Kal-El/Superman is the deuteragonist of the entire DC Universe. He is also the first major superhero. Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster created Superman in 1933. He has appeared in many comics, TV shows, and movies and is widely recognized as one of the most iconic heroes of all time.
In live-action, he was portrayed by several actors; George Reeves, Henry Cavill, Brandon Routh, Tom Welling and Christopher Reeve which had received popular love due to his portrayal as the Man of Steel in 1978. Superman is considered to be one of the most powerful superheroes of all time.
Superman is a Kryptonian, born on the planet Krypton. His parents, Jor-El and Lara were scientists for Krypton and knew from extensive research that their planet was facing a very imminent destruction. Jor-El had tried many times to convince the bureaucratic Kryptonian Council that they needed to create an escape program, but was continually asked to establish solid proof of his claims before they approved any such expansive programs.
Jor-El's research progressed more and more, but action was put off so often that the planet was reaching its finals days before the Krytonians would do anything. Jor-El finally came to the conclusion that it was too late to do anything and told Lara they would need to resort to their own back-up plan, the safety of their son, Kal-El.
Jor-El had prepared an escape rocket for his family, but was kept so busy with his attempts to prove Kyrpton's imminent destruction that he hadn't time to create anything more substantial than his test pod, which would only be big enough for a infant Kryptonian, both Jor-El and Lara were in agreement about their son being saved. Lara packed their son with a blanket embroidered with a Kryptonian symbol on it and Jor-El packed a small encyclopedic computer program that would alert their son to who he was and where he came from once he landed and assuming he survived.
As Jor-El and Lara had come to expect the planet became unstable to the point that, there was no time left to form a proper escape program and once natural disasters started to plague the planet for its final hours, Jor-El and Lara kissed their son goodbye and launched him into space as his planet's sole survivor. Just moments after Kal-El's rocket escaped Kyrpton's orbit, the planet blew up.
The rocket flew through the universe until its navigation system discovered the nearest planet on its course with a sustainable environment, Earth. Once the base-navigation system locked onto the planet's coordinates and a land mass the rocket's course was left to sheer chance and touched down in a rural part of Kansas called Smallville. Two farmers, Jonathan and Martha Kent, were driving along when they saw the explosion and immediately went to investigate. Jonathan approached the pod to see what it was and shortly it opened revealing of all things a small child inside. As Kryptonians were biologically identical to humans, young Kal-El was mistaken as human and both Jonathan and Martha were perplexed as to how the baby had gotten there.
Jonathan came to the conclusion that he was a Russian baby used as a crash test dummy for a space program. Martha told Jonathan he was being paranoid although she had no better explanations herself. Both Jonathan and Martha had been trying for a child but hadn't had any luck and had prayed to God for a child, in light of their prayers they came to the conclusion that the baby was intended for them as an act of divine provenience, and with no indication of where the child actually came from they decided to take young Kal-El in as their own, naming him Clark.
The two farmers raised the infant alien as their own son, and taught him strict morals. As he grew, he gradually discovered his powers. Clark was very confused about his budding powers and started to think he was a freak. Confronted with their son's identity issues, the Kents decided it was the right time to tell him about his origins. The Kents had hidden away the Kryptonian pod that had carried him there, along with the blanket and clothing he had been wrapped in. Once Clark saw the pod, he found the device Jor-El and Lara had packed aboard, the device did a quick scan of him and it confirmed who he was and the program activated explaining the fate of Krypton. Clark initially was put off by the discovery and ran off to find himself as he came to terms with not only being an alien but finding out he was adopted.
Once Clark had fully compartmentalized himself he decided to use his abilities for the good of others. Clark went back to his adoptive parents and thanked them for telling him and informed them of what he had discovered from the pod. For his teenage years Clark spent his time as "Superboy" and got used to his powers in Smallville, fighting petty crime or averting natural disasters. Though he tried to keep his identity secret from his parents at first they eventually found out and though worried about him putting himself in danger, they did all they could to continue to protect his true identity. Clark dressed in clothing made from his original Kryptonian clothing as part of his first costume and as he grew Martha would help modify the costume to accommodate her son's changing size.
When Clark reached adulthood he left Smallville to get a job as a reporter at the Daily Planet newspaper in the city of Metropolis. Once in Metropolis and with his ear connected to trouble before it made the front pages, Clark began to re-adopt his Superboy persona though this time the papers would re-title him "Superman", in their headlines. Soon enough Superman's exploits became legendary and he became a superhero. As not just a savior but a celebrity, Superman dedicated himself as a symbol of truth and justice.
