Superman is one of the most well-known superheroes ever created. The big red S is iconic whether it’s worn by Clark Kent, his son Jonathan, or the other members of the Superman family. Superman is more than just a superhero, though; Superman is an idea, one that brings hope to all whose life he touches, whether it be in the fictional confines of the DC Multiverse or the real world.
Superman has been going on amazing adventures since 1938, and every superhero that came after him owes him a huge debt of gratitude. He’s the icon, and an argument can be made that he is the most inspiring hero of them all.
10 Superman Codified The Norms Of The Superhero Genre
Superman is the first modern superhero. Before the character debuted, there were pulp heroes, violent detectives, and men and women in costumes fighting evil, but they weren’t superheroes. Superman used some of the conventions of the pulp hero genre like the secret identity and colorful villains but brought new aspects as well.
These new factors would come to inspire superheroes in the Golden Age and beyond. In an authentic way, Superman is the most inspirational hero in comics because he IS the inspiration for every single hero that came after him in some way.
9 His Costume Inspired Superhero Fashion For Years To Come
One of the most important aspects of Superman’s success in pop culture is his costume. The cape, the bright primary colors, and, of course, the S shield caught the eye and drew people in. This was another huge change from the pulp heroes that came before him. They were dark men of mystery, intrepid explorers, or fierce barbarians. Superman’s brightly colored uniform was a sea change.
After Superman, other superheroes took their cues from his costume. The colors, the symbols, and the capes were all made popular by the Man of Steel, his fighting togs starting a revolution that echoes to this day in the costumes of the greatest heroes ever.
8 Superman Is Hope
One of the greatest Superman stories of all time comes from All Star Superman #10. This issue, written by Grant Morrison with art by Frank Quitely, is a day in the life of Superman. He fights a giant robot, finds a job for the shrunken inhabitants of Kandor destroying the cancer cells inside children, saves a teenage girl from committing suicide, and shepherds an infant universe until it creates life.
It’s all presented so simply and powerfully, illustrating exactly what Superman is — hope. In the story, he is dying, yet he’s everywhere, doing everything he can to keep life going for as many as possible. The neverending battle isn’t a fight against evil but ensuring hope.
7 Superman Is The Justice League
The Justice League is the greatest assemblage of heroes in the DC Universe and possibly in all of comics. The team boasts more icons per capita than any other super team, but it’s hard to argue that the biggest one is anyone but Superman. In many ways, Superman is the Justice League, his heroic example of him spurring the rest of the team on.
Even when he’s not the leader, the rest of the team follows his lead. He is the bright shining star at the center of the team, and he’s helped them through their darkest times. He’s always there to guide the team and help them save the day, no matter what the odds.
6 He Fights The Most Deadly Foes Imaginable
Superman is known as one of the most powerful heroes in the DC Universe, and his villains put that to the test. They run the gamut from gimmick villains to universal predators, mad scientists, and superpowered alien conquerors. He fights the most dangerous villains out there, putting his life on the line to save the entire universe from the greatest threats.
That’s one of the many beauties about Superman. He isn’t merely the Earth’s greatest hero but the greatest hero everywhere. He’ll battle the worst threats imaginable to save people on a faraway world he’ll never visit again because it’s the right thing to do.
5 His Greatest Enemy Is Greed Personified
Superman is the ultimate representation of hope, and one of the opposites of hope is greed. That’s what makes the relationship between Superman and his greatest foe Lex Luthor perfect. Lex is the personification of greed, a man who pretends to care for the world but is truly only out for his own aggrandizement of him.
Luthor’s greed is constantly contrasted by Superman’s hope. Setting the two next to each other shows them for who they are and makes Superman all that much more inspiring. He’s a rejection of greed and the hatred it brings to humanity.
4 He’s A God Who Cares About Mortals
Superman’s powers have been in flux since the beginning, but one thing has always basically been the same — he’s pretty much a god. His physical power is just about unmatched, he’s smarter than everyone else around, and he can do things that boggle the imagination. He’s powered by the sun, a direct descendant of the heroic sun gods of old.
What makes Superman’s godly iconography that much better is that he’s not an aloof god. He doesn’t sit upon Olympus or in Heaven and let things happen. He’s out there with the people, protecting them, giving them something to strive for. He cares in a very tangible way, a god on Earth that shows his love for him with every action.
3 He’s More Human Than Many Of His Fellow Superheroes
While Superman definitely plays on godly motifs, he’s also strikingly human. He was raised by Ma and Pa Kent, salt of the Earth Kansas farmers, to always help others and care for his fellow man. He left his small town to get a job in the big city and spread the truth while fighting evil. His humanity of him is his most important aspect of him.
It’s perfectly encapsulated in his wife, Lois. Lois Lane is fiercely human, a woman who uses every resource available to her to help others, saving the day in whatever way she can. Superman loves her for what she is- a messy, imperfect human that constantly proves that she’s just as good as any hero. By embracing her, he’s embracing humanity in a very tangible way.
two Jon Kent Is The Perfect 21st Century Superman
With his powers on the wane, Clark left the mantle of Superman to his son, Jon. Jon is proving that he’s just as great a Superman as his father and that he deserves it more than anyone else by being a new kind of hero. Jon isn’t just passively fighting evil but standing against the ills of society. He’s an example, one who exists to inspire.
The 21st century is a very different time, and Jon is the perfect representative of that. His activism, his bisexuality, and his realistic view of a world that needs real change is inspiring because he’s not just punching evildoers until they fall down but also battling against the real problems in the world.
1 Superman Is A Perfect Role Model
Calling Superman the best role model in comics is a bit of a no-brainer. Since his days fighting for the common man against the corruptions of the rich in the late ’30s, Superman has stood against the worst parts of society and inspired readers to make a difference in the world. Superman’s stories taught morality to young and old alike, inspiring creators to bring about such of heroism that made a difference in the world.
In-universe, Superman inspires the people around him to constantly be better, and he does that in the real world as well. His example of him has reached out of the page and taught everyone that every man can fly as long as they do the right thing.
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