Umberto Eco writes this book called The Role of the Reader but for class we we’re assigned to only read a small section of the book, chapter four which is titled The Myth of Superman. Eco makes many good points in his whole writings within this chapter. Giving us some facts that show superheros have been around for a long time from Hercules to peter man. Making the suggestion that all superheroes are a myth because of the many attributes they possess. Then he goes on by only focusing on Superman because he is the ultimate superhero. Although superman is the ultimate superhero he is not out of reach for readers to identify with because superman has a double identity. Clark Kent is kind of a nerd which gives the readers an easier way of feeling they have more in common with him.
Not only is Eco taking both sides of superman and applying each one to its own category but he’s showing how each of them contradicts each other. Eco defines all superheroes as being a myth because we already know what happens to them, they always overcome evil. Whereas with his double identity Clark Kent (superman) is subjected to an average persons troubles, like getting rejected from the person they might like. Even when it comes to morals each are different because Superman already has all good morals whereas a literature figure has to learn all their good morals.
When it comes to the plot of a story involving superman, there is a problem because the story can never really change. Because, Superman, himself can never die, get old and never get hurt, so where this story is headed, nowhere? Superman can never really have an equal adversary either so any evil that may challenge him he can easily overcome, does this make Superman (or all heroes) to predictable. Will this character become too boring that the audience will soon what something more other than the average mythical hero namely Superman.
Time also becomes an issue because since Superman is an immortal being his going back in time and changing some event in his life shows that he gets closer to death. When his younger self comes into the story it gives the reader the impression that he can get age a shows that someday he will get old.
At one point Umberto throws in a very controversial topic that people have been talking about which is that some superheroes can be seen as homosexual. But that’s only a small piece and then Umberto ends his article with the fact that a plot must be a never moving one because “Superman must make virtue consist of many little activities on a small scale, never achieving a total awareness”. So that since he’s a myth there will never really be an ending which will contradict the myth of Superman (all superheroes).
I like this reading, but when I first read it I did not understand it whatsoever. Until I was in class and the teacher had summarized it, this made it clearer. I can agree with him on many points like making Superman the ultimate superhero, since he embodies all the powers and then some it’s hard to disagree. Umberto’s whole work is very controversial in so many ways like when he talks about the homosexual characteristics many superheroes have and even when he talks about each the mythical superman and the literature Clark Kent as being contradictory of each other. All in all it was a good reading and I found much of the information very interesting. :]