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Old 02-08-2017, 12:42 PM   #51
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Default Re: 'Superman is too overpowered'... is a MYTH

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But are we talking about the entire 80-year tenure of the character? If so, I think a good case could be made that Superman was indeed “overpowered” back in the Silver Age of comics. (And stuff like “turning back time” in STM was a remnant of this Silver Age sensibility.) Hence, the reason why - in more recent decades - Supes’ power level has been dialed back some.

Now, the OP specifically mentioned movies; and presumably this means the recent ones: SR, MOS, BvS. But amongst the various criticisms leveled at these films I don’t recall “overpowered” ever being a serious complaint. (“Too dark,” “too serious,” “too little action,” “too much action” were more typical concerns.) So in that sense, yes, the problem is a “myth” - because it’s a “straw man” argument.
Can't this answer be simply he's too overpowered for some people to find interesting but not too much for other people?
From the very little I know, I would assume any alien MAY have the ability to beat Superman and I read he's not invulnerable to magic.
I personally don't want to see a Superman that stops bank robbers. I mean, it wouldn't be terrible if he did but I'd almost use those for me moments of levity people are pining for.
He IS too powerful for ordinary criminals. But that's fine with me.

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Old 02-08-2017, 08:31 PM   #52
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Default Re: 'Superman is too overpowered'... is a MYTH

Superman's powers are never the issue. It sure is not relatability either as we can relate to him through Clark Kent, who is married, has a child to raise, and has job. The real problems are likability, inconsistency, and how the writers have written him over the years.

Even is Superman is too powerful and has super-speed, he can't be everywhere at once.

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Old 02-08-2017, 10:29 PM   #53
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Default Re: 'Superman is too overpowered'... is a MYTH

Any good story will present a challenge to the hero of the story, and the villain will test the hero where the hero is most weak. When you have a character like Superman, who has incredible power and ability, you have to get creative.

For instance, in Superman II, when Zod realized that Supes cared for the citizens of Metropolis, he used the threat of killing innocents to force Superman's hand. Supes' caring nature became a "weakness" Zod could exploit. Now, Supes could have kept fighting Zod in Metropolis to stop him, but that would mean death for innocent citizens. Instead, he took off to the Fortress and Zod followed.

That's the writer's challenge: take that "character" of Superman and make him face challenges that his abilities won't fix or cannot solve right away. Make him "think outside the box".

When Supes can just punch his way through his problems, this is the height of boredom. Darkseid is a great villain, not only because Darkseid is stronger, but because he often creates problems that Supes cannot simply fix by punching.

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Old 02-09-2017, 10:45 AM   #54
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Default Re: 'Superman is too overpowered'... is a MYTH

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Any good story will present a challenge to the hero of the story, and the villain will test the hero where the hero is most weak. When you have a character like Superman, who has incredible power and ability, you have to get creative.

For instance, in Superman II, when Zod realized that Supes cared for the citizens of Metropolis, he used the threat of killing innocents to force Superman's hand. Supes' caring nature became a "weakness" Zod could exploit. Now, Supes could have kept fighting Zod in Metropolis to stop him, but that would mean death for innocent citizens. Instead, he took off to the Fortress and Zod followed.

That's the writer's challenge: take that "character" of Superman and make him face challenges that his abilities won't fix or cannot solve right away. Make him "think outside the box".
What happened then?
Well, in Metropolis they say that Zod's small heart grew 3 sizes that day.
And then the true meaning of Superman came through.


You have to also make sure your villain is egotistical enough to stop to then villify/belittle/mock your hero and
not pursue his/her goals of global dominance just to take care of a petty squabble.

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Old 02-09-2017, 11:03 AM   #55
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Default Re: 'Superman is too overpowered'... is a MYTH

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You have to also make sure your villain is egotistical enough to stop to then villify/belittle/mock your hero and
not pursue his/her goals of global dominance just to take care of a petty squabble.
Doesn't that pretty much describe all movie villains? That seems to be a stock character in the James Bond movies.