Superman is commonly thought of as the purest of all heroes due to his upstanding, highly ethical nature. He makes a point not to kill, and will not resort to violence unless it is truly necessary (though several villains have pushed Superman into a murderous rage like Lex Luthor, Joker, Mongul, Darkseid and Doomsday). He has become good friends with Batman and Wonder Woman, to the point where they form the Justice League. He also forms a love interest with Lois Lane.
Powers and Abilities
Kryptonian Physiology: Under the effects of a "yellow" sun, Superman possesses the same potential powers as an average Kryptonian.
- Solar Battery: Under optimal conditions, this is the main source of Superman's super powers as they are contingent upon exposure to solar radiation from a yellow sun star system. His biological make up includes a number of organs which lack analogues in humans and whose functions are unknown. It is believed that between one or more of these and his bio-cellular matrix, "yellow" solar energy is stored for later use. This allows for the use of these powers to fade when yellow solar radiation is not available instead of immediate failure.
- Heat Vision: Superman can, as a conscious act, fire beams of intense heat at a target by looking at it. He can vary the heat and area affected.
- Super Hearing: Superman's hearing is sensitive enough to hear any sound at any volume or pitch. With skill and concentration, he can block out ambient sounds to focus on a specific source or frequency. Also, this ability is his best when it comes to eavesdropping on a villain's plans.
- Super Vision: Superman's vision processes the entire electromagnetic spectrum as well as allowing vast control over selective perception and focus.
- Electromagnetic Spectrum Vision: Superman can see well into most of the electromagnetic spectrum. He can see and identify radio and television signals as well as all other broadcast or transmitted frequencies. Using this ability, he can avoid detection by radar or satellite monitoring methods. This also allows him to see the aura generated by living thing.
- Telescopic Vision: Superman can see something at a great distance, without violating the laws of physics. Though limited, the exact extent of the ability is undetermined. In function, it is similar to the zoom lens on a camera.
- X-Ray Vision: Superman can see through any volume of matter except lead. Superman's can see things behind a solid, opaque object as if it were not there. He can focus this ability to "peel back" layers of an object, allowing hidden image or inner workings to be observed. The exact type of energy perceived - such as x-rays, cosmic rays, or some other energy invisible to normal humans - is unclear. this ability perceives an ambient energy source though, it does not involve the eye projecting a concentrated, possibly toxic, beam to be reflected back from objects.
- Microscopic Vision: Superman can see extremely small objects and images down to the atomic level.
- Infrared Vision: Superman's can see with better acuity in darkness, and to a degree in total darkness.
- Super Sense: On various occasions, Superman has demonstrated that his sense of smell is significantly enhanced to the point he can smell odors across the entire planet without any problem.
- Flight: Superman is able to manipulate graviton particles to defy the forces of gravity and achieve flight. This ranges from hovering to moving in any posture, in any direction.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: Due to the interaction of his dense molecular structure and supercharged bio-electric aura, Superman is nigh-invulnerable to extreme energy forces. In addition, his extends this protection against toxins and diseases. Superman is also highly invulnerable to human made weapons. For example, a bullet or a knife cannot kill Superman. In the bullet's case, it will reflect off of his body. In the knife's case, it is most likely to shatter the knife's glass or bend the knife.
- Superhuman Stamina: Superman is able to maintain continuous strenuous physical action for an indefinite period of time. This based on his body converting yellow solar radiation directly to energy, but is limited by physiological and psychological needs to eat, drink, and sleep. He can also hold his breath for an undefined duration.
- Superhuman Strength: Superman's strength is augmented by yellow solar radiation interacting with the greater than human density, resilience and biological efficiency of his musculature. His strength is more an act of conscious will on energy fields than actual physical strength. It is this act of conscious will that enables him to perform physical feats that are beyond the mere application force, such as moving a mountain top without said rock crumbling under its own mass. Superman's strength is seemingly infinite.
- Superhuman Speed, Agility & Reflexes: Superman is able to move at incredible speed by sheer force of will. This extends to his perceptions and allows for feats such as catching bullets in mid flight as well as covering vast distances in little or no time. Superman can run faster than anybody in the world, except for The Flash.
