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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member manwhohaseverything's Avatar
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    Default Superman becoming the everyman.

    After crisis and into the modern age, superman writers had a tendency of making superman into the everyman in the name of "humanising" him. By everyman, i mean by superhero standards. An everyman in superhero would just be a normal guy with powers with all quirks, needs and tribulations of an average man.while,that can be done with superman and has been Interestingly(for me) with superman for all seasons, american alien.. Etc. It isn't a necessity for me.

    Personally,it had the opposite effect for me most of the time. Superman becomes less interesting for me, that was something i expected. But, superman would be less relatable for me compared to former, was very much a surprise. Wierd thing is, superman as an everyman losses the moral ambiguity of the character much more. That's the reason i find it uninteresting. You know him hiding in plain sight, clark being who he is and superman being something he does and now, superman losing the secret id itself.. Etc.By the same coin spidey doesn't for some reason . I guess, spiderman writers keeping" the masked vigilante scorned by the media and a section of society part" helps with that.as peter he is the guy next door. As spiderman he is the masked menace or the amazing spiderman. And when they meet at the middle he becomes the friendly neighbourhood spiderman.

    It is interesting to see superman with vigilante origin. Daily planet staff, lois reported the truth of the heroics and bad the superman does as unbiased journalists. While, the authorities see him as threat to law and order. It would have been a good conflict for superman and set up a conflict between staff and authorities. for me, you can't take away the super out superman. You will be left with nothing, not just a man. Those two are sides are intricately intertwined. He was born gifted.even if you take away the strength. There is intelligence and a whole lot more to content with. I guess, making the character just clark kent and putting less emphasis on the vigilante-superman or immigrant-kal el leaves him, as the everyman.

    I feel the loss of secret id is another attempt at making him into the everyman. Fine, superman loses secret. But, then what? For me, Superman has no more contradictions. He is a guy that was taught to keep secrets and had a gigantic trust issue. It wasn't just about keeping his friends and family safe. Because as bendis said, he was doing a lousy job at that. Clark being a secret keeper, having a giant guard of iron wall that kept others out and still complaining about solitude and pitying himself for the same, was very interesting. Now, that is gone and there doesn't seem to be a replacement of the same contradiction with another contradiction by the writer. Granted, its too early to tell. But, it seems to be going that way.

    From the looks of things, clark is just normal everyman, now. You know,just the guy next door only with powers.
    1)he isn't an orphan. He has his parents, alive. Has a happy family life. No loneliness or solitude. It was the core of his vigilante aspect.
    2)kal el isn't the all encompassing identity. Clark is. So the alien and outsider perspective is less. The core of his immigrant aspect
    3)he wasn't the path maker or an outsider. There were others with powers before him and friends with powers beside him(jsa before him. legion and later, justice league).
    4)Not the man of tomorrow who changes our outlook on things and works as an agent to bring us into the new tomorrow. Doesn't bring about any changes to status quo as a whole,anyways.
    5)His powerset is bland cause, there are others with same powerset and others who do specific things better and leave him in the dust.
    6)he isn't super-intelligent,his strength can be arguable and his speed isn't much emphasised. So, it removes anything that has wish fulfillment and wonder of the character. He isn't seen as gifted person who is supposed to be a cut above the rest.
    7)he isn't regarded as a vigilante. He is looked upto by the authorities and law, instead.so no dangerous aspects to the character.
    8)finally,the loss of the secret id. Clark's secrets and final contradiction are gone.
    9)his powers aren't an aspect of his being. Just an added part that can be taken off.

    One could say the president of earth is for that purpose of keeping superman from becoming the everyman and be somewhat the leader and man of tomorrow. As i said its too early to tell and clark wasn't the one to come up with the idea of united planets.

    What do you guys think of the tendency of making superman into the everyman by writers? Do you love it or you hate it? Is it necessary? Do you guys like superman to be everyman who needs money, house.. Etc or do you like the man of tomorrow who doesn't need material things is trying to lead us to a better tomorrow with his gifts and morality? Do you like the vigilante superman or are you happy with just the superhero?

    Finally, do you think my opinion that superman is becoming the everyman, itself?

    Last edited by manwhohaseverything; 01-14-2020 at 08:22 PM.

