Given human nature to develop, create and utilise tools and technology, what sort of technology should Superman create and employ, or should his achievements be limited to his own purely physical and mental efforts?
I think one of the core elements of Superman is his role as a Man of Tomorrow, and so I think technology should come into play in at least some of the stories we get, but I think it has to be done right, and I don't think Superman needs to be building future tech for anyone.
For me, Superman is this last bastion of the old world morals in the the chassis of the Future Man, and as such it's his job to bring to mankind all the benefits of an advanced society while protecting it from the incidental evils that arise from rapid, sudden development.
He should be trying to disseminate nuclear power but stopping the nuclear bomb, to couch it in 20th century terms. Fighting Lex Luthor while encouraging John Henry Irons. Ripping apart giant evil robots while stopping corporations from stealing and owning the patents on life saving robot surgeons.
I don't think it's his role to build. I think it's his role to protect, and encourage.
I think the building has to come from humanity itself.
I too am greatly enjoying this discussion. So thanks to all who are participating.
Anyway, I do agree that this sort of thing needs to be handled carefully or it could get out of control.
But I maintain that Superman as a scientist is essential to exploring the character's full potential. And more importantly, it makes him more fun.
It does raise problems with the shared universe. If Superman is so smart it does make the League look secondary. But if you dumb down Superman to make everyone else look good, that's no better. And besides isnt being better than us sort of the point of the character? Isnt he the best of the best and the person other heroes aspire to be? And there are stories out there that showcase Superman in all his glory without taking away from others. You dont write Superman down, you write everyone else up. You show them at their best and show why they're worthy of being at Clark's side, rather than dumbing Clark down so the others are relevant. That's been a big problem of mine for years; Clark being written as less powerful, less intelligent, and just "less" so that others look good next to him.
Anyway, there are a few factors to look at really. One being his homeworld. Krypton was so far ahead of us, their children would have to be smarter just to keep up. Morrison touched on that a bit in Action and there is real life research out there that shows our children are being born smarter than we are. Advancement of the species I suppose. I mean, my kid is doing stuff in Kindergarten that I didnt do until first or second grade. As we learn more we squeeze more information into the kids. And throughout the Silver Age Superman was a scientist and explorer. So there is a precedent for it.
And if you look at Clark's worldview, its an odd mix. At a young age he travels to the 30th century and finds a bright future waiting. So he's got this massive, big picture worldview, but to his mind, he is not building the future. The future is already happening, he is just doing his part to make sure we get there. It's very humble yet everything he does is focused towards that big picture, ultimate end.
And then there's the background at the farm. Clark believes in hard work and being hands on. He's probably the only reporter out there who still uses a pen and notepad rather than a tablet. So he has that old school mentality to him as well.
Personally, I see Superman as being a sort of super-mechanic. I could see him spending a day at the Fortress and rebuilding a classic Mustang while at the same time trying to develop a device that can see and record the same energy wavelengths he can. To him there's almost no difference and it's all hands on. Hell he likely forges the parts himself. And its likely a hobby moreso than anything else. I would imagine that had he grown up on Krypton he would have done well for himself in whatever career he ended up in but I doubt he would ever rise to the amazing genius levels of his father.
Do I see him building machines to help defeat his enemies? No. He's not Batman. He doesnt have a device waiting under a sheet somewhere for the next time Solaris shows up. And he's not the sort of guy to share his technology and discoveries with humanity either. It's humanity's job to evolve along their own path. He's not going to interfere with that. Will he share his tech with the League so the Watchtower is better equipped to detect and handle threats? Absolutely. And Batman does the same, and J'onn has shared his native tech too. And Palmer's tech and Magnus' tech and Steel's are all mixed in there as well. Like the League itself, the Watchtower is better than the sum of its parts, even though the individual parts are pretty amazing on their own.
Myself, Adkal, and others who are in favor of this sort of thing are likely thinking along the lines of All-Star Superman. There, Clark had some amazing devices. The Time Window and the Super-Serum and the Cosmic Anvil just to name a couple. And I like that. It adds a fantastical nature to the character that very few superheroes can match. It all helps make Superman bigger than life, which he should be. And Clark was smart enough to figure out what Lex's ultimate plan was and prepare counter-measures. That's how I see Superman using his intellect.
