Is superman really a Mary Sue?

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I don't think so. As others have said over the 50+ years since his inception he's gone through many incarnations and ranging in power from the one step above Pop-Eye to the destroying entire galaxies with a sneeze. So to really settle this you'd have to decide which incarnation of Superman we're talking about. Besides regardless of which incarnation we're talking about Superman still has his flaws and his struggles, mostly summed up by this clip here:

Personally, I do consider him as a Mary Sue since, the last time I checked, his only weakness was Kryptonite and he had a buttload of superpowers.

It probably doesn't help that I prefer my superheroes to have more than one weakness, to have limitations and a sense of mortality since it makes their deeds seem all the more heroic and a bit more thrilling. With Superman it felt more like "all in a day's work".

Nah.

Mary-Sue's are author self-inserts, while Superman is very blatantly an escapist character who's meant to be self-insert for the reader (from what I understand he started as one, but he certainly doesn't hold the position now).

That being said, I subscribe to the "Superheroes are the new Greek myths" philosophy where the character's personalities are entirely dependent on the author and are subject to change. In which case there is probably a case somewhere where an author wrote Superman as a Mary-Sue.

Aesir23:
Personally, I do consider him as a Mary Sue since, the last time I checked, his only weakness was Kryptonite and he had a buttload of superpowers.

It probably doesn't help that I prefer my superheroes to have more than one weakness, to have limitations and a sense of mortality since it makes their deeds seem all the more heroic and a bit more thrilling. With Superman it felt more like "all in a day's work".

He's also really weak to basically any form of magic as well as cosmic powers, and really any incarnation since the 90's can be stopped with a good old fashioned punch from any big hitter (Ever since Doomsday killed him in the 90's he's been vulnerable to getting a good old fashioned ass whooping). Since the new 52 reboot over a year ago he lost everything beyond his basic powerset, and can't even fly anymore. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, he got stopped cold by a Wonder Woman B string villain named Cheetah, who used a magic curse in her bite (so yeah, apparently sharp teeth can bite through his skin now too).

Still, even before the reboot, kryptonite kind of got tossed by the wayside in favor of magic and other weaknesses. Most of his ridiculous powers from the golden age were removed back in the 80's. Since then, his powers have always pretty much been: flight, super strength, super speed, durability, and his super breath and eye powers, with some variation depending on the writer.

He gets beat down pretty regularly actually, especially in titles that focus on other characters, beating the crap out of Superman is practically every major villain's introduction at this point.

Honestly, Mary Sue has little to do with his powers, and more to do with how he's written.

A character that could only teleport, or run super fast..or even hide in a flying nocternal mammal named cave could be written as a mary sue, power is kind of inconsequential.

So...is Superman a mary sue? Well, he has his issues, gets beat up a lot, and generally takes a long to defeat villains as other heroes.

No, Superman isn't a mary sue.

Now Batman with prep-time on the other hand.......

EternallyBored:

Aesir23:
Personally, I do consider him as a Mary Sue since, the last time I checked, his only weakness was Kryptonite and he had a buttload of superpowers.

It probably doesn't help that I prefer my superheroes to have more than one weakness, to have limitations and a sense of mortality since it makes their deeds seem all the more heroic and a bit more thrilling. With Superman it felt more like "all in a day's work".

He's also really weak to basically any form of magic as well as cosmic powers, and really any incarnation since the 90's can be stopped with a good old fashioned punch from any big hitter (Ever since Doomsday killed him in the 90's he's been vulnerable to getting a good old fashioned ass whooping). Since the new 52 reboot over a year ago he lost everything beyond his basic powerset, and can't even fly anymore. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, he got stopped cold by a Wonder Woman B string villain named Cheetah, who used a magic curse in her bite (so yeah, apparently sharp teeth can bite through his skin now too).

Still, even before the reboot, kryptonite kind of got tossed by the wayside in favor of magic and other weaknesses. Most of his ridiculous powers from the golden age were removed back in the 80's. Since then, his powers have always pretty much been: flight, super strength, super speed, durability, and his super breath and eye powers, with some variation depending on the writer.

He gets beat down pretty regularly actually, especially in titles that focus on other characters, beating the crap out of Superman is practically every major villain's introduction at this point.

