Monday, September 28, 2009

Whenever I think about Nietzsche’s idea of the “Übermensch” I can’t help but also think about the comic book character Superman. As one of the common translations of “Übermensch” is “Superman” this connection I’ve made may seem obvious; but Superman presents an interesting and ironic interpretation of Nietzsche’s “Übermensch.” Superman is presented as superior in every way to the humans he lives with and yet he adheres to their moral code. What is most interesting is that in the first Superman story, called The Reign of the Superman, Superman was actually originally conceived as an immoral villain by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and was in fact inspired by the Nazi interpretation of Nietzsche’s “Übermensch” in that he was a super-powered being who was not bound by the laws or moral code of lesser being and did what he wanted. It wasn’t until later that he was re-imagined as the rigidly moral good guy that most people know him as. Superman is a being that could actually do anything he truly has absolute free will and is not truly bound by any laws even the physical laws of the world he inhabits and yet he still obeys the morals laws of the herd. So, why would a perfect being who could do anything it wanted possibly lower itself to the moral code of the herd?

1 comment:

  1. I really like this post because I feel it brings up so many questions that need to be answered. First, if an ‘Ubermensch’ were walking the earth alongside us, how would ‘the herd’ recognize him? Like Superman, the ‘Ubermensch’ would probably have to hide who he truly was; in the Superman comics, this is done by Kal-El, son of the house of El, taking on the identity of Clark Kent. That brings up my next question, why does the ‘Ubermensch’ have to hide his identity? Is it because, like Superman, he was probably raised by ‘the herd’? And if the ‘Ubermensch’ is raised by ‘the herd’, does the saying “an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” still apply? So technically, that would make Superman part of ‘the herd’. Although, I guess he could be their leader, nevertheless he still would be a member of them. What about his weaknesses? Superman’s inevitable death comes from destruction itself, pieces of his destroyed planet. I wonder how it’s possible that someone so powerful can be so powerless against a measly green meteor rock. Is the ‘Ubermensch’ subject to the same fate, to die at the hands of ‘the herd’? I mean it is Lex Luther who succeeds in killing Superman the first time, with the help of Kryptonite. Lastly, where does God fit into this? Superman is a character of strong faith; he is essentially immortal because of the yellow sun, and takes advice from his presumably dead Kryptonian father, Jor-El. My understanding of the ‘Ubermensch’ was that they are pretty much absent of faith, or religion.

    Sorry to send such a long reply, I’m just a big DC comics fan, and the connection you made is awesome!


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