  2. #2
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    Agreed on all points. This idea of "humanizing" him makes no sense and is, in my opinion what makes him seem dull or boring to a larger audience. The goal should be the other way around. He's an alien, who looks like us, sure, but can actually fly in space somehow. What the hell does he need food or sleep for? Also super-brain should be a thing. Miller recently explored this a little in Year One and will further expand on Golden Child I hope. I mean we're suppose to believe that a guy that can see through walls and has super hearing is unable to think faster than the average farmer? Writers tend to lean more only on the morals aspect of the character in detriment of anything else and what I usually get from that is super bored.

    Which leads me to Bendis. His ideas so far have been TERRIBLE for Superman! He has no impact in his own books! Nothing of what happened so far has been a result of Superman's actions. He's just there. Flying around, screaming, looking surprised or hesitant. There's conflict, but he's not the one to solve it. Everyone around him is doing things! His son, his cousin, his wife. Heck even Zod is doing something in whatever planet he is now. Everyone else treats him like a doofus. Supergirl, Lois and even Jimmy downright mock him now, because Bendis keeps writing him like a manchild who's trying to act like the "edgy grown ups" and he looks "cute" when he tries because he "can't lie". Ridiculous. This secret identity reveal thing is stupid. We've just been over this! It's just shock value for the sake of shock value and because it's the only thing Bendis can do to stay relevant these days.

  3. #3
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    I've never understood the need for Clark to be a regular Everyman that people can relate to either. He's not supposed to be one of us, he's supposed to be someone beyond and Other than us, but who lives and emotes and values as we do. As Morrison said, Clark's life is like real life with the volume cranked up and the knob pulled off. Superman is meant to be a fantastical allegory, but he can't be "fantastical" when he's completely, 100% "one of the guys" who just happens to fly to work instead of taking the subway.

    It's strange too, that this gets aimed at Clark so much when there's so many popular characters who are just as otherworldly and/or unrelatable in their own ways. Batman, despite technically being human (yeah, no) isn't relatable. Black Panther too. And on and on. Sometimes I think the idea of Superman, of someone so much better than us, makes people afraid or angry. If Superman can be a better person, then what excuse do we have?
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  4. #4
    Ultimate Member Sacred Knight's Avatar
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    Yeah, making Clark/Superman an everyman is to me a pretty striking example of not getting the character and always will be. I've probably said this a hundred times and I'm sorry for being a broken record, but the relatability when it comes to Superman and Clark Kent is in the exaggerations of his superhuman, superhero, secretive life. How they become analogues for our own feelings.
    Last edited by Sacred Knight; 01-14-2020 at 01:05 PM.
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    Astonishing Member stargazer01's Avatar
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    Superman is larger than life. A god amongs men, but he doesn't see himself like that because he has lived among us his whole life. However, he is not like us no matter how he tries, he is much bigger and epic. His physical abilities are far beyond of mortal men, that changes his perspective about being human. He sees and experiences things in a whole new level. We are lucky he was raised well with good morals by loving adopted parents.

  6. #6
    Savior of the Universe Flash Gordon's Avatar
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    Superman should never be an everyman character. That's a big ole sign of not understanding him.

  7. #7
    Father Son Kamehameha < Kuwagaton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by manwhohaseverything View Post
    After crisis and into the modern age, superman writers had a tendency of making superman into the everyman in the name of "humanising" him. By everyman, i mean by superhero standards. An everyman in superhero would just be a normal guy with powers with all quirks, needs and tribulations of an average man.while,that can be done with superman and has been Interestingly(for me) with superman for all seasons, american alien.. Etc. It isn't a necessity for me.
    Well we have to look at "everyman." That term as I've seen mentioned about Superman is a catch-all, miscellaneous bin of a somewhat negative implication for attributes. The same person can describe two contradictory traits as being "everyman" because those things sort of just fit together as two traits that someone doesn't like. Clark Kent distinctly doesn't have the needs or tribulations common to a wide audience unless you're willing to extend metaphors further than you would for another character or status quo.

