10 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Superman
The origins of Superman date back to 1933, when Jerry Siegel created the superhero for a comic book. Over the past eight decades, this simple comic drawing has become a cultural icon, a multimillion dollar brand, and the subject of debate among its fans.
The Superman story goes like this: He was born on another planet, Krypton, as Kal-Elon. His father, Jor-El, a scientist, launched the infant to Earth in a rocket in the moments right before the destruction of the planet. The baby was discovered by a Kansas farming couple, who raised him as Clark Kent. As the child grew into an adult, he began displaying several superhuman traits, which eventually he uses to benefit those in trouble.
Clark Kent becomes a journalist in the fictional city of Metropolis, and has a secret identity of Superman. His love interest is Lois Lane, and Lex Luthor, a supervillain, is his archenemy. Superman is part of the Justice League, and he often works with Wonder Woman and Batman.
Superman has long fascinated the American public, and even scholars have studied this character. There are a number of critics of Superman, too, as well as commentators and cultural theorists who have continuously kept the character in the forefront of American culture. There have been many adaptations of the character’s stories, including in video games, television shows and films.
Because of the cultural influence that Superman has had on fans, there is no surprise that there are things that people often get wrong about the character. Here are the top 10 things everyone gets wrong about Superman:
10. Superman Has Never Killed
One thing that people often get wrong about Superman is that he has never killed. Some fans get frustrated with the ‘Man of Steel’ because he seems to have opportunity after opportunity to kill his enemies, but he never does it. This has caused many fans to believe that he has never killed anyone. This, however, is not true.
Comic fans know that other superheroes often do not hesitate when it comes to eliminating their enemies, but Superman seems to never do this. He did, however, kill Zod in the film, Man of Steel, and this is not the first time that the superhero has taken a life. Fans, however, were outraged by this death, as Superman, according to some, is not supposed to kill, right?
Throughout the so called ‘Golden Age’ of Superman, he killed a number of evildoers, and even took it upon himself to destroy weapons factories knowing that people were inside. In modern times, Superman has also killed his enemies, including Doomsday. Additionally, in the comic Superman #22, he not only killed Zod, he also killed Quex-Ul and Faora with kryptonite.
Still not convinced? There are is more blood on Superman’s hands, too. For instance, in The New 52, Superman uses his heat vision to remove Dr. Light’s head. So, the outrage from fans due to the death of Zod is quite unfounded, as there is no rule that ever said that Superman couldn’t kill. Though Superman does his best to not resort to death, there have been times he has had to make this choice for the good of all.
9. Superman Has Only Had Eyes for Lois Lane
Most people consider Lois Lane to be the one and only love interest to ever cause Superman’s heart to flutter, but she is not the only one who Clark Kent/Superman has had eyes for.
Lois is certainly an interesting character in the Clark Kent/Superman university, as not only is she one of the better known love interests in the comic book world, she is also quite possibly the strongest. She is far from a damsel in distress, which is the common theme in comic books, and she has a sexy side to her, that ensures Kent/Superman doesn’t stray too far. However, Lois Lane is not the only woman who has caught the eye of this superhero.
Lana Lang, for instance, was the first love of Superman’s life, and she appeared in the first Superboy comics. Essentially, Lana was simply a teenage version of the well-known Lois Lane, but over the years, the relationship between Clark and Lang ranged from friends to high school sweethearts. There is also a recurring theme of a lot of conflict with Lane, as the two women vie for the attention of Superman. Eventually, however, Lang ended up marrying Clark Kent’s childhood friend, so once again, Lois Lane became the main love interest.
There is also a relationship of some type between Superman and Wonder Woman, Lori Lemaris, who was a mermaid, and Maxima, an Alien woman who would be able to have Kryptonian children with him.
8. Superman/Clark Kent is 29 Years Old
For those who have been a fan of Superman since the mid 1970s to modern times, when asked about the age of Superman, they most often say 29. However, this is not exactly true. Throughout the history of the Superman comics, his age has varied. At first, Superman’s age was intentionally left undefined, and any specific date references were given in regards to events that occurred in the Golden Age and Silver Age comics. This way, the writers never had to reveal any specific event that would allow readers to determine how old Superman was. It wasn’t until the early 1970s that writers began to cite him as 29.
Since most modern readers are familiar with Superman being 29, most people believe that he is always 29, but different storylines have different ages for the Man of Steel. For instance, throughout the “Death of Superman” storyline, Clark Kent was shown to be 34 years old, and in the “Zero Hour” storyline, he was 35.
