One of the best Superman moments never appeared in a Superman comic. A 2008 issue of Nightwing included a scene of Superman and Nightwing talking in a dark, after hours Central Park. A security guard, flashlight in hand, tells them to scatter before he realises whom he’s addressing. ‘Oh, hey, jeez, Superman, Nightwing, my bad,’ he stammers, mortified by his own mistake. ‘The park can’t get any safer having you guy guys patrolling it, can it?’
Superman doesn’t miss a beat. ‘You mean having the three of us patrolling it,’ he answers. That’s it. That’s Superman. And he doesn’t deliver the line with a sarcastic eye roll or a sly ‘can-you-believe-this-guy?’ wink in Nightwing’s direction. Superman is just stating the facts. When he looks at this man, he doesn’t see an interloper or a pretender. He sees a peer.
That’s life in Superman’s world, here the most powerful being on the planet is glad to call you a friend as long as you work hard and help others. The ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound has nothing to do with it. Born on Krypton but raised in Kansas, Superman is a small-town boy who never developed a shell of big-city cynicism.
Critics sometimes throw jabs at the character, saying that Superman’s off-the-scale power makes him hard to relate to. Not true. Superman is just Clark Kent from Smallville at heart and he’d happily munch on a burger chatting with you about football prospects.
Superman’s humble roots enable him to empathize with all people from the mighty to the meek. He’s not Superman because he has the power to take over the world, He’s Superman because he won’t.
The very first super hero is the one with the biggest heart. After 75 years we’re all still looking up in the sky.