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  1. #1
    Mighty Member stargazer01's Avatar
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    Default How is Superman relatable to you?

    Yes, How is Superman relatable to you?

    I've heard some people say he doesn't need to be relatable just inspirational, but I don't agree. To me Superman/Clark Kent needs to be both. He needs to be a character other people can relate to in some way while also be a superhero and person who inspires to want to be a better person and do the right thing. No easy task, but most superheros do that in one way or another.

    Many say Batman is relatable because he doesn't have powers. It's all about his will power and his brilliant mind. But he is also very rich since birth, and most people aren't. They can't relate to his social and economic status.

    And Spider-Man? Well people say he's just a teen with teen problems. What about Wonder Woman/Diana Prince? She's a warrior princess and she cares about helping others.

    To me Clark is relatable because despite his immense powers, he is also a person with emotional needs, insecurities, desires and dreams. And he cares about helping others. He has an strong sense of duty and doing what's right and just. He needs to balance that with his personal life. That's not easy because there is always someone who needs help in the world. It's about his humanity for better and for worse.
    Last edited by stargazer01; 07-01-2019 at 10:53 PM.

  2. #2
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    I think relatability gets overblown.

    I think if you can get in a character's head and see his/her point of view and it doesn't radically differ from yours then the character will work for you. I can enjoy seeing Christian Bale's Batman in action without being a rich orphaned man with vengeance issues. I can enjoy Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman despite having almost nothing in common with a female raised in a pagan warrior society. But they have traits I admire and are people I wish really existed (even if their real world versions lacked their extraordinary skills).

    With Superman I always saw a lot of myself in the Silver-Age Clark. And I wished I had the self-confidence he projected as Superman/boy. Clark was the slighty dorky person I was, Superman was who I aspired to be. Superman was in control of his destiny- he didn't ask anyone's permission to do anything. Even as a kid he never had to answer to the Kents- they supported his decisions most of the time and the rare times they didn't they still seemed willing to let him make his own decisions. And yet despite having that much freedom, Superman made the right decision 99% of the time. Clark wasn't abusing his powers the way most people I knew would. Despite all the jokes we never saw him X-raying the girls' locker room, "borrowing" money from other people without their knowledge, letting his personal feelings dictate who to save and who not to. He simply did the right thing without having to think about it. And I related to wanting to have that strength of character and personal ethics.

  3. #3
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    I dont think Superman is relatable. He's not supposed to be, he's supposed to be aspirational; an ideal to strive towards. Larger than life. But he *is* a reflection of life, so we can relate to that.

    I think we can relate to the emotional impact Superman goes through. He gets mad at the same kind of things we get mad at. He gets happy about the same things we do, etc. We relate to him because we think "Yeah, if someone attacked my home city with robot drones and put lives at risk I'd be angry too!" There's a lot of allegory there but like Morrison said, Superman's life is emotionally similar to ours, but cranked up to a 1000. So maybe we can't relate to having the bottle city of Kandor destroyed and having the last hope of our species being saved lost....but we can relate to losing our grandfather's favorite watch that we've had since we were ten.

    And we relate through the supporting cast. The interpersonal dynamics between Clark and his supporting players provide a lot of relatability; the girl we like who doesnt like us back, the boss who yells at us, the idiot friend who's always getting into trouble, the office bully, etc. We can relate to those events and feel like we're in Clark's shoes because he feels the same things we feel when it happens to us.

    But Superman as an individual? He's not like us. I mean, I like to tinker with old cars just like Clark has been shown to like doing, "And Justice For All" is both of our favorite Metallica albums, etc., but this isnt a dude who thinks like we do or processes information the way we do. His entire life and the way he perceives things? Nothing we experience comes close.
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  4. #4
    Fantastic Member Ulysses's Avatar
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    He really wants to do the right thing.

  5. #5
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Superman is one of the ultimate power fantasies, but when looked at from the viewpoint of the people who created him, he shares one strong element with them: he looks and largely acts exactly like the white dominant society around him, but he is fundamentally different, just like Siegel and Schuster were Jews growing up in America in the 1920s and 30s. So there is a rather strong relational element, but it is far from universal, though it is relatively common: of passing but still being different from the people around them.

    But I think Superman at a fundamental level is a power fantasy character: what if I could fly, what if I were super strong, what if I was a secret agent, and so on. As many such, he is rather bland as a character: the reader is less supposed to relate to Superman as imagine themselves as Superman.