Superman/Clark Kent also has a number of birthdates, which may have something to do with the discrepancy in age. The first mention of Superman’s birthday was in Action Comics #149, and in this comic, it was stated that his birthday was in October. However, from the 1960s to the 1980s, the comics referred to his birthday as February 29. Clark Kent, however, has been said to celebrate his birthday in June, on the 18th, but after an editorial revamp, Kent’s birthday was said to be on February 29.
7. Everyone Believes that Superman is an All-Around Nice Guy
When most people think about the personality of Superman, they see him as a kind-hearted, brave hero with a sense of righteousness, justice and morality. He is the “small-town boy,” who grew up in Kansas and taught well by his adoptive parents, and he has a strong commitment to operate within the law. Many people, in fact, refer to him as being as good as a boy scout. Looks, however, can be deceiving.
In the beginning, Siegel wrote Superman as an aggressive and rough individual, and often terrorized his enemies in a coarse manner and with looser morals than modern fans may be used to. He was also seen as a vigilante at the beginning, too, and was even fired upon by the National Guard at some point.
It wasn’t until the 1940s that the character began working with the police to fight crime. Before this, the superhero was never concerned about harming others, and he literally would toss villains in ways that would presumably kill them.
Whitney Ellsworth, a new editor for the series, put an end to this in 1940, and he banned the writers from having Superman kill anyone else. After this rule was put into place, the writers changed the way the character acted; he had a softer personality, he started being a humanitarian, and over the years, he became the hero that we know of today.
So, Superman was not always the good guy that fan’s love. Instead, he had a mean streak that caused him to harm, kill, and even become wanted by the National Guard.
6. People Believe That Superman Can’t Get Hurt or Die
There are also people out there who believe that Superman cannot get hurt or die. This, however, is not true. After all, if you are a fan of the comic book series, you will know that Superman did, indeed, die in the “Doomsday” storyline after being beaten to death. This is not the only way that he can die or get hurt, however, despite the belief that he is extra powerful.
First, Superman can be taken down with magic. Superman is not immortal, and the magic from a powerful sorcerer could easily cause harm, or even death, to the superhero. Though Superman has taken a lot of magical hits which have hurt, thus far, it has not been enough to kill him, but it could.
The other thing that could really harm Superman, and possibly kill him, is kryptonite. Though kryptonite does not affect Superman as much as it would affect those on his home planet, long exposure to this substance can kill him. It isn’t actually the kryptonite that can harm him, it is the radiation that comes from the explosion of Krypton due to the kryptonite. This is similar to how a human may die after long term exposure to radiation after a nuclear accident.
Superman is also vulnerable to the exposure of Red Sun energy. This energy will not kill him, but it will wear down his powers, which would allow him to be killed with traditional means, just like any other human.
5. Everyone Thinks That Superman is Not Intelligent
Though Superman is a superhero known for his super strength, he isn’t as well known for his intelligence, though he is quite smart when comparing him to other superheroes.
When Superman was first introduced during the 1930s, he was super strong, which allowed him to move trains, cars and ships, and was super-fast, which allowed him to run faster than a train. He also had the ability to jump as much as 1/8 of a mile high, and could easily clear buildings.
Throughout the 1940s to the 1980s, Superman gained and developed a number of new powers, including the ability to fly. He gained the ability to remain invulnerable to a number of situations, including nuclear explosions, and he had both heat and X-ray vision. Additionally, he could use his eyes to observe interstellar distances, and even at a microscopic level. Superman also developed an eidetic memory and genius-level intelligence.
This new intelligence was a result of becoming exposed to the yellow sun. Since he is Kryptonian, which has a red sun, the yellow sun of Earth has a special effect on him. This newfound intelligence allowed him to speed read, absorb large amounts of info very quickly, and he could both understand and speak all languages.
This is all for naught these days, however, as Superman has lost much of this power after the “Death of Superman” and “Infinite Crisis” story arch. However, he has once again developed a high degree of intelligence, though he can be outsmarted by Batman or Lex Luthor, to the dismay of fans.
4. Everyone Believes That Superman is a Modern Version of Jesus
If you have been a fan of Superman for a long time, you probably have heard of the parallels between Jesus and Superman. Yes, there are some similarities between the two figures, but this doesn’t mean that Superman is a modern, fictional form of Jesus.
First, Superman was created by two Jewish teenagers, and the likelihood that they would create Superman as the reflection of Jesus, who they would not believe was the Son of God, is very slim, indeed. It is much more likely that Superman was created as a reflection of their immigrant lifestyles, and how they attempted to acclimate to the lives of Americans, just as Superman must do when he arrives from Krypton.
