Why Superman Will Not Save the World: Theorizing the Relationship Between Suffering and DC Comics Superman
pdf

Abstract views: 32
PDF Downloads: 13

Keywords

Pain
Suffering
Power
Otherness
Superman
Waid
Freud
Pleasure-principle

How to Cite

Tembo, K. (2020). Why Superman Will Not Save the World: Theorizing the Relationship Between Suffering and DC Comics Superman. Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies, 2(3), 119-137. https://doi.org/10.46539/gmd.v2i3.114

Abstract

The hypothesis that there is an inextricable link between comic book superheroes and suffering would, to anyone with a cursory knowledge of superhero characters found in DC, Marvel, Image, Wildstorm and other houses, and their histories, ostensibly seem valid. This validity depends on which character one is applying said hypothesis to; the psychological and physical suffering of a Batman being more acceptable as such than that of a Plastic Man, for example. However, using DC Comics character Superman as a case study, this paper explores the inextricable link between Otherness, power, and suffering within the remit of the character's mythos. In order to do so, this paper refers to psychoanalytic concepts elaborated by Sigmund Freud in his text Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1922) as a way of demonstrating that despite the character's conventional appraisal as a positivist humanistic symbol of pure altruism, an insuperable, unimpeachable symbol of selflessness and good morality, there is in fact a fundamental link between Superman's 'tridentity' of selves (Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman), the character's own suffering, and human suffering on a terrestrial scale, as represented within the numerous realities of the DC Comics Multiverse.

https://doi.org/10.46539/gmd.v2i3.114
pdf

References

Coogan, P. M. & O'Neil D. (2006). Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre. Austin, TX: MonkeyBrain Books.

Fingeroth, D. (2004). Superman On The Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us About Ourselves and Our Society. New York: Continuum.

Freud, S. & Hubback, C. J. M. (1922). Beyond the Pleasure Principle. London: The International psycho-analytical Press.

Freud, S. (1919). Totem and Taboo: Resemblances Between the Psychic Lives of Savages and Neurotics. Routledge.

Jameson, F. (2005). Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fiction. New York: Verso.

Jung, C. G. (1979). Word and Image. New York: Princeton University Press.

Lawrence, J. (2006). You Will Believe: The Cinematic Saga of Superman. Warner Brothers Pictures.

Loeb, J, & Morris, T. (2005). Heroes and Superheroes. In T. Morris, M. Morris and W. Irwin (Eds.) Superheroes and Philosophy: Truth, Justice, and the Socratic Way (pp. 11-21). U.S.: Open Court Publishing Co.

Moore, A. and Gibbons, D. (1985). Superman Annual Vol.1, No. 11. New York: DC Comics.

Reynolds, R. (1994). Super Heroes: A Modern Mythology. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.

Ross, A. & Dini, P. (1999). Superman: Peace on Earth. New York: DC Comics.

Waid, M. (2005) “The Real Truth about Superman: And the Rest of Us Too. In T. Morris, M. Morris and W. Irwin (Eds.) Superheroes and Philosophy: Truth, Justice, and the Socratic Way (pp. 3-11). U.S.: Open Court Publishing Co.

Weldon, G. (2013). Superman: The Unauthorized Biography. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.