    As soon as stories had a regular nature and the character was popular enough with a young audience, like those before and after him he toned down. Within about 30 years he became sort of a regular guy stand-in for wacky stories, same as silver age Batman (reading a good bit of both it gets quite hard to tell them apart by something deeper than what's around them). It's sort of a POV shorthand, which I why I guess he went so long between origin revisits outside of brief, random flashbacks. Any one could just pick up his stories and not bother to wonder about his motivation for one thing: he's Superman and he saves the day. For another, he acts in a way that propels the story foremost. I like it because it's an interesting sort of... anti-archetype.

    Looking at Spider-Man in let's say... the first five years of Stan Lee and those stories well influenced by him, you have a melodramatic super-crime story built around melodramatic super-crimefighter Peter Parker. The plot revolves around things that happen to him because of the person he is, and the obstacles he faces are very much of the same variety he is. Ultimate didn't even beat around the bush, it had several villains came from the same literal mold because they basically were the same candy in a different flavor anyway. Wolverine is an abused mutant loner who likes to drink and essentially everything that comes his way is tied into that. Superman can easily go from a Brainiac/Darkseid combo story to Prankster, and did just that if you look at Superman issues 35 and 36 of volume 2. None of that stuff is a reach for his range in the same way that you would find Spidey or Wolverine stories that serve as exceptions to what I say. He's a catch-all in a way that I think only works against him if you have a taste for a certain kind of story and more like it.

    If we're talking post-crisis, I have to say that seems like a contradiction. Superman's status had him as a phenomenal student without the inherent benefit of intelligence as a power and all star athlete. An affluent big city bachelor (making $80k yearly as a single man in the 80s... to give an idea that same income 30 years later will still have you comfortable in the biggest cities) and top of his class hero (Legends describes him as the greatest force for good on Earth). If Peter Parker caught on because of the power of the audience's ability to relate, then those traits for Superman just can't make him an "everyman" and don't even try. Under Byrne, even Clark Kent once showed up to save MM, Aquaman, and Cap Marvel from a collective beatdown. He was still well rounded enough in personality that he could vary with the wide range of his stories, and also just as ever we could translate his episodes into things we understand. But he wasn't supposed to be like us but with powers, he was honestly just better than us but with powers (with hopes that if we like him enough we'll outdo ourselves, as it's pretty much always been).

    It is interesting to see superman with vigilante origin. Daily planet staff, lois reported the truth of the heroics and bad the superman does as unbiased journalists. While, the authorities see him as threat to law and order. It would have been a good conflict for superman and set up a conflict between staff and authorities. for me, you can't take away the super out superman. You will be left with nothing, not just a man. Those two are sides are intricately intertwined. He was born gifted.even if you take away the strength. There is intelligence and a whole lot more to content with. I guess, making the character just clark kent and putting less emphasis on the vigilante-superman or immigrant-kal el leaves him, as the everyman.
    The vigilante stuff was experimental, same as the comparatively serious Simpsons of the Ullman show, before they were a worldwide hit. Siegel himself wrote his violently careless traits and bad reputation out so early.


    2)kal el isn't the all encompassing identity. Clark is. So the alien and outsider perspective is less. The core of his immigrant aspect
    Not sure where Bendis is going really, but this new development with the UP I can say is miles ahead of old material with regards to his life as an alien. Granted writing these days is a lot different but his place in the universe is now deeper than just showing up to lift things overhead.

    3)he wasn't the path maker or an outsider. There were others with powers before him and friends with powers beside him(jsa before him. legion and later, justice league).
    I'm spoiled because I largely have interest in periods were the JSA were either completely irrelevant or on other Earth, but I have to say this new thing bugs me. Where he's like, "now I can be like the JSA, heh heh" as Superboy.

    4)Not the man of tomorrow who changes our outlook on things and works as an agent to bring us into the new tomorrow. Doesn't bring about any changes to status quo as a whole,anyways.
    This 5G thing will probably prove me wrong in every way but I think changing the status quo is doomed to failure in a shared universe. The idea seems to bewilder writers and readers automatically assume we're going back to the reset button anyway.

    5)His powerset is bland cause, there are others with same powerset and others who do specific things better and leave him in the dust.
    I think Superman has probably the quickest appeal to non fans. Imagine you're reading any other book exclusively and decide to try Superman. In one scene he zips away mid convo to catch a falling plane on the other side of the planet and gets back before the speaker is finished with their bit. That's not something you were seeing in your book so there's an immediate understanding of Superman as a hero.




