the Clark Kent type. Which fits with the idea of Canadians in contrast to Americans. Not every Canadian, but a lot of us, don't want to brag or call attention to ourselves.

    But Joe moved to the States when he was ten, so his Canadian identity was probably not that strong. However, his cousins remained in Canada, so his connection to the Dominion remained. And Canada has long celebrated Joe Shuster as a creator of Superman.

  14. #29
    Mighty Member stargazer01's Avatar
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    When he is the only one of his kind. He feels like an outsider in Superman The Movie, Superman Returns, Man of Steel and even in Smallville first seasons when he couldn't just be like the rest. Always having to be super careful of he could hurt or kill someone or break things.

    I think it's an interesting view of him because it shows how someone so powerful and who seems to have it all, can also feel so lonely. Sure he has Ma and Pa, but it's not enough.

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