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Old 02-09-2017, 11:13 AM   #56
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Default Re: 'Superman is too overpowered'... is a MYTH

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Doesn't that pretty much describe all movie villains? That seems to be a stock character in the James Bond movies.
Stamp's Zod is as stereotypical/incompetent as they come.
Modern filmmakers find ways to either avoid, parody, or put a clever enough spin to that.

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Old 02-09-2017, 12:00 PM   #57
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Default Re: 'Superman is too overpowered'... is a MYTH

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What happened then?
Well, in Metropolis they say that Zod's small heart grew 3 sizes that day.
And then the true meaning of Superman came through.


You have to also make sure your villain is egotistical enough to stop to then villify/belittle/mock your hero and
not pursue his/her goals of global dominance just to take care of a petty squabble.
Vengeance is often the catalyst for many great villains. (Captain Ahab comes to mind). More than world dominance, Zod wanted to subjugate the child of his jailer. Making Supes "kneel before Zod" was his driving force, his goal. Not necessarily logical perhaps, but certainly compelling and befitting of his character. Gotta create those characters with human qualities. Makes for good drama and good stories.

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Old 02-09-2017, 12:20 PM   #58
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Default Re: 'Superman is too overpowered'... is a MYTH

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Vengeance is often the catalyst for many great villains. (Captain Ahab comes to mind). More than world dominance, Zod wanted to subjugate the child of his jailer. Making Supes "kneel before Zod" was his driving force, his goal. Not necessarily logical perhaps, but certainly compelling and befitting of his character. Gotta create those characters with human qualities. Makes for good drama and good stories.
Vengeance is the catalyst of many villains.
Great villains behoove those that make it so.
Not necessarily compelling either if that one-note portrayal and pettiness isn't developed to be human enough.

We have now gone from Superman being overpowered to his villains not being that interesting either.

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Old 02-09-2017, 12:55 PM   #59
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Default Re: 'Superman is too overpowered'... is a MYTH

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Vengeance is the catalyst of many villains.
Great villains behoove those that make it so.
Not necessarily compelling either if that one-note portrayal and pettiness isn't developed to be human enough.

We have now gone from Superman being overpowered to his villains not being that interesting either.
Yeah I don't think the problem with Superman stories are his powers. You can create compelling stories with an overpowered hero by attacking the hero's weaknesses.

Zod in Superman II was a fine villain. A caricature as a character? Sure. But we knew what his motivation was and Stamp did a good job acting it out. My point with Zod was that you don't have to "de-power" the character of Superman, you just have to use other aspects of Supes in order to "hit him where it hurts". Zod tried and failed to beat Superman in a fist fight, so, he just used his love of the people of Metropolis against him. That's one example of how you create a compelling challenge for an overpowered hero.

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Old 02-09-2017, 01:09 PM   #60
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Default Re: 'Superman is too overpowered'... is a MYTH

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My point with Zod was that you don't have to "de-power" the character of Superman, you just have to use other aspects of Supes in order to "hit him where it hurts". Zod tried and failed to beat Superman in a fist fight, so, he just used his love of the people of Metropolis against him. That's one example of how you create a compelling challenge for an overpowered hero.
Yet where it hurts is existential or deconstructing how he's too idealistic.
For this basic attribute of any superhero to be compelling, the verdict falls on the execution.

I'm all eyes if Superman has more relatable and distinguishable (distinct to this character) weaknesses.

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Old 02-09-2017, 01:34 PM   #61
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Default Re: 'Superman is too overpowered'... is a MYTH

Zod in S11 was a good villain... When I was a teenager.

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Old 02-20-2017, 11:52 AM   #62
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Default Re: 'Superman is too overpowered'... is a MYTH

I think it is weird that in a lot of media (I'm mostly thinking of S:TAS) and maybe comics Superman seems to rarely use his heat vision (though I guess that could be the most overly dangerous) or ice breath or super speed, mostly just flight and punch, to give him a lot of amazing powers and not use them can feel disappointing.

