Gods in Comics: Superman, Wonder Woman, Thor, and more!

Let's talk about God!

Haha, just kidding, that's why I put "comics" in the title. I wanted to talk about superheroes who are invincible and why I don't like them. And since I don't know about all of them, I'll just pick two of the more popular ones I have a problem with: Thor and Superman.

Let me get my main problem off my chest first: Because they are gods, they are also invincible. So where are the stakes? It's hard for me to invest in Superman because he doesn't need me rooting for him, he'll be all right. The only way to make something a threat to Superman, essentially a god, is to create an even bigger "supergod". But then Superman just punches him. The end. And please note that I am not very familiar with Thor outside of the films, but I can't imagine it being much different than Superman, only Thor has sarcastic retorts instead of brooding remarks. Anyways, this will bring me to my second problem, and to do that we need to bring in Batman.

Batman is a man that isn't invincible. He gets the shit kicked out of him all the time and then comes up with clever solutions to counter his enemies the second time. That is who I root for! Someone who begins over his head and gets up after being knocked down, and out-thinking his enemy. Over at Marvel, Thor's rival in terms of strength seems to be the Hulk. I'm not crazy about the Hulk, but the fact that he's a human who can't control his anger puts a twist on it. Then again, in the next Thor, I have a feeling the Hulk is going to be less monster and more "Bruce Banner but as the Hulk" like he is in "Planet Hulk". Once Hulk and Bruce Banner get along, I'm bored by the character(s), because he's (originally) an inner conflict between personalities fighting for control, and now they got along. A big problem for me is that gods by definition don't have weak spots and they become less of a character and more of a symbol. Hulk not being in control and fighting to turn back into Bruce Banner is enough to fall out of the "god" category. Thor just has an ego. What's he a symbol for? He's supposed to be the god of thunder, but he's more of a god of chiseled bodies and flow-ey hair.

Marvel's strength is in giving heroes an Achilles' heel. Other than Thor, I can't think of any Marvel god heroes. That being said, out of all of them, I think Thor is the lamest. I mean, his arch enemy is the god of mischief!? Let's switch back to DC, because they have more God superheroes. Now I know you've been screaming, "But Superman has kryptonite!" Good point, until I bring up that Superman gets weak by kryptonite but he's always been able to shake it off. The conflict I like with Superman is the criticism given to him by Lex Luthor and Batman, questioning his motives as a God amongst men. Speaking of Lex Luthor, how come I like him better than Superman? Lex is a symbol for Capitalism, (and boo capitalism and whatever) but he has good points! Maybe we shouldn't let an overpowered alien have free range to do whatever he wants. Even if he's good now, who's going to stop him if he snaps? And if super-villains want to destroy him, Earth is going to get damaged in the crossfire! Then Lex Luthor does something stupid, like frame him for stuff that would eventually happen naturally and he becomes a bad guy again. But I love the contrast between the two characters: Superman just fell from the sky and is immediately treated like royalty but Lex Luthor had to climb up to his position from nothing and fight every day to keep it. To him, Superman's silver spoon is a spit in his face and a disgrace to everything he ever worked for! So, this raises the question: Are there superhero gods that are gripping characters? The answer is yes. Take Wonder Woman. I was never a fan of her until Gal Gadot! I always thought it was neat to play on the "'No man can stop him!' 'I am no man!'" aspect, and three cheers for feminism. Whatever. My point is that to me, she was always just Superman but female and less accustomed to human practices.

"Wonder Woman" worked because one, she didn't know she was a god, and two, the story was a fish out of water story with Wonder Woman ultimately finding her faith in humanity. The first Superman movie (1978) worked in that it was just fun to see him on the big screen flying around. (I personally didn't love it, but I get it.) Finally, we have Dr. Manhattan from one of my all-time favorite movies: Watchmen. Being the opposite of most superheroes, Dr. Manhattan was caught in an experiment that made him into an invincible omnipotent god. However, he lost his faith in humanity and decided to cause a catastrophe on Earth.

Look at that! A man gets powers and becomes not a hero, not a villain, but someone so apathetic to beings, he now considers as insignificant as ants. There you have it. When you create a god or a character becomes a god, what more can the character accomplish? Well, I guess losing one's power and regaining it is what Thor did, but that's just redoing an origin story, isn't it? But Thor didn't have an origin story, so it was awkward. Alternatively, Wonder Woman learns her abilities with us and grows in to the title of god. So even if she is a god, her character wasn't. And with Superman, he's only as good as his opponent.

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