- "My father died, Ms. Lane, because he was convinced I needed to wait. That the world wasn't ready for me. That if they all saw what I was, what I could do, they'd reject me out of fear. What do you think?"
- ―Clark Kent to Lois Lane[src]
Superman, born Kal-El and legally named Clark Joseph Kent, is the last survivor of the planet Krypton, the host of the Growth Codex, a reporter for the Daily Planet, the fiancé of Lois Lane, a superhero in Metropolis, and a member and the direct inspiration of the Justice League.
Born to Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van of the House of El, the couple realized that Krypton was doomed to be completely destroyed with their entire civilization going with it. To save their son, they placed baby Kal in a rocket, aimed towards Earth, where he would be found by kindly farmers, Jonathan and Martha Kent in Smallville and was subsequently adopted by the couple with them giving the infant the human name "Clark Joseph Kent". Using his maturing superpowers, he defends the people of Earth from various threats of all sorts, such as the terraforming attempt by the Kryptonian warlord General Dru-Zod and his group the Sword of Rao, using the alias Superman. After a fierce battle that destroyed a significant portion of Metropolis, Superman was reluctantly forced to kill Zod when the latter refused to cease the conflict, ending the attack for good, but not without catastrophic collateral damage and a tremendous loss of life.
A year and a half later, after thwarting various criminals and threats throughout Metropolis and all around the world while considered a highly controversial figure by those around him, whilst also living in a shared apartment with Lois, Superman became increasingly wary of the violent vigilante Batman, being ultimately forced into a fight to the death with the Dark Knight by a new and much greater enemy, the malevolent supergenius Lex Luthor in exchange for Martha's life, who was being held captive by Anatoli Knyazev. However, the two of them ultimately settled their differences in the end without killing each other, rescued Martha unharmed, and teamed up with fellow hero Wonder Woman, with the three of them managing to take down the unleashed Kryptonian monster Doomsday, a powerful hybrid creature created by Lex for the sole purpose of killing Superman, together, though Superman was notably killed in the process delivering the finishing blow with a kryptonite spear.
Earth's greatest hero was honorably buried in Heroes Park, with the entire world mourning his passing, and his heroically noble sacrifice inspired both Batman and Wonder Woman to begin establishing the valiant Justice League in order to battle any future threats to the world dedicated in his memory. His death also inspired Amanda Waller to assemble the expendable Task Force X to deal with any other powerful beings similar to Superman that could threaten national security. His death also served as an inspiration for metahumans such as the Flash to step more into the open to become heroes themselves.
Two years following Superman's death, Batman would employ the assistance of both the Flash and Cyborg to revive him with the power of a Mother Box as Batman believed he would be needed against an oncoming threat. With the Justice League now fully assembled, Superman greatly contributed to the successful offensive against the invading New God General Steppenwolf, forcing the latter's attempted invasion into retreat after swiftly defeating the fearsome New God in battle. Afterwards, Superman officially joined the Justice League and subsequently returned to his life of super-heroism and journalism after being reunited with Lois and Martha.
About a year after Steppenwolf's failed invasion attempt, he befriended Billy Batson and Freddy Freeman of the Shazam family, even agreeing to eat lunch with them at their school, and later survived a further attempt on his life by the assassin Bloodsport when the hired gun managed to shoot him with kryptonite bullets, sending him to the ICU for medical treatment while Bloodsport was arrested and incarcerated at Belle Reve for the hit.
He was unanimously accepted by the world at large as the world's greatest hero, until the death of Lois Lane in a dark potential future, at which point he was forced to join Darkseid through being swayed by the Anti-Life Equation, leading him to turn against the Justice League and the people of Earth against his own will.
- 1 Biography
- 1.1 Childhood
- 1.2 Becoming Superman
- 1.3 New career at the Planet
- 1.3.1 A beacon of hope
- 1.3.2 The Superman Committee
- 1.3.3 Bangladesh floods
- 1.3.4 Rescuing a train
- 1.3.5 S.T.A.R. Labs field trip
- 1.3.6 Trip to Wayne Enterprises
- 1.3.7 Massacre in Nairomi
- 1.3.8 Conversation with Lois
- 1.3.9 "End of Love Affair with Man in the Sky?"
- 1.3.10 Visiting Gotham
- 1.3.11 Conflict with Perry
- 1.3.12 Luthor fundraiser
- 1.4 The Superman question
- 1.5 God versus Man
- 1.6 The death of Superman
- 1.7 Interregnum
- 1.8 Rebirth
- 1.9 A New World
- 1.10 Knightmare
- 2 Personality
- 3 Powers and abilities
- 4 Equipment
- 5 Relationships
- 6 Trivia
- 7 Behind the scenes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Last son of Krypton
- "Your son, Lara. Where have you sent him?"
- "His name... is Kal, son of El, and he is beyond your reach."
- —General Dru-Zod and Lara Lor-Van[src]
Kal-El was born on the day known on Earth as February 29, 1980, in the outskirts of Kandor on planet Krypton to Jor-El and his wife Lara Lor-Van in the wake of a military coup d’état led by General Zod. Following a difficult birth, Kal-El's first cries were heard by the nearby Rondors outside the House of El Citadel.
The first Kryptonian conceived from natural birth on the planet in centuries since the end of the age of Krypton's cosmic expansion, Kal-El was Jor-El's proof that their race could continue on past the planet's demise. In the time leading to Kal's birth, Jor-El made preparations to save his son, developing a specialized pod to deliver him to Earth, located many light years away from Krypton. Jor-El deduced his son would develop astonishing abilities during his time on the planet, becoming a godlike figure he'd hoped would lead the planet's population to greatness. Moments before bidding his son farewell, Jor-El bonded the genetic information within Krypton's Growth Codex to the cell's of Kal-El's body, after which he finally placed a command key into the starship.
As his parents started the launch sequence for his ship, however, General Zod and his forces invaded the Citadel and engaged his former friend in a fierce duel, desperate to retrieve the Codex and abort the launch. Lara, however, succeeded in launching the starship, inducing an enraged Zod to mortally stab her husband through a gap in his armor, killing him. Determined to retrieve the Codex, Zod ordered Kal-El's pod shot down, but at that moment the Sapphire Guards overtook the Sword of Rao, destroying their aircraft. This gave just enough time for the Phantom Drive of Kal-El's starcraft to activate, allowing Kal-El to escape to his freedom.
Raised in Kansas
- "How do we know you won't one day act against America's interest?"
- "I grew up in Kansas, General. I'm about as American as it gets."
- —Calvin Swanwick and Superman[src]
On June 18, 1980, the starship emerged near to the gas giant Saturn, and continued on its course to Earth. It landed largely undetected in the rural town of Smallville, Kansas within the property of the Kent farm. Upon seeing the alien craft's flaming aftermath, local farmers Jonathan and Martha Kent (who were driving home from a grocery run) sought to put out the flames to prevent further damage to the farm. As they did that they heard the wails of the child which led them to discover Kal-El within the craft.
The childless couple decided to adopt the infant inside the pod and hide his true origins from everyone for most of his childhood, raising the infant and naming him "Clark Joseph Kent."
At some point, Clark discovered the power of Heat Vision when he accidentally set fire to a comic while he was learning how to read.
Guidance from Martha
- "Sweetie, how can I help you if you won't let me?"
"The world's too big, mom."
"Then make it small. Just, um... focus on my voice. Pretend it's an island, out in the ocean. Can you see it?"
"I see it."
"Then swim towards it, honey."
- ―Martha and Clark Kent[src]
When he was 9 years old, Clark attended Weisinger Primary School. On his first day of school during class, Clark's teacher, Ms. Rampling, called on him to answer a question about the founders of Kansas, but got no response as Clark's enhanced senses began manifesting, terrifying the young Kryptonian.
As she got closer, Ms. Rampling noticed Clark's panicked behavior and asked if he was okay, but Clark ran out of the classroom in an attempt to escape the sights and sounds around him. Clark went to hide in a janitor's closet, refusing to leave, causing his teacher to call his mom for assistance. When she told him this, Clark's heat vision was triggered by his frustration, heating up the closet's doorknob and burning Ms. Rampling's hand.
At that moment, Martha Kent arrived outside the closet, where the rest of Clark's class had gathered. When Clark still refused to open the door, Martha asked her son how she was supposed to help him if he wouldn't let her. Distraught, Clark told his mom that the world was too big for him, so Martha instructed him to "make it small" by focusing on her voice, drowning out everything else. Finally able to control his senses, Clark came out from the closet and asked his mom what was wrong with him, but Martha just held him.
An act of God
- "When the world finds out about what you can do, it's gonna change everything. Our beliefs, our notions of what it means to be human. Everything. You saw how Pete's mom reacted, right? She was scared, Clark."
"People are afraid of what they don't understand."
"Is she right? Did God do this to me? Tell me!"
- ―Jonathan and Clark Kent[src]
One day, when Clark was 13, he was riding the bus when Pete Ross, a bully from school, started pestering him about a football game. Lana Lang, one of Clark's classmates, told Pete to leave Clark alone, but Pete continued to bother Clark, insulting him. However, at that time, one of the bus's tires blew out and the bus driver lost control, crashing off a bridge and into a river. As the bus was sinking, Clark decided to save his classmates by pushing the bus onto the river bank. Lana, recovering from the shock of the crash, looked around for Clark and spotted him outside, realizing what he had done. Clark went back into the water to retrieve Pete before he drowned as his classmates watched.
Learning the truth
- "You're not just anyone, Clark, and I have to believe that you were sent here for a reason. All these changes you're going through, one day you're gonna think of them as a blessing. When that day comes, you have a choice to make. A choice of whether to stand proud in front of the human race or not."
"Can't I just keep pretending I'm your son?
"You are my son. But somewhere out there you have another father who gave you another name. And he sent you here for a reason, Clark. And no matter how long it takes, you owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is. You're going to have to make a choice one day. About the kind of man you're going to be. Whether to stand proud alongside the human race or not, whoever that man is, for good or bad, he's gonna change the world."
- ―Jonathan and Clark Kent[src]
Later that day, Pete's mother confronted Jonathan and Martha about the incident, and Martha attempted to convince her that the whole situation wasn't as serious as she'd made it out to be. Back at their home, Jonathan told Clark that he had to hide his gifts from the world if he were to be safe, even if it meant letting people die, as not everybody will be as understanding as they are, but Clark questioned why he shouldn't help people if he can. Inquisitive as to his place in the world, his father decided to divulge to Clark his origins by revealing the Kryptonian ship he and his wife found him into him from under the floor of the barn, proving Clark is an alien. He hugged Clark and said he will always be his son, but Clark owed it to himself to discover who he really is and the reason he was sent to Earth.
Death of Jonathan Kent
At age 17, Clark was driving with his parents on a highway when a tornado swept through the area. People began abandoning their vehicles with Jonathan telling Clark to get his mother to safety. Clark realized he could help people with his abilities but his father told him not to use them, safeguarding his secret. As Jonathan was helping other people, Clark carried a little girl to safety. Jonathan went back for the dog who was still in the car, but upon rescuing it, he injured his leg. Just as Clark was about to step in and save his adoptive father, Jonathan held up his hand and signaled for him to stay put before getting subsequently swept away in the tornado and dying, lending much guilt to Clark.
Searching for purpose
- "You were sent here for a reason. And even if it takes you the rest of your life, you owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is."
- ―Jonathan Kent's guidance to Clark[src]
Not long afterward, Clark followed Jonathan's bidding as well as following his own growing desire to find himself, leaving Kansas in pursuit to find the reason he was sent to Earth. He traveled across North America for years, surviving on the borders of civilization, helping others in need and swiftly disappearing shortly afterward.
Sixteen years after Jonathan Kent's sacrifice, Clark's journey continued as he landed a job on the Debbie Sue fishing boat as a greenhorn. One day while on the job, Clark heard reports over the captain's radio of the Bright Aurora oil rig at critical meltdown in need of evacuation and, without hesitating, jumped overboard to try and help the remaining crew. After securing the crew members aboard the rig, Clark escorted them to one of the helipads where a Coast Guard rescue helicopter was passing by to transport the crew to safety.
As the helicopter landed and the rig's crew boarded, the drilling derrick collapsed, weakened from the conflagration. Moving swiftly, Clark seized the derrick and held it up, giving the helicopter enough time to get the crew to safety while he stayed behind, though he was visibly strained by the feat. As the helicopter got clear, an explosion sent Clark flying into the water, where he drifted below the surface the oil rig collapsed, watching in peace as whales passed by. Shortly thereafter, Clark swam to shore and stole some clothes hanging nearby, deciding to move on from the town.
Incident at Cassidy's Pub
- "Wait a second, aren't you here for the exercise?"
"No, there was a change of plans. I guess somebody found something strange on Ellesmere. Aircom's making runs out there all week."
"That rat hole? You gotta be kidding me."
"I know. It's crazy. The Americans are there too, lots of them."
"They're calling it an 'anomalous object', whatever that means."
- ―Canadian Airmen's conversation[src]
Later, Clark got a job as a busboy at a truck stop bar in Canada. One day, Clark overheard a pair of soldiers talking about a discovery made on Ellesmere Island, where even the American military came to observe the "anomalous object" buried under the ice. However, at the same time one of the bar's patrons, a drunk trucker named Ludlow, began harassing his coworker, a waitress named Chrissy. Clark intervened, suggesting that Ludlow leave Chrissy alone, but Ludlow instead got confrontational. Clark then asked him to leave, but Ludlow instead retorted that he'd leave when he was "good and ready," proceeding to throw an entire pitcher of beer into Clark's face.
As Clark prepared to retaliate, Chrissy instead told him that it wasn't worth the trouble. Agreeing, Clark began to leave when Ludlow commented that he'd forgotten his 'tip', throwing a beer can at his back. After pausing for a moment, Clark then left Cassidy's Pub. While Ludlow was still drinking in the pub, Clark destroyed his rig, impaling it with numerous logs from its haul.
Discovering the scout ship
- "How far to the station?"
"Camp's just over the rise. I'll walk you over."
"Joe can take your bags. Joe!"
