02 March 2010

Mythical Superman Side By Side With Hercules

Umberto Eco's chapter four of The Myth Of Superman starts out by discussing heroes throughout history and how they've been blessed with powers superior to basic man. "The hero equipped with powers superior to those of the common man has been a constant of the popular imagination" (Eco 107). According to Eco these heroes have ranged throughout a wide variety of history; from Hercules to Peter Pan. After giving a brief history about Superman and his origins Eco goes into detail about how Superman is different from other novels. The myth of Superman is different because its build up and progression is different from others. This part of a novel is what attracts readers. A novel that builds up with events and leaves us unaware of what will happen. In Superman's case he is equipped with such great powers that virtually nothing can keep him from saving the day. Eco describes that with all these incredible powers, the villians can only try and get in Superman's way with "obstacles" (Eco 111). But once he completes these he will still accomplish something. His main point is that Superman's story plots are predictable. The reader knows there will be trouble and a villian will do harm. But knowing all of Superman's powers, the reader knows that Superman will overcome any "obstacles" that come in his way and that Superman will not fail. Eco also explains that this fact can be seen with the time that the issues are released to the public. All of these aspects make Superman a heterodirection model, a character whose plot progression is in a different direction. Eco also discusses Superman as being a model of civic consciousness and political consciousness. In Superman his civic and political duties are perfect and all exemplify good deeds.
Overall, Eco's main point is that Superman resembles more of mythical character than a novel character. Superman never develops and has a "fixed nature which renders him easily recognizable" (Eco 110).
I think that Eco would agree with Weinstein and the two could correlate their ideas together. Weinstein having the idea that superheroes resemble a certain value to different cultures or religions, and Eco saying that superheroes might resemble more mythical characters. Mythical stories contain lessons and values, at least thats how I look at them. I believe that these two could get together and create a killer idea combination about superheroes.


  1. nice blog toni. you made a great summary and bring up some points that i did with the hetrodirection and political consciousness. i think to that i would be cool if they could team up but im pretty sure Eco has past away not forsure though.

  2. Actually, Eco's still alive and kicking :-)

    This is a fantastic post, Toni. You're clearly dealing with the text on a deeper level and understanding Eco's points. That's fantastic. But I think you've only got half of Eco's thesis; there's another side we'll discuss more in class :-)

  3. Very good summary. I feel you touch on all the main points of the reading. But i wouldn't be so sure that they would create a killer combo because although they can agree on the ideology of superheroes, where did the ideas originate from. Greek mythology or Jews...they both argue they views. But great post!!!