‘Eternals’: Ikaris and the “Evil Superman” Trope

If you’ve seen the new MCU movie Eternals (and go see that before you read further because HERE BE SPOILERS!) then you know that one of its main characters is a Superman analog.

Ikaris  (Richard Madden) can fly, has super-strength, super-invulnerability, and heat vision. Director Chloé Zhao has confirmed that the character was inspired by the Superman film Man of Steel.

As one child in the film says pointing at Ikaris, “Dad, that’s Superman! With the cape, and you were shooting laser beams out of your eyes!’” Okay, Ikaris, doesn’t have a cape. But you get the idea.

The other thing that Ikaris doesn’t have is good guy-ness. He doesn’t fight for truth, justice, and the flourishing of everyone. He fights (Spoiler!) for global genocide. Bad Superman!

The thing is, there are a lot of Bad Supermen swooping around out there in comics and on various screens. Almost since the character started jumping tall buildings, creators and audiences have been fascinated with the idea that this all-powerful protector good daddy might turn into an all-powerful bad daddy.

Ikaris is one in a long line of bad (bad!) Superdudes who explore the downsides of relying on some superior someone to save us. With laser eyes.