If you saw the video or an article about it, you knew as a Superman fan I had to discuss this latest bombshell.
Said bombshell comes from an interview Grant Morrison did with YouTube poster Daniel Fee33. The website Bounding Into Comics posted the interview, focusing on one particular question involving why Grant Morrison agreed to return to the Man Of Steel in Superman And The Authority and the answer was to fight DiDio’s Darker DC. Not that DiDio-less DC is doing anything to change course. If anything they seem to just be doing a modern version of Future State, which means sticking to the 5G concept of replacing classic heroes with newer, younger, and more politically charged namesakes. Bendis already ruined Jon Kent and I still think it’s all part of a plot to replace Kal-El but hold on to the name because while Batman has overtaken him Superman still has a very strong fan base…and it’s because of the name, right?
So what did Morrison prevent DiDio from doing to Clark this time? Apparently he wanted to turn him into a “right-wing authoritarian”. Superman follows no political stripe. He’s not liberal, he’s not conservative or libertarian, and he’s definitely not in the extremes of either group. Superman saves lives and tries to make the world a better place, even saving his enemies when he has to. That’s what heroes do, that’s what Superman does. This was just DiDio using the 5G project to recreated the DC universe in his image, and WarnerMedia doesn’t really seem to be stopping that from happening just because DiDio’s gone. However, let’s not act like this is anything new. DiDio’s political fanatic type is just the latest in DC’s attempts to get rid of the character that allowed National Comics to be as successful as they are now as DC Entertainment.
First off, DC trying to kill off the Clark Kent identity at least since the New 52 shows how little they understand him. “Clark” is Superman’s continued tie to his humanity. Superheroes take on secret identities for various reasons both in-universe and a storytelling tool. One of them is to be one of those people he or she usually saves. In Clark’s case he is around other people who don’t worship him like some kind of Supergod, because he isn’t. Superman has certain abilities thanks to his alien heritage being on a planet with a different colored sun, one more prominent for sun colors in the universe, and in some versions a lighter gravity. (The gravity thing was even what explained Superman’s powers before flight and eye beams became part of his power set.) For those who claim Superman couldn’t possibly relate to the average person, Clark is proof that he actually does, and needs that identity to do so. Having people not know he’s Superman allows him to just be a person, to see the world through the eyes of a normal person. As much as I disagree with the Jesus analogs even my fellow defenders put on him there is one point that can be made. Jesus became one of us to better connect with us, and would keep his identity as the Son of God a secret until he was taken at Passover and directly asked, even rebuking Legion, a group of demons all possessing one man, against revealing who he was so he could prove that God’s love and power was not reserved for his Son but for all his creation.
The idea that Superman isn’t “realistic”, and more and more I’m starting to hate this term being applied to fiction due to how poorly applied it is (someone tell Zack Snyder that fiction IS a “@$%$ing dream world”!) because nobody would use that power to help others shows how little Superman is understood. Superman doesn’t need to become the aspirational hero. In a good Superman origin story he was raised by his Earth parents to respect life and protect others, to be a good person and to use his growing powers to protect rather than conquer. He doesn’t need to kill to learn not to kill because he was raised to be a better person, to realize that power alone does not make right. He grew up on a farm, which the “might makes right” group would call a weak job because it doesn’t involve fighting or showing how strong you are. Superman has nothing to prove when it comes to his power. It’s how he uses his abilities that make him a superhero. Remember, supervillains have powers, too.
And yet the evil Supermen come out of the woodwork constantly. While I’m not a fan of this type of character personally, from a critic’s perspective this can be done right. In comparison with Superman it could make an interesting horror story ala Brightburn, a deconstruction of how power doesn’t make one a hero, to look at what makes Clark Kent the Superman he is versus what apparently normal people think Superman is. While I’m not always a fan of Morrison’s take on things for various reasons, one thing he had right is that Superman wouldn’t become an authoritarian, though I would add in that often this happens because Lois is killed. It happened in an alternate universe story on Superman: The Animated Series and there’s that whole Injustice universe based on the video game. I also don’t buy the Justice Lords in the DCAU but if I was to break down every evil Superman we’d be here all day.
Buying into the idea that Superman would totally kill you guys because he has all that power is to trash everything Superman is and what he stands for. However, that’s the problem. Be it the current sociopolitical climate or just people in general, the idea that someone wouldn’t try to force their influence on others, to push anything other than being a kind person, to save even his enemies because innocent life doesn’t end at “doesn’t agree with me on this issue or on the solution” and has even saved Lex Luthor, to believe that people can be good, can reform, or at the very least you shouldn’t drop to their level is in short supply. Look at social media. “Agree with me or die” is the norm, cancel culture ready to put people on the streets and kill their dreams for not following the correct or even any manifesto. The extremists will lie and hope even the people who aren’t extreme enough will at least believe them, silencing another voice that could push back against them. Superman doesn’t live for that…but what does Superman live for now?
They slowly stripped him of “truth, justice, and the American way” because today’s writers don’t really believe in either one, though they’ll say they are if it gets people to buy what they’re selling. Jon Kent, the new Superman (who also no longer has a secret identity) because he can be changed into whatever they want him to be, doesn’t follow this edict anymore either. He does use his inherited prestige to support particular causes because the writers now believe that protesting and controlling any conversation solely with what’s angering them this week is what a “real hero” does. So “real heroes” go to rallies, not stop bank robberies or criminal madmen out to conquer or destroy the world. They should worry more about illegal aliens than space aliens. It’s all about “The Cause” and not telling good stories or believing in something greater than themselves. Heroes no longer are something to aspire to be but must be altered to reflect us and our values and are thus untouchable. It’s like the reverse of the “beyond the notion of good versus evil” I mocked recently. The goal is that THEY will be seen as the heroes, and then they don’t understand why people who believe heroes should be heroic and rise above groupings to bring the world together, or at least that’s the heroes they want to see, reject their concept.
I’m still convinced DC is trying to get rid of the classic Superman because all these attempts to change him are backfiring but they still think the name alone is important. They’re also trying to stop dealing with the Siegel and Shuster estates over Clark and to a lesser extent Lois, but at least she can be altered to their way of thinking. Superman is compassionate, caring, ready to sacrifice himself if he has to but has the power that he doesn’t have to, and today’s writers can’t relate to the “boy scout” who doesn’t use his powers to do the most terrible things imaginable…which makes me wonder what THEY would do with that power. They can’t relate to Superman so of course they strip him of his humanity, keep trying to make him evil, and attempt to get rid of him in favor of a Superman they can mold into their image. They hate Superman but they can’t simply get rid of him and they’re not about to hand him over to someone who will do the character right because they don’t want the competition and the name and likeness still makes them money. So now it’s a slow burn to evilize Superman like they did with Maxwell Lord.
People say that eventually the iconic version of the character will always reassert themselves, but DC is so invested in stopping that the odds are against Superman this time. Superman is my favorite superhero not because of the powers he has. Nowadays it’s almost a standard power set. It’s who Superman is as a character that makes him special to me. The people currently in charge of his story reject everything Superman stands for. And that’s the scariest thing about this modern world to me.