There is also talk about Superman’s arch nemesis, Lex Luthor, being a reflection of Lucifer, one of the names for Satan. This, however, is also unlikely. Instead, it is much more likely that Lex Luthor was based on the German theologian Martin Luthor, who was an anti-Semite. Again, as the creators of the comic were Jewish, this makes a lot of sense.
If you know anything about Jesus, you know that he is sometimes referred to as the “Prince of Peace,” and there is nothing peaceful about Superman. He does what he does through violence in many cases, something that Jesus would never do based on the teachings of his in the Bible. There are also instances of Superman being racists, especially towards the Japanese, which goes far beyond the teachings of Jesus.
3. People Believe That Superman Can Solve the Problems of the World
All superheroes have their powers. Flash has speed, Batman has smarts, and Wonder Woman has strength. Superman, however, has all three of these, and because of this, people believe that Superman can solve all of the problems in the world.
Some people that believe this claim that with Superman’s powers, he could stop crime in as little as a couple of years. However, crime is not something that you can simply control with physical force. If you killed off all of the gangs in a certain neighborhood, for instance, it would only cause more fear and anger, and these people would start gangs of their own. Couldn’t Superman put all of the bad guys in jail? Sure, but this would only lead to new people committing crimes.
On top of all of this, to actually solve all of the problems in the world, you must be a leader, which Superman isn’t, and he has no ability to force any others to follow his ideals. Plus, even if he tried, there is no guarantee that the population would accept these ideals or even be able to handle it. This is shown to be true in Superman: Peace on Earth. In this comic, Clark Kent attempts to resolve world hunger by delivering full tankers of food to areas in need. What he finds, however, is that the people he was trying to help became arrogant and destructive, which goes against everything that Kent was attempting to achieve.
2. Everyone Thinks That Superman Can Hide With Glasses
If you ask some fans of the Superman universe, they will tell you that Superman is able to conceal his true identity with only a pair of glasses. This, however, is untrue.
The truth here, is that when Clark wears his glasses, it changes the color of his eye, the tone of his voice, and he melts right into the background. However, this is all an aesthetic that helps to contribute to the fact that Kent is just a regular Joe, someone who is uninteresting, clumsy and mild-mannered.
There is no doubt that Superman and Clark Kent share a physical likeness of each other, and people realize that these men look alike. What they cannot get their heads around, though, is that they cannot make the connection that a hero like Superman would ever hide from the public. To make it worse, even if he was hiding, he certainly wouldn’t hide as the bumbling Clark Kent.
Some people, however, know that Clark Kent and Superman are one in the same, such as Lex Luthor, but simply couldn’t understand why Superman would lower himself to walk around as a lowly journalist, such as Kent.
Also, keep in mind that people would never expect a hero like Superman to walk around, have a normal job and apartment in the city. Since this is the case, they wouldn’t be looking at the average man wondering if he is really Superman or not. They would, instead, expect Superman to simply…be….
1. Everyone Thinks the ‘S’ on His Chest Means ‘Superman’
Finally, everyone thinks and assumes the ‘S’ on Superman’s chest stands for his name. This logo is one of the most well-known in the world, and also one of the most confusing.
First, there are several stories about how the ‘S’ on his chest came to be at all. One explanation is that Superboy chose to put an ‘S’ on the costume when he created it. He wanted it to stand for “Saving lives, Stopping crime, and giving Super-aid wherever it’s needed.” However, in other editions of the Superboy comics, it is explained that Clark Kent’s adoptive mother, Martha, actually sewed the Superman costume out of the blankets that Kal-El was wrapped in when they found him. This would mean that she designed the costume, which goes directly against the Superboy design theory.
In Superman: The Movie, which came out in 1978, there was a new theory released about the ‘S’ on Superman’s chest. In this case, it is explained that the ‘S’ is not an ‘S’ at all. Instead, it is a Kryptonian symbol that is the family crest for Kal-El’s family. On Krypton, the ‘S’ shape actually stood for “El,” and the connection between that symbol and the ‘S’ for Superman was connected by Lois Lane. There is also a story about how all three of the Kent’s designed the ‘S’ together when they were making Clark’s costume.
Superheroes, such as Superman, have always played a special and unique role within the culture of America. Though many look at comic books as immature or childish, the truth is, the comic book industry is a multi-million-dollar industry that has changed the lives of many.
These heroes are often a reflection of all of the good and bad that we experience in our day to day lives, and there is no other superhero who means more to America as a whole than Superman. However, with all of this popularity, fans of Superman have created some definite myths, and over time, there has been some confusion about many aspects of his life. Though these are not totally true, there is a bit of truth in all of these myths, and that has led to everyone getting things wrong about Superman. These 10 things everyone gets wrong about Superman are certainly eye-openers to many, but then again, it is important to get the truth about this American icon out there.