“Power corrupts, so you cannot trust anybody to wield power, including those you believe are on your side. Even if they are good, they’re just going to become as corrupt as the people already in power, so really, don’t bother advocating for your voice to be represented among those in power – nothing will, or can, ever change.”

– the underlying philosophy I hear from people who espouse, “power corrupts”

The idea, “Superman is unrelatable,” is Luthorian propaganda and I will die on that hill. While we’re at it, so is the common application of the idea, “power corrupts” – which I often find is used as an excuse not to utilize the levers of power made available to you.

Lex Luthor cannot conceive that Superman wouldn’t abuse his power because Lex Luthor knows he would abuse such power if he had the chance. And Lex Luthor believes he’s the smartest, most capable man in the world – if he can’t be trusted not to be selfish, there’s no way this alien creature possibly could! I have a feeling this is what a lot of people who can’t relate to Superman also feel: “Why wouldn’t he just take over the world? That’s what I would do!”

But – and people may think I’m being overly optimistic here – I really don’t think most people would attempt to take over the world if they had Superman’s power. At least, not anybody who genuinely has a desire to be a good person and wants to hold themselves to some sort of standard. I truly believe that most people have a conscience, and that’s enough to keep them from being assholes with whatever power they have. Otherwise, we’d be seeing a lot more assholes just roaming about everyday (even more so than you see now, for all you folks who would respond, “But we already do, amirite?”).

And that’s the question Superman stories are really trying to ask: “When granted power – over your children, your workers, your community, etc. – what is the most responsible way to utilize it? How do you grapple with that responsibility?” Which, of course, was already better expressed with Spider-Man’s: “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

So if we allow ourselves to believe, “Superman is unrelatable,” because we cannot comprehend someone wielding power and not abusing it, we give ourselves permission to abuse whatever power comes our way. “I can’t help it! Power corrupts! Of course I was going to use it irresponsibly! I’m only human! I ain’t Superman!”

– James