Clark Kent: Wikis


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Clark Kent
Superman 296.jpg
Superman (vol. 1) #296, February 1976.
Art by Curt Swan.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Action Comics #1
Created by Jerry Siegel
Joe Shuster
In-story information
Full name Clark Joseph Kent
Species Kryptonian
Place of origin Krypton
Notable aliases Kal-El, Gangbuster, Nightwing, Jordan Elliot, Supernova, Superboy, Superman Prime, Superman, Superboy-Prime (Earth Prime), Super-Soldier (Amalgam Comics counterpart)

Clark Joseph Kent (middle name is also Jerome according to some versions)[1] is a fictional character created by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. He serves as the civilian and secret identity of the superhero Superman.

Over the decades there has been considerable debate as to which personality the character identifies with most. From his first introduction in 1938 to the mid-1980s, "Clark Kent" was seen mostly as a disguise for Superman, enabling him to mix with ordinary people. This was the view in most comics and other media such as TV (starring George Reeves) and radio. In 1986, during John Byrne's revamping of the character, the emphasis was on Superman being the alter-ego of Clark Kent, the side of the character he most identifies with. Different takes persist in the present.



Through the popularity of his Superman alter ego, the personality, concept, and name of Clark Kent have become ingrained in popular culture as well, becoming synonymous with secret identities and innocuous fronts for ulterior motives and activities. His name alludes to two pulp characters: Doc Savage, whose full name is Clark Savage Jr., and The Shadow, whose alias in the pulps was Kent Allard (though in the radio serial it was Lamont Cranston). Another theory is that "Kent" was a combination of the real and pen names of Doc Savage's creator, Lester DENT, who wrote as KENNETH Robeson. Superman's co-creator and first writer was an avid fan of the pulp genre.



In the earliest Superman comics, Clark Kent's primary purpose was to fulfill the perceived dramatic requirement that a costumed superhero cannot remain on full duty all the time. Clark thus acted as little more than a front for Superman's activities. Although his name and history were taken from his early life with his adoptive Earth parents, everything about Clark was staged for the benefit of his alternate identity: as a reporter for the Daily Planet he receives late-breaking news before the general public, has a plausible reason to be present at crime scenes, and need not strictly account for his whereabouts as long as he makes his story deadlines.

To deflect suspicion that he is Superman, Clark Kent adopted a largely passive and introverted personality with conservative mannerisms, a higher-pitched voice and a slight slouch. This personality is typically described as "mild-mannered," perhaps most famously by the opening narration of Max Fleischer's Superman animated theatrical shorts. These traits extended into Clark's wardrobe, which typically consists of a bland-colored business suit, a red necktie, black-rimmed glasses (which in Pre-Crisis stories had lenses of Kryptonian material that would not be damaged when he fired his heat vision through them), combed-back hair, and occasionally a fedora.


Clark wears his Superman costume underneath his street clothes, allowing easy changes between the two personae — and the dramatic gesture of ripping open his shirt to reveal the familiar "S" emblem when called into action. Superman usually stores his Clark Kent clothing compressed in a secret pouch within his cape, though some stories have shown him leaving his clothes in some covert location (such as a telephone booth) for later retrieval.

In the Pre-Crisis comic book title Superman Family, Clark is featured in a series of stories called "The Private Life of Clark Kent," where he solves problems subtly without changing into Superman.

Retroactive continuity

In the wake of John Byrne's reboot of Superman continuity in The Man of Steel, many traditional aspects of Clark Kent were dropped in favor of giving him a more aggressive and extroverted personality (although not as strong as Lois), including such aspects as making Clark a top football player in high school, along with being a successful author and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. Furthermore, Clark's motivations for his professional writing were deepened as both a love for the art which contributes at least as much social good as his Superman activities and as a matter of personal fulfillment in an intellectual field where his abilities give no unfair competition to his colleagues beyond typing extraordinarily fast. Following One Year Later, Clark adopts some tricks to account for his absences, such as feigning illness or offering to call the police. These, as well as his slouching posture, are references to his earlier mild-mannered Pre-Crisis versions, but he still maintains a sense of authority and his assertive self. Feeling that Clark is the real person and that Clark is not afraid to be himself in his civilian identity, John Byrne has stated in interviews that he took inspiration for this portrayal from the George Reeves version of Superman.


