Originally Posted by Kurosawa
It's also proactive things that he would do-smashing up slums and forcing the Government to build better housing, destroying car plants that made unsafe vehicles, making a gun runner go and fight in the war that he was encouraging and profiteering from...not all legal, but all just, at least to him.
The problem with that is that it would completely consume the story. The second Superman starts destroying neighborhoods to force the government to build better ones, or destroying industrial facilities because they make unsafe vehicles, then the United States will declare all out war on this guy. It would just be the cops shooting at him when they see him. It would be full military mobilization every time he's spotted with intent to kill. It would be Lex Luthor becoming a trusted military advisor and supplying CIA assassins with Kryptonite bullets. And the public would be 100% behind this, because when a super powered being destroys a factory that produces a potentially dangerous product, the American people aren't going to see the thousands of lives that were potentially saved, they're going to see the hundreds of people who lost their jobs.
And there's nothing inherently
wrong with that, I think it would make for a very good story. But it would make a film potentially unwieldy, and it would certainly infuse the story with a lot of moral ambiguity. Which, again, I have no problem with, but Warner Bros. might.
Personally, I do like that approach, because I do like a Superman who's doing everything he can to help but might be overzealous about it, and I do like characters who make mistakes and are confronted with serious ethical dillemas and have the consequences of their actions come back to bite them. But I do think, reasonably, it's something that would be from his early years, from when being a super hero was pure trial and error for him, and he sometimes made mistakes or overstepped his boundaries. Because, ultimately, that strikes me as very reckless, and with the reaction it would garner from the government and the populous, as well as the fact that in the public eye it would prove Luthor right, it would end up causing more harm than good if he kept that up all the time. Not to say he should lose his social conscience, or that he should always tow the line and follow orders, but he should find a way to deal with complex social situations in the best, most nuanced way possible.
That's one reason, besides his own personal needs and desires, why his personal life and dayjob as a reporter is so necessary. A super powered alien who inflicts his will and his justice on the world is a tyrant. A jorunalist who uses his writing and his mind to expose evil acts and bring the people who commited those acts to justice is a hero. Not that the two should bleed into each other, because it's all his life, and he should certainly use his powers to dig up information for his stories, but that seems like a very good and practical way to address the characters' social concience.
Also, if we're thinking long term in terms of a franchise, I do think that his desire and, let's face it, practical need to gain the public support and trust leading him to cooporate with the authorities (good), and then in turn becoming more conformist and more willing to follow their orders and will (bad) would be a good thing story wise. It would be interesting for an older Superman to realize that, in his attempts to maintain peace and safety, he's become a tool of the establishment, and then having to find that fire from his youth again.