Does his popularity come mainly due to historical importance?

#1 Posted by Eternal19 (2076 posts) - - Show Bio

I've been hearing a lot lately that Superman is only popular because of his iconic significance from comic book fans, journalists, teachers, and even non-comic book fans. They say that if Superman came out during the 70's or 80's he wouldnt have even been able to hold a book.As a big Superman fan I was automatically against these claims and brushed them of using the typical comeback "you probably have never even read a superman comic". Until I thought about it for a little bit and this comment might be partially true. In a time where gritty Anti-heroes, flawed meta humans, and dark crusaders for Justice rule the comic book industry a Do-no-wrong morally upright hero like Superman really stands out. Do you guys agree with these statements?

#2 Posted by Z3RO180 (6461 posts) - - Show Bio

@Eternal19: No i compelety disagree cause if people are going by that logic the same could be said by captain marvel he is an iconic character and only comic book fans and cauel readers know about him and he came out in the 40s and he is still going strong.

#3 Edited by Icon (2056 posts) - - Show Bio

I got into Superman because I love the mythology and the characters, and I think that is true of any fan regardless of the era when they got into it. I don't think people like something because it's iconic, I think something becomes iconic because it means something to a lot of people.

The notion that he wouldn't have stood out as well if he came out in the 70's or 80's is one I have heard as well. I agree with you though. The fact is he was around during that time and still stood out in part because he wasn't part of the nitty-gritty trend of anti-heroes, characters who themselves wouldn't really exist as a counter point to Superman without Superman paving the way.

I think the real question is, who has stood the test of time and why? Superman has, some of those other characters haven't. I think that is in part because those characters represented something very simplistic, the impulse to kill for instance. Superman offers a more complex alternative. It frankly requires a lot more thought, effort, introspection, and discipline to hold ones self to a higher moral standard, which he does. If you're a kid and you think violence is cool and you don't care about the consequences then the nuance Superman represents won't be as appealing, but standing up for what you think is right never really goes out of style either.

#4 Posted by krspaceT (1473 posts) - - Show Bio

Paritaly yes, in the same reasons comics have a geek rep and Robin has a really poor rep as a competent threat. He's earned it, but its aided by his age.

#5 Edited by Kal'smahboi (3509 posts) - - Show Bio

It's a little true. The important thing to note is, however, that if not for Superman, there might not have been a 70s or 80s era of superheros for him to be created during. Every superhero is a variation on Superman, even those that are the opposite of him, because even they were created to break the mold that Superman made.
 
Superman was popular when he was created because he was novel and original, and he gave people hope in a terrifying world. Today, people today say that he's unimpressive because there are 74 years of FOLLOWERS to compare him to. Created today, he would seem as unoriginal as, say, The Sentry. But he wasn't. He was the first. And being carried by his history, he has been able to mold himself to continue to be a symbol of hope and inspiration to whatever generation is writing him.
 
And, as stated above by fellow fans, Superman has stood the test of time because there is something about HIM, not his placement in history, that makes him attractive and engaging to readers.
 
I think Grant Morrison said it very well:
 
"Superman's so positive. Superman is the idea that we created that is stronger than all others...he never gives in and you can't destroy him, and no matter how hard you try, he gets up again."

#6 Posted by Stormbox (2001 posts) - - Show Bio

Partially, yeah. But remember that during the decades there have been a lot of charecters who people thought were cooler than superman, and were are many of them now?

Remember these guys?
#7 Posted by Smart_Dork_Dude (2633 posts) - - Show Bio

@Kal'smahboi said:

It's a little true. The important thing to note is, however, that if not for Superman, there might not have been a 70s or 80s era of superheros for him to be created during. Every superhero is a variation on Superman, even those that are the opposite of him, because even they were created to break the mold that Superman made. Superman was popular when he was created because he was novel and original, and he gave people hope in a terrifying world. Today, people today say that he's unimpressive because there are 74 years of FOLLOWERS to compare him to. Created today, he would seem as unoriginal as, say, The Sentry. But he wasn't. He was the first. And being carried by his history, he has been able to mold himself to continue to be a symbol of hope and inspiration to whatever generation is writing him. And, as stated above by fellow fans, Superman has stood the test of time because there is something about HIM, not his placement in history, that makes him attractive and engaging to readers. I think Grant Morrison said it very well: "Superman's so positive. Superman is the idea that we created that is stronger than all others...he never gives in and you can't destroy him, and no matter how hard you try, he gets up again."