That's certainly good to hear. A lot of the comics that I read involving Superman were released around the 60s and 70s (they belonged to my Uncles). I didn't really read anything beyond that since he didn't really appeal to me, partially because of the perceived Mary Sue-ism. Still, I'm glad that it was toned down by quite a bit. I'll have to check out some of those post-1980 comics.

I think it takes a bit to be a Mary Sue. Now, if a character has every ability, is needlessly angsty, and perfect in every way, I tend to think Mary Sue. It also helps if they are the messiah despite having no traits that makes them worthy of being said messiah.

I swear I love that picture too much.

Now, a character who is highly skilled or perfect within their universe can work. A lot of heroes fit that, but I rarely hear anyone call them Mary Sues. I think the problem comes when you start stretching past the suspension of disbelief.

For example, I was fine with Ichigoe being a human with Soul Reaper powers. Then, they added Hollow powers and it made sense considering he almost turned into a hollow. Then, they made his badge a source of Full Bringer power... Then, they recently revealed that he has Quincy powers. Oh, and he has a new sword because his original sword wasn't fully complete... Okay, Ichigoe is a Mary Sue. He's half human, half Soul Reaper, Half Hollow, and Half Quincy, now. They shredded my suspension of disbelief.

Is Superman a Mary Sue? You could call him that. I wouldn't argue. Honestly, he's just plain boring. I call him boring. You can call him Ralph for all I care.

Shadowstar38:

Superman's idealism is constantly being challenged by, well, reality.

Not to mention all the dudes from space/alternate dimensions/with magic/with technology who regularly beat the tar out of him.

Queen Michael:

thaluikhain:

(Also, Mary Sue...that's a term that's getting over-used, to mean anyone unusually competent, though moreso with female characters)

image

It seems like every time a female character is cool, competent and confident, she's called a Mary Sue.

Now, Superman? Nope. He's got hurdels even he can't overcome, and morally speaking, yeah, he's morally flawless, but that's kind of the point. He's a messianic figure.

I agree. You can have a character who is vulnerable but not weak, and who is strong but not a Mary Sue.

It depends on how he's written. If he's morally incorruptible, brave, and he can't be killed, then yes. I see him carry a conga line of planets behind him, or get smacked by a star, and I just grimace. In the hands of a good writer he can be interesting though. DR. Manhattan was stronger than Superman, and he was a fascinating character. The cartoon Superman was interesting as well, since he was more vulnerable both physically and psychologically. Darkseid wrecked him on multiple occasions. The trick is to write superman as a character that is flawed, but is still idealistic, and that's really hard. I don't like gritty dark superman any more than I like happy perfect superman because I consider them both unrealistic. There needs to be balance.

I think he can be a messianic figure and still be vulnerable. Even Jesus was terrified before the Crucifixion, showing vulnerability. It would be interesting to see a situation that supes couldn't overcome because of his moral code. He can do whatever he wants, but he chooses to limit his own strength in order to follow justice. He shows restraint. Heck, you could probably tie that in to our own government now, with the NSA and military. A running theme with his character has always been the temptation of power, and how it should be used. Since he's an American symbol this parallel matters. Superman also can't be in two places at once, which means that despite all his power, he can't save everyone. He would have to choose who to save on basically a daily basis. There's potential for an interesting character, it's just much more difficult to pull of then with a character like Batman because you can't tell a traditional story with a character like Superman and still keep him interesting. Also, Batman is supposed to be the underdog who has to think his way out of situations. He has to work harder just to scrape by the skin of his teeth. This makes it easier to create tension, and makes him more respectable.

He was given three weaknesses (as seen in the Animated Series) and one liability:
1. Red sunlight. Cut off from the yellow sun, he is powerless as a human--captors and a red-sun satellite network made him weak enough to lose.
2. Kryptonite. Lex Luthor used it against him many times. During "the mechanical dinosaur" fight, he actually bled. Batman (and all his enemies) seemingly know how to get it.
3. Magic. Reality-warpers like Captain Marvel (SHAZAM brand), Mxyzptlk, and so on can ruin his day because he can't touch the arcane realm.
4. He "really cares about those people." During repeated confrontations with similar-level villains, he had to go out of his way to keep Metropolitans safe, even if he lost the fight.

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