Adopted by Martha and Jonathan Kent of Smallville, Kansas, Clark (and thus Superman) was raised with the values of a typical rural American town, including attending the local Methodist Church (though it is debated by comic fans if Superman is a Methodist).[2]

Most continuities state that the Kents had been unable to have biological children. In the traditional versions of his origin, after the Kents retrieved Clark from his rocket, they brought him to the Smallville Orphanage and returned a few days later to formally adopt the orphan, giving him as a first name Martha's maiden name, "Clark." In John Byrne's 1986 origin version The Man of Steel, instead of an orphanage, the Kents passed Clark off as their own child after their farm was isolated for months by a series of snowstorms.

Silver Age

In the Silver Age comics continuity, Clark gained superpowers upon landing on Earth, and gradually learned to master them, adopting the superhero identity of Superboy at the age of eight. He subsequently developed Clark's timid demeanor as a means of ensuring that no one would suspect any connection between the two alter-egos.

In the city

In Metropolis, Superman (as Clark Kent) works as a reporter at the Daily Planet, "a great metropolitan newspaper," which allows him to keep track of ongoing events where he might be of help. Largely working on his own, his identity is easily kept secret. He sees his job as a journalist as an extension of his Superman responsibilities, bringing truth to the forefront and fighting for the little man.[3] Fellow reporter Lois Lane became the object of Clark's/Superman's romantic affection. Lois's affection for Superman and her rejection of Clark's clumsy advances have been a recurring theme in Superman comics, television, and movies.

Modern Age

In the modern age continuity of comics, Clark Kent's favorite movie is To Kill a Mockingbird (in which Gregory Peck wears glasses not unlike Kent's). According to the DC Comics Official Guide to Superman, Clark enjoys peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, football games, and the smell of Kansas in the springtime.[4] His favorite baseball team is the Metropolis Monarchs and his favorite football team is the Metropolis Sharks.[citation needed] As of One Year Later, Clark is in his mid-thirties, stands at 6'3", and weighs about 225 pounds.

In other media

1940s radio series

In the early Adventures of Superman radio episodes, Kal-El landed on Earth as an adult. He saved a man and his son and they gave him the idea of living as a normal person. They gave him the name of Clark Kent, and he later got a job as a newspaper reporter under that name. In that role he adopted a higher voice and a more introverted personality – clearly establishing that Kent is the secret identity and Superman is the true person.

Later episodes shifted to the usual origin story, in which Kal-El landed on Earth as a baby and was raised by the Kent family.

Clayton "Bud" Collyer voiced both Clark Kent and Superman, until Michael Fitzmaurice replaced him in the final episodes.

1950s TV series

In the 1950s George Reeves series, Clark Kent is portrayed as a cerebral character who is the crime reporter for the Daily Planet and who as Kent uses his intelligence and powers of deduction to solve crimes (often before Inspector Henderson does) before catching the villain as Superman. Examples include the episodes Mystery of the Broken Statues, A Ghost for Scotland Yard, The Man in the Lead Mask, and The Golden Vulture. George Reeves's Kent/Superman is also established as a champion of justice for the oppressed in episodes like The Unknown People and The Birthday Letter. Although Kent is described in the show introduction as "mild-mannered", he can be very assertive, often giving orders to people and taking authoritative command of situations, though, as in the Pre-Crisis Superman stories at that time, Clark is still considered the secret identity. He gets people to trust his judgment very easily and has a good, often wisecracking, sense of humor. Reeves was also older than subsequent Superman actors.

Christopher Reeve movies

In 1978, the first of four Superman films was made in which Clark Kent and Superman were portrayed by Christopher Reeve (with teenage Kent played by Jeff East in the first film). This was followed nearly two decades later by a fifth film called Superman Returns with Brandon Routh giving a performance very similar to Reeve's. In contrast to George Reeves's intellectual Clark Kent, Reeve's version is much more of an awkward fumbler and bungler, although Reeve is also an especially athletic, dashing and debonair Superman. Clark Kent's hair is always absolutely flat, while Superman's hair has a slight wave and is parted on the opposite side as Kent's. These films leave the impression that Clark Kent is really a secret identity that is used to enable Superman to serve humanity better, rather than just a role to help him assimilate into the human community.

