Superman, Our Earth

Born to play Superman?
There are a ton of different iterations of Clark Kent AKA Kal-El AKA Superman. Simply going to this page makes that abundantly clear. There is a Superman for every world in the multiverse and along with those Supermen, there are Supergirls, Superboys and many other heroes inspired by this survivor of the destroyed planet of Krypton. And let's not even begin to mention the Superman pastiches and parodies, like Supreme, Mr. Majestic, Hyperion, Samaritan, Gladiator, Virtue, etc. His symbol alone is iconic and recognized by almost all people of our planet, in this reality.

With all of these echoes of the original Superman, I often question which Superman would I most be like? This is particularly a question on my mind in our current time. Superman's core values are understood to be truth, justice and the American way, but, in addition to that, Superman has to sometimes adapt to the times or force his foes to step up to be better. I want Superman to be this "big, blue Boy Scout" who is the ideal of what we should be- ethically strong, empathetic, caring and willing to sacrifice for the rest of us. But, I also live in this world, where it isn't always easy and sometimes the superhero's course of action is almost impossible to put into action. So, again, I ask myself which Superman would I most be like if I was being honest.

There are definitely arguments to be made for Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman, but he is almost the ur example of Superman. He is good and caring and goes to work in the sun to keep the solar system and his adopted planet alive. He is also way too calm for me to emulate. There is also the example of Superman in Max Landis' American Alien series, which shows Clark from his beginnings to the Superman that we are used to. This example is pretty good because it shows the faults and errors of Clark as he transforms and matures into the usual Superman we are used to. But, as I said before, I want to be honest and this Superman still becomes the ideal one from our childhood. Sure, he chucks Lobo into space and swears but he does this after learning he'll regenerate and his swearing is shocking because it is wildly out of character to people who see him in Metropolis.

I think the Superman I would be most like is the Henry Cavill version in Man of Steel, but JUST Man of Steel. Not the later versions in Justice League or Batman V. Superman, just Man of Steel.

This picture is VERY American.
The Superman/Clark Kent in Man of Steel is very human. He is still learning the full extent of his powers and unlearning some lessons taught to him by his father about saving people. Clark's father had the main goal of preserving and protecting his family in mind but it came at the sacrifice of always doing the right thing and, ultimately, the sacrifice of his own life. This is extremely relatable. A good portion of becoming an adult is figuring out what were the things that were right and wrong in the lessons given to you by your parents and the adults in your life. Clark had to decide for himself what he was willing to do and who he was willing to trust to fully embrace who he was.

Clark also had to figure out how far he was willing to go to protect people. When I initially saw this movie, I thought Superman went far at the end of the movie. I thought and still do that he wouldn't have killed Zod if this was comic book Superman. But that was sort of the point. This isn't comic book Superman. This Superman is arguably more grounded in reality and had to make those tough choices. From the technology used by Kryptonians to the idea of the atmosphere of his former home and not irradiated rocks harming him, Man of Steel tried to present a more "real" landscape for Superman to work in. This is why I now accept the actions of Superman in this film. Comic book Superman would have found a way to throw Zod into some prison even after the Phantom Zone link was closed. This Superman had to contend with a berserk Kryptonian who had lost his people and was going to massacre humanity to get revenge. Snapping his neck was brutal but I get the choice that Superman made in that moment. I also understand the pain after doing it. It was perhaps necessary but taking a life should never be easy for a compassionate soul.

The Clark Kent/Superman of Man of Steel had flaws but was trying to be better. He had to get pass the things placed on him by his parents, human and Kryptonian, and also decide what and who he would fight for. He was in the process of meeting new people that gave him different insights to how to live in the world with all his abilities.

I think this is where I most relate to Clark/Superman. Like all people, he changes and grows daily. Jor-El told Clark that he would lead the way but I think it went both ways. Clark has to be the shining beacon and strong hand for humanity but he also has to learn what is worth fighting for and how to be better as a human. I also don't think it was a coincidence that his two biggest guides were his future wife and his mother. Men make each other stronger and can improve each other lives but I definitely believe that women can give a fuller vision of the world, or at least it has been that way in my life. His fathers' goals were about protection and trying to live above while his mothers' goals were about him living a full life safely and with empathy.

This is perhaps the key to why I understand Clark in this so much. Life isn't one thing and being consistent is almost impossible. Worldviews waver as you gain more knowledge and meet people with new ideas. The things you accept and the injustices you fight evolve. The base ideals and morals that you get from your parents and family is there but you have to decide what to use and not use. You have to live your life with the good and the bad. To be human is to stumble and play constant catch up until you finally determine what makes you fulfilled for the day and content with the life choices that got you there. Man of Steel shows this in a beginning Superman finding his path. Superman may be from Krypton but Clark is very human.

Sean Fields is an aspiring writer and has been in the education field for more than a decade. He works mostly with teenagers nowadays which both keeps him well informed on pop culture and makes his hair turn grayer daily. He has a few blogs but is currently focused on this one and this other one. You can also find him on TumblrTwitter and Instagram, if you want to be entertained or infuriated.

Superman, Our Earth Superman, Our Earth Reviewed by SeanFields on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 Rating: 5
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