    Finally, do you think my opinion that superman is becoming the everyman, itself?
    I think he's always floating towards or getting away from the term. Again, it's so broadly used. But if we really couldn't at all wrap our minds around what was happening in a story and translate it to what we know, or his feelings towards those things, it would get old and lose readers very quickly.
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  8. #8
    Fantastic Member qwertyuiop1998's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flash Gordon View Post
    Superman should never be an everyman character. That's a big ole sign of not understanding him.
    This
    Making him an everyone is a huge misunderstanding what Superman is.
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  9. #9
    Mighty Member Robanker's Avatar
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    Grant Morrison put it best in that he is us at our best and dialed to eleven. He walks the dog like you, but for him it's to Saturn and back. He has elements of the Everyman hero, I mean he was raised as one of us by two very down-to-earth people, but that's not where the sentence should ever stop it Superman. He's a lot more. He's essentially the best possible end result of what people can become while also remaining a character with some flaws to round him out.

    I wouldn't say Superman should be an Everyman, but I don't think going hard at Silver Age strange visitor is also the best approach. I like that Bendis is pushing the dual nature of the character as hard as he is.

    I'd argue having parents or not doesn't contribute to bring an everyman or not. Peter Parker is the poster boy for Everyman Superhero and not only are his parents dead, but his father figure as well. The Kents living or dying won't make Clark any more or less relatable on it's own.

    Kal being the dominant identity doesn't really do that either in my mind. Sure, it definitely makes him feel more alien because he outright doesn't feel or act as much like us, but this feels like overcorrecting the way they did in '86, just the opposite direction. Bendis, love or hate him, is bringing Clark's duality back a bit and that's definitely the right path for him. He's not Clark or Kal, he's both.

    I agree, he really should be more the Man of Tomorrow than Man of Steel. He needs to be willing to interfere more for some things he feels are wrong, not just protect but stay out of it otherwise.

    The powers thing is a wash. He's the OG. Everyone copied him. You can't blame the source for everything copying it. His powers have become the generic ones because he's literally the bar everyone is measured against. It's just up to writers to show him using them in fun ways and that's still being done 80 years later.

    I don't know how you expect him to be the Man of Tomorrow who shows us a better way while also being a vigilante that cops and government officials are against. Even Batman works with the cops and has their unofficial sanction. Furthermore, I'd argue anyone who inspires us to be better should not be perceived as dangerous, they need to be someone we trust. Again, I'll bring up Batman. The only people in Gotham who fear him are criminals. Good cops? They like him fine. I don't see being perceived as a positive influence who gains everyone's trust and respect precludes him from being the Man of Tomorrow. Morrison said it best when he said that Superman is essentially a creation born in our darkest hour to be the man who never lets us down. I don't think he needs to outright be considered a vigilante to do that, but I do wish he would be willing to go against authority more often if he feels it's corrupt.

    The secret ID going away does suck. Not going to argue that at all.

    Ultimately, I think he can remain plenty relatable without being an everyman. He's his own character, but a lot of his plights are ones anyone can identify with. Just on the grandest scale imaginable. I could be wrong there, but I've never had too much difficulty finding some common ground with most characters and may have a different opinion on what makes an everyman hero.
    Last edited by Robanker; 01-14-2020 at 02:19 PM.

  10. #10
    Father Son Kamehameha < Kuwagaton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robanker View Post
    Grant Morrison put it best in that he is us at our best and dialed to eleven. He walks the dog like you, but for him it's to Saturn and back. He has elements of the Everyman hero, I mean he was raised as one of us by two very down-to-earth people, but that's not where the sentence should ever stop it Superman. He's a lot more. He's essentially the best possible end result of what people can become while also remaining a character with some flaws to round him out.
    Yeah, it's my issue with the frequent idea of "getting" the character, because here is what Morrison has said in part:

    Morrison: Our goal was to put Superman and his familiar cast at the heart of science fiction fables that anyone, of any age, could read and understand, even though they'd all, hopefully, take different meanings from the stories. If you just lost your dad, maybe you'll read what Clark Kent says at his dad's funeral and feel some sense of human community. If you want to feel what it's like to be a teenager, look at Frank Quitely's incredible drawing of the young Superman on the moon, with his faithful little superdog, Krypto, beside him. Superman is us, in our dreams. He lives our lives but on an epic canvas. That's how we chose to approach him.