- ―Lois Lane and Jed Eubanks[src]
Following the lead from the two soldiers, Clark got a job working for the Arctic Cargo helicopter company near to the base camp for the discovery site, going by the name "Joe." While on the job, Clark briefly met Lois Lane, a Daily Planet reporter who was there to write a piece on the mysterious object. Clark and Jed Eubanks escorted Lois to the site, with Clark carrying her heavy bags.
Later that night, Clark snuck away from the military to investigate the ice himself, unaware he'd been discovered by Lois. After finding a spot to begin tunneling, Clark used his heat vision to make a path through the ice to the object, revealing it to be an ancient Kryptonian vessel.
After boarding the ship, Clark was marveling at the sight when a console rose from the deck with a port for what he realized was the key he'd been given to him by Jonathan Kent long ago. Inserting the key, Clark became aware of the Kryptonian service android behind him, which began to attack him with a whip-like appendage. Struggling against the android, Clark managed to successfully insert the House of El command key into the console, deactivating the ship's security measures as the android ceased its attack.
As the android drifted off, Clark noticed a man in one of the hallways and followed him around the ship. During his pursuit, Clark came across the bodies of the ship's former crew, long dead, though one of them was missing from their habitation pods. At the same time, Lois Lane entered the ship and was also attacked by the android, causing her to shout in pain. Hearing the commotion, Clark arrived and crushed the android with his bare hands, saving Lois' life. As he went to check her wounds, Lois was hysterical, but Clark merely waited for her to let him help. Revealing to her his special powers, Clark used his heat vision to cauterize her internal wound, saving her life.
An interactive projection of Jor-El appeared and welcomed Clark, referring him by his birth name, Kal-El. Jor-El enlightens him of his heritage, why he was sent to Earth and the obligation to test the limits of his powers. The Scout ship then activated after thousands of years of dormancy and landed on a mountaintop. Jor-El then displayed to Clark the coat of arms of the House of El, which consists of a stylized letter "S" enclosed within a diamond-shaped outline, and showed him the history of Krypton and the dangers of other Kryptonians, before giving Clark a Kryptonian skinsuit, which the latter put on. Due to Jor-El's explanation, Clark was now finally able to accept his alien heritage as Kal-El, and embrace his powers, finally able to overcome his weakness of mental power suppression, and so he went outside and began to test the limits of his powers, gradually learning how to fly.
Clark returned to Smallville and visited Martha after several years of being abroad. He described to her the explorations he went on and that he found the answers to the questions he had, before Lois Lane showed up at the farm with questions about Clark. Clark found Lois at the Smallville Cemetery over Jonathan's grave, where he told her that he died in order to protect Clark from the world. His sacrifice convinced her to not publish her story revealing him to the world.
General Zod's arrival and surrender to humanity
Meanwhile, General Zod, the maniacal Kryptonian military leader, sent a message to the people of Earth to hand over his missing citizen or suffer his wrath. Recognizing that he couldn't put people in danger after a discussion with a Smallville priest, Clark voluntarily handed himself in to military custody wearing his new suit.
Lois arrived shortly after wanting questions from Clark and was about to give him a name, but was interrupted by Dr. Hamilton and General Swanwick, who made their intentions regarding delivering Kal-El to General Zod clear. Shortly thereafter Sub-commander Faora-Ul arrived in a dropship for Kal-El, but she also unexpectedly requested for Lois to join them as well, much to the dismay of both Kal-El and Colonel Hardy.
Once aboard the Black Zero, Kal-El came face to face with General Zod, who had him tied down, as the atmosphere aboard was replicating Krypton's, leaving Kal-El practically helpless, due to it rendering him unable to access his stores of solar energy. Zod's leading scientist Jax-Ur then proceeded to take some of Kal-El's blood, before Zod exposed him to mental probing.
Zod attempted to sway Kal-El to his side, requesting the location of the Kryptonian Growth Codex that Jor-El had sent with the latter to Earth. Kal-El, however, promptly refused to sacrifice his adopted planet, even if that meant restoring his native one.
Lois, however, had brought Jor-El's key aboard the ship and he helped her escape using an escape pod before changing the atmosphere for Kal-El to re-claim some strength to break free. Joe-El instructed Kal-El to beat a hole in the ship for yellow sun rays to get through, for Kal to recuperate his full strength, while Jor-El imparted his final words to his son, encouraging him to save mankind. Kal-El then raced after Lois in the falling escape pod, reaching her just before the pod exploded on impact.
Kal's super hearing alerted him to General Zod, already at the Kent farm and threatening Martha. He flew over and attacked Zod. They subsequently collided into a gas station, which exploded. Zod's breather mask was damaged and all his senses were subsequently overwhelmed, causing him to collapse from the mental strain of trying to process the sudden information from his senses. Faora-Ul and Nam-Ek followed and confronted Kal-El, with the pair outnumbering him, beating him to the ground and cautioning him that he won't prevail.
He was thrown through numerous buildings in Smallville by Faora, while Nam-Ek went to confront the incoming military forces. Before Faora could kill Colonel Hardy, Kal-El tackled her and also breached her mask, forcing Nam-Ek to carry her away and escape.
Hardy, after witnessing Superman's efforts to save them, then proclaimed that Superman was not mankind's enemy, much to the former's thanks.
- "If that thing is making Earth more like Krypton, won't you be weaker around it?"
- "Maybe. But I'm not about to let that stop me from trying."
- —Lois and Superman[src]
Lois then told Kal-El that Jor-El’s AI gave her directions to use his starship against Zod’s, with Kal-El then promptly taking his infant starship over to the Northcom base, handing it over to Colonel Hardy, before flying to the Indian Ocean to destroy the World Engine that General Zod had unleashed. At the US Military Northcom base, General Swanwick gives a green light to the operation against Zod, with a soldier under his command telling him that the alien Kal-El (who has now been dubbed by others in the military as "Superman") and Colonel Hardy are on the way.
The World Engine's defenses attacked Superman with many huge tentacles of molten-hot Liquid Geo, but he eventually manages to break through them, and destroy the World Engine by flying up the colossal gravity beam. Taking a few seconds to lie in direct sunlight to recover from the battle, Superman then flies to Metropolis on the other side of the planet, to stop General Zod who had unleashed his Black Zero starship upon the city at the same time.
While Superman flies back, Colonel Hardy and Lois are under attack from General Zod, the latter attempting to shoot their plane out of the sky with the Fortress of Solitude. Superman, however, returns right in time to collide with the Fortress (incapacitating its targeting systems) and destroy its Genesis Chamber, much to Zod's dismay. The Fortress is thus swiftly brought down onto the ground in Metropolis, colliding with many skyscrapers in the process. Meanwhile, thanks to the efforts of Colonel Hardy and Dr. Hamilton, the phantom drive of Superman's infant starship is activated, and the plane successfully collides with the Black Zero, creating a temporary Phantom Zone energy singularity that sucks in the Black Zero and the plane.
At this time, Superman emerges from the crashed Fortress, and flies up, just in time to catch Lois, who had fallen from the plane shortly before the collision. Due to him also having been once exposed to Phantom Zone energy, Superman struggles to escape the tremendous gravitational pull of the singularity, which he ultimately succeeds in doing. He then proceeds to put Lois beside Perry White and Jenny Jarwich and in a moment of adrenaline, Lois kissed Superman, who responded, before confronting Zod, who was revealed to still be on Earth, having been too far from the singularity.
Final duel with General Zod
Superman went to face Zod, who speculated how he could have built a new Krypton out of Earth if Superman hadn't betrayed them. Vowing to avenge his people to Superman, Zod promised that he would take away all whom Superman loved, and then attacked him. Superman, seeing no other way to reason with Zod, Superman vowed that he would stop him no matter what it took. He fought Zod in the intense and incredibly destructive Black Zero Event, destroying buildings, vehicles, and property, including the Wayne Tower brought down by Zod's heat vision, much to the dismay of Bruce Wayne, who witnessed it occur from the streets.
The battle intensified once Zod managed to master his heat vision and Superman struggled to counter the Kryptonian's superior experience and skill in honing his abilities. Zod efficiently gained the upper hand in the fight, before ripping off his armor and finally grasping his flying ability, now on even footing with Superman.
The two then clashed climatically in mid-air, with Zod hurling Superman through numerous skyscrapers, and tackling him into outer space, destroying a Wayne Enterprises satellite in the process. The two mighty aliens then crashed in Metropolis Central Station, where General Zod, feeling that he was beginning to lose the fight, opened his heat vision on innocent civilians. Superman grappled Zod, trying to divert the latter's heat vision away, before resorting to breaking Zod's neck to save the civilians, causing him to scream in brief trauma. However, he was then consoled by Lois, who had just gotten to the station by that time.
New career at the Planet
Superman flew back home to see his mother in Smallville. To his relief, she was fine, with the only damage she commented on was to the house. Later, Clark began a new job in Metropolis as a junior reporter at the Daily Planet. Upon arriving, he was introduced by Perry White to his new coworkers, including Lois Lane. Lois smiled at his new glasses and shook his hand, welcoming him to "the Planet" (both the Daily Planet, as well as Earth), to which Clark laughed.
A beacon of hope
In his first days of openly being a superhero, Superman took to dealing with natural disasters (notably the wildfires in the home forests of the state of Senator Stearns, that had almost claimed hundreds of lives), crime and humanitarian missions, but he notably avoided getting involved in controversial political disputes, such as wars between the nations of Earth.
As such, a massive silvery statue of Superman was built in Metropolis (on the epicenter of what was left after General Zod's terraformation attack on the city, in the new commemorative Heroes Park), and online message boards are created, with numerous people from all over the world using them as a means to ask Superman for help, regarding both trivial (helping to pay their rent) and severe (curing their cancer) matters.
At different points in time, Superman also prevented a missile attack on the United States, rescued victims from a building explosion, and prevented a devastating earthquake (by shifting an entire tectonic plate).
As Clark Kent, he is quickly promoted from just a junior reporter, quickly rising through the ranks at the Daily Planet after promptly displaying exceptional insights and investigative skills, which leads to Perry White assigning him bigger and bigger stories for the Planet. After only a year working as a reporter, Clark had already twice received the Elliot Prize for Investigative Journalism, is the first of any of the reporters on the Daily Planet staff to earn such prestige so quickly.
The Superman Committee
At the same time, a number of survivalist militias also emerged, who believed Superman to be the advance scout for a future, a larger alien invasion of Earth. Lex Luthor, a prolific philanthropist in his own right, later claimed that he was as much a hero to Metropolis as Superman, going on to state that the Kryptonian was a figure too mysterious and controversial for him to be a good comparison. In light of the Man of Steel's debut, Lex criticized that recognizing the importance of the ordinary citizens of Metropolis (such as rescue workers, first responders, and countless ordinary others who helped save others in wake of the Black Zero Event) had become more important than ever. Thus, Senator June Finch believed that before a decision regarding Superman could be made, the discovery of his existence needed to be handled objectively, and therefore advocated for the creation of a committee to study and learn more about the Superman.
One day, Lois and Clark swiftly exit the Daily Planet newsroom, as Lois heads off to expose the corrupt Hanford Technologies CEO Mark Hanford (who had been illegally profiting from the sale of Kryptonian weapons on the black market), while Clark heads off to help with floods in Bangladesh as Superman, warning Lois to be safe in his absence.
Some time later, Superman saves a runaway train full of passengers. As he uncouples the cars, he runs out of track and has to settle the front cars on the desert by lifting them up. Shortly thereafter, video footage of the event is recorded, and studied by Professor Garcia, after which he discusses it with a woman named Teri and another man. Garcia goes out of his way to argue that Superman tries to save lives, with the superhero having done so even in the infamous Black Zero Event. Garcia also defends Superman's decision to avoid getting involved in wars, as intervening in political disputes (such as unilaterally disarming a country's military) could actually make the situation worse. Teri appears to agree with the professor, but as it turns out, she is only speaking the words spoken to her through an earpiece by Lex Luthor.
S.T.A.R. Labs field trip
Some time later, Clark took a school class from Metropolis on a school trip to S.T.A.R. Labs Metropolis branch. At the facility, the S.T.A.R. Labs team display their Tachyon Transfer technology, that can send objects vast distances across space. They proceed to open the portal, but grotesque alien creatures, called the Ko'erst came through. They were controlling Dr. Forsythe to keep it open, so that they could invade Earth. Clark managed to swiftly leave in the confusion, and return as Superman, after which he managed to swiftly overpower and tie up the Ko'erst, before they were sent back through to their home world.
Trip to Wayne Enterprises
Some time later still, Superman, having learned of criminals attempting to steal Kryptonian technology from the Wayne Enterprises Research & Development Facility, promptly arrives and confronts them. While they initially make him retreat with Kryptonian plasma rifles (due to Superman's unwillingness to hurt them), Bruce Wayne gets a hold of a Kryptonian Signal Jammer, and utilizes it at a high frequency to incapacitate them all, though Superman recovers much quicker than the criminals, and thus, he manages to hand them over to the Metropolis Police Department, though not before confiscating the stolen Kryptonian tech.
After Lois is kidnapped by the Nairomian warlord Amajagh (who also had his bodyguard Anatoli Knyazev murder CIA agent Jimmy Olsen), and threatened with death, Superman flies to her rescue, flying right through the incoming missiles and drone of the CIA on the way. He smashes right through the roof of the building that Amajagh has Lois trapped in, arriving just in time. When the warlord holds a gun to Lois, she approvingly nods to Superman, so he responds by tackling Amajagh away from Lois in the blink of an eye, right through two walls. However, moments before Superman's arrival, Anatoli Knyazev and his men murder Amajagh's men, and Knyazev then proceeds to mutilate the corpses with his flamethrower, making it appear as if they had been murdered by Superman's heat vision.
This incident generates quite a bit of controversy throughout the world, with Senator Finch and her committee (responsible for studying Superman), after interviewing Nairomian Kahina Ziri (actually an actress hired and blackmailed into testifying by Lex Luthor), hold Superman responsible for what occurred in the North African desert. However, Kahina pretends to take little solace from this, claiming that the U.S. Government would never be able to force Superman to answer to them, since he seemingly answers to no one, not even to God.
Conversation with Lois
- "I just don't know if it's possible?"
"If what's possible?"
"For you to love me and be you."