Couldn't have said it better myself!

Now to add a little something I've come to find interesting. When you look at characters like Mr. Majestic or Supreme, they're obviously based on Superman and are even acknowledged as being based on him. I have a friend that said Mr. Majestic is the modern Superman, the Superman that represents modern ideas of what a man with that kind of power would do. I partially agree on that last part, but the first I disagree with.

There is no MODERN Superman for me. Superman is as much an ideal as he is a character. He represents everything good about humanity even though he's not human himself. He's the kind of guy who would help everyone if he could. Superman is also a tragic character in many ways, being alone on Earth, knowing his entire species is all but extinct, having to deal with the fact that he CAN'T help everyone and sometimes people die even if he's around to help. These are powerful issues and ones that make Superman even more endearing to me.

Superman may be the first superhero, but he was also MY first superhero. Superman the Movie was the first movie I ever saw and it set the standard for how I judge superheroes. Sure I like some heroes that are about as far from Superman as you could get, but no matter how blurred the connection or distant it is, the fact remains that Superman really is the father of the modern superhero.

#8 Posted by Twentyfive (2845 posts) - - Show Bio

Yes.

Look at Batman, there were scores of characters like him in the 30's and 40's, but historically, he is the most important, and that is why he is popular as hell.

#9 Posted by Squalleon (4565 posts) - - Show Bio

@Eternal19: i was a superman fan, years before i learned he was the first superhero!! Personally superman appeals to me because of his personallity and myth that surrounds him.Everyone can relate to a part of him.

@Kal'smahboi said:

It's a little true. The important thing to note is, however, that if not for Superman, there might not have been a 70s or 80s era of superheros for him to be created during. Every superhero is a variation on Superman, even those that are the opposite of him, because even they were created to break the mold that Superman made. Superman was popular when he was created because he was novel and original, and he gave people hope in a terrifying world. Today, people today say that he's unimpressive because there are 74 years of FOLLOWERS to compare him to. Created today, he would seem as unoriginal as, say, The Sentry. But he wasn't. He was the first. And being carried by his history, he has been able to mold himself to continue to be a symbol of hope and inspiration to whatever generation is writing him. And, as stated above by fellow fans, Superman has stood the test of time because there is something about HIM, not his placement in history, that makes him attractive and engaging to readers. I think Grant Morrison said it very well: "Superman's so positive. Superman is the idea that we created that is stronger than all others...he never gives in and you can't destroy him, and no matter how hard you try, he gets up again."

This,i can't phrase it better,Bravo!

#10 Posted by Press Oblivion (1643 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm a huge Superman fan! Always loved him!

I think that there is some validity to all of the arguments for and against him.

I feel that he's a character that people find hard to relate to because the virtuous nature that his character is founded on in philosophy and practice. This is something that is missing from his critics, people who are more "Eye for an Eye" than "Do unto Others as You Would Have Done unto You". Lacking that moral understanding creates a divide among people about his relevance in the comic industry. His bright primary colors may seem archaic in an era where dark ans gritty is that salable theme.

I feel that the industry needs characters like him to provide contrast or balance.

#11 Posted by Lvenger (19350 posts) - - Show Bio

No way and this is coming from a history student. Sure his age and being the first superhero contributed to it but the fact is Superman's character has survived for nearly 75 years. He's kept his own series, spawned movies and countless other media offshoots. I love the character because of who he is, not how old he is. His sense of morality, his willingness to fight for what's right and the fact he only uses his powers selflessly to help others have made him my all time favourite fictional character.

@Kal'smahboi said:

It's a little true. The important thing to note is, however, that if not for Superman, there might not have been a 70s or 80s era of superheros for him to be created during. Every superhero is a variation on Superman, even those that are the opposite of him, because even they were created to break the mold that Superman made. Superman was popular when he was created because he was novel and original, and he gave people hope in a terrifying world. Today, people today say that he's unimpressive because there are 74 years of FOLLOWERS to compare him to. Created today, he would seem as unoriginal as, say, The Sentry. But he wasn't. He was the first. And being carried by his history, he has been able to mold himself to continue to be a symbol of hope and inspiration to whatever generation is writing him. And, as stated above by fellow fans, Superman has stood the test of time because there is something about HIM, not his placement in history, that makes him attractive and engaging to readers. I think Grant Morrison said it very well: "Superman's so positive. Superman is the idea that we created that is stronger than all others...he never gives in and you can't destroy him, and no matter how hard you try, he gets up again."