    Wired.com: The series seems to carry as much sadness as it does comedy and action.

    Morrison: I think the best Superman stories have an edge of sadness and loss. This is a man who has lost an entire planet, after all! But, like all our lives, a good Superman story also needs comedy and drama, fear and wonder. There's something particularly poignant about the fact that no matter how strong or fast or good-looking he is, Superman can still have his heart broken and his head twisted. He can still suffer guilt, loss, confusion and grief, which is where I find him instantly relatable.
    I think you really have to construct a consistent, specific idea on the definition of "everyman" getting away from that.
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  11. #11
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    If most people interpreted everyman the way Morrison does I'd have a great deal less problem with the term being applied to Superman but much like "normal" and "human" I think it's just shorthand for a means of making the character mundane so as it becomes more relateable to the reader.


    Generally I think when we say everyman character we're talking about characters like Frodo or Bilbo Baggins. Characters that relative to the rest of the universe live small, simple lives and who's immediate impact on the world around them doesn't extend much further than their local community. As characters Frodo and Bilbo are relatively irrelevant to the larger conflicts and politics of the world they inhabit.

    Compare that to Superman who earliest exploits have him shaking down Senators, stopping wars single handedly, etc.
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  12. #12
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kuwagaton View Post
    I think you really have to construct a consistent, specific idea on the definition of "everyman" getting away from that.
    Agreed. I think people have different ideas of what "Everyman" entails. To me, it means a person who is very much normal and mundane, and readers are supposed to see themselves reflected directly in the character; not allegory but (near) direct comparison. Peter Parker is as "regular guy" as it gets; he could be any of us, or live next door to us. His problems are, by and large, no different from our own, his flaws, by and large, the same as our's. I never really related to Parker since I wasn't a socially awkward nerd, but I did relate directly with Kyle Rayner.

    Someone else may define "Everyman" a bit differently, and that definition may encompass the Morrison ideal. But for me, if Superman is "us, in our dreams. He lives our lives but on an epic canvas." then that says he's supposed to be our idealized selves, mostly related to via allegory and not direct shared experience.

    I figure Superman should suffer emotional loss, confusion, doubt, joy, love, etc., just as we do. He emotes like us. But he shouldn't be seen worrying about something as basic as paying rent. Really, that's the crutch of the argument for me. Is a character the kind of person who will be seen dealing with the same problems as me, or will they deal with fantastical problems that elicit the same emotional response as my problems? The first is an Everyman, the latter is not.

    Superman, at his best, has a foot in both worlds (girl problems, the office bully, etc). He's not superMAN or SUPERman, but SUPERMAN. But the fact that he has that one foot in fantastical allegory means he's not an Everyman.
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  13. #13
    Astonishing Member manwhohaseverything's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kuwagaton View Post
    If we're talking post-crisis, I have to say that seems like a contradiction. Superman's status had him as a phenomenal student without the inherent benefit of intelligence as a power and all star athlete. An affluent big city bachelor (making $80k yearly as a single man in the 80s... to give an idea that same income 30 years later will still have you comfortable in the biggest cities) and top of his class hero (Legends describes him as the greatest force for good on Earth). If Peter Parker caught on because of the power of the audience's ability to relate, then those traits for Superman just can't make him an "everyman" and don't even try. Under Byrne, even Clark Kent once showed up to save MM, Aquaman, and Cap Marvel from a collective beatdown. He was still well rounded enough in personality that he could vary with the wide range of his stories, and also just as ever we could translate his episodes into things we understand. But he wasn't supposed to be like us but with powers, he was honestly just better than us but with powers (with hopes that if we like him enough we'll outdo ourselves, as it's pretty much always been).
    I am speaking about the character in general treatment and thought process , not just byrne. See the problem is, when it came to long term storytelling and status quo . Writers largely treated him as an everyman. Superman is treated as this average man with average life but with powers. They don't treat him like Morrison does. You know, "it's me but superme".Like a superman with superlife with superpowers. My critic, is of forner thought process .As i said, powers for superman shouldn't be something discardable. With spiderman there are thing that stop writers from putting emphasise on certain things. like for instance, intelligence and outlook. If writers decided to tone down parkers intelligence. Then there would be questions regarding his webshooters and other gadgets he built.for superman, the sign posts are hard in postcrisis interpretation . Intelligence is just one example and it being hard is the reason i don't put entirely the blame on writers. Red sun making him totally normal average man is another such symptom of this problem and thought process.