- ―Lois Lane and Clark Kent[src]
Returning home to his and Lois' apartment, Clark sees Lois in the bathtub and says he wanted to surprise her by cooking up something. When the subject shifts to the controversy surrounding his actions in Nairomi, Clark makes it clear that he is unconcerned, as Lois could have been killed; also adding that he didn't actually murder anyone. When Lois questioned if it was possible for him to love her and be a hero, Clark responded by giving her one of the roses he'd brought her, followed by joining her in the bathtub.
"End of Love Affair with Man in the Sky?"
- "To look him in his eye and ask how he decides which lives count and which ones do not."
- ―Nairomian Kahina Ziri[src]
On the morning news, while cooking, Clark hears Nairomian Kahina Ziri being interviewed regarding Superman, and she states that had Superman been in her presence she would ask him how he decides: "which lives count, and which ones do not?" Clark is visibly uncomfortable at the accusation.
Later that same day, Clark is assigned by Perry to travel to Gotham City and cover the Metropolis vs Gotham football game (being given the headline "Underdog Dreams Dashed - 10 Yards Between Gotham and Glory") when the news reports on Wallace Keefe vandalizing the Superman statue by spray-painting the words "False God" in red on the chest before he is arrested. Clark is visibly saddened about this hate crime. Perry, while also quite upset, gives Jenny the headline "End of Love Affair With Man In the Sky?" Before Clark departs, Perry advises the former to watch himself in Gotham, due to the city's high crime rate.
- "There's a new kind of mean in him – he's angry, and he's hunting!"
- ―a Gotham citizen about Batman[src]
Clark then promptly follows through on his assignment, boarding the ferry from Metropolis to Gotham City. He first visits Kahina Ziri's apartment complex, but is told by her neighbors (who initially mistake the reporter for a police officer) that she left some time ago. One of the neighbors, an old man, claims that Kahina made the right choice by leaving Gotham, and recommends that Clark leave soon as well before the night, unless Clark wishes to run into the infamous Batman, who, according to the old man, is imbued with "a new kind of mean." Kahina's other neighbor, however, adamantly disagrees, stating that Batman should be feared only by those to have a reason to be fearful. Dismayed at this news of brutal terror-based vigilantism, Clark heads back.
Conflict with Perry
- "It's like a one-man reign of terror. This bat vigilante has been consistently targeting the port and the adjacent projects and tenements, and as far as I can tell the cops are actually helping him!"
- ―Clark Kent and Perry White at a staff meeting[src]
At a staff meeting shortly after his return from Gotham, Clark begins his pursuit of Batman by bringing up his repeated targets in the poor areas of Gotham and alliance with the local GCPD, which earns him mockery from Perry, who also asks if whether or not he began work on the football story he assigned him to. Clark insists that this story is worth printing as it shows that the common civilian matters and that the press has zero tolerance for Batman and other vigilantes, but Perry retorts by saying “the American conscience died with Robert, Martin, and John.” At that point, Lois enters the meeting, displaying a bullet found in Nairomi, letting Perry know that she intended to fly to Washington DC to further investigate, and briefly making eye contact with Clark.
Somewhat upset, Clark confronts Lois shortly thereafter, inquiring as to why she had kept the bullet a secret from him until now, also remarking that her "digging up snakes" is bound to be dangerous. She responds stating that this is exactly why she didn't tell Clark.
As Lois walks away, Clark has a worried expression on his face, but he is promptly approached by Perry, who states that some influential billionaire (actually Lex Luthor) had insisted that Clark be the reporter to attend and cover his Metropolis library fundraiser event.
- "Bruce Wayne meets Clark Kent! I love it! I love bringing people together!"
- ―Lex Luthor to Clark and Bruce Wayne[src]
While listening to Luthor's greeting speech, Clark's super-hearing quickly picks up on the voice of Alfred Pennyworth, coming from Bruce Wayne's earpiece. Clark notices Bruce sneaking away from the crowd, as per Alfred's instructions. Hence, a suspicious Clark is quick to use his reporter status to interview Bruce Wayne, as soon as the latter returns, asking Bruce about his position regarding Batman.
Bruce initially attempts to brush the reporter off, condescendingly referring to the younger man as "son," and sarcastically asking if the Daily Planet belongs to him. Clark persists, claiming to have personally seen how Batman considers himself to be above the law and causing civilians to live in fear, despite having never seen Batman in action. Bruce is quick to point out the hypocrisy in Clark's words, noting that every time Superman carried out a trivial deed, journalists like Clark are quick to shower him with praise, and instead argues the godlike alien should instead be feared, as there would be seemingly no way of stopping him, if Superman were to suddenly decide to go rogue. Clark is angered by this unexpected and personal criticism, but calmly points out that most of the world doesn't share Bruce's opinion on the alien superhero, but Bruce responds by claiming that perhaps his view is based on the bad history that Gotham has with "freaks dressed like clowns."
At that precise moment, however, they are abruptly interrupted by Lex Luthor, who enthusiastically introduces himself and invites Bruce to visit the LexCorp Industries research and development facilities. However, Mercy Graves comes up and lets Lex know that a governor wants to speak to him. As Bruce walks off, a suspicious Clark attempts to follow him, having heard Alfred's voice in the earpiece again, but he suddenly sees a TV news report of a girl stuck in a burning factory in Mexico, and instead chooses to save her over pursuing Bruce.
The Superman question
- "We're talking about a being, whose very existence challenges our own sense of priority in the universe."
- ―Neil deGrasse Tyson on Superman[src]
After saving the Mexican girl, Superman descends into the crowd of people in Díos de los Muertos apparel, and the civilians all surround and stretch out their hands towards him, eager to touch the godlike alien.
As the days go by, Superman continues his heroic career, notably saving a family from a flooded house, rescuing Russian astronauts from a rocket that collapsed during launch, and towing a half-sunken steamship through Arctic ice.
Meanwhile, however, the world continues responding to Superman and what his existence means to the world (much like how Jonathan Kent had once predicted), with the media referring to it as "The Superman Question." The question sparks quite a bit of controversy worldwide, with many being quick to express their opinions.
Astrophysicist and cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson, while seemingly not opposed to the alien superhero, remarks that Superman's very existence challenges humanity's sense of priority in the Universe. Openly negative views on "The Superman Question" are held by Internet blogger Glen Woodburn and author Andrew Sullivan. Wodburn's concern is based on humanity having a track record of following people with great power, down paths that led to huge human monstrosities. Sullivan questions whether there are any moral constraints on Superman, and that, due to there being International Law, every one of Superman's acts is a political one.
Finally, Senator June Finch is interviewed on the matter, with her interviewer wondering aloud if it is really surprising that Superman, as the most powerful man in the world, is viewed as a figure of controversy. He proceeds to ask her if she would be personally comfortable with saying to a grieving parent, that Superman could have saved their child, but couldn't because the government had not wanted him to act. Finch admits that while Superman's engagement in state-level interventions should be cause for concern, she proceeds to explain that the problem is not Superman's actions, but that he should not be carrying them out unilaterally. This makes her interviewer conclude by saying that the overall question is in fact, “must there be a Superman?”; to which she simply replies that “there is.” Clark himself sees this interview on television, and is visibly dismayed, feeling more unsure of his place than before.
Shortly thereafter, Clark calls his mother, Martha Kent. Not having it in him to tell her about his problems right away, he instead asks her why Jonathan had never left Kansas. A bit confused, Martha says that this was so because her late husband had felt that he was "already there," and he thus had no need to travel. Clark sighs, saying that he wished things were simple. Martha, however, gently disagrees, claiming that "nothing was ever simple."
Bat-Brand of Justice
The next day at work, Clark comes across an online page of a Gotham Free Press article, on how being branded by Batman is a death sentence among Gotham City prison inmates, with there having been 18 reports of people getting branded with "bat-brands" by the ruthless vigilante. An angry and frustrated Clark then becomes determined to take an active initiative.
Continued Conflict with Perry
Shortly thereafter, Clark is confronted by Perry, who is furious with him for having not covered the Metropolis football match or Lex Luthor's fundraiser for the Metropolis Library. Clark argues by saying that the press has the responsibility of showing integrity and exposing Batman for the criminal that he is, bringing up the fact that the Daily Planet had an upstanding reputation for displaying such character at its foundation. Perry responds by mocking Clark's values, saying that “it’s not 1938” and life is no longer simple enough for someone like Clark to be admired for upstanding character alone; therefore, he is ordered to cease his pursuit of Batman, as no one will find such a thing interesting. Clark is agitated, but undeterred.
Investigating Cesar Santos
While still pondering over this theme while working at his cubicle, Clark receives some anonymous mail. Inside are pictures of Cesar Santos' corpse (as he had been murdered by his fellow inmates), with the words “judge," "jury," "executioner," and "justice?” written at the bottom of them. At this moment, a frustrated Clark finally decides on a different, more personal approach. Unbeknownst to him, Santos' murder and the murders of the other branded convicts were all a setup orchestrated by Lex Luthor (through Anatoli Knyazev), in order to incriminate Batman in Superman's eyes.
Clark travels to Gotham City once more, intent on learning more regarding Santos' murder. When unable to obtain information from the penitentiary, Clark comes across Santos' girlfriend Adriana (with her baby child), and promptly interviews her. Adriana angrily complains about Batman's brutal methods, claiming that one man deciding who gets to live cannot be justice. As a reporter, Clark implores her to tell him more, so that he might change things. Adriana, however, declines, saying that words from Clark's pen cannot stop Batman, as the only method to actually do so is "a fist," implying that only severe punishment is an effective deterrent against Batman.
An infuriated Clark thus decides to take a more direct approach to dealing with Batman, this time as Superman.
God versus Man
Meeting the Batman
- "Next time they shine your light in the sky, don't go to it. The Bat is dead. Bury it. Consider this mercy."
- ―Superman to Batman[src]
That evening, while Batman was intercepting Lex Luthor's men transporting kryptonite, Superman interrupted the chase, damaging the Batmobile after Batman tried running him down, and again when Superman tore the doors off. With Cesar Santos' death (and subsequent orphaning of the latter's son) being the last straw, Superman threatens the Dark Knight, warning him to give up his crusade, to ignore the Bat-Signal the next time it lights up, and that he should consider Superman's warning as mercy. As he turned to leave, Batman countered with a threat of his own, expressing his determination to make the godlike alien "bleed." Not impressed with Batman's threat, Superman flew off, while Batman promptly drove back to the Batcave in the damaged Batmobile.
Hearing in Washington
While the rest of the world is still busy debating on "The Superman Question," Clark returns home to Smallville to visit his mother Martha. There, she advises him that either way, he shouldn't be concerned with what others think of him. She then assures him that he is neither a threat, nor a killer, and that ultimately, he doesn't owe planet Earth a thing.
Despite much media speculation to the contrary, Superman arrives to speak and answer at Senator Finch's committee, at the US Capitol in Washington D.C. While there are notably quite a few anti-Superman protesters gathered there (with banners labelled "SuperDeath," "Thanks for the "Help"!," "Earth Belongs to Humans," "God Hates Aliens" and "Aliens Doom Nations," a House of El glyph with a Nazi swastika, as well as an alien-shaped head on a pole), Lois stands there as well, for additional support.
The trial is also attended by Lex Luthor's personal assistant, Mercy Graves. Right before the trial, Kahina Ziri approaches Senator Finch, revealing herself to be an actress that Lex had hired to lie, so Finch resolves to mention this in the trial as well, intending to clear her name. When Superman enters, Finch starts out by pointing out to him a witness/victim of Superman's actions, Wallace Keefe, who lost his legs during the Black Zero Event. After suddenly noticing a distasteful note left for her by Lex Luthor (a jar of urine, labelled "Granny's Peach Tea"), a startled Finch stops in mid-speech, before a bomb (hidden inside Keefe's lead-lined wheelchair by Lex) explodes, killing her, Graves, Keefe, and everyone else present, except for the invulnerable, but mortified Superman.
Right after the explosion, Superman stays to help, carrying an injured woman to safety. He begins to look around him and sees dozens of dead bodies and injured civilians, he begins swelling with guilt and self-doubt, and throws a glance of sorrow and regret at Lois, before launching into the air.
- "'Superman' was never real; just the dream of a farmer from Kansas."
"That farmer's dream is all some people have. It's all that gives them hope. This [symbol] means something."
"It did on my world. My world doesn't exist anymore."
- ―Superman and Lois[src]
That evening, Superman flew back to Lois' hotel room and spoke to her on the balcony. While Lois assured him that he was not to blame and was about to tell him of Lex Luthor's involvement (having learned it from S.T.A.R. Labs weapons and ballistics specialist Jenet Klyburn), Superman insisted that he hadn't been able to prevent the bombing because he hadn't been looking for a potential bomb in the first place. Now, mortified at how his actions had so far consistently lead to horrible consequences, Clark claims that the whole idea of "Superman" had never even been real in the first place, with it only ever being "the dream of a farmer from Kansas."
Lois insisted that this "dream" is all that most people have to give them hope, and she pointed to his House of El glyph, stating that it still means something. However, Clark sadly replies that while it did on Krypton, that world no longer exists, and he then promptly flies off, into self-imposed exile. Meanwhile, in the news, many are suspecting that Superman might have been involved in letting the Capitol bombing happen, so a mob of protesters assembles outside the building's wreckage, burning a large ragdoll of Superman while chanting in outrage.
Superman flies to the faraway mountains, dons civilian clothing, and hikes up the snow-covered slope. He passes some people, with an old man remarking (in Mexican Spanish) that since Clark knows that the mountain he's climbing isn't passable, the logical conclusion is that Clark has come to die.
Much to Clark's surprise, he suddenly experiences a vision of his adopted father, Jonathan Kent. The vision spoke to Clark, telling him of how he himself had once believed himself to be a hero after saving his farm from a flood during the age of 12, yet inadvertently thereby flooding the Langs' farm. He encouraged Clark, and let his son know that he both loves and misses him.
Superman returns to Metropolis and rescues Lois just in the nick of time after Lex Luthor throws her off of the roof, and flies back up to deal with him. Superman angrily vows to bring the malevolent supergenius in "without breaking him." However, Luthor confidently retorts by revealing that he knows Superman's secret identity, and proceeds to tell Clark about his views on both him and God, stating that "God is tribal." Lex then reveals that his father, Alexander Luthor Sr., while seemingly affable in public, was egregiously cruel and evil behind closed doors, abusing his defenseless son with both fists and "abominations."
