Superman Week: Forge a Man of Steel
Birth of a Legend
On this Superman Week, I explore how the Man of Steel, forged by two men from different worlds who endeavors humility and self-sacrifice. Superman or better known as Clark Kent, was best portrayed in Richard Donner’s film, Superman: the Movie. Probably one of best hero films ever. Ever since the imaginative creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, took fantasy to paper gave birth of a man with superhuman powers. A man who is faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. But who forged this man we know today? What influences were made to bequeath this iconic figure? The weight of this undertaking was huge beyond measure. Nevertheless, one man provided a chance to escape death while the other provided nurture and care most of his young adult life. Their names were Jor-EL and Jonathan Kent.
A Kryptonian Gift
In Superman’s origin, Krypton was the most advanced civilization in the galaxy. A Kryptonian named Jor-El, was a faithful and most trusted member of the High Council. He presides over judicial and scientific affairs for Krypton. Jor-El discovers that his beloved home world faces extinction. No one will survive this devastating aftermath. Unable to convince the council to plan an immediate evacuation, Jor-El makes an ultimate sacrifice. For the sake of his newborn son and the prosperity of Krypton creates a spaceship. Now the last man of Krypton, launched into space to a primitive planet called Earth. Knowing the Earth’s sun would enrich his son’s cells to unlimitless strength and be invulnerable, offered the best chances for his survival. Living among humans, he will look like them but have powers and strength far beyond those of mortal men. Jor-EL greatest fear was simple. Could his son survive this trans-galactic voyage and if so, who would love and care for him? As luck would have it, Jor-El hopes were answered.
On an ordinary Sunday drive, Martha and Jonathan Kent drive home from church. All seems well when a Kal-El’s ship plummets from the sky. The ship crash lands to a halt and the Kents discover a small boy walking out from the wreckage. Unable to have children of their own, the Kents decide to adapt the foreign child as one of theirs. Both the Kents are of good people and hard workers due to their Midwest moral golden values. Now, having a child with superhuman strength was obviously no easy task, but the Kents manage to raise Kal-El, now named Clark Kent, with decency and moral compassion. Clark wanting to reveal his strengths and powers especially those jealous of him, for the most part, is hidden deep inside to prevent exposure.
One day Clark comes home from high school frustrated in keeping his abilities a secret. Jonathan Kent take Clark by the shoulder and addresses this superhuman teenager’s dilemma. Jonathan says, “ There’s one thing I know son and that is you are here for a reason. I don’t know whose reason but it’s not to score touchdowns.” One can see how Jonathan gives focus to Clark at this tender age. Fame and notoriety was not the reason why Clark was brought to Earth. That boy who walked from that ship, is nothing like anyone has ever seen. Clark’s existence was from someone who painstakingly prepared their son to live to Earth. Then on a leap of faith sending him galaxies apart in hope of someone to care for him. Both Jonathan and Martha Kent freely accepted the task without regret.
After the timely death of Jonathan, Clark is awoken and finds a green crystal from his homeworld. Now set on a quest, Clark arrives to a remote, cold, and barren landscape. He throws the crystal that assembles a Krypton replica building, called the Fortress of Solitude. It’s here, Clark meets his real father, Jor-El. For thousands of Earth years, Jor-El has been dead but foresaw this precious moment to address his son for the first time. Predicting Clark would have questions concerning who he is, Jor-El, through Krypton technology, creates a virtual reality world. Together for the next twelve years, attempt to answer all of Clark’s questions and learn about his special heritage.
It’s here in the film, Clark discovers his true nature. Jor-El speaks, “For this reason, among others, I have chosen Earth for you. Live as one of them Kal-El. Discover where your strength and power are needed. Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They can be great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show them the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I’ve sent them you, my only son.” And that is why, my fellow DC fans, the life of Clark Kent / Kal-El is forged from humility and self-sacrificing deeds. Two of the most influential people forged this man of steel into the character we all know and respect, the greatest hero of them all, Superman. I recommend highly the 1979 film, Superman: The Movie!