I love Superman. If he was a real person, I would be such a pretend-my-bag-has-been-snatched-so-he’ll-save-me fangirl. As such, I am obviously beyond excited for the upcoming 2013 release of Man of Steel and when I saw the short for it at the cinema the other day, that excitement tripled!
Besides the butterflies it brought on, the preview for this movie also reminded me of an idea that seems to recur in most superhuman storylines, where the efforts of these heroes are resisted by society. Even the unwavering morals of Superman faces the critics. I know these stories aren’t factual accounts or anything however, when we create fiction there is always an element of reality being explored and in this case the human conditions highlighted include the unfortunate inability to accept help and the unbecoming ability to find fault in someone who is essentially a good and selfless person.
I am learning as I get older that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, nor is accepting it. I have my own personal Supermen/women in my parents, siblings, friends & CB and have counted on them numerous times to swoop in and save me over the years. Still, the invaluable advice they offer me can sometimes fall on deaf ears purely because I am too stubborn to accept help. I would accept Superman’s help every time, so why shouldn’t I take it from those who love me most?
In Australia, we have a slang term for referring to those who we resent or criticise because of their exceptional talents and success and it is called Tall Poppy Syndrome. There are episodes in later seasons of Smallville where a not-yet-Superman, alien Clark Kent would question whether Earth really wanted him around. While surely included for the entertainment factor that conflict provides, I would still over-think these insecurities long after the rolling of the final credits and wonder whether the real-world community makes it as hard as possible for a good Samaritan to succeed. More importantly, would I ever be the one slinging mud at someone who was just trying to help? I would like to think not.
I watch Superman & Co. for the cool effects and stories but I stay for the life lessons. The world does need its heroes and humanitarians and they shouldn’t be afraid to be great for fear of a thankless society. This is what Superman has taught me and reinforces why I will always turn to fiction when I need help making sense of reality.