Rant of Steel

Photo by Linda Eller-Shein on Pexels.com

As published in The Things We Orbit

“Look! Up in the sky!”

“It’s a bird!”

“It’s a plane!”

“It’s Superman!!!”

Oh, please.  Shut up already.  The mere mention of Superman triggers my gag reflex more than shoving a tree trunk down my throat.  I once strained a muscle from all the eye-rolling.  Superman has to be the lamest, most lazily conceived superhero of all time.  He is super.  Super awful.

It’s not that I don’t like superheroes.  I grew up binging on comics that depicted the heroic exploits of all kinds of colorful characters.  I couldn’t get enough of the stuff.  And I might not wear the licensed pajamas with removable cape anymore, but I still love superheroes.  Superman just never appealed to me.  How could he?  What was his superpower? Oh, that’s right – all of them.  He could do anything.  It was hate at first sight…

“Faster than a speeding bullet!

“More powerful than a locomotive!”

“Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!”

Ugh, how can anyone relate to that?  Superman is near-infallible.  He’s too perfect.  By comparison, let’s look at some other heroes, like Spider-man.  He’s a nerdy kid from Queens who is bullied at school.  He gets his freakish powers from an accident, and then quickly learns that with great power comes great responsibility.  He’s got problems.  Big ones.  I know how he feels.

The Hulk is endowed with super-strength, but it comes at a terrible price.  He’s a modern day Jekyll and Hyde with serious anger management issues and a laundry list of mental demons that could bankroll a therapist for life.  Has someone been reading my diary?

Now, Superman.  A muscle-bound hunk who is omnipotent.  The end.  He has no flaws.  His only weakness?  Kryptonite.  A substance so rare that it originates from another planet.  On top of that, the planet no longer exists!  And his other main weakness is a red sun.  Last time I checked, our sun was yellow.  And what do both of these things do to our super friend?  They sap him of his amazing powers.  They make him excruciatingly normal, like the rest of us.  How horrible that must feel.  How will he ever survive?  It’s true that a large amount of kryptonite could technically kill him, but I don’t think he needs to spend too much time stressing over that.  Superman doesn’t have to worry about silly things like getting stuck in traffic, or hemorrhoids.  He’s above that.  He’s basically bulletproof.  Not just to actual bullets, but to most of the things we struggle with throughout our lives, every day, with diminishing returns until we die broken, sad, and lonely.  Thanks for reminding us of how inadequate we are!

And what would you call such a tone-def superhero?  Of course, it had to be “Superman.”  There’s no more cocksure hero name than that, other than maybe “Mr. Fantastic.”  But even worse, it’s painfully unoriginal.  Is that really the best they could come up with?  Why didn’t they just call him “God.”  It’s both inherently corny and hopelessly conceited. 

Speaking of corny, his costume is the most garish blend of bright red and blue imaginable.  It’s like a CNN electoral map come to life, with tackiness projected as the winner in a landslide victory.  He’s the love child of the Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots with a pretentious cape, which serves no purpose other than to make him look dramatic, like a supermodel using a fan for that come-hither, windswept effect.  How vain…

Superman’s overall fashion sense is so warped that he wears bright red underwear over his blue tights.  A questionable choice, both aesthetically and hygienically.  And for his top-secret identity, he matches plain clothes with a pair of black-framed glasses that have clear, placebo lenses.  Not even a pair of cheap, aviator sunglasses from the truck stop.  Are we sure that the big golden S on his chest doesn’t really stand for “Stoopid?”

But really, who needs brains when you’ve got everything else?  Nothing projects this more than Superman’s arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor.  He has superior intellect, but, in an emasculating turn, is always depicted as bald or balding.  For all his genius, he is hopelessly defeated by male pattern baldness.  What hope does he have against young, strapping Superman?  In the end, he will always be weaker.  A loser by comparison, just like the rest of us.

“Faster than a streak of lightning!”

“More powerful than the pounding surf!”

“Mightier than a roaring hurricane!”

It never ends with this guy, does it?  Superman.  Easily the world’s worst superhero.  As  much as I’d like to prescribe him a kryptonite suppository, we’re stuck with him as a super resilient cockroach of pop culture.  He’s impervious to good taste.  I guess you could add that to his endless list of superpowers.  Like he needs another one…