Due to there having been no "man in the sky" to protect Lex from this unjust suffering, he subsequently became a misotheist, burdened by the theological problem of evil (that if God is truly all-powerful, then He cannot be all-good, and vice versa), and concluding that power cannot be innocent. When he shows Superman the bandaged-cut on his right hand and says, "the blood on your (Superman) hands," Superman realizes that he and Batman were deviously framed by Lex the whole time. Hence, Superman, due to his own godlike power, has the same problem of evil applicable to him in Lex's eyes, and Lex is now determined to prove this to the world by having him engage Batman in a mortal duel.
When Superman attempts to refuse, Lex reveals that the former's mother, Martha Kent, is held in captivity in a top-secret location by Knyazev (producing several photos of a horrified tied up Martha as proof). An incredibly furious Superman seems ready to destroy Lex with his heat vision, but the latter says that if Superman attempts to kill him or flies away, Martha will be burned alive, and the only way for Superman to save her, is to fly to Gotham City, fight and kill Batman in a vicious duel to the death, and subsequently bring the vigilante's head to Lex. An enraged Superman is left with no choice but to comply with Lex's orders, and flies off, much to the delight of Lex.
Superman is shaken up by the power Lex's ultimatum hold over him, since despite his disapproval of Batman's morally gray methods, Superman recognizes him as a good (albeit misled and unnecessarily brutal) man, so this conflicts with his morality even more than the murder of General Zod. Hence, Superman flies to Lois and briefly explains the situation to her, but then adding that he will instead try to convince Batman to help. He then sadly concludes by saying that "no one stays good in this world," before flying off.
Duel with Batman
Superman arrives in Gotham, where Batman is waiting for him. Superman tries to reason with Batman, beginning with an apology for wrongly accusing him of being a criminal and trying to explain what Luthor has done, but accidentally triggers a pair of sonic emitters, stopping him in his tracks. Superman rips a manhole cover in half and flings the scraps of metal into the emitters, destroying them. Now visibly frustrated, Superman once again attempts to reason with Batman, who refuses to listen, resulting in Superman giving him a light shove, sending him tumbling across the concrete for over 60 feet. Batman activates another trap: a pair of .50-caliber machine gun turrets. Superman puts up his guard for a moment, before flying above them and incinerating the turrets with his heat vision.
As Batman regains his footing, a very angry Superman grabs him and hurls him down the street. The Dark Knight rises to his feet again. Frustrated at his adversary's resilience, Superman grabs hold of Batman and pushes him through the side of a building. Emerging through the roof, Superman violently hurls Batman right through the Bat-Signal. He again tries to reason with Batman, telling him that if he wanted to kill him, he could easily and would have done so already.
Batman gets up and activates a smoke grenade before tossing it towards his opponent. Superman dashes through the lead-smoke cloud to find Batman gone. Now behind him, Batman fires a round from his riot gun, only for his opponent to catch it. However, it releases a cloud of kryptonite gas, severely weakening him.
Batman taunts him as he writhes in pain. Superman attacks Batman, who easily counters his attacks thanks to his superior fighting skills. Batman kicks him against a skylight and stomps down on him, crashing through it and onto the top floor of the building. Superman tries to regain his footing, but Batman gives him no such respite. He beats his foe senseless, flooring him with a powerful left cross. However, Superman senses the return of his powers and counters one of Batman's kicks, throwing Batman through a wall.
The two combatants charge at one another. Batman swings Superman back against the wall and pummels him repeatedly; however, Superman's invulnerability begins to return, rendering Batman's assault ineffective. Batman eyes his steel glove and backs away nervously, knowing the tables have turned yet again. Superman shoves him down through the floor into an abandoned bathroom. Batman attempts to get up, but even in his weakened state, Superman easily overpowers him. Getting a hold on Batman's armored suit, he picks him up and flings him through several rows of urinal partitions.
Batman, in extreme pain, lifts his head and loads another round in his gun. Superman races to beat him to it and leaps into the air, fist drawn back. He takes the next kryptonite round full in the face, but not before landing a brutal punch to the side of Batman's head, shattering his helmet and sending him flying through the air.
Batman recovers from the shock and gets to his feet, while Superman rolls over helplessly, engulfed by the toxic mist. Batman wrenches a sink basin from its porcelain pedestal and brings it down hard on the back of Superman's head, momentarily knocking him unconscious.
The Dark Knight's redemption
Batman carries Superman to a staircase balcony and drops him over the edge, leaving him to plummet a dozen stories to the floor below, flat on his back. After grappling to the floor, Batman binds Superman's feet with a cable, then slams a button on his grapnel gun, pulling Superman towards him. He uses the momentum to swing Superman around, smashing him through a ring of concrete pillars. The badly wounded Superman is then placed on his back and taunted by Batman, who claims that Superman was not only never a god, but never even a man, before cutting the latter's cheek with his kryptonite spear and raising it for the killing blow.
Aware of his impending death, Superman implores Batman to save "Martha." Batman, confused and shocked by this (as "Martha" was the name of his own late mother), pauses his killing blow, and yells at Superman, demanding to know why the latter had uttered that name. At that moment, Lois finally arrives, and explains to Batman that it is the name of Superman's mother. Batman then realizes his own hypocrisy - that he has allowed Lex Luthor to twist his anger from the Black Zero Event and turn him into the very monster he swore to fight. Hence, Batman hurls the spear away in disgust, horrified at what he had almost become, and he is now prepared to help Superman, whom he now better understands, while also redeeming himself in his own eyes in the process.
The two then converse, and Superman reveals Lex Luthor's plan, meaning that his mother is losing time every second. A repentant Batman, now finally seeing Superman for the selfless person that he is (instead of an inhuman alien threat, since when threatened, Superman had pleaded to save his mother, rather than his own life), tells him that they should work together to stop Luthor, the true enemy that had been deviously manipulating both of them this whole time. After some persuasion from Batman, Superman resolves to confront Luthor, while Batman had promised him that he will save Martha.
Having partially recovered from the kryptonite gas and exposure, Superman flies to the Fortress of Solitude and smashes through the starship's hull to face Lex Luthor, letting the latter know that Martha is safe, Batman is now an ally, and that Lex had lost. The malevolent supergenius, however, was unfazed by the news of his failed plan, claims not to know how to lose, and is quick to finally reveal his far more grandiose and extreme contingency plan: a massive hybrid Kryptonian monster grown from General Zod's corpse and Lex's blood (in an ancient Kryptonian ritual, long forbidden by the Law Council), Superman's "Doomsday." Lex gleefully added that now Superman was "as good as dead."
- "Ancient, Kryptonian deformity! Blood of my blood! Born to destroy you! Your Doomsday!"
- ―Lex Luthor[src]
Doomsday then proceeds to swiftly break out of the ship's birthing matrix, loudly roars, and hurls a monstrous punch at Lex, but Superman intervenes and catches his massive fist before beating him back into the network of cables. Doomsday catches Superman in his giant hands and leaps out of the Fortress of Solitude and pummels Superman, sending him hurtling into Heroes Park.
As Superman struggles to his feet, Doomsday lands nearby. He eyes the face of his enemy in the giant Superman statue, then looks down at the smaller real-life version standing below.
Doomsday's strength and durability surpass that of Superman, momentarily stunning the Man of Steel and sending him flying into a building. Doomsday is then shot at by military helicopters, but his body takes it all, adapting and only becoming more durable, generating a huge electrical shockwave.
In desperation, Superman tackles Doomsday and takes him into space. The U.S. President intends to shoot the alien monster down with a megaton nuke, and it is carried out, despite the protests of Calvin Swanwick. Superman defiantly holds Doomsday in place as he sees the missile approach, determined to have the monster destroyed. The resulting explosion is so gigantic that Batman can clearly see it from Earth's surface.
Doomsday's body lands on the abandoned Stryker's Island, but he is far from dead, as the megaton nuclear explosion seems to have only made the monster stronger and more durable still, with its body once again regenerating, and generating another electrical shockwave, considerably larger and stronger than the first.
In the meantime, Superman, appearing withered, is floating in space being extremely weakened by the nuclear missile blast.
Soon, however, he is exposed to radiation from earth's yellow sun, which reinvigorates Superman's cells, returning him back to life and full power. He then proceeds to fly back towards the Earth's surface, and joins in the battle against Doomsday by flying towards the monster, sending Doomsday flying into a gas tank, generating a massive explosion.
The trinity unites
- "This thing is from another world. My world.
"I've killed things from other worlds before."
- ―Superman and Wonder Woman[src]
Superman and a recently arrived Wonder Woman then proceed to jointly attack Doomsday in tandem, while Batman tries to expose the monster to kryptonite, which would exploit its only known vulnerability. Wonder Woman soon manages to cut off the monster's right arm, but that only results in a sharp bony protrusion growing back in its place.
In the meantime, Lois is in Gotham City, trying to retrieve the kryptonite spear from underwater. Superman is able to hear her drowning, and flies off to rescue her, retrieving the spear in the process, while Wonder Woman manages to temporarily restrain Doomsday with her indestructible lasso. Superman sees that the only way to stop Doomsday will end up putting his life at risk, since brute force alone had been proven ineffective. Hence, he says a tender goodbye to Lois, before taking hold of the spear and flying back to the battle scene, exposed to the substance himself in the process, though he manages to temporarily bypass the kryptonite's weakening and superpower negation effects with a tremendous amount of willpower and determination.
A weakened Superman returns to the battle and stabs Doomsday with the kryptonite spear, causing more electrical energy than ever before to pour out of Doomsday, making Wonder Woman momentarily lose her footing. This allowed Doomsday to slip out of the Lasso of Hestia binding him, and plunge his bony arm protrusion into Superman's chest. Superman, however, is undeterred by his impending death, and defiantly fights against the incredible pain, plunging the spear deeper into Doomsday's chest with his last ounce of strength, as well as letting the monster's bony protrusion sink deeper into his own chest, thereby allowing the spear to pierce Doomsday's body completely. The two give one final joint bellow of agony, before their lifeless bodies hit the ground.
Superman's unexpectedly human sacrifice visibly shell-shocks and saddens Batman (as it again proved Batman's image of Superman wrong), and he promptly retrieves Superman's lifeless body, enveloping him in his own cape, and giving the body to Wonder Woman (who was astounded to have finally, after 100 years, met a person who had both the phenomenal godly might of Ares, and the self-sacrificing morality of Steve Trevor, and was equally saddened at his death), who gently places it on the ground, seconds before the arrival of a devastated Lois Lane. Lois proceeds to cradle weep over her fallen beloved as Batman and Wonder Woman stand next to her in respectful lamenting silence (recalling having been in Lois' position when witnessing Steve Trevor die). Batman is guilt-ridden about being so devastatingly wrong about Superman and wasting two kryptonite gas grenades on him, while they might have instead been used to kill Doomsday without having to lose Superman.
Aftermath of the battle
In order to posthumously cover up Superman's secret identity, Lois reports that Clark Kent has also died during the heroes' devastating battle with Doomsday, having chosen to carry out his duties as a reporter and cover it, and ultimately getting caught in the crossfire.
Perry White printed a special edition of the Daily Planet paper in honor of Superman and his efforts (still thankful to the superhero for saving him during the Black Zero Event), headlining it "Superman Dead: Night of Terror, Morning of Loss."
Burial and memorial
Superman was honorably buried in Heroes Park in Metropolis, in a grandiose military ceremony (that is attended by Secretary of Defense Swanwick and Carrie Farris), with Superman's black coffin (with a silver House of El glyph) being wrapped in the US flag. Afterwards, Swanwick is presented the folded American flag. So many devastated people attend the citywide funeral, that all of the usually crowded and busy streets of Metropolis are empty.
Later, numerous visibly saddened, remorseful and repentant people of Metropolis came with candles to Superman's resting place, to pay their respects to Earth's greatest hero, who had selflessly died saving the world from its greatest threat, a
Hero that so many of them had failed to properly accept during his life. Hence, while Superman's monument is still broken (in the aftermath of the great battle with Doomsday), his tomb (also decorated with the Kryptonian glyph) reads: "If you seek his monument, look around you," emphasizing how Superman's heroic sacrifice guaranteed that the entire world and humanity are still around, first saved from General Zod's terraformation apocalypse, and then from Doomsday's unstoppable bloodthirsty rampage of apocalyptic proportions.
However, the coffin in Metropolis is actually empty, as the funeral of Clark Kent is held in Smallville (being anonymously paid for by Bruce Wayne), with Father Leone presiding over it and delivering a eulogy (containing the biblical resurrection prophecy from Isaiah 26:19), and with Bruce, Diana, Perry, Jenny, and Lois in attendance, along with Pete Ross and Lana Lang. An after function is held at Martha's home. Lois is in Clark's bedroom when Martha enters (after having placed a photo of Jonathan in Clark's coffin). She gives Lois a letter, revealing to her that Clark had intended to propose to her.
Still, at the cemetery, Bruce expresses his guilt and remorse over his crimes against Superman, and by extension, the world. He and Diana share a conversation about bringing the other metahumans together, in order to fill the void left after Superman's death, and protect Earth in case a threat of that scale ever should arise, honoring Superman's heroic sacrifice. Diana questions the necessity and inquires why Bruce is proposing it. He replies that it is simply due to a feeling he has that things will imminently get worse (in reality, he was following the instructions given to him by the Future Flash, who appeared in one of his "dreams," as well as heeding Lex Luthor's enigmatic warning).
Superman's coffin is then shown, with the handful of dirt scattered on it by Lois beginning to rise into the air, implying that Superman might still, in fact, be alive.
- "The world changed when Superman flew across the sky. Then it changed again when he didn't."
- ―Amanda Waller[src]
Even after his death, Superman continued to have a profound impact on the world — his choice to embrace his alien heritage and usage of his powers for selfless heroism make Superman a beacon of hope and inspiration for metahummans like the Flash, inducing them to also more openly use their powers and come out into the light, with the Flash notably apprehending Captain Boomerang as a result. Humans were also significantly impacted, with a vendor on the street exemplifying their deep posthumous respect for Superman.