- Vortex Breath: Superman is able to create hurricane force winds by exhaling air from his lungs. He can chill the air as it leaves his lungs to freeze targets. He can also reverse the process to pull large volumes of air or vapor into his lungs.
- Sonic Scream: In one instance, Superman was shown to have the ability to project a "super scream" from his vocal cords.
- Self-Sufficiency: Superman doesn't need to eat and sleep so long as he's under the effects of yellow sun radiation. His body stores the energy necessary to negate eating and sleeping for an indefinite period.
- Regenerative Healing Factor: In the extreme event that Superman is harmed, either by an alien matching his own strength or other occurrence, he has been shown to have the ability to heal almost instantaneously from any wound, assuming that the process is not impeded from some outside factor i.e. Kryptonite. This "healing factor" is supplemented by his stores of solar energy. Since his healing factor works faster when closer to the sun, he must keep absorbing solar energy in order to heal death-like wounds until the process is complete.
- Longevity: The healing factor can keep him strong, healthy & youthful indefinitely provided he remains under a yellow sun.
- Supernatural Leap: Superman has the ability to jump extreme distances, vertically and even horizontally. To do this, Superman has to combine his strength and dexterity to perform a super leap.
- Supernatural Dexterity: Superman has the ability to be super humanly precise in actions.
- Supernatural Memory: With his accelerated brain activity, Superman can receive or process large amounts of information and data at once, reading words and pictures at a fast pace.
- Arctic Breath: With this ability, Superman can release his breath as a freezing version of his vortex breath.
- Speed Reading: Superman is able to read things at a very fast level.
- Telepathy: Rarely used though, Superman could read and talk to people through one's mind.
Advanced/Expert Hand-to-Hand Combat: Superman has been trained by both Wildcat (in Boxing), and Mongul in the fighting arts. Superman has fought and learned from Wonder Woman. He has also learned more advanced martial arts techniques from Batman.
Genius Intellect: Superman has shown incredible intelligence and computational abilities; his mind works sharply and with extreme speed relative to earth-humans. His analytical powers are impressive — he is able to use his senses to read information directly from machines (and, with careful usage of his heat vision, he can even reprogram machines). Recently after he regained his powers in the "One Year Later" arc, his brain's intelligence has increased and it operates with much greater speed, procession, and analytical prowess, to the point he can recall things in such detail that he knows the ballistics of every shot by Bloodshot and the vector and mass of each and every one of Riot's bodies. He can see into one of the most advanced Kryptonian Sun Stone Battle Ships and watch energy patterns shift and change, trace command signals at light speed down branching, maze-like pathways whilst, at the same time, finding one small knot of circuitry.
Indomitable Will: Superman has shown to have a powerful force of Will, completely free of evil or temptation. Having been raised by a kindly Kansas farmer and his wife, Superman was taught to protect life and help others. He is very optimistic and never gives up, even when things look bad.
Leadership: Superman has proven many times over his ability to command respect and inspire others with his charisma, ardor, and idealism. He often serves as the primus inter pares of the Justice League.
Magic: Superman's biomatrix is his most powerful asset, but the strength of this field is also its greatest weakness. Its permeability to certain wavelengths makes Superman vulnerable to certain radiations, particularly magical energies whose chaotic electromagnetic or extra dimensional signatures disrupt this force-field. Superman's vulnerability to magic varies depending upon the special effects of the magic. No magic seems to be able to directly destroy him unless it comes from a semi-divine or divine source. He can be injured and worn down by magical entities. Magic can have powerful and unpredictable effects on Superman and his magical enemies have often proven to be the most dangerous. Recently, Superman has learned more about magic with the help of Zatanna and he is able to counter almost every spell. Magic has unknown effects on him. He was able to survive when he had a magical sword in the chest and a magical arrow in his back. It was during a fight against four Elder Gods. A fight that Superman won. He was able to withstand a magical blast that managed to knockout the entire JLA and both Wonder Woman (magic being) and Zauriel (Angel). He went after the enemy in question and stopped him.
Kryptonite: Since the destruction of Krypton, its remains (rendered radioactive by the explosion) have been spreading throughout the universe as Kryptonite, a crystalline substance whose specific radiation is lethal to Kryptonians native to this reality. The most common form of Kryptonite is Green Kryptonite, and its effect is directly poisonous. Kryptonite from other realities does not necessarily have the same effects on all Kryptonians. For example, Kryptonite from the Pocket Universe is not as lethal to Superman as Kryptonite that comes from his native reality. Superman was able to survive inside a Red Sun that was surrounded by Kryptonite.