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Old 02-20-2017, 01:13 PM   #63
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He used his heat vision plenty in STAS

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Old 02-20-2017, 03:34 PM   #64
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Default Re: 'Superman is too overpowered'... is a MYTH

Super speed has the issue that, if you think about it at *all*, it breaks the plot in various ways. Generally its better to leave super speed to the guys who can't also benchpress skyscrapers.

Cold breath, its more that its a really silver age silly power, that doesn't even make comic book sense.

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Old 02-20-2017, 05:50 PM   #65
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Default Re: 'Superman is too overpowered'... is a MYTH

Superman's power levels are only an issue to writers who can't write the character properly. Morrison wrote an uber powerful superman in All star, an underpowered superman in his Action comics run and all in between (his JLA run of old). Heck he even wrote the electric/energy superman and made him work.
Mark Millar wrote an all powerful version in Red son and he also wrote the STAS superman who most consider underpowered and did a bang of a job on both.

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Old 02-21-2017, 03:01 AM   #66
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Unhappy Re: 'Superman is too overpowered'... is a MYTH

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Superman's power levels are only an issue to writers who can't write the character properly. Morrison wrote an uber powerful superman in All star, an underpowered superman in his Action comics run and all in between (his JLA run of old). Heck he even wrote the electric/energy superman and made him work.
Mark Millar wrote an all powerful version in Red son and he also wrote the STAS superman who most consider underpowered and did a bang of a job on both.
Agreed - Morrison's All Star Superman is arguably the best Superman story ever written, he manages to capture Superman both at his most godlike and his most human.

Superman is a character who has nearly unlimited story potential, whether he's protecting the Earth from aliens or saving some kid from domestic violence, there's just so much to work with.

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Old 02-21-2017, 01:45 PM   #67
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Superman's powers are never the issue. It sure is not relatability either as we can relate to him through Clark Kent, who is married, has a child to raise, and has job. The real problems are likability, inconsistency, and how the writers have written him over the years.

Even is Superman is too powerful and has super-speed, he can't be everywhere at once.
Relatability isn't about whether someone has a job and such. The question is: does this person suck the way I do? And the answer is that Superman does not, and so you have to develop a flaw that isn't really a flaw into something the audience can connect with the same way they connect with flaws.

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Any good story will present a challenge to the hero of the story, and the villain will test the hero where the hero is most weak. When you have a character like Superman, who has incredible power and ability, you have to get creative.

For instance, in Superman II, when Zod realized that Supes cared for the citizens of Metropolis, he used the threat of killing innocents to force Superman's hand. Supes' caring nature became a "weakness" Zod could exploit. Now, Supes could have kept fighting Zod in Metropolis to stop him, but that would mean death for innocent citizens. Instead, he took off to the Fortress and Zod followed.

That's the writer's challenge: take that "character" of Superman and make him face challenges that his abilities won't fix or cannot solve right away. Make him "think outside the box".

When Supes can just punch his way through his problems, this is the height of boredom. Darkseid is a great villain, not only because Darkseid is stronger, but because he often creates problems that Supes cannot simply fix by punching.
Exactly. And the 'do as I say or I'll kill innocents' is just one challenge that cannot support a series of stories.

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Superman's power levels are only an issue to writers who can't write the character properly. Morrison wrote an uber powerful superman in All star, an underpowered superman in his Action comics run and all in between (his JLA run of old). Heck he even wrote the electric/energy superman and made him work.
Mark Millar wrote an all powerful version in Red son and he also wrote the STAS superman who most consider underpowered and did a bang of a job on both.
Red Son and Electric Superman was not the character "properly" and Morrison is almost literally the best. Yes, the very best of the best writers can handle Superman at his high power levels. But even then, they have to kill him off to do so.

