The director of “Superman, the Movie”, Richard Donner, reflecting some time ago upon this enormously popular comic book hero, thought it might be time “to bring a little greater sense of reality into it.”  Superman without doubt had performed heroically in his comic book years and followed through impressively once he hit the big screen.  He could, all agreed, be depended upon to battle evil doers, right wrongs and align himself with the forces of law and order.

But I’ve long thought that given his incredible powers, his virtual indestructibility and admirable moral compass, he had yet to live up to his potential for tackling the really big issues here on earth.  He had no doubt accomplished much and benefitted many, but there was so much more he could do.  What potential he had to become a real game changer in the world.  Why could he not occupy a central role in world affairs, leave his mark on our civilization as no one else had ever done.  I can’t imagine that Superman would object to such an assignment.  It would, of course, be a full-time job and so would relieve him of responsibility to work, largely unrecognized in the newspaper business.  No doubt it would mightily impress Lois Lane (not that she had not already been swept off her feet by Superman).

Were Superman to accept the mission, I would above all else call upon him to serve as the global watchman, ever on the alert to stave off a range of potential natural disasters.  His uncanny powers of observation and super vision would allow him to detect movements under the earth’s surface, early warning signs of an earthquake in the making.  His response then would be to tunnel down to the affected zone, realign the subterranean plates, thereby taking the pressure off, thus averting disaster.  Similarly, with the information supplied to him by weather observatories he could speed to those areas where conditions suggested a high probability of an organized hurricane forming.  Once there, using his astounding lung power, he could disrupt the eye, disperse the clouds, leaving only a tropical storm in its wake.  Disastrous floods need no longer occur with Superman on the lookout.  Given his astonishing abilities he’d be able to dam up vulnerable areas, thereby diverting waters into less destructive paths and deeper river channels able to retain additional water within their banks.  (Superman could have been asked to widen and deepen the Panama Canal, thus avoiding the costly and time-consuming project about to be completed.)

Superman might be persuaded to turn his attention to exploring for currently undiscovered oil deposits, both on land and off shore.  After finding new extensive pools of petroleum and tunneling down to their locations, Superman might then sell or lease them to major oil producers, so long as they agreed to bring the oil to market.  Given the additional huge supply, prices would fall substantially to the delight of motorists, the discomfort of OPEC and the distress of ruling elites in many oil-rich countries who’ve long exploited the resource to maintain themselves in power.  While on the subject of power, might he be persuaded to gather up most of the nuclear weaponry in the world and deposit it well out of reach, thus contributing to the reduction of international tensions?

Attempting to avert natural disasters (something he’d already done in the past) could be child’s play compared with confronting some of the world’s more intractable leaders and issues.  Still, he may wish to try his hand at effecting regime change simply by snatching “bad guys” and removing them all to some remote island in the Pacific after providing for comfortable accommodations and allowing trusted associates to join them there.  Potential candidates for such peremptory extractions include Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, some of the nastiest perpetrators of mayhem in the Congo; Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, certain high level Al qaeda “masterminds”, organized crime kingpins and selected dictators from nations once part of the Soviet Union.  The list would be subject to periodic revision (and be the basis for discussion to determine whether their replacements would be any better).

Superman would be aware of many of the world’s current hot spots and troubling conflicts and likely conclude, as have so many others, that they’re likely to remain intractable situations beyond immediate solutions.  The hostility between India and Pakistan, the ongoing impasse involving Israel and the Palestinians, Tibet’s desire to remove the grip of China, the severe tensions between North and South Korea cannot be resolved by Superman’s strong-armed methods.  Furthermore, it’s unlikely he’d make much headway against the well-entrenched international drug trade.

Before we unleash Superman, some questions remain.  Will he be viewed as a neutral worldwide benefactor, or criticized as an instrument of particular nations or ideologies?  Will we become overly dependent upon him and lose our capacity to deal with vital issues ourselves?  Will Superman commit to this agenda indefinitely or perhaps soon grow weary of his burdens?  Can we rely on him to remain selfless or will his unchallenged power corrupt him?  What then?  Perhaps it’s best we give this scheme some additional thought.

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