Why Superman is the Best Superhero Ever Written

Superman is one of the more popular heroes from the DC universe of comics and one of the more well-known. The character has spawned hundreds of various types of media, including films and TV shows depicting both early and later life. His origins change constantly whenever the universe is rebooted, so I choose to believe the events of the popular TV show Smallville are the canonical origins of the character.

There are many reasons why I believe that Superman is the best superhero, at least of the DC universe. There are many people out there who will be foaming at the mouth as they read this because, duh, Batman. Let's get one thing straight here, guys. Batman is a hero – he is a rich vigilante with a number of people helping him bring about justice to the streets of Gotham. He is not a superhero, because he has no out-of-this-world powers to speak of.

For one, Superman has cool powers. One could argue that he has the best powers, the ones most apt for fighting crime and injustice. One could also argue, on the other hand, that Superman is bestowed with the same powers a child may claim when playing a game of superheroes with his friends. Invincibility? Super strength? Super speed? A recipe for infallibility it may be, but surely this combination is so utterly perfect that the character is unrelatable? Not so, I say.

The difference between Superman and most heroes, is his weakness – or weakness'. This Kryptonian saviour is susceptible to a something from his native planet called Kryptonite, a meteor rock that can have disastrous consequences to Superman's health. The most common form of Kryptonite is the green rocks – it is ever-present throughout Smallville and most of the whole Superman story. This green rock renders Superman completely weak and powerless, allowing him to be harmed and even killed, breaking right through his invincibility and leaving him open to a world of hurt, as seen in many adventures where Superman – and pre-superhero, teenage Clark Kent – has almost died.

There are also other colours of Kryptonite, each with their own terrifying circumstances. Blue Kryptonite (and also gold) has the power to strip Superman completely of his powers, leaving him as breakable and normal as any of the humans he attempts so often to save. Red Kryptonite removes his inhibitions, turning him into a rebellious, angry, impulse led meat-head capable of more crime than he is of good. Silver Kryptonite makes him paranoid to such an extreme that he is distrustful of everyone beyond the point of convincing otherwise. Black Kryptonite splits his personality, separating out the morality-guided, wholesome hero from the single-minded, wholly alien conqueror.

I like to argue that this weakness is actually what makes him relatable. All humans experience all of the types of Kyrptonite in emotional form at some point in their lives: blue/gold kryptonite is essentially anything that strips us of our power and humanity, such as authority figures or an atrocious tragedy or a personal violation; red kryptonite is alcohol or drugs, relieving us of our inhibitions and revealing the darker realms of our conscious; silver kryptonite is a manifesting anxiety that all people experience at all times about the past, other people, the future; black kryptonite is those moments in life where you argue with yourself over issues and nuances, weighing the good and the bad, and trying to decide who you really are; and green kryptonite is anything that makes us weak, from emotion to illness to allergy to love.

In addition to this, Superman is a moral standard all humans wish they could strive to. He fights for justice, for fairness, for innocence – he protects those who are good and destroys those who are not. But he is not perfect. Like all of us, Superman sees the grey areas and struggles with them. He has to decide how far is too far when dealing with villains, how far his authority really stretches and how much damage every decision he makes will deal. He has to measure every movement with care, as humans do, even if for different reasons. He has to deal with the consequences of his actions because he shoulders his responsibility and feels guilt just as we all do.

Furthermore, he is ruled by his emotions. Superman's guilt, at times, often overcomes him and causes him to be rash and his vision to be clouded, making him disappear at often crucial times and causing hurt to those he loves and who love him. His very presence on the planet causes death and destruction to his friends and family, for which he blames himself no end and tortures himself with constantly. He makes mistakes just as well all do.

Finally, the greatest move in his arsenal for being the best is his fear. He is totally scared of being found out as the alien he is – this secret is what makes him incredible. Everyone has secrets and his is the biggest of all; he has to hide who he is and all of the amazing things he does for fear of being ostracised by the world and the race he loves. He spends his life protecting a people who are so oblivious to him and receives no recognition for it, simply because he can't.

My argument revolves around the relatability of superheroes as contingent to their brilliance – this is because, to me, an infallible and practically perfect hero is no hero at all. It is not the ability to vanquish foes with nary a scratch that makes someone great; it is their ability to overcome their own failings that makes someone truly a hero. No human is perfect and neither is Superman. He knows he cannot do everything, he knows he cannot be right and good all of the time, but he still tries to save the world despite this. He has human problems and human shortcomings and he is ultimately relatable.

My final statement is this and only this: Superman is the best superhero because, despite being the most alien of all them, he is arguably the most human.

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