- Green: It can weaken Superman both physically and mentally. This is also every Kryptonian's weaknesses. However, Superman can resist Green Kryptonite, but it will be hard, due to the fact that it is rare and that it can weaken him strongly.
- Red: It can make Superman a completely different person. However, psychologically. It can make his personality have traits of a villain and have thoughts relating to evil stuff. This will also make Superman lose his social conscience and inhibitions.
- Blue: It can rob Superman of his powers and make him vulnerable at anything.
- Black: It can separate Superman from both his Kryptonian and Human side.
- Gold: It can give Superman permanent wounds or scars that can't ever be healed and it can also cause him to lose his powers and abilities forever.
Kryptonians: On the rare occasions where he has battled other Kryptonians, they seem more easily able to harm one another as well. A noticeable observation is that other Kryptonians appear to develop superhuman abilities immediately upon entering a yellow star system, whereas it took Kal-El many years living under a yellow sun for his powers to develop (This may be because he arrived on Earth as a toddler. Had he been an adult or perhaps adolescent his powers would likely have manifested themselves much more readily).
Lead: Superman cannot see through lead with his vision powers.
Vulnerability to Chi: Lex Luthor and Question argued that, because of Superman's solar based powers, planetary based esoteric and vital forces could have an opposite effect on him. Luthor posited that concentrated doses of such energies could severely cripple Superman and become fatal, and he attempted to exploit this weakness with the Science Spire, which tapped into Metropolis' Earth energies, or chi, in this case.
Red Sun: When exposed to the same red solar radiation as Krypton's red sun Rao, it causes Superman to lose his powers within a large amount of exposure until the exposure to yellow sunlight will reverse this effect.
Solar Energy Exhaustion: Though not as common, much like with a Red Sun, as the yellow solar radiation stored within his body acts as fuel for his powers, Superman's powers can grow weaker to the point where he may not be able to use them if he continuously uses his powers without having enough time to replenish the yellow solar energy reserves within his body, especially if he doesn't have any direct contact to yellow sunlight.
High Pitched Noises: Because of his super hearing, Superman's ears are extra-sensitive to extreme noises.
Phantom Zoners: Phantom Zoners, being aliens, can hurt him to varying extents depending on the alien.
Psionics: Another hitch to Superman and other Kryptonian's abilities is his interaction with psychic influences, i.e. mind control, telekinesis, possession and the like. An exceptionally powerful mentalist can manipulate the minds of even the strongest of Kryptonians or Daxamites due to their relatively weak defenses against telepathic intrusion, while at the same time a skilled telekinetic can also bypass their usually high levels of imperiousness by affecting them at a molecular-subatomic level. However, after he was nearly mind-controlled by Maxwell Lord to attack Wonder Woman, he spent some time training with the Martian Manhunter to overcome this weakness, with the result that he was later able to throw off Arion's attempt to take control of him in a similar matter.
"My father believed that if the world found out who I really was, they'd reject me…out of fear. I let my father die because I trusted him. Because he was convinced that I had to wait, that the world was not ready. What do you think?"
- Clark Kent's speech to Lois Lane in Man of Steel (2013)
"I fight for those who can't fight for themselves!"
- Superman in Shazam/Superman The Return of Black Atom
"I can only tell what I believe, Diana. Humankind has to be allowed to climb to it's own destiny. We can't carry them there."
"You must not count on Superman to patch up your lives every time."
"It doesn't matter who she is or what she's has done. I'll do what I have to do to save her."
"Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!"
- Famous quote about Superman
- Superman does not drink alcohol. In superman media he does drink alcohol.
- Clark was a vegetarian at one point in his life. In the superman series, he does eat meat.
- Clark's favorite movie is To Kill a Mockingbird.
- The aura that Superman's body generates, the same that protects his body from damage, prevents grime and dirt from clinging long to his flesh to keep him perpetually clean.
- Superman is the best selling comic book character with over 600 million copies sold.
- Superman was originally a villain bent on world domination, his creators decided to make him a hero instead of a villain, dubbed the Superman. This version in early 1933 had no powers but was just a strongman on the right side of the law. After being rejected, Shuster burned the comic book in a fire, Siegel luckily saved the cover.
- The third sale attempt of Superman had him being an infant sent from the far future.