Superman’s Future (Part I)

Image by Maciej Dakowicz via Flickr

Michelle Marchante | Staff Writer

Who doesn’t love Superman? I mean, come on, he’s strong, has a cape and flies. Add the fact that he’s a superhero and, well, he’s pretty much on top of our wish-we-were-you list. He’s an American cultural icon recognized merely by the large “S” on his suit or that famous phrase, “It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, It’s Superman!”

There are a lot of similar superheroes, so what makes Superman’s character and story better than the others, so much as to label him as an “American Icon?” Perhaps because while he has all these extraordinary powers he tries to live life like a normal person, or his commitment to saving a planet he’s learned to call home or that he’s virtually invincible so long as he avoids having Kryptonite in his premises.

I can’t help but feel curious, though, about what the future of Superman will entail as technology changes throughout the years.
Until I overheard a conversation between two students before class, I never really thought about this. Discussing events that had occurred in the comic books, I noticed they kept coming back to the scene where he changes costume in the phone booth. That got me thinking.

Everyone knows the story: With the glasses he’s Clark Kent, without them, he’s Superman. He normally runs into a phone booth to make the change. If you think about it, it’s not convenient, nor plausible anymore, for him to change in a phone booth. Phone booths are a rare find now – in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in Miami – and that’s when it hit me.
Sure, our generation knows about them, even if we don’t really see them all that much, but what about future generations? If I’m not mistaken, comic book superheroes tend to go with the times and certain aspects get changed to modernize them.
I don’t mean the big stuff, like how Captain America’s backstory was that he was a soldier fighting in World War II, I’m talking about little things, like modern cellphones, tablets and car models showing up – little things that help the reader relate to the story more.

My guess is that future readers will be wondering why Superman keeps going to change in something so completely antiquated. As the years progress and our cities change, so should Metropolis. Eventually readers will begin to question what antique phone booths are still doing stationed around the city Superman has sworn to protect.

The writers may have to eventually re-imagine Superman’s iconic changing room, and while it’s not something that will actually affect the overall story, it’s one of those moments readers can’t help but enjoy. The thought that maybe someone would see him become Superman in the booth, essentially discovering his secret, was a thrill in and of itself.
Whether they make him change somewhere else or just take it out of the story and never mention it again, it’s possible that Superman’s original impromptu costume changing room could become a forgotten memory.

In the end, it’ll really be up to the writers to decide what to do with this iconic scene, but one can’t help but speculate. There are hundreds of possibilities.
He could change in the midst of a crowd so fast that no one could catch it. He could “upgrade” to a photo booth.
Technically, he could even could gain a new power that would allow him to enter a cellphone as electricity to switch to his alter ego, though it would be, as freshman and huge Superman fan Alejandra Lopez stated, “weird.”

During my interview with Alejandra, she brought a new idea to the table, and it’s one I could definitely roll with. The problem isn’t where Superman will switch personas, but how he’ll keep his double-life a secret in the 21st century with everyone having access to social media sites, cameras and video recorders every second of the day.
Keeping his true identity on the down-low is definitely going to get harder through the years, but that’s one of the reasons his story has held our interest so long.

So, SuperFans, next time you think about the big man with the cape, have some fun and speculate. After all, sometimes, the best conversations begin with the words “what if.”


About the Author

Michelle Marchante
Michelle Marchante is the 2018-2019 Editor-in-Chief of PantherNOW. Majoring in broadcast journalism, she lives and breathes web, print, radio and TV news 24/7. You can connect with her on Twitter @TweetMichelleM

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