This week on Most Heroic, I’d like to introduce a new format. I often talk about heroic moments, and why people are either heroes or villains. But I’d like to start doing more “showing,” and less “telling.”
For the past few weeks, I’ve been focusing on Superman. He’s my favorite hero, and I’ve talked quite a bit about why we need him, why we need his films to succeed, and some of his best stories. This week, I’d like to show you one of my personal favorite moments that proves just how great Superman is.
This scene comes from a story arc in the Superman monthly comic from a few years ago. It’s called Superman: Grounded, and it was written by one of my all-time favorite comic book writers, J. Michael Straczynski. Unfortunately, Grounded is not a great story, or even a good one. The first issue of the story, #701 is chock full of flaws, but I have some fond feelings for it because of this moment.
The premise is that Superman feels that he’s been neglecting the people of America, and he takes the time to travel the whole country on foot to try and find himself while helping the people living outside of Metropolis. When he reaches Philadelphia, he finds a suicidal young woman prepared to jump off a building.
This scene in itself isn’t perfect, by any means, but it gets too much right for me to dislike it. This is the essence of Superman at his best. He stays a whole day with this girl because she needs help. He takes the time to bond with her, and he shows himself as being more vulnerable as well. When he thinks of how we sometimes don’t change the world, you can see the pain of his own failures clearly on his face. There aren’t too many heroes in the modern day who would be able to pull this off so sincerely. We don’t see guys like Batman, Wolverine, or Iron Man try to do this.
Grant Morrison wrote a situation very similar to this one in All-Star Superman that’s a lot shorter, but I still like this one, warts and all.
This is what I want to see more of in the future Superman movies. We’ve seen his origin retold, we’ve seen him fight General Zod to a shocking conclusion, but we haven’t seen enough of these kinds of scenes. Is Superman the most powerful hero on the planet in the DC Universe? Yes, absolutely. But he’s also one of the kindest people in that same world. Do we want to see his battles onscreen? Of course! Seeing Superman go toe-to-toe with Darkseid on the big screen is a feat so mouth-watering that I could put it on my Bucket List.
But we should also have the character make time to be a hero for things like this. We should see him help the average person individually. We should see him inspire people.
Most Heroic will be back next week addressing the idea of moral codes and guidelines that heroes adhere to.