Originally Posted by Slugster
No Im not joking ... I meant what I said. The morals and values of the average person back then where great compaired to average people of today.
Yes it was the great depression but Superman was what they needed then just like now. that is my point.
Today almost everyone is disrespectful esp young people morals and values are horrible. people back then at least cared about each other. and feared God.
The morals of the average person haven't changed drastically in America since the 30s, with the exception of less racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia. Which is a good thing.
You say people today, especially young people, are disrespectful, but on any given day I see people going about their business, saying their pleases and thankyous, and trying to not encroach on the boundaries of others. For the average person, I think they're biggest crime is being too insular and emotionally distant towards others out of fear of encroaching on boundaries, stemming either from their morals or their desire not to look foolish. Obviously, there are people who overstep coundaries and treat people poorly, but from what I see they're hardly in the majority. The vast majority of people are simply cold and self involved, their sins are of ommision and inaction, not of anything they do.
And these days, respect for a woman's sexual boundaries is more common and accepted. Respect for the rights and oppinions of other races and nationalities is more common and expected. Respect for new and different ideas about how the world works and how it should be done is more common and expected. It's far from 100%. There are still rapists and racists and close minded, condascending people, but it's not as
common and certainly not as celibrated as it was in the 1930s. I think, ethically, the western world is in a better place than it was 80 years ago.
Now. Back to Superman:
I think the interesting thing with Superman is that the changes in how he's been portrayed over the years does bear a striking resemblance to straight up character development, barring the fact that the current canon doesn't reflect this.
In 1938, when he started out, he was hotheaded, blunt, and went straight to the heart of the matter when dealing with problems. Like Kuro pointed out, he did things like strongarming people into straightening their lives out, destroying factories and buildings to stop some form of corruption or force some kind of social change. And while his advocacy for the rights of the downtrodden was admirable, and something that is often lacking in the more bland depictions of the character, his entire approach was incredibly immature and naive. You cannot solve the world's problems solely with brute force and stern words. The world is far too complex for that. The failure or organizations like the IRA or Al-Quaeda to achieve their goals.
And so, as the 40s go on he mellows out. He becomes more of someone willing to work with
the establishment while still holding to his morals and beliefs. If he disagrees with the powers that be, he'll work against them if he has to, but subtley, intelligently, as to not make the situation worse or burn bridges. At the same time, he makes a bgreater attempt to be a role model to others, to inspire people and gain the public favor.
That of course leads into the heart of the silver age, which couldn't be considered character development unless you want to argue that Superman got really into psychadelics in the 60s, which might be ab argument worth making.
And then we get the 70s. During a good chunk of the 60s social issues tended to take a back seat in favor or incredibly stupid and uneccessarily weird sci-fi stories, and so when we get the Superman of the 70s and early 80s, we see something interesting. Having by now become DC's flafship hero, and the symbol of heroism in the DCU, he has become a symbol of the establishment and the status quo. I really don't think you can argue that this is something that came about after the Crisis, it certainly existed befoe that (although it probably was handled more slopily post-crisis), but he still had his ideals. He was much more a part of the system, but he was still an idealist within it, and he still worked to make a better world beyond just punching bad guys.
Then the Crisis happened, and everything was rebooted and streamlined. The Superman we got, initially, was a distillation of the popular image of Superman. Of the symbol of Heroism. The pure champion of the status quo. What we got was a man who wasn't who he was when he started out. Someone who, in his attempts to please people and be a role model and act with subtlety and grace, has lost his fire and has stopped fighting like he used to. And since then, we've been seeing his mid life crisis. We've been seeing him struggle with his status and his responsibilities as a symbol and his desire to do more and be more pro-active. I don't think post-crisis Superman is inherently bad, but it's very bi-polar, as there are a lot of writers who aren't that familiar with the character beyond his status as a brand name who are thrown in with the writers who get him better.
And over all, I think that's interesting. And I think that should definitely color his characterization. I think, ultimately, the ideal Superman is someone who has 1938's fire but has the grace and subtelty and understanding of responsibility that the more "status quo" Superman has, but I don't think he should start out that way. The Hero's Journey would be very dull if he's the perfect hero at the start.