ARGUS Director Amanda Waller, however, has a much more negative view on Superman after his death; since while she posthumously respects Superman himself for his benevolence and selfless heroism, she recognizes that there could very well be other godlike beings out there, coupled with far less friendly intentions, which leads to Waller advocating for the creation of Task Force X, which could be forced to battle against such formidable threats as a contingency, whereas a normal non-disposable human army would be powerless. When Waller first meets up with Admiral Olsen and Dexter Tolliver, Olsen reprimands her for looking cheerful in light of Superman's recent death, since he considers him "a national hero."
Waller's fears ultimately prove to be valid, as a pair of incredibly powerful but far less benevolent metahumans, Enchantress and her brother Incubus, would also be inspired by Superman to come out into the light, attempting to use their vast mystical powers to conquer Earth and subjugate its inhabitants to their will. Thus, the Suicide Squad's implementation became necessary.
- "Kal-El, the Last Son of Krypton. Remember who you are!"
- ―Wonder Woman to Superman after his resurrection[src]
Shortly after the formation of the Justice League, and their failed battle against Steppenwolf, Batman comes to the conclusion that they needed Superman if they truly wished to save the Earth. Flash and Cyborg were sent to retrieve Superman's body and bring him to the Kryptonian ship in Metropolis. There, Cyborg guided the Flash on using his connection to the Speed Force to jumpstart the Mother Box and power the Genesis Chamber in order to revive Superman. They succeed and Superman's wounds are healed as he reawakens and burst out of the ship before stumbling before the shattered statue at Heroes Park, gazing upon his memorial. Disoriented, Clark paced around the fragments of the statue, trying to gather his thoughts.
The League then arrived to meet him; however, Clark was still disoriented and unsure of the situation, scanning the four with his superhuman vision. Cyborg's security protocols register Clark as a threat and force him to launch a missile at him, which he quickly dodges and returns fire with his heat vision. The League attempts to restrain him, but are easily shrugged off. Wonder Woman tries to snap Clark out of his rage by using the Lasso of Hestia and referring to him by his Kryptonian name. While her words causes him to hesitate, Clark quickly re-engaged, now fighting off and overpowering the combined might of Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and Aquaman. Flash attempts to flank Clark, however, Clark is able to keep up with the speedster and eventually knock him down. Police officers and USAF airmen attempted to stop the alien, but he fended them off with his heat vision before noticing Batman and recognising his old adversary.
The Flash, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman make another attempt to push Clark back, but he easily overpowers them and almost kills Batman with his heat vision, easily overpowering his energy dissipating gauntlets.
However, at that moment, Lois Lane arrives and manages to snap him out of his anger. Clark's memories seemed to flood back to him as Lois embraced him, to which he then took off with her to the Kent farm.
- "For Darkseid."
- ―Steppenwolf and Superman[src]
After a day, Clark fully regains his memories and reunites with his mom after a tender moment with Lois Lane. Lois then warns him about Steppenwolf and regretfully sends him away. Clark, supposing he owes Bruce, returns to the Scout Ship and find a spare skinsuit, before flying off to the Glasshouse, only to find Alfred, who tells him where he needs to go. Superman flies off and reunites with the rest of the League, stopping Steppenwolf when he was nearly about to kill Cyborg, and easily managing to overpower the New God after destroying the Electro Axe. Before Steppenwolf is defeated, a Boom Tube to Apokolips opens and the Unity is completed, killing all the heroes aside from the Flash, who reverses time to give them a second chance.
After Steppenwolf is impaled by Aquaman, Superman then punches him towards the Boom Tube to Apokolips, where he is decapitated by Wonder Woman. As Darkseid glares at the united Justice League, Superman and his comrades stand in defiance before the Boom Tube closes, putting an end to the invasion.
Joining the Justice League
After the battle, Clark gives thanks to Bruce as the latter reacquires the Kent farm for Martha, with Bruce congratulating him afterwards. When Clark asks Bruce how the latter got the house back from the bank, Bruce jokingly replies, "I bought the bank." Afterwards, Clark went back to Metropolis to resume work at the Daily Planet, and resume his life as a superhero, wearing his new black suit in the process.
A New World
In 2018, Superman came into contact with Billy Batson and arranged to meet him and Freddy Freeman at Fawcett Central during their lunch period. To the surprise of many students in the lunchroom, Superman, wearing his classic suit, emerged with a tray of food in hand, before silently standing next to Freddy and Shazam.
Faster than a Speeding Bullet
The assassin known as Bloodsport attempted to kill Superman with bullets forged from Kryptonite; however, this attempt was unsuccessful although it did temporarily cause Superman to be brought to an ICU for medical treatment.
This article or section is about the Knightmare future. This is a potential future that may not necessarily follow the primary timeline.
Darkseid's Ultimate Victory
In the dark possible future, Lois Lane would be killed, with Batman having been unable to prevent it. As he mourned over her corpse, Darkseid approached him and gently stroked his back, surprising him and causing him to slightly flinch. Consumed with grief, Superman was left susceptible to Darkseid's Anti-Life Equation and became a malevolent tyrant ruling the planet. He presumably founded the regime stormtroopers to aid him in his totalitarian regime of Earth, mercilessly killing anybody who opposed him. Batman promptly founded an insurgency in order to combat this new threat, thus beginning a long war. Three fatality were noted, that of Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Harley Quinn.
Superman briefly intercepted Batman, the Joker, Flash, Cyborg, Deathstroke, and Mera when they prepared to stand against him. It is unknown what interactions were made, but Batman eventually trudged on himself, hoping his friends would bring kryptonite to end the despotism of the Man of Steel once and for all. Once he was captured by the regime army, Superman was informed immediately and went to kill Batman himself. Superman flew to the bunker where Batman and his remaining fellow insurgency members were chained captive, and his regime soldiers reverently knelt before their general. He approached Batman, swiftly murdering the other insurgents with his heat vision as he did so. Superman then unmasked the vigilante. He expressed his anger at Bruce for letting "her" die, as she was "his world." Superman gave Batman one final sinister sneer, and ruthlessly killed him by tearing Batman's heart from his chest. At a later point in time, Superman could be seen floating above the ruins of the Justice League headquarters, holding Batman's cowl which he had torn off him moments before he supposedly ended his life.
- "You’re scared of me because you can’t control me. You don’t, and you never will. But that doesn’t mean I’m your enemy."
- ―Superman to Calvin Swanwick[src]
Superman is exceptionally kind-hearted, possessing a strong sense of justice, honor, empathy, honesty, patriotism, and innate selfless benevolence. Jor-El foresaw that his son would become "an ideal" for humanity to strive towards, which at first proved correct, and even Batman, who had initially had his doubts, later claimed that Superman is a "beacon to the world," one who doesn't just save people, but also "made them see the best parts of themselves." Also, despite being an alien from Krypton by birth, Superman's interactions with Lois Lane induce him to be very human in personality, with Batman admitting that Superman's personality and values make Superman more human than he is.
In addition, Superman, being the son of Krypton's most prominent Thinker Guild genius Jor-El, and having been a nerdy, bookish wunderkind as a teenager, is himself a highly prolific and eclectic genius, notably becoming a brilliant Daily Planet reporter as an adult (often labelled a "nerd" by Perry White), to the point of almost rivaling the far more experienced Lois Lane herself. His love for her kept him on the right side for a long time. He was able to instinctively tell that General Zod couldn't be trusted, and even able to deduce Batman's secret identity. Despite being a highly prominent eclectic genius, however, Superman was still in many ways considerably intellectually surpassed by supergenius Lex Luthor, who easily successfully manipulated Superman as a pawn in his grand plan, successfully killing him in the end with Doomsday.
Growing up as the only person of his kind, thus being very different and alienated by his peers, Clark grew up a very confused, lonely, and lost person who struggled to see good in others. Hence, this, as well as his inability to understand his superhuman powers, made Clark subconsciously suppress them, with him unable to reach his full potential for many years (until he finally met Jor-El). Instilled by his parents, he grew up to selflessly care for other people and to do the right thing. Realizing that he could help others with his powers, Clark went against his father's (Jonathan) wishes to help others. Clark would even go out of his way to save Peter Ross, a boy that had relentlessly bullied him not long ago. This selflessness and faith in others show that even before meeting Jor-El, Clark already strived to uphold what the House of El had always stood for.
With the passing of his adopted father Jonathan Kent, an initially embittered Clark would go on a long journey of discovery, in which he eventually discovered his true name, and true purpose on Earth, going out of his way to always selflessly save people in need along the way, if it that meant exposing his alien superpowers and losing an acquired job, such as when Clark promptly abandoned his job on the Debbie Sue in order to rescue workers trapped in a collapsing oil rig. While he tended to be quite serious and sometimes even brooding, when Clark meets Lois Lane and receives empathy from her upon revealing himself as an alien (while also revealing his lingering guilt about heeding Jonathan Kent's request not to save him from death), Clark begins to enjoy life a bit more, with her spunky and sometimes flirty personality having a gradual effect on Clark. Lois, in turn, was so smitten with his selfless heroics, that she decided to drop what could have been the biggest story in human history for him.
Due to still not understanding his alien powers and heritage, however, Clark subconsciously suppressed his superpowers, and while still incredibly powerful, this mental block considerably limited Clark relative to his full potential and prohibited him from mastering the power of flight. However, once Clark finally meet the AI projection of his birth father Jor-El and learned of his Kryptonian heritage and true name (Kal-El), Clark finally permanently overcame this weakness and gained his full potential, becoming not only much more powerful than ever before, but also finally unlocking his power of flight, in addition to becoming more optimistic and confident as Kal-El. He now resolves to uphold what the House of El stands for: hope.
As he matured, Clark learned early on how to stay calm and collected in tough situations, to control his pent-up anger and instead of impulsively releasing his incredible alien power on mere humans, he instead found different means, like secretly crushing a metal pipe when aggressively dared by Ken Braverman to fight, and wrecking the truck of Ludlow when the latter insulted Clark and perversely groped Clark's female co-worker. As a result, Superman grew accustomed to and highly skilled at holding back his incredible strength and powers quite a bit unless absolutely necessary, which is evident when Superman expressed his intention of taking in Lex Luthor "without breaking" him (albeit because Lois' life was briefly in danger), and when Superman greatly held back while fighting the far weaker Batman. More notable instances of Clark holding himself together in angering situations are when he calmly confronts the obnoxious Ludlow (even when the latter insults and pours been over Clark's face), when he doesn't react to Byrne's insulting reprimanding (as the latter had just attempted to save his life), when he expertly interviews Bruce Wayne and answers the latter's accusations regarding Superman with calm objective statements (ignoring Bruce's confrontational manner of addressing the younger reporter), when he calmly debates with his frustrated boss Perry White about the necessity of exposing Batman through the press (despite Perry being somewhat condescending), and when he does not get insulted when people (such as Perry and Kahina Ziri's neighbor) mistake him for a meek pushover (when he's disguised as a human) and advise him to be careful.
It was ultimately Kal-El's indomitable willpower, lawfully absolute loyalty and refusal to give up even under seemingly insurmountable odds (most notably when he faced the combined might of Faora-Ul and Nam-Ek, both much more skilled combatants, without hesitation, persisting against them until he finally gained the upper hand and forced them to retreat) that allows Nathan Hardy to trust the alien superhero, and respect him as an ally. In admiration of his tremendous superpowers, perseverance, willpower, and heroism, the US Armed Forces nickname Kal-El "Superman."
Inevitably, Superman is capable of terrifying displays of rage when provoked, shown when General Zod and Lex Luthor threatened his adopted mother Martha, with Superman promptly releasing his incredible rage upon and temporarily beating Zod into submission, and Superman's comically futile threat to destroy Lex with his heat vision, until reminded that his mother would die if he were to kill Lex. Due to his own unwavering selfless morality, Superman is initially disgusted by Batman and the latter's morally gray methods of dealing with crime in Gotham City (which Superman hypocritically called a "one-man reign of terror"), as the latter had a penchant for ruthlessly torturing, branding, and even killing certain criminals, with those branded by him being murdered in jail by other inmates (notably Cesar Santos, though those murders are later revealed to be secretly orchestrated by Lex Luthor, who intended to pit the two superheroes against one another), and the general public fearing Batman. As such, while Clark initially intends to expose Batman through the press, he soon doubts the effectiveness of this method after learning that the GCPD is actually helping Batman, quarreling with Perry White, who considers Clark's views on morality somewhat outdated (claiming that "American conscious died with Robert, Martin and John"), and hearing from Adriana Santos (whose son was now orphaned following Cesar's murder) that words from Clark's pen cannot stop Batman, as the only method to actually do so is "a fist," implying that only severe punishment is an effective deterrent against Batman. Hence, an infuriated Clark decides to take a more direct approach to dealing with Batman, this time as Superman.
Due to his indomitable will, great power, selfless morality, and natural birth, Jonathan Kent believed that his adopted son would one day "stand proudly in front of the human race" and ultimately "change the world," while Jor-El believed in his son's ability to represent "the best" of both Earth and Krypton, and to one day progress humanity beyond their natural potential, especially since Kal-El Krypton's Growth Codex within his cells. Both of Kal's fathers are ultimately proven right, since despite having felt isolated from humanity for most of his life due to his alien superpowers, when Kal-El heard General Zod's menacing message to Earth, he immediately chose to protect humanity by finally revealing himself to them, even allowing himself to be handcuffed before he is brought before Zod. Upon hearing of General Zod's plans to restore Krypton on Earth, however, Kal-El is horrified and chooses to protect humanity over Krypton, absolutely refusing General Zod's offer to help the Sword of Rao sacrifice Kal-El's adopted people for the sake of a planet that had already been destroyed decades ago. Kal-El thus agreed with his father Jor-El that "Krypton had had its chance," and that its time had long since passed, so Kal-El did not hesitate long before destroying Zod's Genesis Chamber.