He doesnt have the highest raw IQ on earth (though he's still likely one of the smarter men around). And there are plenty of people who are better than he is at their chosen fields. Im sure Clark does not understand the physics that Ray Palmer uses as the Atom. And Magnus' developments in robotics are likely as inspiring to Clark as Clark is inspiring to everyone else. Same goes for Steel and Im sure Clark wishes he was as clever and smart as Lex is. But Clark should be more than a super strong jock who's answer to every problem is "punch it until it goes away." That does a disservice to the character and the readers.
I can see Clark using his tech to streamline his work as Superman. He should be the ultimate multi-tasker and anything that he uses (like advanced comms systems) are there to help save lives. If he can hack into emergency channels and let the cops and hospitals know of a threat before they would otherwise find out, then those people are better able to save lives when the dust settles. That I can see. Putting on a power suit or something? Not so much. Again, Clark is a hands on sort of guy and if he can solve a problem on his own he's going to do it. But he should still be clever. He should be able to figure out what someone like Lex is doing and prepare for it.
Again, All-Star Superman. He doesnt need tech to help him beat up villains. But using his tech to explore the universe? Absolutely. Using his tech (a little) to help save lives as he flies into battle? Sure. Just so long as he does not become reliant on anything but his own two fists and his own mind, he's good. As soon as he starts needing Phantom Zone projectors to handle problems all the time, then its gone to far.
With all that said I do however think that Superman should opt to do things with his hands more of the time just because of how he was raised as a farmers son with a real belief in the working man.
I mainly think there should be a harmony between these two sides of one man
Im basically with Desaad and Superlad here.
Superman is one smart mutha. His father was the smartest man on his homeworld, and Krypton was so far ahead of us they might as well have been using magic. The population would therefore be a lot smarter than us in general, and Clark is the son of their brightest mind? Clark aint no mindless jock.
But he also is a firm believer in hard work and getting your hands dirty. He's got that old school frame of mind where he'd rather do the work himself.
I do think he should utilize advanced tech in his day to day battles for truth and justice. If his suit can hack into emergency communication channels, then Superman can alert the authorities of problems. He can let the cops know where the problems are, how many people need medical attention, what sort of danger there could be, if any harmful elements are present, and all that, before the cops would otherwise even know there is a disturbance. And Clark is like the king of multi-tasking. He can do all this while he swoops in to deal with the threat without wasting more than the few seconds he spares slowing down the less than supersonic speeds. That sort of thing saves lives and time. And Superman should be all about efficiency.
Should he share his tech? No. We're seeing what sudden leaps in technological advancement can do to society right now. Imagine how much worse it would be with Kryptonian tech suddenly out there? No, humanity has its own path to forge and that does not include getting free stuff from dead cultures.
That said though, I think the last thing Superman ever does for humanity should be to send the basic foundation of Kryptonian science to every single computer on earth. Make it so that the nations of the world will have to work together to decode it all. It could take decades upon decades for us to understand the basic principals, and by that time, maybe we will have been working towards that common goal for so long we will forget that we're normally killing each other. That could be his last, greatest gift to humanity. I think that would be fitting.
Though nothing on other species is given, we can assume 8th is very high because they were the most advanced in the galaxy and is known through out the universe.
Hope this helped.
I pretty much agree with everything that's been posted by 'ascended', 'superlad93' and 'Desaad'.
I think, though, that, for the most part, the tech he develops and uses (other than mainline comms tech, etc) would be more geared to discovery and learning.
He could, for example, develop a viewer which allows him to observe the Omega Effect energies which could, in turn, lead to a greater understanding of Darkseid (information he would willingly share with Orion). (Sure would have come in helpful with the 'Bruce Wayne Incident' ;) )
He should also know and understand the weapons utilised across the multiverse - not for development but to put an end to their use against innocents quickly. For example, if Mongul pulls out a gun made of a materials which give Kal's strength and heat vision some issues he should still be able to neutralise it quickly by removing key parts...before Mongul even knows he's done so!
Anyway, I think it's a mistake and a titch dangerous to focus too much on Superman's inventor intellect. He's got a supporting cast for that. Make him CANNY, smart in the way that he comes up with solutions to problems, rather than building super suits of this or that. That way you can have a little more interaction with guys like John Henry Irons.