    As for jock interpretation of byrne,While it has some truth to it. Clark was comfortable in that. I mean, if clark is comfortable as a jock. Then where is the conflict or contradiction in that. So, that's the only problem i have with that specific interpretation. I would always want clark to be uncomfortable Because i want a story.yeah! I am selfish like that, so sorry clark.

    I don't see the vigilante as prototype. The writers of the character might have chosen to ignore it later on, unlike his counterparts in batman and spiderman. But, that is what he is. If he is not that, writer would find something else more dramatic. like say for instance, "the messiah" . "the messiah" interpretation became more frequent just as "the vigilante" waned. I don't see it as a coincidence. The first words of superman to lois is something i find intrinsic to the character. It's the fundamental philosophy of the character . "you need'nt be afraid of me. I won't harm you". That means there are things about clark that is dangerous for us to be afraid of instinctively. That's the vigilante in him. The character is trying to communicate otherwise with empathy, compassion and a deep hope for acceptance . I firmly believe, The vigilante aspects allows clark to be say and do things might offend people. Writers would see the need to conform to the need to "not offend" far less.

    Clark is dangerous. He should be treated as such. I find clark walking the tightrope between hope and fear far more interesting. And i would like to say that, clark can be viewed with neutrality.I don't think Clark's voice should be seen as the final voice. It is Just a voice. Give a great opposition in a respectable manner. I find Clark's conflict to be in the middle to be far more appealing. By middle i mean,between anarchy and flawed structures that became oppressive/tyrannical . Even if, he is an agent of anarchy as a vigilante. He should face anarchy(other vigilantes) and tyrany(authorities) Because of his morals.The same that makes him see the importance of structures and the need of it.
    Anyways, thanks for the reply.
    Edit-i just got to know that i used a line from crisis on infinite earths crossover before even watching it or hearing it being used. Wow! That's some wierd coincidence.
    Last edited by manwhohaseverything; 01-15-2020 at 12:05 AM.

  14. #14
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    I see Clark Kent as being an everyman in that Superman is posing as an everyday sort of guy. He's pretending to be the everyman archetype. This doesn't mean he has to have an actual everyman existence. But he puts on that guise to walk among the people and become invisible. It helps him stay grounded and understand the concerns and needs of everyday people. Clark Kent shouldn't be too interesting and he doesn't need a deep back story. He's the kind of guy you forget about as soon as he leaves the room. And that makes it easier for him to function as Superman.
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    Astonishing Member manwhohaseverything's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    I see Clark Kent as being an everyman in that Superman is posing as an everyday sort of guy. He's pretending to be the everyman archetype. This doesn't mean he has to have an actual everyman existence. But he puts on that guise to walk among the people and become invisible. It helps him stay grounded and understand the concerns and needs of everyday people. Clark Kent shouldn't be too interesting and he doesn't need a deep back story. He's the kind of guy you forget about as soon as he leaves the room. And that makes it easier for him to function as Superman.
    No, not a deep backstory. That has deepness from interpretation . a backstory that can be viewed differently by people. The bullet point origins were excellent for that very reason. the tearing of the shirt, its importance becomes less if the shirt becomes norm and people start viewing the inside as an afterthought.
    From the replies(thanks to everyone btw) above. The three part of the story
    The vigilante - superman
    The immigrant - kal
    The man- clark
    All need to be in balance. But, that is hard for writers. Imbalance is much easier. It might be why there are so many versions. Bullet point origin even increases the tendency of that. Its like a living breathing myth. As hindu it's especially intriguing for me.Many of the stories i grew up with is like that of superman . Sure, enough clark is what you might describe as the forgettable guy. But that is just clark. But, superman shouldn't be that. He is something that can cause fear and great hope. He is the guy draws your attention . The immigrants trials and tribulations should never be forgettable for the readers.
    Last edited by manwhohaseverything; 01-14-2020 at 10:27 PM.

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