Superman year 0, part 6 – The Übermensch

Übermensch’s Impact and Ideological Clashes in Superman’s Story

 

“What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

 

 

 

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Content in a flash:

1. Nietzsche Übermensch: Did the Übermensch have any influence on the creation of Superman?;

2. Superman, Ideologies, and the Clash of Good and Evil;

 

1. Nietzsche Übermensch: Did the Übermensch had any influence on the creation of Superman?

 

Nietzsche Superman

Nietzsche’s Übermensch: A Hero of Our Time?

Most of us have heard and know of Nietzsche’s Übermensch, published in 1883. But, what is it about exactly and was there any influence on the creation of Superman?

The Übermensch, born out of the epiphanic experience that also gave rise to Eternal Return, Zarathustra, and to the concept of ‘Death of God’ is described in ‘Also sprach Zarathustra‘ (1883–85) and it represents an individual who transcends conventional moralities and societal norms, creating his own values and meaning in life.

Nietzsche envisioned this figure as someone who embraces his own power, creativity, and authenticity, unbound by traditional beliefs and constraints.

The Übermensch is essentially a symbol of self-overcoming, personal growth, and of the rise above societal limitations to create a more free and authentic existence. Yet, it’s also an individualist, is someone who discards conventional morality to act based on personal will and desires.

 

But did the Übermensch had any influence on the creation of Superman? As we will shortly see, most probably not.

Serie: Nietzsche Superman

nietzsche superman

Nietzsche’s Übermensch: A Hero of Our Time?

 

The word ‘Superman’ come from George Bernard Shaw’s 1903 play “Man and Superman,” which notably took up Nietzsche’s concept of the ‘Übermensch’.

But who was the Übermensch for Nietzsche?
The Übermensch represented an individual who transcended human morality, acting based on his own will rather than a traditional moral framework, and this individual was driven by a “will to power”.

Through the Übermensch, Nietzsche criticized the morality that devalued strength and dominance by associating them with negative values. His critique, tracing back to Judaism, identified in it the origin of an inversion of values, inversion that led, according to Nietzsche, to a situation where the powerful felt like ‘slaves’ because moral values encouraged weakness rather than strength as a virtue.

Contrary to misconceptions, Nietzsche’s views were not anti-Semitic; his critique simply focused on the origins of morality and its inversion of values rather than targeting specific groups and his philosophy promoted a subjective morality guided by the concept of ‘will to power’.

Upon closer inspection, it’s possible that Nietzsche’s Übermensch did have an influence, but not on Superman; rather, it impacted his archenemy Adolf Hitler, who was fascinated by it but also distorted its philosophical principles.

The disconnection between Nietzsche’s Übermensch and Superman lies in their core principles and actions: the Übermensch is an individualist, is someone who transcends conventional morality to act based on personal will and desires.

Superman instead, embodies altruism and selflessness.

The Übermensch rejects what Nietzsche referred to as the “moral of slaves,” criticizing traditional morality that devalues strength and celebrates weakness.

In contrast, Superman exemplifies the inversion of this concept by championing values that uplift the weak and oppressed. He uses his immense power to protect and serve humanity, emphasizing compassion and justice.

Given these differences in philosophy and action, it’s evident that while Nietzsche’s Übermensch concept and Superman share themes of transcending limitations, their fundamental values and actions are divergent. Superman’s altruistic nature and commitment to serving humanity align more with the inversion of values Nietzsche critiqued, rather than representing the individualistic Übermensch.

Therefore, the direct influence of Nietzsche’s Übermensch on the creation and ethos of Superman appears limited, as the character’s essence is rooted more in altruism and service rather than the individualistic philosophy proposed by the German Philosopher.

 

2. Nietzsche Superman, Ideologies, and the Clash of Good and Evil

If we carefully analyze Superman’s story, we realize that two polarities clearly emerge:

On one side, there’s Clark, the ‘Clericus’ (that’s what Clark means), representing the ‘son of God’, embodying goodness and serving as a bridge between God and humanity; while on the other side, there’s someone aiming to kill him, Lex Luthor.

This seems to parallel the realities of that historical time: On one side, the rising of Superman, who fights for truth and justice. Conversely, on the other side of the Atlantic, in Europe, we witnessed the dark rise of Adolf Hitler, the ‘son of God’ of the 20th century, representing evil, steeped in Nietzsche’s nihilistic ideology and proclaiming the death of God.

Lex Luthor like Adolf Hitler then. Well, there actually seems to be an intriguing connection between the two, because in confirmation of the parallel just mentioned, the consonants of Luthor (LTHR) in Hebrew (where vowels are not written), form the anagram of Hitler (HTLR).

They also form the anagram of ‘Luther,’ (LTHR) namely Martin Luther, THE German theologian who denied the mediation between man and God.

Just two genuinely intriguing coincidences? our suggestion maybe? Who knows.

Serie: Nietzsche Superman

nietzsche superman

Superman vs. the Nazis: How Comics Influenced American Public Opinion – Aish.com

 

Superman, as an icon, immediately drew denigration and hostility from the Nazi media apparatus. His strength and moral superiority not only stood in stark contrast to Nazi ideology but also posed a risk—a threat—as he had the potential to inspire masses toward goodness.

Ultimately, the in-depth analysis of the duality represented by Superman and his antagonists, such as Lex Luthor, provides a fascinating reflection of the struggle between good and evil, not only within the realm of comics but also in the historical reality of the time.

 

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

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