A great deal of emphasis is placed on his origins on the planet Krypton with exotic crystalline sets designed by John Barry, effectively giving Superman a third persona as Kal-El. The first film is in three sections: Kal-El's infancy on Krypton (shot in London on the 007 stage), Clark Kent's teen years in Smallville, and Kent/Superman's adult life in Metropolis (shot in New York City). In earlier sections of the film, Reeve's Kent interacts with both his earthly parents and the spirit of his Kryptonian father through a special crystal, in a way George Reeves never did. The film has a fair amount of quasi-Biblical imagery suggestive of Superman as a sort of Christ-figure sent by Jor-El "to show humans the way."[5] (See also Superman (film)#Themes). In Superman II Reeve's Superman has to sacrifice his powers (effectively becoming just Clark Kent) in order to have a love relationship with Lois Lane, a choice he eventually abrogates to protect the world.

The relationship between Superman and Kent came to actual physical blows in Superman III. Superman is given a piece of manufactured kryptonite, but instead of weakening or killing him it drives him crazy, depressed, angry, and casually destructive, committing crimes which range from petty acts of vandalism to environmental disasters, like causing an oil spillage in order to bed a lusty woman in league with the villains. Driven alcoholic, Superman, his outfit dirty and neglected, eventually goes to a car wrecking yard where Kent, in a proper business suit and glasses, suddenly emerges from within him. A fight ensues in which the "evil" Superman tries to dispose of the "good" Kent, but the latter fights back, "kills" the evil side to his nature and, reclaiming the Superman mantle, sets off to repair the damage and capture the villains.

The indirect "Christianization" of Superman in the Reeve films (admitted by film producer Pierre Spengler on the DVD commentaries) has provoked comment on the Jewish origins of Superman. Rabbi Simcha Weinstein's book Up, Up and Oy Vey : How Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero says that Superman is both a pillar of society and one whose cape conceals a "nebbish," saying, "He's a bumbling, nebbish Jewish stereotype. He's Woody Allen."[6] [7] Ironically, it is also in the Reeve films that Clark Kent's persona has the greatest resemblance to Woody Allen, though his conscious model was Cary Grant's character in Bringing up Baby. This same theme is pursued about '40s superheroes generally in Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero by Danny Fingeroth.

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

Clark Kent's character is given one of its heaviest emphases in the 1990s series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. It is made very clear during the series, even discussed directly by the characters, that Clark Kent is who he really is, rather than his superheroic alter-ego.

In Lois and Clark, Kent (Dean Cain) is a stereotypical wide-eyed farm kid from Kansas with the charm, grace and humor of George Reeves, but without the awkward geekiness of Christopher Reeve. Emphasis is laid on the comic elements of his dual relationship with Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher). The ban on Christopher Reeve's Superman having a relationship with a mortal while retaining his superpowers is entirely absent in the world of Lois and Clark. In the final season, Clark Kent marries Lois Lane (a few years after her almost-marriage to his arch-enemy Lex Luthor, whom she refused at the altar), finding love, happiness, and completeness in this relationship which does not jeopardize his Superman persona.

Smallville TV series

Smallville was adapted to television in 2001, by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. Clark Kent is played by Tom Welling, with others portraying Clark as an infant. In this series, Clark has not yet adopted a Superman identity, but is seen wearing Superman's traditional colors of red and blue, more often as the series progresses (more commonly a blue shirt underneath a red jacket, reflecting Superman's uniform and cape colors). He is going through a process of character formation, making many mistakes in his youth, over time forming better and better judgment, while always self-consciously aware of his status as an alien from another planet who is different from other people. In season 8, he begins a fight against evil, hoping to be a source of inspiration and hope to others. A modest amount of religious imagery is seen occasionally in the series, but to a lesser degree than in the Christopher Reeve series.