Due to Kal-El being the first (and last) Kryptonian of natural birth in centuries, he is somewhat looked down upon by his fellow Kryptonians of the Sword of Rao (who were all genetically engineered in Genesis Chambers and assigned to their respective Guilds), as the orthodox General Zod views Kal-El's method of coming into existence as a "heresy," and Faora is quick to mock Kal-El for his sense of morality, since she believes that trait makes him weak and unconfident, giving the genetically engineered Faora (who was specifically bred to be incapable of empathy) an "evolutionary advantage" over him. Ultimately, however, Kal-El's natural birth actually grants him several advantages over them, since, having not been genetically engineered and bred with a specific purpose, Kal-El has a far better grasp at free will (the lack of which on High Eminence Lor-Em's part also contributed to Kryptonians' near extinction), and is far less prone to tunnel vision, while his sense of morality allows Kal-El to coexist on Earth among humanity (as their hero "Superman") instead of, like Zod and Faora, alienating humanity away with the arrogant preconceived notion of the physically weaker human race being inferior. Finally, Kal-El's natural birth makes him far less likely than General Zod to lose the will to live - the latter being utterly devastated and genetically unable to move on with his life after his "life's purpose" (restoring and protecting Krypton) is taken away, while Kal-El, despite being utterly mortified after much of the world forsakes him (due to Lex Luthor's manipulations), is ultimately still willing to unconditionally carry out his life's purpose (protecting and saving Earth) regardless, as he returned to save Lois Lane from Lex, and then gave up his own life to save the world from Doomsday. When General Zod threatens to burn alive a cornered family, Superman is forced to kill him, making an incredibly hard choice that greatly conflicts with his morality. Hence, despite his victory, Superman screams out agony and tears at what he had to do, fully remorseful of the murder.
In order to successfully maintain his double identity as a human reporter of the Daily Planet (during the time that he isn't protecting and saving others as Superman), Clark tries to be as small and invisible as possible, in order to attract little attention to himself and to avoid inducing anyone into thinking that he could possibly be the mighty godlike Superman. As a result, Perry White appears to think of Clark as somewhat of a meek pushover, shown when he goes out of his way to advise Clark to watch himself in Gotham City, due to the city's high crime rate.
Much like Wonder Woman, another consistent trait in Superman, as Batman put it, was to make others "see the best parts of themselves." This is what allowed Superman to inspire Pete Ross (who had previously bullied him) to become a good man, to inspire Lois Lane to do the right thing (despite her previously just wanting to publish the alien's story), to gain the trust and respect of General Swanwick and Colonel Hardy (despite them initially being gruff, fearful, xenophobic, and not even seeing him as human), to inspire Dr. Hamilton to risk his life to defeat the Kryptonian invasion (despite him usually being shy and soft-spoken), to inspire Perry White to risk his life saving his DP employees (despite him usually being gruff and controlling), to inspire Steve Lombard to risk his life saving Jenny Jurwich (despite him usually being sleazy and unfriendly), to gain the respect of the US Armed Forces and inspire them to give his superhero nickname (despite them initially being hostile, fearful, and xenophobic towards him), to inspire the brutal fallen Batman to snap out of his rage and once again become a selfless superhero (despite him having initially wanted to kill the alien), and also to inspire the mysterious female savior & isolated Wonder Woman to come out of the shadows despite doing the good thing. Indeed, the only time Superman ever failed to inspire a flawed individual to "see the best parts of himself" and do a heroic deed was when he saved Lex Luthor from Doomsday, since despite this disproving Lex's main reason for hating God and Superman, Lex was already too far gone and too malevolent an individual to change his ways.
After being forcibly resurrected by Batman, Flash and Cyborg with a Mother Box, Superman temporarily lost all memories of his past life and appeared to have also lost much of his emotion. As a result of his memory loss, Superman (after Cyborg accidentally provoked him) developed a cold and sinister persona, similar to the one he had in Batman's vision of a possible future, with Superman swiftly subduing the combined might of the Justice League and preparing to kill Batman, Lois Lane saved them all by arriving on the scene, since seeing the love of his life again made Superman start to recall his identity and past life. After spending a day with Lois on the Kent farm and reuniting with his mother Martha, Superman's memories were fully restored, with him even having a more optimistic attitude than ever before. As he officially joined the Justice League and personally defeated Steppenwolf, Superman swiftly struck up friendships with his teammates - thanking Batman for everything the latter had done for him thus far (beginning a close friendship with him) and developing a close mutual respect with Wonder Woman (who was the most reluctant to resurrect him out of morality, the first to express optimism when he was resurrected, the most compassionate and persistent towards him while his temper was lost).
Despite his unbelievably benevolent nature, Superman was not morally perfect, which is best shown first when he did not take his duel with Dru-Zod into outer space, causing careless destruction around them, and again when he instantly sensed his girlfriend falling but it never occurred to the superpowered being that his mother was facing prolonged torture, leaving his regard for Martha's well-being questionable to say the least.
However, after Lois was killed by Darkseid, Superman's inner strength was destroyed, opening him up to the effects of the Anti-Life Equation and falling under Darkseid's thumb, justifying the original fears of Batman and the unending hatred of Lex Luthor. When an alternate-reality Flash showed Batman a vision of his own impending death in the event of Lex's failure, Superman's devastation and incredible grief tragically induced him to become dark and malevolent, going so far as to take over the Earth and emotionlessly devastate its biome with a newly founded army of regime stormtroopers, whose worship he reveled in, as its tyrant totalitarian ruler, forming an alliance with Darkseid's parademons in the process. This version of Superman wore a permanent sinister scowl, and was able to kill insurgency enemies to his Regime in the most ruthless and brutal of ways, allowing him to burn his insurgency prisoners into ash with heat vision, and to murder that future's Batman by ripping out the latter's heart, all without any reluctance or remorse. Superman had become so dark and fearsome, that even Batman himself showed visible signs of fear when Superman confronted the imprisoned vigilante, holding the latter at his mercy.
Powers and abilities
- "Why am I so different from them?"
"Earth's sun is younger and brighter than Krypton's was. Your cells have drunken its radiation, strengthening your muscles, your skin, your senses. Earth's gravity is weaker, yet its atmosphere more nourishing. You've grown stronger here than I ever could have imagined. The only way to know how strong is to keep testing your limits."
- ―Clark and Jor-El[src]
Kryptonian physiology: As a Kryptonian, Superman possesses a wide variety of immense, seemingly godlike abilities. On a planet near a red star, Superman would have physical attributes nearly identical to those of humans, but while on a planet near a star that is younger and brighter than Krypton's, he is granted many new abilities and powers that surpass the capabilities of humans and metahumans alike, making him the Justice League's most powerful member and appear godlike to humans (indeed rivaling an Old God in power). Having spent nearly his entire life on Earth and adapted to its environment, Superman exceeds any Kryptonian that has immediate exposure in terms of both raw power and skill in the application of said powers. His father Jor-El stated that he'd grown more powerful than he'd previously imagined, and the only way to know just how powerful was to keep testing his limits. Bruce Wayne has even stated that Superman is capable of single-handedly wiping out the entire human race should he choose to, likening him as being stronger than a planet, and Amanda Waller spearheaded the creation of Task Force X in order to have a team capable of combating an opponent of Superman's power. After his resurrection, he single-handedly overpowered the combined might of the Justice League and Steppenwolf, an ancient New God, with relative ease.
- Superhuman strength: Superman possesses immense levels of strength that is virtually incalculable and limitless, as he is able to carry, lift and exert billions of tons of force. As a teenager, he was able to push a school bus out of a river and warp a fence post by squeezing. Even while limited by his internal struggles, Clark was still incredibly strong enough to swiftly destroy a trucker's rig with lumber, to crush a Kryptonian android, and hold up an oil rig's collapsing drilling derrick, though the latter visibly strained him. After reaching his full potential, he became considerably stronger, with his punches being powerful enough to generate shock waves during combat. He's capable of effortlessly hurling semi-trucks across extreme distances, destroying mountaintops, towing a massive steamship through the Arctic, effortlessly crush diamonds with his bare hands, and even flying against the opposing force of a World Engine's gravity beam. During the Battle of Smallville, Superman could take Zod by the waist and hit him several times in the face without Zod being able to react, although it must be taken into account that Superman took Zod by surprise. Also, although he was initially subdued, he was able to dominate Faora-Ul, who was an extremely fierce and formidable combatant, knocking her down twice even while being beaten by Nam-Ek, as well as subduing the latter by throwing him against a train car. He could also ultimately overpower Zod, throwing him away with a powerful blow, as well as taking Zod by the neck and smashing him into a building and hitting him three times in a row causing him some pain, and could even break the neck of the latter with a single movement, although he had to exercise a considerable force to do it. He was also able to quickly get rid of a car that fell during the battle with Zod. Superman was also able to lift a train to save the people inside it. During their second encounter, even while holding back, Superman proved to still considerably surpass the heavily armored Batman in strength, just merely light blows alone knocking around the Dark Knight and once getting angry, proceeding to easily tackle and throw him through several stone columns with a simple body slam and backhand with enough force to clearly hurt Batman, as well as cracking the armor with a punch to the face, and would have completely overwhelmed him had he not been exposed to kryptonite gas. Even while not fully recovered from inhaling it, Superman was strong enough to block a kick from the armored Batman and toss him through a concrete wall. He claimed that had he wished to, he could easily kill Batman despite his armor. Superman was even able to hold his own in a prolonged ferocious battle with the stronger Doomsday, capable of sending him flying with his punches and even at one point restraining the colossal juggernaut long enough to have both of them hit by a 300 kiloton nuke and despite having been mortally wounded by being stabbed by Doomsday's spiky hand, still able to fully pierce his skin with the kryptonite spear to finally bring him down, although at the cost of his own life. After his resurrection, Superman used his strength more freely in his confusion and easily overpowered the combined might of the Justice League, launching Aquaman flying and out of the fight for a time with a single mighty punch, punching Wonder Woman a great distance away even when she blocked his attack with her shield, yanking himself free of the Lasso of Hestia and pulling Wonder Woman to him, keeping her restrained with a single hand while easily remaining firm when the other Justice Leaguers tried to flank him before easily tossing them away and knocking out the Flash with a single glancing blow. He was also able to steadily overcome Cyborg's attempts to hold him back, soon easily tossing him to the ground and then aside, and down Wonder Woman with two mighty headbutts, leaving her stunned for a while, and effortlessly swat Batman away with enough force to severely bruise him later on enough to require treatment from Wonder Woman. He later overpowered Steppenwolf with ease, a feat the other Leaguers had been struggling (and failing) to do, with each of his punches dealing considerable damage to the New God. With Cyborg's help, the duo were able to separate the Mother Boxes before they could activate, although not without considerable difficulty. According to a newspaper, he even had enough strength to move tectonic plates while preventing an earthquake from occurring. The only beings that possess strength superior to Superman's are Doomsday and Darkseid.
- Nigh-invulnerability: Superman's body is virtually indestructible, allowing him to withstand the extreme heat of an oil rig conflagration, the extreme cold of the Arctic, exposure to the vacuum of outer space, falls from great heights, and a high-speed collision with a mountaintop without injury. High caliber bullets bounce off of him, and artillery, including anti-tank depleted uranium rounds and Maverick missiles, have no effect. Superman was completely unaffected by the explosion caused at the US Capitol Building. He also was able to withstand plasma bolts from Kryptonian weapons and tendrils of service robots with no signs of visible damage, seemingly only suffering slight harm, and withstood the full force of a World Engine's colossal gravity beam and the singularity from the Black Zero’s Phantom Drive exploding, which caused him noticeable pain but otherwise did not injure him. Superman was also able to take attacks from other Kryptonians while only being knocked back and suffering little pain and harm, and he was even able to withstand the destructive electrical shock waves and thermal blasts as well as tremendous blows from the stronger Doomsday without any issue. Later, Superman was able to endure a direct hit from Cyborg's plasma cannon with no damage, only being slightly knocked back and suffering minimum pain to where he was mostly irritated. Soon after, Cyborg's punches weren't even able to so much as faze him in the slightest. He also took a mighty head-butt from Wonder Woman (which was strong enough to generate a shockwave) with no injury or damage at all from the attack, only being dazed by the hit. Steppenwolf's Electro Axe, which could notably harm even incredibly durable beings like Wonder Woman and Aquaman and casually dismember the likes of Atlanteans and Amazons, also had absolutely no effect on him, as he was able to effortlessly withstand the blow without even flinching. Superman's body also maintained its invulnerability after his death, as the lack of cellular decay allowed the Justice League to resurrect him. Even while he was weakened by kryptonite, which Batman used during their duel in Gotham, Superman retained incredible enough levels of superhuman durability to survive blows from the armored Batman, which had considerable superhuman strength and threw him through concrete and a remarkable distance, though he was left reeling but otherwise he seemed to be mostly uninjured, and as he recovered, he took the armored Batman's punches while only getting his face turned back and otherwise being clearly only irritated by Batman's persistance before he fully recovered and the punches Batman attempted didn't even faze him to where Batman attempting to punch him caused a strong metal-like sound. However, Superman's invulnerability still ultimately has it's limits, as after being weakened by kryptonite, he barely survived a hit from a nuclear bomb, being left near death, and potentially would have died had he not been exposed to the sun, and Doomsday was able to pierce through his chest and mortally wound him, though it's unclear whether or not that would have been enough to kill him had he not also been exposed to the kryptonite from the spear he was holding and using against Doomsday. In addition, the supernatural and matter-manipulating explosion of the Mother Box Unity completely vaporized him along with the other league members and Steppenwolf and he was only saved and restored when Flash reversed-time so the Unity never successfully occurred.
- Regenerative healing factor: Superman is shown to heal at incredible rates when exposed to the solar radiation of a yellow sun. He was able to quickly recover from the stress of battling the World Engine once exposed to sunlight, and later a wound on his face inflicted by kryptonite healed with direct exposure to the sun. Superman was able to recover from his desiccated corpse-like state from being hit by a nuclear missile moments after being exposed to the sun.
- Self-sustenance: Superman is able to survive in the harshest of environments without food, water, air or sleep for indefinite periods of time, as evidenced during his self-imposed exile in the Arctic for a few days, in addition to his remaining underwater and in the vacuum of space without experiencing any negative effects.
