I might be a little late to the most recent Blogger's Wanted assignment all about the best character heel turns, but I figured I'd post it all the same. So here goes...
I never liked Superman. I always felt he was too... good. Superman may be the epitome of the superhero (it's even in his name. Super!) but at a certain point his entire character just seemed too overpowered for my taste. There was no real threat that could take him down. With super strength, invulnerability, heat vision, ice breath, x-ray vision, it sounds like you're reading off the superpower list of many different heroes, not just one. It's boring. When you know the good guy will win no matter what, it takes the edge off of the story and there's no reason to keep reading. The writers of Superman even addressed this problem by introducing the great equilizer, Kryptonite. But even that felt like a cheat to me. The supposed rarest substance in the universe was suddenly all over the place. Not to mention it created the age old question: why didn't the bad guys just make a Kryptonite bullet?
However, all the problems I had with Superman were absent from my favorite comic book character: Batman. He has no superpowers (aside from being rich), he constantly has his ass handed to him, he always questions whether or not he is even doing the right thing by heing a "superhero," and there is no magic rock that suddenly makes him weak. His character is gritty, dirty, and grounded in reality. I loved every bit of it. So I decided to give Justice League a try. I thought if Superman and Batman were combined into one story, along with a plethora of other interesting heroes, it could mask the faults I couldn't get past in Superman.
It didn't work. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the Justice League. I just didn't love the parts with Superman in the Justice League. I found everyone else very interesting, however. Wonder Woman? Aquaman? Flash? Green Lantern? Hawkgirl? I loved them all. They were all heroes who had faults, depth to their character. But I couldn't help but feel that every situation the Justice League took on could be singlehandedly solved by Superman. It kind of seemed like there was no real reason all the superheores had to come together, because really, all that would have been needed in the end was Superman.
At this point, I had pretty much resigned myself to be a Superman hater for the rest of my life. That was until Injustice: Gods Among Us happened. I'm going to be honest, I didn't actually play the video game until this year... but I did read the comics. And they were a revelation. Especially on the subject of the character of Superman. I never thought about what would happen if Superman suddenly decided to be a bad guy. Granted, in his own mind he wasn't being the "bad guy." But that's what made his arc all the more intersting. Now, all that unstoppable power was being used to subjugate the world instead of save it. The very aspects of Superman that bored me were now the reason I found him interesting. It was absolutely fascinating.
For those of you who have never played the video game or read the comics, Injustice: Gods Among Us is an alternate reality story about if Superman decided to be a Dictator by stopping all crime with an iron fist. This scenario (spolier!) comes about due to The Joker causing him to accidentally kill Lois Lane and destroy Metropolis by using Scarecrow's fear toxin laced with Kryptonite. This basically causes Superman to go insane and murder The Joker in front of Batman (end spoiler!). I had never thought about the implications of Superman becoming evil, but it totally changed how I felt about the character. Instead of being bored by Superman winning yet another lopsided battle for truth and justice, I was entralled by how dark he became.
This story also makes us think about if Superman really is in the wrong. He does pretty much stop crime, but does the end justify the means? Is it ok to rule through fear if it creates a world without crime? In my opinion, no. It's not really peace if you're terrified of being killed by a tyrannical dictator all the time. But I want to pass the question off to you. What do you think?
In the end, just like the best WWE wrestlers, when their character begins to get stale the best thing for them is a Heel Turn. It injects them with energy, it ignites a new fury in the fans, and it creates new and exciting storyline opportunities. This is exactly what happened with Superman in Injustice: Gods Among Us, and it's why it's my favorite video game/comic book heel turn of all time.
Thank you for reading! You can also find me on Twitter posting about life and video games here: @ggzordan.