Smallville's Kent is particularly inwardly conflicted as he attempts to live the life of a normal human being, while keeping the secret of his alien heritage from his friends.[8] Throughout the series he has an intermittent relationship with Lana Lang, which is strained by his secret.[9] Clark's powers appear over time. He is not aware of all of his powers at the start of the show; for instance, his heat vision and super breath do not develop until seasons two and six, respectively,[10][11] and his power of flight has yet to fully emerge, appearing only in a few rare cases.

In contrast to previous incarnations of the character, this Clark Kent starts out best friends with Lex Luthor, whom he meets after saving the latter's life.[12] (Boyhood friendship with Lex Luthor had been the basis of a Superboy adventure published in 1960[13], and was retained as Silver Age canon until 1986.) In Smallville, Clark and Lex remain entangled for most of the series. Lex Luthor's father, Lionel Luthor, is an unscrupulous industrialist with whom Lex has a troubled relationship. Lex would like to transcend his family background and be a better person than his father, but after multiple setbacks he slowly slips into evil. In turn, Clark Kent has a slightly dark side with which he comes to grips over time. In different ways to Luthor, Clark also does not have fully ideal relationship either with his adoptive father, Jonathan, nor with Jor-El with whose spirit he communicates. The younger Luthor slightly envies Clark's 'clean-cut' and wholesome parents (who disapprove of Clark's friendship with Luthor), while Clark is impressed with Luthor's wealth. Even in his better days, Luthor is highly ambitious for power and wealth, at one time noting that he shares his name with Alexander the Great. Clark Kent, on the other hand, has no idea what he is going to do with his life while bewildered by his powers, and his uncertainty as to why he was sent to Earth.

In Season 8 of Smallville, Clark Kent begins a career as an anonymous superhero crimefighter, but issues are raised by his closest friend Chloe Sullivan (a cousin of Lois Lane invented for this series) as to whether his methods of catching criminals are ethical. In Season 9, Clark begins to formalize his dual identity and has introduced the well-known glasses.

Smallville's Kent has also appeared in various literature (including comics and over a dozen young adult novels) based on the television series, none of which directly continue from or into the television episodes.

Animated series

In the 1940s Superman shorts, Clark is shown to have a wisecraking sense of humor and he and Lois are good friends. At the near end of each short, Clark gives out a smile and a wink to the audience (that was carried over the 1966 Superman animated series).

In the Superman: The Animated Series of the late 1990s, Kent is based on John Byrne's version of him, becoming more assertive and intelligent. He is also considered to be the real person, with Superman the "alter ego", though Kent often appears less in most episodes.

Secret identity security

A classic Silver Age "gag" cover based on the Clark Kent/Superman duality.

Various reasons over the decades have been offered for why people have never suspected Superman and Clark Kent of being one and the same. The most common offered is simply that, despite their physical resemblance, Superman and Clark are perceived as too different in mannerisms and personality to be the same individual. In the 1970s, one suggestion was that the lenses of Clark Kent's glasses (made of Kryptonian materials) constantly amplified a low-level super-hypnosis power, thereby creating the illusion of others viewing Clark Kent as a weak and frailer being.[14] However, this reason was abandoned almost as quickly as it was introduced, since it had various flaws (such as stories where Batman would disguise himself as Clark Kent, among others).

Another reason given in the 1987 story "The Secret Revealed" was the public simply does not know that Superman has a secret identity, considering he does not wear a mask, which implies to most that he has nothing to hide. As an added precaution, Superman would vibrate his face (like Jay Garrick, the Golden-Age Flash), slightly so that photographs would only show his features as a blur, thus preventing the danger of photographs of both identities being reliably compared.[15] However, more recent stories showing Superman being photographed have tended to ignore this factor. The 2004 series Superman: Birthright also explained that Superman's eyes are an unnaturally vivid shade of blue. Clark's glasses diffuse the color and make his eyes appear more human in that identity.