- Superhuman speed: Superman can run and fly faster than the speed of sound. During his first flight, Superman traveled all the way from the Arctic to the savannas of Kenya and then to the Monument Valley in Utah, all in a matter of minutes. He was able to fly through the World Engine's gravity beam to destroy it. Later, Superman was able to tackle Amajagh away from Lois Lane before he managed to use his gun to shoot her. Superman is fast enough to escape the gravitational pull of a Phantom Zone singularity. His speed is easily capable of surpassing that of Aquaman and Wonder Woman, as he easily reacted to Arthur's attempt to stab him even when he had the advantage of having super-jumped and was close to doing so and managed to move faster than the clashing motion Wonder Woman was about to made to activate her bracelets with ease and simultaneously expose her to land a head-butt before successfully knocking her down with yet another attack before she could react, although Wonder Woman seemed to be able to keep up just enough to land a single blow on her own, and while his strength and durability was inferior to Doomsday, his speed was the only thing superior to the monstrous juggernaut, allowing Superman to hold his ground despite the advantage the mutated Kryptonian had and restrain him. In addition, Superman proved able to easily surpass Steppenwolf's speed, dodging his blows with virtually no effort and at one point completely catching him off-guard to knock down and pummel him. Superman is even capable of moving at a level of speed close to the Flash, as when the Flash attempted to freeze him in place, Superman was not affected and was able to closely pursue the Flash, with the latter barely able to dodge most of Superman's blows, before finally knocking him out with a glancing blow and shortly afterwards, Superman was able to dodge Flash's super-speed charge, forcing him to run into Aquaman.
- Superhuman reflexes: Superman's speed extends to his reflexes as well, as he managed to caught a punch from the larger Kryptonian Nam-Ek while being pinned by him and Faora-Ul, and later easily caught a grenade shot at him by Batman at close range. He was able to stop Wonder Woman from clashing her bracelets together, dodge all of Steppenwolf's attacks, and even perceive and react to the Flash's incoming attack despite simultaneously battling Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Cyborg. Like the Flash, Superman sees others as slowed to the point they're all but frozen in place, though the Flash moves at normal speed while in this state.
- Superhuman stamina: Superman almost never seems to grow tired. He is able to survive flying at high speeds into outer space and underwater. After reaching his full potential, Superman hardly showed signs of fatigue, notably towing a gigantic tanker ship by its chain through ice without any resistance. While he was severely weakened from the effort of destroying a World Engine, Superman was able to recover almost instantly under direct sunlight and fly back to Metropolis. He could resist the pull of a Phantom Zone singularity and fight General Zod shortly after. Even during his ferocious battle with the stronger Doomsday, Superman never slowed down.
- Flight: Clark can fly via manipulations to his own gravitational field, taking advantage of Earth's weaker gravity to propel himself through the skies and even beyond the planet's atmosphere. Upon mastering this technique, Superman can fly at hypersonic speeds that allow him to circle the globe in moments. Further practice with this power has allowed him to extend it to others, most notably Lois Lane, so that they don't experience the negative effects of traveling at high speeds.
- Superhuman breath: Superman is capable of surviving prolonged periods without oxygen, allowing him to walk through a burning oil rig, travel at tremendous hypersonic speeds, and even remain underwater or within the vacuum of space without adverse effects.
- Arctic breath: Following his resurrection, Superman displayed the ability to significantly focus the intensity of his breath to the point of freezing targets by blowing on them. This ability was powerful enough to freeze Steppenwolf's Electro Axe to the point that he was able to shatter it with a single strike.
- Hypersonic scream: As an infant, Clark was able to release a scream that shattered every glass or ceramic object along Main Street in Smallville, Kansas. After being impaled in the chest Doomsday during the Battle of Gotham City, Superman let out a hypersonic scream of agony so powerful that it reverberated around the world, awakening the Mother Boxes in Gotham, Atlantis, and Themyscira.
- Superhuman vision: Superman possesses superhuman eyesight that encompasses a variety of sensory capabilities including telescopic, infrared, ultraviolet, X-ray, and gamma-ray visual capabilities that allow him to see the entire electromagnetic spectrum when he desires, through mental focus. In his youth, his enhanced vision overwhelmed him, as he saw everything in his hometown at once, though he managed to hone his senses after some guidance from Martha Kent.
- Telescopic vision: Superman has the ability to focus his vision to see great distances. Hence, he was able to see the Black Zero in low orbit from his parent's farm, and later saw Lois Lane within a falling drop pod.
- X-ray vision: Superman can focus his vision past layers of matter to see through them. He was able to clearly see through the one-way glass in the interrogation room to read Emil Hamilton's ID badge in the latter's pocket, and simultaneously see through walls to identify the squad of soldiers nearby. The only known materials known to be impenetrable to Superman's X-ray vision are lead, the force-field of a Kryptonian Breather, as well as the Kryptonian metal used on vehicles such as Scout Ship 0344 and the Black Zero.
- Heat vision:Superman possesses the ability to emit beams of intense heat and concentrated plasma from his eyes that can reach temperatures of 5500 °C. These beams have the same nature  as the Kryptonian and Apokoliptian plasma rifles, (only thinner and much more powerful), which was how Batman blocked them with his gauntlets. Visually, the power manifests as two laser-like beams of fiery energy being released from his eyes, with the surrounding areas being outlined as the energy builds. These beams can be made less intense to the point of being invisible, allowing Clark to work undetected. Clark has developed extremely fine control of this ability, as he was able to cauterize Lois Lane's wound, and previously cut a tunnel into layers of thick ice in the Arctic to reach the alien vessel hidden within. At full power, Clark can utilize his heat vision to dismember humans, quickly melt a thick steel beam, and momentarily stun other Kryptonians. He was able to destroy the helm of Scout Ship 0344's bridge and the automated machine gun turrets used by Batman in their fight. However, Superman's heat vision was not powerful enough to match that of Doomsday, as the latter was able to overwhelm Superman during their standoff.
- Superhuman hearing: Superman is able to hear at extreme variances of sound and pitch frequency, allowing him to pick up numerous sounds, including both infra- and ultra-sound, from immense distances. In his youth, this, along with his enhanced vision, greatly overwhelmed him until he eventually learned to control it. Honing his senses, he has enough control to block out ambient sounds to focus on a specific source or frequency. Later in life, Clark was able to passively pick up the sound of Alfred Pennyworth's voice in Bruce Wayne's earpiece, as well as hear Calvin Swanwick and Emil Hamilton's conversation and heartbeats from within a soundproof interrogation cell. Clark heard Martha Kent in distress at the Kent farm from miles away and even heard Lois Lane drowning over the noise of his ferocious battle with Doomsday.
- Superhuman smell: Superman has incredibly acute olfactory senses, as he was able to detect the distinct saline odor of the Genesis Chamber on Scout Ship 0344, despite the very thick barrier that separated him from it.
- "Superman would bring this team together better than I ever could. His strength--"
"It doesn't matter how strong you are. Or what abilities you might have..."
"He was more human than I am. He lived in this world. Fell in love. Had a job. Despite all that power. The world needs Superman. And the team needs Clark."
- ―Batman and Alfred Pennyworth[src]
- Genius-level intellect: Clark Kent is extremely intelligent, as shown when he won a science fair at age 9 and could later be seen reading The Republic of Plato, a highly complex piece of historical literature (concerning philosophy and political science), when he was only 13, effectively making him a wunderkind prodigy. As an adult, Clark managed to successfully falsify his identity, and stay hidden as he traveled the world for many years, with even the extremely skilled reporter Lois Lane needing weeks of research to track him down. Clark also displayed basic medical knowledge when cauterizing Lois Lane's wound, and could instinctively tell that General Zod couldn't be trusted, based on his past criminal actions during the Kryptonian Civil War (revealed to him by Jor-El) and threat against humanity. As an investigative reporter, Clark is considered a "nerd" by Perry White, managing to twice receive the Elliot Prize for Investigative Journalism after only a year at the Daily Planet (the first of any of the reporters on the Daily Planet staff to earn so quickly), and was swiftly able to deduce that Batman targeted poorer areas in Gotham City, and his aid from the city's police in his anti-crime crusade. Superman's brilliant intellect extends itself to his exceptional science, writing, investigative reporting, leadership, and tactical skills. However, Superman is notably not quite as intelligent as supergenius Lex Luthor, with the latter thereby successfully outsmarting and manipulating Superman into battling and almost killing Batman with a sophisticated ultimatum. It was shown that his intelligence has the potential to surpass Batman's, as he was able to defeat the Dark Knight in the long Knightmare.
- Expert reporter: Clark Kent, as a reporter for the very famous and respected Daily Planet newspaper, is an exceptionally skilled investigative reporter, displaying remarkable insight and investigative skills right away after getting hired as a junior reporter, quickly climbing through the ranks. After only a year, Clark had already twice earned the Elliot Prize for Investigative Journalism (the first of any of the Planet's reporters to earn such prestige so quickly), and was considered a "nerd" by his boss Perry White, almost rivaling even his far more experienced girlfriend. His abilities as a reporter allowed him to successfully lead a school field trip to S.T.A.R. Labs, and to expertly interview Bruce Wayne, Kahina Ziri's neighbors, and Adriana Santos with objective non-confrontational questions. Indeed, Clark's prowess led him to believe that he could successfully undermine the vigilante Batman through the press, and was notably able to quickly deduce that Batman often targets poorer areas in Gotham, and that he is aided by the city's police in his anti-crime crusade.
- Expert social intuit: Superman, as both Kal-El and Clark Kent, has a considerable degree of social confidence, making him highly talented in intuitively determining how to interact with others, gain their respect and get his point across with calmness, eloquence, and charisma. Even while inexperienced, Clark was able to gain many jobs during his years of soul-searching, knowing how to appeal to potential employers and coworkers (such as Chrissy), being well-liked by them despite his inaptitude in the jobs he took, and showed an ability to restrain himself from harming those who pissed him off, as shown by how he calmly confronts the obnoxious Ludlow (even when the latter insults and pours been over Clark's face), only destroying his truck when he wasn't around and remains calm to Byrne's insulting reprimanding (as the latter had just attempted to save his life). As an illustrious Daily Planet reporter, Clark became fully experienced in social interaction and capable of preventing his emotions from clouding his diplomatic demeanor, and was soon confident and able enough to successfully lead a school field trip to S.T.A.R. Labs, to level with his own boss Perry White despite his condescending demeanor regarding his decision to undermine Batman under the press, to diplomatically interview Kahina Ziri's neighbors, and later Adriana Santos with objective non-confrontational questions (controlling his dismay and rage regarding what he was trying to learn). Indeed, Clark was even able to not only maintain his diplomatic composure when interviewing billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne himself, but also begin to wear down the much more experienced and older man, somewhat successfully angering the usually calm Bruce by cordially expressing his views regarding Batman, unaware that Bruce was actually the fearsome vigilante, remaining calm even as Bruce coldly told him off and diplomatically responding to the latter's distasteful remarks about him as Superman (despite clearly being dismayed at the personal criticism) by reminding Bruce that most of the world doesn't share his opinion, even inciting a cold reaction from Bruce afterwards, who went as far as to compare it to his interactions with Joker, and proceed to diplomatically greet Lex despite his interference allowing Bruce to get away. As Superman, he also showed an uncommon amount of calm confidence when first revealing himself and surrendering over to General Swanwick, successfully convincing him that he wasn't a threat, was confident in his ability to get through to the enraged Batman (which he ultimately did by appealing to him to save his mother, successfully giving the vigilante pause, despite his expectance of ruses from Superman due to a previous nightmare he had regarding Superman becoming evil, and allowing Lois to fully reason with him), and even in his ability to address the US government in his broadcasted hearing and convince everyone of his selfless intentions (which was deemed by even supergenius Lex Luthor himself as a threat to his plans to expose him as a fraud and saw the need to egregiously sabotage the hearing and rob Superman of his ability to speak at it).
- Expert tactician: Superman has proven himself a very capable tactician in combat, as when facing off with the far more skilled and experienced Faora-Ul and Nam-Ek, he took advantage of the powers he had mastered, that they had yet to develop (flight and heat vision primarily), and ultimately defeated Faora when taking her by surprise and destroying her solar visor to expose her to a sensory overload, rendering her helpless. During his battle with General Zod, aware the latter's intentions to kill the entire human race, Superman was able to quickly come up with several ways to keep him away from innocent bystanders to limit the damage their battle would cause as much as possible - knocking Zod up to into an unoccupied construction site, keeping him airborne and above the city with repeated strikes, grappling and tossing him into outer space, and ultimately restraining him in a headlock to keep General Zod from causing any more harm (though Zod subsequently forced Superman to kill him then). Superman was even able to think his way out of the sophisticated ultimatum of supergenius Lex Luthor by holding back and allowing Batman to best him to give him the opportunity to reason with him, successfully avoiding having to kill the vigilante while rescuing his mother. During his battle with Doomsday, after taking the monster into outer space, Superman immediately recognized the nuclear missile shot at them, and took the opportunity to hold the monster into place so that it could be destroyed by the weapon. However, when that failed, Superman recalled the kryptonite spear's deadly effects on Kryptonian physiology (with that allowing Batman to beat him in their recent fight) and successfully utilized it to kill Doomsday after realizing that brute force alone wasn't enough to defeat the ever-evolving monstrous juggernaut, although he also lost his life in the process. Following his revival, Superman helped the Justice League defeat Steppenwolf, by personally freezing the New God's Electro Axe with his Arctic Breath in order to render it brittle, before allowing Wonder Woman to swiftly shatter it into pieces with her Sword of Athena, thus effectively depriving the New God of his weapon, leaving him defenseless. Superman's evil version (in Batman's nightmare vision of a possible future) displayed much greater strategical warfare abilities, to the point where he was able to successfully pressure Batman's Insurgency with his Regime in their lengthy war and eventually dealt them a crushing defeat.
- Expert leader: Superman has a natural talent in leadership, with even the much more experienced Batman admitting to Alfred that Superman would have done a better job bringing the Justice League together than he ever could. This proved true, as the remaining Leaguers looked up to Superman when he arrived on the scene of the final battle against Steppenwolf's invasion, with Superman thus taking up the leadership position from Batman. Superman's evil version indeed proved to be an exceptional leader, even greater than Batman (albeit a totalitarian one), having been able to found and lead his Regime to victory in the lengthy war against Batman's Insurgency (in a vision of a possible future), inspiring fierce loyalty in them to the point that the Regime Stormtroopers would always reverently kneel when their leader arrived, although it is worth mentioning that he had the advantage of superior military power to Batman.