    (Wonder Woman follows a slightly different route here, and one that is largely similar to the Pippi Longstocking books. Wonder Woman is similar to Pippi as the unattainable character to idolise and follow, while they are observed and befriended by the reader insert characters Steve Trevor on one hand and Tommy and Annika on another. And all three of those are rather bland characters, especially in their earlier incarnations.)

    Now, I really doubt Siegel and Schuster thought in those terms (and if they did, they would probably have failed in crafting him), but after the fact it's rather easy to see.
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  6. #6
    Extraordinary Member Celgress's Avatar
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    At his core, Superman is the type of person I wish I could be. He inspires me.
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  7. #7
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    The way I was able to relate to him: having Ma and Pa Kent to learn and get advice from. Superman is the visual of his powers use. Clark Kent is the person behind it all. Everything that happens in his life, he has a soundboard to work with in the Kents. Strip away the powers and you have everyday life. He knew Ma and Pa would be there when he needed them. That helped reenforce that my parents would be there when I need them.

  8. #8
    Mighty Member stargazer01's Avatar
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    The ways that I relate to Superman and Clark is that I always try to be a good person, and Clark is the nicest person there is, so I wanted to follow his example. If someone asked me why I love Superman, I'd say it's because he's a good person who helps people.

    In a way, he's the father role I never had. I also think his relationships with other people in his life humanize him. People like the Kents, Lois, Jimmy, Lana, etc. He is a friend, a son, a lover and sometimes a father. And of course, the way he cares about others.

  9. #9
    AT EASE, LOO-SUH! Superlad93's Avatar
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    Really simple: I walk my dog around the park, and Superman happens to walk his dog around Saturn, but we're both still walking our dogs.

    His emotions, motivations, and reactions aren't a mystery or holier-than-thou. He's a person but played on the highest scale. But the thing that makes him special and endearing is that each and every day he wakes up and he's decided that he's gonna do his very best to do the right thing, and he genuinely loves his work and what it does for the people around him. And even on days when it sucks or people are being difficult or self destructive, he still put on his cape (or glasses) and gets back out there. That's aspirational, and it's also something that's honestly not always simple to legitimately keep up.

    But even when he's dealing with his son coming back from an alternate universe older than when he left, dealing with intergalactic wars, or redefining his marriage and family life, it's all still just the story of a dude.....just played up big and weird.
    Last edited by Superlad93; 07-11-2019 at 11:20 AM.
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  10. #10
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    I think when most people say "relateable" they're just talking about which fantasy they find most appealing. I remember when the N52 first came out and there was a picture of Superman floating around the Justice League and someone complained because his feet weren't touch the ground or something. Can you imagine having the power of flight but not being allowed to use it unless it was for official hero business; it's like a monkey's paw wish or something. For the most part that's what modern Superman is, a guy who's life could and should be fun but is held back by the silly "humanity" question which forces his life to be much more dull than it has any right to be.

    Batman comparatively is free of the pointless constraints that have been applied to Superman over time.
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  11. #11
    Astonishing Member Soubhagya's Avatar
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    Superman is relatable to me because he isn't one person. But two. As Superman he is awesome. And as Clark Kent he is kind of a dork and unnoticed. You get to be awesome and 'normal' at the same time, even though the 'normal' tends to be heightened. Unexceptional, ordinary, etc. But secretly he is awesome. A notable exception was Post Crisis. But from my reading so far, the story and character was still very enjoyable.

  12. #12
    Fantastic Member Ulysses's Avatar
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    Also when I read Superman comics, I feel understood. None of my friends can understand what it's like to have lazer eyes.

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member Starter Set's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stargazer01 View Post
    I've heard some people say he doesn't need to be relatable just inspirational
    That's the whole point i see in the character.

  14. #14
    Savior of the Universe Flash Gordon's Avatar
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    He's always been more inspirational to me. I don't need to relate to someone to care about them, or to enjoy their ridiculous adventures.

    I've always found his innate loneliness coupled with his constant desire to "help", to be such a beautiful condition. The current Superman doesn't have any of that and is thus harder to pin down for me.
    Last edited by Flash Gordon; 07-04-2019 at 10:11 AM.
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  15. #15
    Extraordinary Member Celgress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ulysses View Post
    Also when I read Superman comics, I feel understood. None of my friends can understand what it's like to have lazer eyes.
    My buddy Scott feels your pain.
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