It is also stated by Barry Allen that "Clark slouches, wears clothes two sizes too big and raises his voice an octave" as part of the disguise, making him seem shorter and overweight instead of muscular.[16] This is confirmed, with very similar words, in the One Year Later reload of the Superman mythology, Superman: Secret Origin, in which Lois Lane upon meeting Clark Kent for the first time notices his slouch and his apparent bad taste in clothing, attributing them to a general desire to be underestimated.[17]

Traditionally, Lois Lane (and sometimes others) would often suspect Superman of truly being Clark Kent, though more recent comics often feature the general public assuming that Superman has no secret identity. In "The Secret Revealed," a super-computer constructed by Lex Luthor calculated Superman's true identity, but Lex dismissed the idea because he could not believe that someone so powerful would want another, weaker identity.[15] In modern comic continuity as of 2006, Lois Lane, feeling that someone like Clark could not be Superman, never suspected the dual identity beyond one isolated incident, before Clark finally revealed it to her. In "Visitor," Lois finds Superman at the Kent farm with Lana Lang and asks him point-blank if he is Clark Kent. Before he can answer, the Kents tell her that they raised Superman alongside Clark like a brother.[18] In the 2009 retcon of the mythos, Lois Lane is fully aware from the beginning, along with Perry White, that the meek, pudgy and bumbling Clark Kent deliberately holds himself back: however, still far from associating him to Superman, they simply believe he's hiding his qualities as a good reporter.[19]

Some fans have noted that in order for the disguise to be credible, Clark has to be at least as skilled an actor as Christopher Reeve. The films have Clark Kent being massively clumsy, paranoid and of course mild mannered. The actor's portrayal of Clark in the Superman film series was praised for making the disguise's effectiveness credible to audiences. In his book Still Me, Reeve says he based Clark Kent on Cary Grant's nerdy character in Bringing up Baby.

In the commentary track for Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, Tom Mankiewicz spoke about describing the dual role to Reeve as that he was always playing Superman but when he was Clark, he was playing Superman who was playing Clark Kent.

According to the 2004 limited series Superman: Birthright, which retells Superman's origin, young Clark Kent studies the Meisner technique so that he can seamlessly move between his Clark and Superman personas. As Clark, he drops his head, lowers his shoulders, bends his back forward a little bit and talks in a lighter tone, while as Superman, he stands straight and talks in a deeper tone. In the 2006 feature film, Brandon Routh's performance echoed Reeve's.

Actor George Reeves, in the 1950s live-action television series Adventures of Superman, brought a naturalistic approach to the dual role, perhaps reasoning that if Clark were too much of a milquetoast, he would not do well in the tough world of investigative journalism, particularly with an aggressive editor like Perry White.[citation needed] Reeves played Clark as moderately assertive, often taking charge in dangerous or risky situations and unafraid to take reasonable risks. This fact was one the main inspirations for the 1980s reboot of the Clark Kent half of the Superman character as described by writer and artist John Byrne in the article Super-Discussions published by Attic Books in Comics Values Monthly Special #2 (1992).

Actor Dean Cain's approach in the 1990s series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman was to have Clark as a normal, shy, everyday guy demonstrating occasional touches of clumsiness (e.g., pretending to burn his mouth on coffee), but still a highly skilled journalist, much like the current post-Crisis portrayal. His Superman, by contrast, was very much the model of the classic hero who stood up straight and spoke in a more formal and authoritative voice. In the episode "Tempus Fugitive," the time-traveler Tempus mocks Lois, saying that future historians laugh at her for being "fooled by a pair of glasses." On the other hand, H.G. Wells tells Lois that in truth the people of the future simply considered Lois to be blinded by love and that this has made her story a compelling one throughout the intervening years.

Identity change as a plot device and stylistic choice

When crises arise, Clark quickly changes into Superman. Originally during his appearances in Action Comics and later in his own magazine, the Man of Steel would strip to his costume and stand revealed as Superman, often with the transformation having already been completed. But within a short time, Joe Shuster and his ghost artists began depicting Clark Kent ripping open his shirt to reveal the "S" insignia on his chest — an image which became so iconic that other superheroes, during the Golden Age and later periods, would copy the same type of change during transformations (only Spider-Man, through his appearances in comics and Sam Raimi's films, has come remotely close to matching Superman in being connected with the famed shirt-rip shot).

