The book follows the storyline of the film very closely, but also further outlines Clark Kent's journey towards becoming the hero known as Superman.
A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers, and that he is not of this Earth. As he approaches adulthood, he journeys to discover where he came from, and what he was sent here to accomplish.
But then the world faces an unimaginable threat—an invading force the likes of which has never been encountered before. When this occurs, the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation, and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.
As the planet of Krypton crumbles, General Zod stages a coup as concerned leader Jor-El and his wife Lara send their infant son Kal to a distant planet called Earth. While the young child travels through space with an object containing the DNA of his home planet, General Zod and his cohorts are sentenced to the Phantom Zone, a black-hole prison. Named Clark and raised by kindly farmers Jonathan and Martha Kent, young Kal-El lives in fear of what might happen should his neighbors learn about his extraterrestrial origins, eventually exploring the world in search of himself.
In time, Clark's travels take him to a frozen tundra, where the American government has discovered an 18,000-year-old anomaly buried deep in the ice. Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane has just come to investigate when, after venturing out with her camera, she has a profound encounter with Clark. Convinced that his presence on Earth is proof of life on other planets, Lois finds her attempt to publish the story thwarted by her boss Perry White, who rejects it outright.
Later, the airwaves of Earth are hijacked by General Zod, who threatens to obliterate the human race if they fail to hand over Kal-El within 24 hours. Forced to embrace his otherworldly origins for the first time in his life, Clark Kent dons the special suit from Krypton and prepares to take a stand against an enemy far more powerful than any he or humanity have ever known.
- It is expanded upon that General Zod and Jor-El were friends from childhood.
- Clark comes across sea lions in the ocean after recovering from the Oil Rig explosion.
- Ma and Pa Kent bring a six-month-old Clark to the doctor. The growing baby couldn't stop crying, and the Kents, trying to find out what was wrong, brought him to get examined. Believing Clark to be suffering from colic, the doctor administers a hearing test, and Clark proceeds to scream so loud that he blows out the glass elements not just in the doctor's office, but in the windshields and storefront windows across town.
- During his final battle with General Zod, the novel describes a sequence absent from the film, in-between Superman being hurled through numerous buildings and both of them flying into outer space - a recovered Kal-El flies back at his opponent, and sends Zod flying towards the river, where the Weisinger Bridge connected Metropolis to the mainland. Zod crashes beneath it, splashing into the river. The enraged former general emerges shortly thereafter, however, quickly blasting through the bridge and tackling Kal into outer space.
Differences from the Movie
- Ro-Zar is a male in the novel, while in the film, the character is female.
- In the credits of the movie, Sekowsky's position is Officer, but in the novel he is Staff Sergeant.
- Glen Woodburn is described as "a scuzzy, middle-aged newshound who reeked of booze and tobacco", not the clean cut nerd type featured in the film.
- While Lois Lane and Kal-El are together in the interrogation room, she suggests the name "Superman" for him, while in the film, Dr. Hamilton interrupts her before she can do so.
- During the showdown in Smallville in the novel, Faora lifts Nathan Hardy above the ground by his throat, as she intends to kill him, while in the movie, she never manages to get that close to Hardy before Kal-El tackles her away.
- During the final sequence of his battle with General Zod in the novel, Kal-El and he are described pummeling each other with blows of tremendous superhuman strength, that leave rips in their skinsuits, along with bruises and blood on their faces. This sequence is also absent from the film.
- After his final conversation with Swanwick, Superman, as the novel describes, flies away "leisurely and at his own pace", while in the film, he flies away at supersonic speed.
- Lara Lor-Van
- Jonathan Kent
- Martha Kent
- Lois Lane
- Perry White
- Glen Woodburn
- Emil Hamilton
- Nathan Hardy
- Calvin Swanwick
- Phantom Zone
- Battle of Krypton
- Rescue at the Bright Aurora
- Showdown in Smallville
- Battle of Metropolis
- Bovine (mentioned)
- Sea Lions
- Blood Morals
- Kryptonian War Kites
- Tiger (mentioned)
- Scarab (mentioned)
- Service Androids
- Scout Ship 0344
- Superman's skinsuit
- Liquid Geo
- Plasma Carbine
- Kryptonian Battle Armor
- ↑ "It was a funny scene but we decided not to keep it in," Goyer said. "Originally you cut from that pod landing to this scene to the fishing trawler and we just felt it was a more dramatic way to go if we went straight to the fishing trawler. And also coming off of the destruction of Kyrpton, it was a little early for any 'Ha ha ha' humour." But it should be said, that in the book, it's less a humorous scene than an early indication to the Kents that Clark is something far more than they imagined".