Also this is an excellent post in response to this thread. Bravo!

#12 Posted by ssejllenrad (12847 posts) - - Show Bio

We all know he's popular cause he's handsome. Nyahahaha!

#13 Edited by colonyofcells (2038 posts) - - Show Bio

There are many characters earlier than Superman who are no longer that popular these days such as Popeye, Felix the Cat, Phantom, Dr Occult, Slam Bradley. Superman is popular probably bec. many people still fantasize about having lots of powers or absolute power like god particularly in times of poverty or in times of corporate oppression.

#14 Posted by MrDirector786 (43527 posts) - - Show Bio

@Icon said:

I got into Superman because I love the mythology and the characters, and I think that is true of any fan regardless of the era when they got into it. I don't think people like something because it's iconic, I think something becomes iconic because it means something to a lot of people.

The notion that he wouldn't have stood out as well if he came out in the 70's or 80's is one I have heard as well. I agree with you though. The fact is he was around during that time and still stood out in part because he wasn't part of the nitty-gritty trend of anti-heroes, characters who themselves wouldn't really exist as a counter point to Superman without Superman paving the way.

I think the real question is, who has stood the test of time and why? Superman has, some of those other characters haven't. I think that is in part because those characters represented something very simplistic, the impulse to kill for instance. Superman offers a more complex alternative. It frankly requires a lot more thought, effort, introspection, and discipline to hold ones self to a higher moral standard, which he does. If you're a kid and you think violence is cool and you don't care about the consequences then the nuance Superman represents won't be as appealing, but standing up for what you think is right never really goes out of style either.

I agree with this

Online
#15 Posted by Press Oblivion (1643 posts) - - Show Bio

Does his popularity come mainly due to historical importance?

I think that it does to a certain degree.

Anyone born from the 1940's on (in America) might have some kind of relationship with Superman, just as you would with Mickey Mouse or Uncle Sam patriotism. I didn't start collecting comics until I was into my teens but I knew Superman from film, old television re-runs, Superfriends and the Superfriends action figures. Without those market venues would any of us really know who the character is? After all of that Superman stands for something and its ingrained into our pop culture upbringing, which I'm glad for. Other characters and companies owe a great deal to Superman, especially Batman.

Captain Marvel outsold Superman in droves during the 40's and he did a lot of the same things that Superman did but look at the character now. Captain Marvel was so obscure that people called him Shazam for years, so long in fact that DC decided to change his name officially to Shazam in the New 52 initiative. There are a lot of reasons why Captain Marvel's face as it did but I think that some part of it was that he didn't have the historical importance of Superman.

That rich history that's been built around Superman continues to feed new generations of Superman fans but a majority of that exposure is not through comics. It is my feeling that Superman and Wonder Woman are characters that are still published today out of obligation to their rich history. Before the New 52 comic sales for these 2 characters were mediocre and the point of the relaunch was to make them more appealing to more people so they could justify keeping these characters in print.

Which of you found Superman in comics before you ever heard of him elsewhere?

@Kal'smahboi said:

It's a little true. The important thing to note is, however, that if not for Superman, there might not have been a 70s or 80s era of superheros for him to be created during. Every superhero is a variation on Superman, even those that are the opposite of him, because even they were created to break the mold that Superman made. Superman was popular when he was created because he was novel and original, and he gave people hope in a terrifying world. Today, people today say that he's unimpressive because there are 74 years of FOLLOWERS to compare him to. Created today, he would seem as unoriginal as, say, The Sentry. But he wasn't. He was the first. And being carried by his history, he has been able to mold himself to continue to be a symbol of hope and inspiration to whatever generation is writing him. And, as stated above by fellow fans, Superman has stood the test of time because there is something about HIM, not his placement in history, that makes him attractive and engaging to readers. I think Grant Morrison said it very well: "Superman's so positive. Superman is the idea that we created that is stronger than all others...he never gives in and you can't destroy him, and no matter how hard you try, he gets up again."

quoted for truth

#16 Posted by jobbernos (1420 posts) - - Show Bio

hes popular cause hes a idol a role model kids wanted to be like superman they looked up to him and the adults loved superman cause of what his stood for and his morality.

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