There has been complains that some comic book heroes are far from fulfilling their potential, while others’ capabilities are being constantly exaggerated.
The problem here is comic companies wants to put their superpowered heroes back on Earth, while maintaining their god like powers, which is impossible. That’s why they need to tone down the capabilities of said heroes, or making them utterly flawed, in order to make their presence on Earth a bit more “logical”, to keep them “grounded”. How? Well, they dumb them down and rise the abilities of their human colleagues and companions, making them increasingly perfect, so they can be together, in the same “league”, sort of speak.
They continuously make the “supers” indivisibly attached to a human and under human orders and supervision. They made them “human dependent” to force a fragile Earthly connection.
That’s why Superman keeps fighting criminals armed with guns. Really? Still? As if we don’t know by now there’s no danger at all, and bullets bounce off his chest. Short while ago, they even made Superman, the alien, ask for Batman’s help and expertise on…wait for it…: aliens! It’s like a dude mansplaining women’s problems to a female audience.
That’s the perfect example of dumbing him down and ridiculously augmenting Batso’s importance.
Let’s be clear: Superman and Batman are NOT in the same level, no matter what the fans of the latter want to think.
The thing here is: there’s a simpler way to make every hero relevant while preserving their proper place and status, to respect them. They must establish power levels and assign each hero to a task according to it.
Superpowered people should handle bigger things like alien invasions, natural desasters, large structures destruction, interplanetary disorders, etc. Things only they could handle.
Non-supers should attend more domestic matters like street level crime, politics, international intrigues, murderous cults, espionage, armed conflicts, etc. Plenty for them to do.
Collaboration between the different power levels should exist, especially for the non-superpowered, but also for the others, when it comes to crowd control, rescue missions and salvage, medical assistance, etc., so the supers can focus their attention on the bigger problem. But collaborate they must in order to do a good and efficient job guarding innocents lives.
There’s this notion that being too “planetary” would make the “supers” inaccessible and inhuman: godlike. Unlike politicians, superheroes won’t be less approachable because they don’t kiss babies on a daily basis (which they can also do, by the way), because they can handle global warming issues, famine, epidemics and such and be in contact with everyday folks.
Only the skills of the writing team could cover the plethora of gray zones and nuances that may arise (I’m not holding my breath). The heroes still can be part of the same group, even befriend each other, but in charge of very different things.
But putting a non-superpowered human to fight on alien worlds with extreme climatic conditions and even different gravity and pressure issues, side by side with those for whom the immense difference is, mostly, unnoticeable, is simply preposterous. Specially if the human is always leading the charge and saving the day.
Same way, putting not one, but two Green Lanterns permanently assigned to Earth is a bit of an overkill.
You can’t expect us to believe a hero who can move at light speed between planets in the vacuum of space and a person who still moves around in a local transportation vehicle are the same thing, or even make the non-powered a better hero, no matter how cool the car or plane.
What the hell they have superpowers for, if the human can do what they do and more?
Also, there should be levels in the intended targets of the story: nowadays you can’t expect to make the same script equally appealing to younger or more mature audiences, like comic companies do. That’s disrespectful, because it end up offending their intelligence and/or their sensibility. Audiences had evolved, became more curious and inquisitive. More informed and demanding.
Having said that, it doesn’t mean you can’t write more “fairy tale like” stories also, for simpler, less complicated tastes, but I think it’s better not to mix the ones with the others too often. It’s the same existing difference between fantasy and science fiction: in fantasy, anything can happen, magically and without explanation. Science fiction audiences, on the other hand, will demand explanations about every little thing and how they came to be, nic-picking the hell out of it. There’s no need for the authors to make it truthful, just make it sound plausible.
There was a time when comics were just kid stuff. Comic companies know, by now, their readers cover a wider spectrum of ages, so they can’t treat them the same way. As long as comic companies and their editors and authors consider their audiences immature and uniform, things won’t change. Audiences changed, but apparently they didn’t.
That doesn’t mean grown up people won’t enjoy simple, more naive and basic stories from time to time. That doesn’t mean younger readers won’t enjoy a more complicated, serious and darker tale from time to time.
“From time to time” being the operative phrase here. And depending on the quality of the writing
It’s easier for editors to treat everybody the same way. It’s cheaper. And when sales start to decline, they put the blame in a fluctuating market and the public shifting their attention to other media, like movies and series. They never blame themselves and their lack of vision and imagination. People still want to consume comics, they are just tired of the same stories revisited over and over again. People get tired of low quality writing and some of their beloved heroes being treated like second rate characters, while others can get away with anything, defying all logic, even comic logic (which they must have, in order to be consistent). Adults get tired of being treated like little kids because they consume comics. They want to feel the comic companies respect them.
Adults comics does not mean sexually explicit ones. Not only. It refers, mainly, to their complexity and depth.
There has to be differentiation in the targeted clientele. Every other media discerns between mature and younger audiences, but comics got stuck in a time when the primary target were kids. It isn’t so anymore.
“One size fits all” means nobody will be comfortable in their clothes.