Superhero stories exist for a reason. They are inspirational, fun and let us imagine what it would be like if superhumans actually existed. Over on the subreddit r/DC_Cinematic, user DenisBastardMan wondered how people would react to a real-life Superman.
Most people, like DCmarvelman, went straight to the most plausible answer: humanity would go nuts.
“The religious world would go haywire. Russia and China would go haywire. Everything Jonathan feared, when being confronted with the bus dilemma.”
User NexoNerd101 agreed with that sentiment.
“To be very honest, like Man of Steel and BvS.
“If there was a superpowered being [sic] who had the ability to fly and supersonic speeds, the strength to literally move a house, can fire beams out of it’s eyes, and sqiush massive trucks like its cardboard? I guarantee you the entire world would be scared beyond comprehension.”
User Grouchy_Kick_3921 said that Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice was actually pretty good at playing out this very scenario.
“BvS was incredibly accurate in this matter. He would be loved and hated, feared and respected, called an American hero and a Russian spy. No matter what he does, his act would be political and there would always be someone who would hate it. Even if he saves a cat out of a tree, someone with a dog would complain. ‘Polarising’ to say briefly.”
This was backed up by user Araella, who talked about Superman dealing with the public and trying to manage the PR aspect.
“This is why I love the movie. It’s exactly how I imagine the public would react to knowing someone like Superman was real. And although it’s not popular, I think his reaction to all of it is accurate too. He takes time to come to terms with the public and tries to find the best way to do good while dealing with how he is treated*. He had to realize the good and bad that comes with being in the public eye as humanity struggles to come to terms with him just existing, and we see him beginning to come into his own toward the end. It would have been a beautiful arc and I wish we could have seen it.”
Others expressed fear, like MuMbLe145, who shared that someone with Superman’s power would be incredibly dangerous.
“Personally I’d be terrified if Superman or someone like him was real. Nobody should have that kind of power, yeah if used right can be a hero but the odds of that are sliiim.”
The consensus seems to be that reactions would be mixed and go to extremes. User MrKevora said as much in his answer.
“… Some would deify him and treat him like a god. Others would simply look up to him as a saviour who can make the world a better place. Others would condemn him and question his authority politically, while others (who either view him as a threat or who suffer from mental illness) would want to kill him or ruin his reputation by resorting to terrorism and framing him for it. All of these aspects were very accurately showcased by BvS.”
One insightful comment from Guardian_Of_Light2 explained that it would be reminiscent of the show Smallville.
“Something similar that happened in Smallville when Clark revealed his identity as the Red-Blue Blur: Acceptance at first, a warm feeling of welcome (and) gratefulness, then recklessness from people thinking Clark will save them, then blaming him when accidents happen and he’s not around and can’t be everywhere at once.”
User no2ing made a parallel to the hit show The Boys, where Homelander is basically what happens when a corporation tries to make a Superman from the ground up.
“Everyone would love to be superman a symbol of hope for humanity, but in the end humanity would just destroy him mentally and create an even more mentally deranged homelander. They would create someone who just doesn’t give a f*ck and we would be collateral damage for some of his so called heroic saves.”
In fact, the Homelander connections keep coming up, including this one from razor1859.
“Well, he wouldn’t be taken care of by the kents since the govt has eyes everywhere. and he’d be tested on and become a lab baby, and eventually, hed break free after developing so much hate for the human population, and he’d just become homelander without the need for validation. Truly scary shit.”
Probably the most concise comment, however, belongs to MrBravo.
“They’d expect him to pick a side.”
Whatever would happen, many don’t think it would be good.