Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Superman vs Lex: Ethics vs Achievement

The sad sad truth is that I'm broke. What this means is that I'm normally 1-3 years behind most of the media I like. I don't watch movies until they make it to Netflix or at least HBO. This is to say that I've almost never watched the latest I'm doomed to be Butters to all the Cartmans of the world. It also means that I almost never truly go in blind, especially for the really big ones.

I haven't seen Man of Steel. I'm going to eventually but as of right now I haven't, but a lot of people who I respect have issues with that movie. As a thought experiment, I keep coming to how would I construct a modern Superman movie. So let's do this.

What is the Point of Superman
In a nutshell Superman represents humanity's ability to be the best version of itself. That's why I liked him as a kid. That's why I like him now. He's a guy who has almost unlimited potential and is actually living up to it. At least with Superman classic I can't imagine a dude with his powers being any more of stand up guy or "doing more", and seeing that sort of makes you want to just try a little harder.  What's even more important is that he made that choice. He could literally do any damn near thing he wanted to because, he's Superman. He could declare himself the heir to Lenin and rule all of Russia with an iron fist, Who would stop him?

For all it's failures I think that Flashpoint at least the animation got that. Seeing a Superman who never got the chance to be Superman is kind of crushing.

He is the symbol all the stuff I just said, choosing to be the absolute best version of yourself, and being deprived that is just low.  I mean there is a reason why ascendance to the sun is kind of his thing.

The best versions of superman are all about that but never in a pretentious way. Superman himself is just a manifestation, a big honking example of this larger ideal.

Achievement vs Ethics
As much as I hate to admit it not counting Darkseid the best possible foil for this is Lex Luther. Both him and Superman are about being the best versions of themselves but it means different things to each of these guys. To The Big Blue Boy Scout it's all about ethics and morality. Using your natural abilities to be the most good version of you and well Sups is kind the the most iconic American big good character out there.

All of his power is just the thing that let's him be so good. Even without the super strength Clark Kent would still be trying to be a good guy, but that Kryptonian DNA let's him take it to a whole other level that makes the people around him turn their heads.

And in a way Lex does the same thing. For him being the best version of himself is all about achievement. Doing awesome macbadass stuff just because you can. While Superman has the physical strength do do just about anything he wants, Lex has the money and brains to do the same. And what they both want is to be the best. For Superman that means using those natural resources for the public good and to Lex it means using them go further than any man has before.  He's kind of an ubermench, literally believing himself to be beyond good and evil. It's Utilitarianism vs. Nietzscheism. Oh god this will get  pretentious.

Okay okay. Superman believes that it his duty to use his natural gifts for the betterment of mankind as defined as helping as many people as possible. Lex believes it's his duty to use his natural gifts to attain maximum achievement regardless of all other factors including, the law and conventional morality.

This could lead to a great scene where Lex is about to do something absolutely awesome but the Big Blue Boy Scout is forced to stop him because of how many people he would trample along the way. This is the guy who would build a space elevator with slave labor.

I'm a little fuzzy on Metallo but he seems like the exact sort of thing to bring this on. Lex would all excited because transhumanism, through ingenuity, persistance and intellect breaking the biological limits of humanity And Sups would just be horrified at all the non-consenting test subjects he used to get there. And Metallo would be so messed up he's pissed at everybody. He's on a rampage to destroy everything he can get his hands on. It starts small. Maybe just the lab. Lex covers it all hush hush like. I smell a Daily Planet story. Heck you can make it so that Clark joins the team because he knows that Perry, Lois and Jimmy, would be the guys who've been most closely keeping track of Lex's more "experimental" projects.

But before the story breaks Metallo starts getting ideas.  Why not put a plan into motion to destroy all of Metropolis.  The gleaming city of the future that made him a monster.  The city that Lex built. Yes. At first Superman goes toe to toe with him and the cyborg barely escapes. He decides he's going to need an edge since the only one who could stop him is Superman, he upgrades his nuclear heart to the one substance that could beat The Man of Steal.

I can see it now. Then out of no where Lex uses his hardware to up the ante since this robot will destroy everything he built. The Man of Tomorrow is reluctant to accept his help knowing that he started this mess. For what it's worth Lex is glib trying to prove his superiority by talking the two men to the breaking point. Then Lex goes all out and kills Metallo without a thought, further cementing their rivalry. Credits.

Lex is still the king of everything and only a few folks in town are in position to resist. Superman is the fly in his ointment swearing to keep him in check

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