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Old 11-28-2011, 01:23 PM   #29
Clark Kent > Superman
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: South West, UK
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Default Re: Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El Characterization - Part 1

Originally Posted by DrCosmic View Post
That's a fine belief, but you should probably also come to terms with the fact that the general public lacks imagination and empathy.

Some characters are easier to relate to than others. It simply requires more brainpower, if nothing else, to see oneself in, say, an average high schooler like Peter Parker than a cosmic entity like the Silver Surfer. To relate to the former, we need only to access our recent memory, and perhaps a basic understand of what a Spider is. To relate to the latter, we need to conceptualize things like 'The Power Cosmic' and 'Galactus' If the concept that you are requiring someone to imagine and empathize with is not one their interested in accepting, then you have a character who is 'unrelatable' to the masses.

Also, by saying all characters are equally relatable, you take a lot of credit from amazing creators who make automatons or inanimate objects empathetic and layered and emotionally resonant, and take away blame from bad writers who write non-sensical storylines and characters, by saying Wall-E and Woody are no more relatable than Larry Gigli or Jar Jar Binks.

To be back on topic. Superman requires the understanding and acceptance of a sizable concept: The Ultimate Superhero. He kinda does everything, powers wise, both physically, energy projection, certainly morally and even mentally in some incarnations. Some people don't want 'the ultimate superhero,' they want someone who sucks who has to earn their way to uberness, and so they reject superman, emotionaly, out of hand.

The key, of course, is to show how Superman is the ultimate hero, that he comes from humble origins and such, who just happens to be a superhero. But there's no doubt, illustrating all this sci-fi and space-travel and the new perspective that comes with seeing through walls and moving at the speed of sound constantly... there's no doubt making all that work is *harder* than showing a rich kid getting angry, then humbled, then slowly building his powerbase.

That doesn't mean it can't be done, and I would even argue the payoff is much bigger, but it is harder. The characters are not equally relatable, just because they are both relatable.
I'm not saying that you don't relate more to some characters than others. Obviously, I can relate in an obvious way to a character of my gender and age, in similar situations to my life.

I'm just saying that there is no such thing as an 'unrelatable' character.

Even those people in the audience who might find Superman LESS relatable than Spiderman, can relate to him on some level.

He's got desires, emotions, friends, family, a childhood, issues of being an orphan and an outsider.

And he's a hero, on the inside AND in his actions - which I think makes him relatable to everyone who has ever WANTED to be a better person.

James T Kirk isn't unrelatable because of the sci-fi elements of the Star Trek story. Just the same as Luke Skywalker isn't unrelatable because he can 'use the force' and fights with lightsabers.

Relatability is dependant on characterisation and an emotional connection with the audience. Not on how 'far out' the world of the character is.

Superman: "I can only tell you what I believe, Diana. humankind has to be allowed to climb to its own destiny. We can't carry them there."
Flash: "But that's what she's saying. What's the point? Why should they need us at all?"
Superman: "To catch them if they fall."
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