- Bilingualism: Superman, apart from his native English, also understands Spanish enough to comprehend the Spanish news coverage of a girl trapped in a burning house.
- Skilled combatant: Despite not having any formal combat training, Clark is a formidable fighter when facing most opponents due to his tremendous strength and various powers. When facing other Kryptonians with more combat experience, Clark is shown to be an improvisational learner and an effective brawler. As such, when facing the combined might of Faora-Ul and Nam-Ek, he was able to use the powers not yet acquired by either of them to his advantage, allowing him to gain the upper hand and forcing them to retreat, swiftly knocking out Nam-Ek and eventually breaking the Faora's visor. Later, Superman displayed improved skill to compete with General Zod reasonably well, as although he was still unable to match him in skill, he was able to fight almost evenly with the General, blocking a fair share of Zod's blows and landing his own punishing blows, ultimately holding on long enough for Zod to become briefly distracted to best him. As Superman gained more experience as a superhero, he became considerably more skilled, as shown when despite being weakened by a kryptonite gas grenade and pitted against the highly skilled Batman, Superman still temporarily stood up to his opponent despite being visibly outmatched by the Dark Knight's far more superior experience, and once his powers had began to return, even briefly dominated the Dark Knight, ultimately holding on long enough for his powers to return. His fighting skills also allowed him to single-handedly contend with the even stronger monstrous juggernaut Doomsday and even overpower him long enough to restrain him in order to have both of them hit by a 300 kiloton nuke. After his revival, Superman used his superior godly physical abilities to overpower the Justice League with only mediocre effort, launching Aquaman off the fight with a single mighty blow before he could attack him and swiftly pushing back Wonder Woman armed with her shield before proceeding to repel her attempts to restrain him with the Lasso of Hestia and pull her to him while also easily blocking an attempted flank from Aquaman and Cyborg. Despite the Flash's slightly greater speed, Superman was able to quickly overwhelm and knock him out after proving impervious to his attempts to freeze him and pushing aside the other members of the Justice League, glancingly hitting him after the Flash barely dodged his previous attacks. In his resulting altercation with Wonder Woman, although he did have a bit more difficulty fighting her, having been headbutted after landing a similar blow to her upon intercepting her attempt to clasp her Bracelets of Submission, he quickly grounded her with a single attack before easily tossing aside and restraining Batman with a single hand. He would have eventually killed them had Lois not stopped him. During the battle with Steppenwolf, Superman was the only member of the Justice League able to overpower him and did so with ease, easily dodging his blows and swiftly responding with his own punishing blows that quickly beat the New God to submission.
- "Krypton's first natural birth in centuries. And he will be free. Free to forge his own destiny."
- ―Jor-El to Dru-Zod[src]
- Indomitable will: Superman has tremendous determination and strength of will, since he refuses to ever hunker down and give up, even when placed against seemingly insurmountable odds. Hence, despite being badly outmatched and outnumbered in his fight against the combined efforts of Faora-Ul and Nam-Ek, his battle with the World Engine's gigantic gravity beam, and his final duel with General Zod, and taking a tremendous beating from all of them, Superman promptly rose up and kept on fighting, persisting until he eventually managed to gain the upper hand. Indeed, Superman's will was even greater than that of Batman and Wonder Woman, since the former ultimately strayed away from superheroism after undergoing hardships, and the latter stepped away from full-time superheroism for 100 years after a traumatic war experience, while Superman only stepped away into self-imposed exile for a few days after a similarly traumatic experience, and returned to save a world than had forsaken him. Thus, Superman persisted in getting through to Batman, and later refused back down when faced by the stronger and more powerful Doomsday, proceeding to team up with Batman and Wonder Woman to take the seemingly unstoppable monster down, persisting with his utmost until Doomsday was defeated, persisting even after being himself mortally stabbed by the monster, persisting defiantly up until his own dying breath (to further plunge his weapon into Doomsday), much to Batman and Wonder Woman's admiration and respect. In fact, Superman's determination and willpower were so great, that he was even able to temporarily overcome the weakening and superpower negation effects of the kryptonite spear for several seconds, long enough for him to fly up to Doomsday and plunge the weapon into the monster. Wonder Woman was astounded to have finally, after 100 years, meet a person who had both the phenomenal godly might of Ares, and the self-sacrificing morality of Steve Trevor. Indeed, Batman claimed that Superman is a "beacon to the world," one who doesn't just save people, but also "made them see the best parts of themselves." This was a consistent trait in Superman, which allowed him to inspire Pete Ross (who had previously bullied him) to become a good man, to inspire Lois Lane to do the right thing (despite her previously just wanting to publish the alien's story), to gain the trust and respect of General Swanwick and Colonel Hardy (despite them initially being gruff, fearful, xenophobic, and not even seeing him as human), to inspire Dr. Hamilton to risk his life to defeat the Kryptonian invasion (despite him usually being shy and soft-spoken), to inspire Perry White to risk his life saving his DP employees (despite him usually being gruff and controlling), to inspire Steve Lombard to risk his life saving Jenny Jurwich (despite him usually being sleazy and unfriendly), to gain the respect of the US Armed Forces and inspire them to give his superhero nickname (despite them initially being hostile, fearful, and xenophobic towards him), to inspire the brutal fallen Batman to snap out of his rage and once again become a selfless superhero (despite him having initially wanted to kill the alien), and also to inspire the cynical and almost hopeless Wonder Woman to finally become a full-time superhero again (despite her having stepped away 100 years ago). Indeed, the only time Superman ever failed to inspire a flawed individual to "see the best parts of himself" and do a heroic deed was when he saved Lex Luthor from Doomsday since despite this disproving Lex's main reason for hating God and Superman, Lex was already too far gone and too malevolent an individual to change his ways. Superman's powerful will even allowed him to resist the Anti-Life Equation's powers and he was only broken when the grief he felt over Lois's death allowed Darkseid to brainwash him. Superman's evil version (in Batman's nightmare vision of a possible future) is equally determined, successfully enforcing his totalitarian will on Earth with his Regime Stormtroopers, and eventually leading the Regime to a crushing victory in the Injustice War against the Insurgency, successfully intimidating and killing Insurgent leader Batman.
- Free will: Being a Kryptonian born of biological reproduction, Kal-El possesses a more complete and higher free will than his fellow men and even his parents, although the latter have completely broken the boundaries of their engineered DNA thinking, but they did not have enough free will as much as their son. Jor-El had in fact predicted that his son might have the right to choose to protect humanity or have Krypton be reborn on Earth. Kal-El, despite initially wanting to be with his fellows, chose to protect Earth and side with humans when he learned of the Kryptonians' apocalyptic plan to extinguish humanity to save Krypton and rebuild it on Earth. Because of his superior free will, he was looked down upon by his fellow creatures, who are artificially born with a specific purpose to fulfill, while he was free to decide without anyone's imposition what purpose or destiny he can pursue; above all, Faora accused him of being weak and insecure, due to his high morality, which artificially born Kryptonians with a purpose have never had. Kal-El, unlike his other Kryptonian companions, who lacked the ability to genetically move forward once their purpose is lost, is able to go on to pursue his purpose of protecting Earth from the threats that follow, even when much of the world has abandoned him, due to the manipulations of Lex Luthor, despite having withdrawn temporarily for a few days in solitude to reflect on his purposes to follow, unlike other metahumans who have hidden for years, because of their fear of not being accepted by society. It is thanks to his free will that he eventually returned from his self-isolation to save the world from Doomsday, despite the fact that he had to risk his life by dying in the process. Another aspect of his free will is that he could choose which planet to stay with, whether with Krypton or Earth, as demonstrated when he briefly hesitated to destroy Scout Ship 0344 because unborn Kryptonians could die, but at the same time he didn't want the Kryptonians conquered Earth for a planet that had been destroyed decades ago, so Kal-El chose to side with Earth, as Krypton had already had his chance and they wasted it.
- Kryptonite: Superman is vulnerable to the effects of Kryptonite, a radioactive xenomineral created by the World Engine. It can weaken or even kill him if exposed to it for a prolonged period of time or if he is impaled with a shard of it.
- Magical/divine weapons: Weapons of magical origin such as the Sword of Athena and the Trident of Atlan, can hurt and kill Superman. He can also be restrained (albeit temporarily) by the Lasso of Hestia, and is susceptible to its truth compulsion.
- Kryptonite spear: Originally created to be used against him, Superman used the spear to kill the behemoth Doomsday during their showdown in Gotham City.
- Glasses: Kal-El possesses a pair of glasses he dons whenever he poses as the mild-mannered Clark Kent.
- House of El command key: Clark once possessed a piece of Kryptonian technology made of liquid geo that allowed him to operate and use the abandoned Kryptonian ship found in the Arctic. A gift from his father, the key held within it the artificial intelligence program of Jor-El's conscious self. He wore it around his neck as a pendant during his years searching for his origin. The key was sucked into the Phantom Zone along with his infant pod and the Black Zero.
- Supersuits: Clark wears a black Kryptonian skinsuit as the superhero Superman. He previously wore a blue skinsuit with a red cape. The suits were crafted from an immensely durable material, and are adorned with the House of El glyph on its chest, the original in red, and its replacmeent in silver. The initial suit was damaged during the Showdown in Gotham Port against Doomsday, before he later donned the second suit to take down Steppenwolf.
- Growth Codex: Kal-El's cells have been bonded to the Kryptonian growth codex by Jor-El, which contain the genetic makeup of over a billion Kryptonians. As revealed by Jax-Ur, it was still possible to extract the codex's information from Kal-El's body even if he were dead.
- Starcraft: As a baby, Kal-El was placed into a small starship equipped with a phantom drive, which his parents used to send him to Earth. The starship was used again later in his life to send the Sword of Rao back to the Phantom Zone.
- Scout Ship 0344: Clark discovered the ancient Kryptonian scout ship frozen deep in an ice shelf in Canada, and he later took possession of it. He used the ship as a temporary base of operations while learning of his origins from the stored consciousness of Jor-El. The ship, also known as the Fortress of Solitude, contains a damaged genesis chamber with aquabots, though Clark was forced to severely damage its systems it when General Zod commandeered the vessel during the Black Zero Event. Afterwards the ship fell into the temporary possession of the United States government and was exploited by Lex Luthor. The ship was then claimed by Silas Stone and his S.T.A.R. Labs colleagues.
- Henry Cavill is the first non-American actor to play Superman.
- Superman is currently the third oldest member of the Justice League, being younger than Batman and Diana Prince.
- Clark's birth year is listed as 1986 in the Daily Planet article, "Daily Planet Reporter Clark Kent killed reporting Gotham Battle". General Dru-Zod had already confirmed his birth year to be no later than 1980, so this likely a mistake.
- Along with his parents, the only people who know Clark Kent is Superman are General Zod, the Sword of Rao, Lois Lane, the Justice League, Alfred Pennyworth, Father Leone, and Lex Luthor.
- Clark is right-handed.
- Superman being able to match the Flash's speed doesn't quite fit in with the common concepts of DC. Usually, speedsters are described to be considerably faster than solar-powered Kryptonians.
Behind the scenes
- Before Henry Cavill was cast as Superman, Matthew Goode, David Boreanaz, Joe Manganiello, Armie Hammer, Matt Bomer, Zac Efron, and Colin O'Donoghue were on the final shortlist for the role.
- Superman in the DC Extended Universe is the tenth live-action incarnation of the character, following incarnations portrayed by Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, David Wilson, Christopher Reeve, John Newton, Gerard Christopher, Dean Cain, Tom Welling, and Brandon Routh.
- Brandon Routh, who had previously played the character in Superman Returns, was still open to returning to the role despite Man of Steel being a full-on reboot. Routh would ultimately reprise his role in the Arrowverse crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths.
- At the time of Man of Steel's release, the tie-in novel Man of Steel: The Early Years: Junior Novel had been the first to depict the first future event in the DCEU timeline, showing Superman many years after the events of the film saving Metropolis from an earthquake. (Since the scene is described as "many years after" this automatically rules out the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which is set one year and 6 months later, likely set sometime after the films Justice League and Zack Snyder's Justice League, which are set only two years after).
- D. J. Cotrona would have played Superman in the cancelled Justice League: Mortal.
- Paul Darnell and Albert Valladares were stunt doubles for Henry Cavill in the role of Superman.
- Goyer, David S., Nolan, Christopher (writers) & Snyder, Zack (director) (June 14, 2013). Man of Steel.
- Whitman, Frank (April 30, 2013). Man of Steel: The Early Years. United States: Harper Festival.
- Cox, Greg (2013). Man of Steel. Titan Books. ISBN 978-1781165997.
- Goyer, David S., Terrio, Chris (writers) & Snyder, Zack (director) (March 25, 2016). Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
- Ayer, David (writer and director) (August 5, 2016). Suicide Squad.
- Cite error: Invalid
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- Gayden, Henry, Lemke, Darren (writer) & Sandberg, David F. (director) (April 5, 2019). Shazam!.
- [James Gunn's Tweet]
- Gunn, James (writer and director) (August 6, 2021). The Suicide Squad.
- Schmidt, JK (April 2, 2018). Zack Snyder Explains How Lois Lane's Death Leads to Knightmare Timeline. Comic Book. Archived from the original on September 18, 2020. Retrieved on 2020-09-18.
- Burks, Robin (18 December 2015). Henry Cavill Explains How His Take On Clark Kent Is Different From Christopher Reeve's. Tech Times. Archived from the original on 2020-09-18.
- Williamson, Joshua (w), Pansica, Eduardo (p), Thibert, Art (i), Cox, Jeromy (col), Bennett, Deron (let) & Antone, Alex (ed). "Lights Out" General Mills Presents Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice #4: (January 8, 2016), Burbank, CA: DC Comics
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- Terrio, Chris, Beall, Will (writers) & Snyder, Zack (writer and director) (March 18, 2021). Zack Snyder's Justice League.
- Zack Snyder Confirms Lois Lane Was Pregnant in Justice League, Reveals Plans for Superman's Son
|Members||Batman (leader) | Wonder Woman | Cyborg | Flash | Superman | Aquaman|