It’s more true today than ever before: the world needs Superman. He is a beacon of hope in both the comics and the real world.
For many comic book fans all over the world, Superman is the hero that started it all. A paragon not just of justice but also hope: the Kryptonian became associated with every positive aspect of the human condition, becoming one of the most iconic figures in pop culture.
It’s no secret that Warner Bros. seems to believe that fans wouldn’t be interested in seeing a Superman solo movie. Even the outstanding performance by Henry Cavill wasn’t enough to convince them otherwise. In a world where superheroes are now more popular than they have ever been, why aren’t we hearing more about the most emblematic superhero of them all?
Perhaps one of the most undeservedly lambasted movies in Superman’s cinematic history had the right idea when it comes to the role that the Man of Steel plays in the entire superhero pantheon. 2006 Superman Returns pictures a world that’s moved on from the heroics of the Kryptonian — the unsung continuation of the original live-action Superman series of films.
In that film, Lois Lane, who also has moved on with her life without Clark Kent, has won a Pulitzer Prize for an article titled “Why The World Doesn’t Need Superman,” which discusses the reasons why the world does not need larger-than-life heroes such as the Man of Steel.
In our real world, we are living through a similar phase when it comes to our perception of Superman as a character. Sure, superheroes are all the rage right now thanks to the massively popular Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the DC Extended Universe doesn’t lag too far behind, either. However, there’s a certain cynicism to how we portray these characters that reveal that, yes, there’s a reason why the world needs Superman, and now is the perfect time for the Man of Steel to return.
By the end of Superman Returns, Lois Lane comes around and writes a new piece titled “Why The World Needs Superman,” where she recognizes that people were looking at Superman all wrong. Supes isn’t just a hero wearing spandex and a cape: he is an ideal. He represents the hope that humanity can become so much more than what they are, and perhaps it’s time we recognize that the reason why the world needs Superman is that we are in dire need of a radical change to our culture.
Looking at Superman from a typical comic book lens, then yeah: a hero that is super fast, nearly invincible, and that can never do any wrong sure sounds boring. However, what if we consider the fact that Superman has transcended not just his identity as a superpowered Kryptonian, but also as a superhero?
Matt Reeves’ The Batman was a hit with both fans and critics for its gritty representation of Gotham and the Dark Knight, and as great as that film was, there’s also a certain something that’s missing from that gloomy tale of revenge. Batman himself has said in the comics that Superman represents something that he never could: villains fear the Dark Knight, but Superman fills the hearts of the citizens with hopes for a better tomorrow.
A hero that stands for Truth and Justice — both ideals that have become integral to the modern sociopolitical zeitgeist — will always have a place in popular culture. Warner Bros. might not be convinced that the Man of Steel can be successful in a solo film, but, as far as comic book and movie fans are concerned, there will always be valid reasons why the world needs Superman.