In the Fleischer animated series of theatrical cartoons released by Paramount, the mild-mannered reporter often ducked into a telephone booth or stock room to make the transformation. Since the shorts were produced during the rise of film noir in cinema, the change was usually represented as a stylized sequence: Clark Kent's silhouette is clearly seen behind a closed door's pebble glass window (or a shadow thrown across a wall) as he strips to his Superman costume. Then, the superhero emerges having transformed from his meek disguise to his true self. In the comic books and in the George Reeves television series, he favors the Daily Planet's store room for his changes of identities. (The heroic change between identities within the store room is almost always seen in the comics, but never viewed in the Reeves series.)

The CBS Saturday morning series The New Adventures of Superman produced by Filmation Studios — as well as The Adventures of Superboy from the same animation house — featured the iconic "shirt rip" to reveal the "S" or Clark Kent removing his unbuttoned white dress shirt in a secluded spot, usually thanks to stock animation which was re-used over dozens of episodes, to reveal his costume underneath while uttering his famed line "This is a job for Superman!"

In Lois & Clark, Clark's usual method of changing was to either "suddenly" remember something urgent that required his immediate attention or leave the room/area under the pretense of contacting a source, summoning the police, heading to a breaking story's location, etc. Clark also developed a method of rapidly spinning into his costume at super speed which became a trademark change, especially during the third and fourth seasons of the series, and extremely popular with the show's fans.

As a dramatic plot device, Clark often has to quickly improvise in order to find a way to change unnoticed. For example, in Superman (1978), Clark, unable to use a newer, open-kiosk pay phone (and getting a nice laugh from the theater audience), runs down the street and rips his shirt to reveal his costume underneath. He quickly enters a revolving door, spinning through it at incredible speed while changing clothes. Thus made invisible, he appears to have entered the building as Clark Kent and exited seconds later as Superman. Later in the film, when the need to change is more urgent (as he believes the city is about to be poisoned by Lex Luthor), he simply jumps out a window of the Daily Planet offices, changing at super-speed as he falls (the film merely shows the falling Kent blurring into a falling Superman), and flies off.

In one scene of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Clark becomes aware of an emergency while talking with Bruce Wayne, and in the next panel he has flown out of his Kent clothing and glasses so quickly that they have had no time to fall.

In Season 8 of Smallville, Clark begins to show a bit more of his double identity. He starts slowing down his superspeed enough for surveillance cameras to see his iconic red and blue streak. This reveals to the citizens of Metropolis that a superhero is among them, and the name "The Red-Blue Blur" is coined. When Jimmy Olsen becomes suspicious, Clark decides to reserve his usual red-and-blue for saving people. He carries a backpack with him to work every day, containing his change of clothes. He begins to practice his speed change at home and at the Daily Planet. He changes in a superspeed spin in the Daily Planet's phone booth, and once even in his office chair.

Debate over true identity

A relatively recent debate is which of the two identities (Superman or Clark Kent) is the real person and which is the facade, mainly by the ending scene in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 2 when Bill (David Carradine), citing Jules Feiffer's The Great Comic Book Heroes, tells The Bride (Uma Thurman) that Superman is the real identity of Superman, while Clark Kent is a facade based on mankind's less impressive traits. Pre-Crisis interpretations of Superman very much assumed that Clark Kent was the "mask" and Kal-El the person (in the classic story Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, when Superman's dual life is revealed, he completely abandons his Clark Kent persona). With John Byrne's more assertive revamp of Clark Kent as well as Superman's greater grounding in Earth culture and humanity (as opposed to the everpresent Kryptonian heritage of the Pre-Crisis version), Superman is considered the "mask" and Clark the person. This is made explicit by Clark himself in Superman (vol. 2) #53, when following his revelation to Lois of his role as Superman (Action Comics #662), he states: "I'm Clark, the man you love. Superman is the creation – you named me, Lois." In pre-Crisis continuity, Kal-El was already a toddler before leaving Krypton, and retained memories of that childhood that later resurfaced; in Post-Crisis continuity, he was sent to Earth pre-natally in a "birthing matrix" (more recently retconned as an infant) and raised entirely by the Kents. As a result of their rearing, Kal-El has grown to think of himself as Clark Kent, and in fact was completely unaware of his alien heritage until he was well into adulthood. Although the morals instilled in him by the Kents have motivated Kal-El to use his abilities to help others, he developed the Superman persona to protect his Clark Kent identity. Thus he is Clark Kent, who some think of as Kal-El, wearing a Superman "mask".