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Old 02-21-2017, 04:06 PM   #68
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Red Son and Electric Superman was not the character "properly" and Morrison is almost literally the best. Yes, the very best of the best writers can handle Superman at his high power levels. But even then, they have to kill him off to do so.
Electric superman was in continuity so it was the character in the 'proper' timeline and while Red son wasn't the proper superman, superman adventures was and it didn't hinder Millar's ability to write the character.
You don't need to be the best writer to handle the character, Greg pak is an excellent writer but not amongst the most celebrated and many would argue that his superman was the best out of the N52 era.
Alan Moore, Scott Snyder, Mark Waid, Jeph Loeb and Joe Kelley all wrote superman at very high power levels and didn't need to resort to killing the character to tell their stories.

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Old 02-21-2017, 04:19 PM   #69
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^Exactly. I mean, Superman Prime One Million is probably the most OP in all comics.

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Old 02-21-2017, 04:54 PM   #70
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Default Re: 'Superman is too overpowered'... is a MYTH

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Super speed has the issue that, if you think about it at *all*, it breaks the plot in various ways. Generally its better to leave super speed to the guys who can't also benchpress skyscrapers.

Cold breath, its more that its a really silver age silly power, that doesn't even make comic book sense.
Supergirl uses cold breath pretty effectively on the TV show. When you need to put out a fire, turn an enemy into a block of ice, create a shield of ice, or break an object by making it super brittle, it's a great power to have.

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Old 02-21-2017, 05:37 PM   #71
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Electric superman was in continuity so it was the character in the 'proper' timeline and while Red son wasn't the proper superman, superman adventures was and it didn't hinder Millar's ability to write the character.
You don't need to be the best writer to handle the character, Greg pak is an excellent writer but not amongst the most celebrated and many would argue that his superman was the best out of the N52 era.
Alan Moore, Scott Snyder, Mark Waid, Jeph Loeb and Joe Kelley all wrote superman at very high power levels and didn't need to resort to killing the character to tell their stories.
So, what makes Superman more difficult to write for is the combination of his immense power and immense morality. This is the classic/iconic/traditional "proper" Superman. There are versions of Superman in continuity that do not present these problems, such as Clark Kent aged 16, Superman Blue, Superman One Million, and so on. Those aren't the characters that people have trouble writing unique and interesting stories for or feel are overpowered or boring.

Going through your list, it's really interesting to see how these expert writers have handled this challenge:
Alan Moore didn't literally kill him, but he definitely told an ending story, like All-Star, and used a truly omnipotent being as the foe.
Mark Waid wrote an origin story, as Clark is developing into the iconic Superman.
Jeph Loeb decided that "I didn't feel comfortable being inside the head of an icon." and so told the story of Superman from the perspective of others, essentially making Superman the setting. This is the path I tend to favor, and seems the most sustainable.
Greg Pak, while not quite being the Who's Who of comicdom definitely made a character who was ousted in favor of the return of a more "proper" Superman. He chose to make him interesting by changing his morality, as well as giving him a power that forfeits his powers, not unlike Superman Blue.

Of the guys you listed, I think Joe Kelley is the only one who wrote a proper Superman and who isn't on the "Who's Who" of Comic writers. Incidentally, he also didn't choose to write an origin or endpoint story. He chose to handle the character by changing the setting, which, honestly is kind of brilliant. First Metropolis changed with the Y2K virus, which allows them to re-do the kind of introduction to Metropolis story types, then a new kind of Kryptonite - a virus! allowing you to do a fresh Kryptonite story, then a truly omnipotent antagonist in Emperor Joker, then President Lex changes the setting fundamentally again, then they Return to Krypton, changing the setting again, then Our Worlds at War as a big crossover even before dipping back into boring Superman stories that re-emphasize why people feel this way about the character. They tried to do a journey into the body thing, but that's not Superman, it doesn't fly, so to speak. And even this whole experiment goes to show that there are only a handful of Superman stories, and because of the nature of Superman, only a handful of ways to tell them. Case in point, you can give Batman any number of viruses and he still be Batman. Even Batman with a cold adds an interesting wrinkle to the story that's very different than if you gave him, I dunno, HIV. Superman? You really can only give him a Kryptonite virus, regardless of the symptoms, the scale of his abilities make grounding his problems simply more challenging and less sustainable.

