We’ve all grown up watching at least one superhero movie in our lives. May it be Superman, Spiderman or Batman, the comics featuring these characters have paved way to a list of movies in the last few decades. I remember being a fan of Superman as well as Justice League on Cartoon Network back when I was in my single digit ages but then Disney took over my life, after which I got introduced to Spiderman. Before I plunge into this post, I’d like to say I’m not that big a fan of action packed superhero stuff, so Superman and Spiderman are the only heroes I’ve ever been familiar with. I also haven’t seen every single movie that stars them either, but this piece of my musings has been inspired from what I’ve seen so far.
Before I saw any Superman movies, I saw Tobey Maguire’s Spiderman when it first came out and it became a craze among my cousins, brothers and sisters alike. I used to join in the team routing for the webbed crawler of New York. Then 2006 brought Superman Returns and I enjoyed that too. That was my first Superman movie but it was also a sequel to the original two movies that came out in 1978 and 1980. I recently watched those and it made me suddenly realise how I liked Superman much more than Spiderman. Maybe these movies travelled through a road deviating from what is portrayed in the comics but since I haven’t read them, I’m going with these alone.
When I was a kid, Spiderman fascinated me as to how he protected the entire city even though he was just a high schooler and later, a scholar in college. He got shouldered with responsibility at very young an age and started battling with his own personal life, family as well as romance. But something about Spiderman always remains mysterious to everyone. For one, he dons a mask. I know it exists for safety reasons as well as to complete the entire spider attire, but in my opinion, it makes him detached from the rest of the world. And resembling an eight legged creature, especially to people who are generally afraid of spiders or don’t like the way they move, kind of doesn’t fall in tune with me. He’s scary. I’m not saying I dislike him, because in spite of all these, he’s really cool, energetic, is a natural at lithe, quick, spirited moves, and can kick a villain’s ass any time he wants. I enjoyed Tobey Maguire’s portrayal much more than Andrew Garfield’s actually. But if someone asks me if I’d like to have dinner with Spiderman, I’d be apprehensive and waiting for the moment he’d literally turn into a giant spider and scare me away from the table.
Contrary to his alter ego, Peter Parker is very likeable. He gets bullied at school and despite everything, tries to score good marks. He has his insecurities, which are all put to an end to when he turns into Spiderman. With his newly found abilities, he puts his bullies in place and with the confidence Spidey brings him, he’s able to work on his love for Mary Jane Watson. And yes, as his uncle tells him – With great power comes great responsibility. Which he fights to live up to. Peter Parker as a stand alone is quite a relatable character but if I look at Spiderman, even though it’s the same person, he’s this crawler and web swinger whose athletic moves and traits don’t come in touch with the audience. He remains to be a cool and amazing fantasy that is not relatable.
Superman, on the other hand, feels more close to people. He doesn’t wear a mask to hide himself. To wrap him up in a single sentence, he’s an impersonation of a regular man. He comes into the world as Kal-El from the planet Krypton for the sole purpose to protect humanity and stand for justice, and is raised as the adorable Clark Kent on a farm. Then he comes into terms with his powers and rises as Superman in a red cape and blue suit, protecting the city of Metropolis as well as the rest of the world.
As the Man of Steel, he’s seen as serious, confident, majestic and always on the alert to save people from trouble. As Clark Kent, he walks into people and things, is clumsy, nervous, and supports a goofy grin.
This right here, symbolises how in spite of a person being everything Clark Kent is, Superman is underneath all those – Bravery, strength and confidence. There’s a Superman in all of us. We just need to find out where he is and bring him out to battle all the challenges life throws at us. And just like all of us, this hero has a weakness. It’s not Lois Lane, or the way Mary Jane is to Spiderman.
Superman’s real weakness is the deadly Kryptonite. Stab him with it like Lex Luthor does in Superman Returns and he’s done for. You may be thinking, ‘A hero with a weakness like that is not entertaining or fun to watch’, but if you cast that juvenile thought aside, you can realise how it makes him a realistic hero. Because like him, we’ve all had our moments when our weaknesses get the better of us and we feel like running out of the room or wishing the ground would swallow us up. Admit it.
For example, a person with a short temper is an easy target for someone to infuriate and when that negative emotion takes over, they stop thinking and can be taken advantage of to lure them into sticky situations. Like an employer getting into trouble with his boss, likely to get fired, so that his provoker can land his job. In today’s competitive world, people are looking for their opponents’ weaknesses to bring them down.
At the same time, when we know our strengths, we can use them to win over our weaknesses, like the way he uses his infinite power to lift that land mass poisoned with Kryptonite, using a simple trick of putting so many layers of earth between himself and it, slowing the infection before he pushes it out of the planet.
It all comes down to knowing what can stop our weaknesses from knocking our knees out before we succeed. That’s life.
If you’re going to mention how he falls from the sky after that and has to be hospitalised, my answer is, that is actually a sign of unconditional love he has for the people he cares about and puts their needs before his. He knows the Kryptonite can kill him but to save the city he genuinely cares for, he lifts it out, because he’s the only one who could do it. And he was revived later on, by the love that was reciprocated.
When a man loves the people around him and will do anything in his power to protect them from harm, nothing whatsoever can actually defeat him.
Looking past the superhero stuff, you learn so much from Superman than you do from Spiderman.
Note that these all come from watching Superman (1978), Superman II (1980) and Superman Returns (2006). I haven’t seen Man of Steel or Dawn of Justice and don’t know how the character has been portrayed, but since these three are inter-related and have given me a wonderful impression of the hero, I don’t plan to watch those two.
You’re welcome to post your opinions as relating to this post or contrary to it in the comment section below.