Recently there was yet another new Superman movie, Man of Steel. It seems to have already died a quick death at the box office, just like the last Super-reboot (which I can’t even remember the name of now). People seem to not be able to get over Christopher Reeve, even though his Superman films got progressively worse as they went along. And the first one wasn’t all that great to begin with (80’s movies in general seem have been horrible).

However, the reason I’m even mentioning Supey is that I was thinking about M.o.S. and it struck me that it would suck to be Superman. Even with all the cool powers. Let me briefly mention how improbable his existence would be, then we can happily ignore all of that and I can discuss why it’s a good thing he doesn’t exist.

Firstly, the odds of a species beginning on another world and evolving to look exactly like humans is almost impossible. It’s often said that if you could rewind the history of life on Earth back to the beginning and start it again, it’s doubtful you’d wind up with homo sapiens. There are just too many variables to consider, and when you factor in random occurrences, like an asteroid wiping out the dinosaurs, allowing mammals to flourish in their wake, it’s damn near impossible. Even things we take for granted, like five fingers and toes is not assured. If something had dodged left instead of right during the Pre-Cambrian, we could all now have three fingers. Or seven. Even in recorded history, if my Great-Great-Grandmother’s first husband had not died young, I would not have been born. All of us today have always been only a whisker away from oblivion.

And even if a species had somehow developed on another world to look just like us, how could they send a baby to Earth? Our world is a grain of sand in a huge ocean, and there’s nothing special about it, or where it’s located that would give any sentient being a reason to consider it worth investigating. Many people see Earth as the obvious destination to any extra-terrestrial life that may exist; but that’s a myopic view because we happen to live on the planet. In a sort of corollary to the anthropic principle, anywhere you happen to be must be the place to be.

Plus, since it’s impossible to move faster than light (sci-fi and hopes of “advanced technology” notwithstanding), it would take tens of thousands of years to move between the stars. Any baby lobbed our way would need a very large ship to maintain it during its entire lifespan, never mind the centuries it would take this ship to ferry its long-dead passenger to us.

But as I’ve said, let’s put all this practical science and logic to one side. We will posit that a Superman has now appeared, by some means unknown to us. How would he fare, dwelling amongst us?

In the comics, Superman just sort of goes along, and if he happens upon crime, or some evil wrong-doer, he generally stops them in some way. Maybe he wraps a light pole around a group of bank robbers and leaves them for the police. Does he ever provide a written statement to the cops? What about appearing in court to testify? Or is the appearance of a group of thugs with an aluminum pole wrapped around them considered proof in a court of law that a crime has been committed? Could the crooks argue that their rights have been breached? Is this some sort of vigilante justice? Or does ‘might make right’ in cases involving Superman? When was he elected to decide what is right and what is wrong? Who unwraps these criminals anyway? What about replacing the pole? You can see that there’s a whole host of issues revolving around just a single isolated incident. Similar incidents might occur on a daily basis.

What if you’re driving along, and make an illegal turn? Are you in danger of having your entire car lifted up into the air and deposited at the nearest police station? What if you’re littering? Jaywalking? Where does the son of Krypton draw the line? Or is it just big crimes that he deals with? So Superman actively works to protect banks, but nuts to the little guy, eh? If punks break into your car and rip out your stereo, don’t expect any help to arrive faster than a speeding bullet. Isn’t crime ‘crime’, no matter how big or small?

At any rate, crime happens constantly around the country, and indeed the world. If Superman foils a bank heist in New York City, what about¬† Boston? Chicago? Seattle? Moscow? Canberra? Tehran? If they all were to happen simultaneously, by what criteria does he decide which to stop? Why doesn’t he stop global terrorism by finding those responsible, and flying them directly to the UN? Or the Hague? Or deliver them to the CIA? Is Superman concerned only with crimes committed within and against America? How would the Chinese view an invincible English-speaking Caucasian? What about the Iranians? The North Koreans? Or would he be spending all his time wrapping light poles around people he claims to have been robbing banks in America? In Superman IV, our hero makes a unilateral decision to remove nuclear weapons from every nation. Isn’t that really illegal? Does it respect the right of sovereign nations? Won’t they just make more? What if he destroyed the NSA computers? Or similar facilities in the UK, France or Russia? Is it right, then? If not, when does it become ‘right’ or ‘wrong’? Who decides?

Ultimately, Superman would not need a secret identity, as he’d have no time to use it. It would be a thankless 24/7 job, patrolling the entire globe, trying to stop a multitude of criminal activity going on simultaneously around the planet. Not even Superman would be able to keep up, or prioritize which ones to stop. The people who are not helped by him, or feel threatened by his obvious pro-US bias, would alternatively hate and fear him.¬† No matter how many people you may help, you’d never be able to help everyone, and this would breed resentment. What do you say to a grieving mother who wants to know why you stopped a robbery in Amsterdam, but allowed her teenage son to fall off a cliff in Montana? Why didn’t you help him? How could anyone respond to that? And it would be asked in different forms almost hourly by someone else, somewhere else. If your idea of right and wrong is different than his (perhaps for cultural reasons), who could overrule him? How would you appeal?

And if ultimately it pissed him off that the more he tries to do, the more complaints he receives, how would we stop him if he decided to lay waste to the world instead? Maybe he’d snuff out the sun, or throw the moon at us.

In the end, he’d be an object of scorn and derision. Unless he became ruler of the world, then it would just be billions of people having a seething resentment for him. What kind of super powers would make up for knowing that the people you wanted to help would wind up despising you for it? No thanks. It would really suck to be Superman.