Now, STAS and associated comics does bring up an interesting wrinkle to my theory. I'll consider that at length.

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Old 02-21-2017, 07:10 PM   #72
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It's telling that only in the best Superman stories is he not boring. Expert craftsmanship is needed to make this character interesting, and that expert craftsmanship does not exist in the minds of a casual observer. Which means the premise of the character sounds boring, and the most common implementations of the character are boring. This is not true for every character, and while there are stories of relatively weak people beating up Superman, those moments can never feel earned, and thus are uninteresting. Those moments where Superman experiences the pitfalls of rank and file superheroes can never make it into the greatest Superman stories, because the idea of Superman, of someone who is immensely powerful, more powerful than any man made object, is already in the mind of the reader. So Volcana, for instance, will never seem like a credible threat for Superman, but every other superhero has an interesting threatening fire character.

The missteps of the DCEU and other 'dark' incarnations are a natural result of someone who is not an expert craftsman, who is trying to make Superman interesting in the way that Hyperion is, that Sentry or Hulk or Thor are. Making him dark or destructive in some way, taking away his absolute goodness so that his immense power, and the misuse of it, can be his drawback. However, as you've observed, because the fundamental idea of Superman's goodness is deeply ingrained in the audience, they filmmakers are fighting their own mold. They are not expert craftsman who can create a compelling Superman: Red Son alternity, though they desperately try.

Superman is a harder character to write well because most superhero stories rely on a lack of goodness and a lack of power, and these conflicts don't work well for Superman. That is why he is so often boring, and why he is perceived as being boring even more often than that.
This. You really hammered the nail here; good job. Apart from his conflicted and therefore always interesting nature, Batman will always be more popular than Supes because of his inherent limitations - you have to adequately straddle the divide between too much power and too little. The worst Batman stories make him more than human; the best ones get right to the core of his humanity and challenge it. Superman's trouble is he always starts with a high level of power, and so makes it difficult for him to be physically challenged. And a Superman story that is purely psychological would seem to be inherently lacking, even though it would make more sense logically.

This is why I think CA is superior to Superman - all the morals, powerful enough to be cool but not enough to limit his villains as happens with the latter. Really the best Superman story should just copy the Winter Soldier template, IMO.


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Old 02-21-2017, 09:53 PM   #73
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This. You really hammered the nail here; good job. Apart from his conflicted and therefore always interesting nature, Batman will always be more popular than Supes because of his inherent limitations - you have to adequately straddle the divide between too much power and too little. The worst Batman stories make him more than human; the best ones get right to the core of his humanity and challenge it. Superman's trouble is he always starts with a high level of power, and so makes it difficult for him to be physically challenged. And a Superman story that is purely psychological would seem to be inherently lacking, even though it would make more sense logically.

This is why I think CA is superior to Superman - all the morals, powerful enough to be cool but not enough to limit his villains as happens with the latter. Really the best Superman story should just copy the Winter Soldier template, IMO.
Superior in terms of ease of writing, and in terms of sustainability of continuity, sure. However, as great as Brubaker's Winter Soldier was... I can list a dozen Superman stories that just trump it critically and commercially. Even with Cap becoming an international superstar and Superman getting two borked films... Superman T-Shirts still carry a meaning that Cap's shield simply cannot. Superman is just a *Bigger* character, and because of that he's able to tell broader deeper stories, which is part of why having an interesting Superman ongoing without changing his power level or morals is so challenging, because his adventures cover so much. Just by his nature even a punch fest is inherently psychological and political and a statement on the nature of power.

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