Kryptonite Free Blogging: Clark Who?

“Because to understand the man in the cape who could fly, all I needed to know was Clark.” – Lana Lang in Superman: For All Seasons

It is a remarkable dichotomy. In many ways, Clark is the most human of us all. Then… he shoots fire from the skies and it is difficult not to think of him as a god. And how fortunate we all are that it does not occur to him. – Batman in Superman/Batman

Clark Kent – he can’t be that important.  He’s just mild mannered reporter. He isn’t that interesting.  There’s nothing special about him.  He’s no different from us.  Which is exactly why he is the most important aspect of Superman.

Who wants to ever talk about hidden identities?  I mean they’re boring and pointless right?  To be honest secret identities in the context of most stories aren’t a huge factor.  However, secret identities in the context of an overall character is one of the most important aspects.  In terms of Clark Kent, he is essential to the character of Superman.

Nowadays I’m not sure if the casual fan of comics or Superman would place a huge importance on Clark Kent.  Why would they?  After all, isn’t Clark what Superman does when he’s not flying around he world?  Yet, there are plenty of characters who are a variant of the Superman mold.  Other heroes can fly, have super strength, speed, stamina, and are invulnerable.  Those feel like exactly what they are – moulds.  Clark Kent prevents Superman from falling into that trap.

Superman is so powerful, I feel people forget he didn’t become a hero as soon as his rocket crash landed in Smallville.  Superman had to learn how to become Superman, and in order to do that he needed to figure out who Clark Kent was.

If we see Superman as this impenetrable force of good and the standard that all heroes measure themselves by, then Clark is the blue print.  He is what grounds and tethers Superman to humanity.  Clark is Superman’s reminder of what it means to be human.  The core of Superman’s story is that of an outsider trying to find his place in the world.  It is something everyone can relate to; no one has it all figured out.  We can’t – if we think we do, then life will pull the rug from under our feet and cause us to see the world from a different perspective.  When we think of Clark Kent, the image which comes to mind is the exact opposite of Superman.  Clark is awkward, introverted, and can’t seem to impress the girl of his dreams.  Everyone has felt awkward, scared to come out of their shell, and been scorned by someone we’re attracted to.  Clark allows a man who is invincible to feel vulnerable.  People wonder why Superman doesn’t impose his will on humanity and do whatever he wants. A big reason he doesn’t is Clark.  Clark understands what it’s like to be hurt, scared, or unsure of himself.  Superman can’t appreciate these positions, he’s more than a man, he’s a symbol.  Clark is the one who gets dragged through the mud.  He’s the one who sees the subtle ways the dark side of humanity gets shown.  However, he also sees the nuanced acts of kindness and good as well.  Superman flies above us all, Clark is the street level view.

Growing up Clark was scared if anyone found out the truth about his powers.  He wasn’t sure if they would reject him or if the knowledge of his powers would put them in harms way.  He never really became Superman until he was able to come to terms with this fear.  It is Clark who decides to use his powers for the benefit of others; no one asks him to, he comes to the decision on his own.  He decides his gift should be shared.  If Clark had not made this choice, then it would be like hiding your own talents and gifts from the world.  In order to be Superman, Clark has to be human.

It is said Superman’s greatest power is his ability to determine what the best choice is in every decision.  In order to do so he has to be able to understand the needs of humanity.  In order to do so, he must not only know what it’s like to be an ordinary man, he must also feel and understand it in his heart.  Clark never lets him forget what it’s like to be the people he saves.  If Superman is in all of us, then that means Clark is too.

It’s Like I Have ESPN or Something – Nicole

I know I should be focusing real hard on the Clark Kent Chapter of Superman University, but I’m distracted.  Occasionally textbooks or PowerPoint slides can pop out with an outrageous picture or a horrific piece of clipart on them, and these drag your brain away from the exact stuff you should be stuffing your brain with – you know the feeling?

That just happened to me: “To be honest secret identities in the context of most stories aren’t a huge factor”


Is it just me?

Ugh.  Anyways.  I’m going to go eat some crackers and go try to study for my Superman exam now. It’s been fun.

Bye, Superman Week.  Adios, Kryptonite Free Blogging.

Irving Chong (@Irving_Chong) and Nicole (@_nicoliooo) are co-creators of This is Why we Can’t Have Nice Things even though it doesn’t make sense why they’re friends


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