December 14, 2013 Ubermensch
Ubermensch is loosely translated as Superman. However, a better translation might be Beyond Human. To Nietzsche the Ubermensch is the goal of humanity—a sort of Bodhisattva or Christ-Consciousness for the Atheist and Anarchist. And yes, the term did inspire the superhero Superman. Nietzsche’s idea was known in 1896, but the comic book didn’t come out until 1938.
I was surprised to read that Superman was originally envisioned as a villain bent on world domination. Perhaps the creators associated the Ubermensch with the Germans we were fighting in WWII. The Nazis did, in fact, believe that the Ubermensch was the Aryan future. Thankfully, they re-imagined the character as a cross between Hercules and Flash Gordon. The name Clark Kent came from Clark Gable and Kent Taylor. The city Superman is not exactly New York City, but modeled after Fritz Lang’s 1927 Metropolis movie.
Sigel and Shuster were both Jewish and it shows in their choice of names. Kal-El—Superman’s Kyrtonian name—is Hebrew for “The Voice of God.” Superman is seen as a sort of Angel or Prophet. Like Moses, he is adopted by foreign parents. His abilities were inspired by the science fiction stories of John Carter.
Though I have seen the 1978 movie Superman and its two sequels, I never thought much about the character. Out of curiosity I rented the 2006 Superman Returns. I found it entertaining enough. Then Tuesday I finally got to see the 2nd reboot of the series Man of Steel. This 2013 version provided awesome special effects and a nonlinear narrative. Suddenly, I was curious about this 75 year old icon. Having read Nietzsche, I knew there had to be some connection and there was.