Eighty Years of Superman at Awesome Con
Scott Snyder, writer for Superman Unchained, aptly stated that Superman isn’t just an old-fashioned Boy Scout but represents the very core ethics in trying to cement who we are in a world of turmoil. This weekend, Awesome Con celebrated eighty years of Superman with a brilliant panel of Superman creators and actors. The guest list included Scott Snyder and Dan Jurgens (Action Comics) and Smallville stars Michael Rosenbaum and Tom Welling.
Superman has become one of the most celebrated superheroes in the history of the genre. While not everyone knows that Superman’s “S” symbol, in fact, isn’t an “S” at all, but the Kryptonian symbol for hope and the House of El coat of arms, you would be hard-pressed to find a single person who couldn’t recognize it.
Generations of Young Superheroes
Hope—a concept at the forefront of almost every work of fiction. We as humans tend to consume fiction that mirrors occurrences in our own world. We look to characters that we identify with and aspire to be. These tropes are what make figures like Superman and Princess Leia so popular.
Superman remains so popular today because, as Snyder pointed out, “every iteration of Superman holds the same core values. Superman believes in the idea of staying true to oneself. He serves as humanity’s moral compass to help us be better people, which he shows through the people he loves.”
Superman has been inspiring children to be strong, compassionate leaders since he was conceived in 1938. Snyder himself has experience in that area. Superman was the first movie he ever watched and as a result, he got a nasty scar when he attempted to fly off of his couch. In that vein, both Snyder and Jurgens would choose flight if they could have their own superpower. “I think that would be everyone’s answer because that’s always been the dream,” Jurgens stated.
Continuing a Legacy
“It’s crushingly intimidating when you go to write the first panel of a series that has so much library,” Snyder contemplated. “You have to make your story show the things that you’re terrified of and how Superman makes you brave. You have to write your own vulnerabilities and mask them into comic book lunacy.”
Jurgens noted that it’s often the smaller things that make you proud. He enjoys the little moments like Clark taking off his ring in front of Lois before Superman saves the world. What’s that kind of dynamic like? What expression is she wearing? What do these small actions do to a relationship and how do they cope with it? Not much has to be said to delve into the depths of relationship struggles. Those small bits are often the most interesting aspects of fiction.
Superman has spawned countless spin-offs, comic series, movies, and TV shows. The versatility of Superman’s world is what allows shows like Smallville, Krypton, and Supergirl to exist. It’s why Awesome Con invited so many Superman-related guests and decked the halls with boundless Superman decor. There’s always something to add to the extensive universe. Whether it be an adaptation of his life growing up and coming to terms with his power like we see on Smallville or a series focusing on his cousin, Kara, people support these projects in droves.
80 Years Isn’t Enough: Why We Keep Coming Back
Jurgens likened our infatuation with Superman to the way we see Superman through John’s eyes. That ideation that we felt as kids is a feeling that we don’t ever want to lose. We want someone to remind us to stick to our morals and trust the good in people, especially during times when we feel hopeless and lost and spout out the words, “I hate everyone.”
Superman, a hero who once claimed that he felt like he could pull the Earth away from the sun, admires not his own species, but humanity. People want to be the version of humans that Superman believes us to be and somehow, that makes it a lot easier to be the best versions of ourselves.
“Superman is in our DNA—not just in our culture but in our fiber as people, as a beacon of who we want to be,” Snyder said. Judging by the jam-packed audience at the Awesome Con panel and the fact that we’re still talking about him eighty years after his red cape appeared in Detective Comics in 1938, he must be onto something.