Superman – Who’s the guy behind the glasses?

superman

As one of the original comic book heroes which opened up a market for the likes of Spiderman and Batman, Superman is deserving of its status as ‘legendary’. The comic books span the ages of American modern cultural history, starting back when it was first created in the 1930s by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Schuster.

Superman is a character whose life and influence has spilled out of the comic book genre and into films, TV shows, books and cartoons. There have been five movies about the Man of Steel, the most celebrated portrayal of him being Christopher Reeve (playing Superman four times out of the five), followed in ‘Superman Returns’ by Brandon Routh in 2006. But to understand why the movies have been such a success over the years, we need to go back to its origins. What kind of a man this superhero is, his family, his relationships, and his morals…

 

Superman - Clark Kent

Superman – Clark Kent

Superman was created alongside an alter ego, Clark Kent. Being Clark Kent during the day, and ridding the city of its evils at night as Superman, does not necessarily mean that Superman has two very differing personalities. Clark Kent is much like Superman; he is moral, just, and protective of those he loves. How did a boy growing up with such powers and abilities not be tempted into using them for his own gain? For this, we look to Martha and Jonathan Kent of Smallville. It was they who found the smouldering wreckage of the rocket which bore him to earth, and brought him up as their own.

 

Superman - Daily Planet

Superman – Daily Planet

With a good upbringing behind him, and a feeling of responsibilities for his powers, Clark moves to Metropolis to work as a journalist for The Daily Planet. This is where he meets, and falls for, Lois Lane, a tough investigative journalist. Where would a good superhero be without a sweetheart? And of course, this isn’t a straightforward relationship. Clark Kent might be wearing the Superman outfit under his work clothes, but she can only see Clark; a guy who’s a little awkward, sweet enough, wears glasses. She has her eyes on Superman himself, but is unable to see that behind the glasses and the altered mannerisms, Superman is Clark Kent after all. Of course, this doesn’t last for long, and Lois Lane spends much of her time in the 1950s and 60s comics trying to prove that Clark and Superman are one and the same. The rough beginnings to their relationship eventually lead – in the modern DC comics – to their marriage. The glasses are off, and she knows of his Superman identity.

 

Superman and Lois Lane

Superman and Lois Lane

The love of Superman spread into the movies in the 70s and into cartoons since the 60s, and now with this more accessible media, new fans arrive at the story of the Man of Steel regularly. After nearly eighty years of storylines and the building of the superhero’s history, the story never quite feels complete. And it’s a good thing too. As powerful and as noble as he was at the start, he still invites those with an inquisitive mind to ponder over him.

 

And it leaves us with the underlying question of how many everyday superheroes there are out there, with their outfits underneath their work clothes, hidden behind their glasses…

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