Saturday, July 30, 2011

Superman the Tyrant

I just turned on the television and caught this odd scene from 1987's Superman IV, as the hero addressed the United Nations with the following statement:

I can't stand idly by and watch us stumble into the madness of possible nuclear destruction. So I've come to a decision. I'm going to do what our governments have been unwilling or unable to do. Effective immediately, I'm going to rid our planet of all nuclear weapons.

The crowd of UN diplomats go wild as Superman promises to rob them of their nuclear arsenals. Self-appointed decision-maker for the world, with no democratic mandate, Superman seizes and destroys the world's nuclear weapons, flinging them into the sun.

Tyrannical! Real benevolent dictator stuff, this, and it seems at odd with Truth, Justice and the American Way. Investing such power in the hands of an individual seems contrary to the ideals of American democracy that Superman is supposed to support! Odd stuff, no wonder the film would be panned by critics!


  1. What's even more amazing is that nuclear arsenals did a great job at keeping relative peace between the big powers during the second half of the twentieth century. Superman you fool, you've now killed millions!

  2. A comic where superman pleads with the united nations representatives to sign a non-binding agreement where certain countries gradually reduce their nuclear arsenal by a specific proportion over a pre-ascertained period of time (subject to change) might not go down well with readers :P.

    Personally, I think every comic book superhero is a benevolent dictator. He/She has the power to anything but does not because with great power comes ...and all that. They do cause property damage worth billions though. Who foots that bill?:D

  3. Good points! I suppose the last Batman film dealt with this to an extent, with Batman himself wishing to retire and allow the city to fight crime only through the legal system. His big hope was the honest and open district attorney Harvey Dent, who would fight crime without wearing a mask. Batman's decision in the end to lie about Dent's brutal behaviour hinted at his willingness to take grand decisions - like Superman - for the greater good of the people, however.


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