Many fans and Superman scholars believe there to actually be three interpretations.[citation needed] There is firstly who Clark is when he is around trusted friends and family, particularly while on the farm with Martha, or in moments alone with Lois. He is a regular guy, brave, and moral. He then wears two other masks: that of the heroic Superman, and that of the bumbling and goofy Clark Kent who works at the Daily Planet. It should be noted that "bumbling" Clark is an act, but some fans dislike the portrayal of Clark as bumbling and goofy, as they feel it marginalizes his importance to the character. This idea has appeared in comics and various adaptations. In a pre-Crisis story by Alan Moore in DC Comics Presents #85, a sick Kal-El has hallucinations of both the Superman costume and Clark's suit, both offering advice from different viewpoints, and insists that neither of them are real. Rather the reverse relationship exists between Bruce Wayne and Batman, in whose case Bruce Wayne is the fiction and Batman is the reality.

A more academic approach developed by Jules Feiffer in his series of articles published in The Great Comic Book Heroes is that Superman is the real identity of Superman. Feiffer states that while most comic book characters were born as their alter egos (Spider-Man was "Peter Parker" first, Batman was born "Bruce Wayne"), Kal-El uses the very blanket he was wrapped in for his trip to Earth as his "costume", which means that Clark Kent is truly the manufactured identity used in order to blend in with humanity, and most importantly, a device to pursue Lois Lane's affections. A good example of this view is an adventure published in the 1960s when Kent finds himself at loose end when staff at the Daily Planet go on strike and seriously considers it a chance to try out a new identity in case he has "to abandon [his] Clark Kent role permanently". His options include becoming a full-time policeman or even a mere tramp "whom no one would ever suspect of being the Man of Steel."[20]

Other concepts have become the current accepted canon in most modern versions of the Superman myth (for example, in the DC animated universe Superman cartoon episode "The Late Mr. Kent", wherein Clark Kent is presumed dead, Superman expresses frustration at the idea of not being Clark and having to be someone else instead, because, in his words: "I am Clark Kent. I need to be Clark. I'd go crazy if I'd have to be Superman all the time." In a previous episode, actually the third part of the "Last Son of Krypton" arc, Jonathan "Pa" Kent assures his adoptive son that he will "always be Clark Kent" and that "Superman just helps out every now and then.")

Both Richard Donner, director of the first Reeve movie and Bryan Singer, director of the Brandon Routh followup, have stated that Clark Kent is intended to be the disguise. However, while the Donner films tend to imply that Superman is the actual persona, Singer stated at the 2006 Comic-Con that he favored the three-persona concept, stating that there was Clark Kent on the farm, the bumbling Metropolis Clark and Superman, the Last Son of Krypton. Brandon Routh himself even stated, in an HBO First Look interview that he was playing three characters; Clark Kent, the reporter/farm boy, Superman, the protagonist and savior of Metropolis and Kal-El, the Last Son of Krypton.

In Lois & Clark, Lois discovers his identity and angrily states that "you are Superman", but Clark famously says, "No, Lois. Superman is what I can do. Clark is who I am." They are eventually married.

Clark Kent has also been depicted without the Superman alter ego. In the Elseworlds stories starting with Superman: Last Son of Earth, he is the son of Jonathan Kent, who saves his son from the destruction of the Earth. Clark ends up on Krypton, where he is adopted by Jor-El and becomes the planet's Green Lantern.


  1. ^ Note that while Joseph is more commonly used, some sources claim that Clark's middle name is in fact "Jerome" — in honor of creator Jerry Siegel. The name "Jerome" was used in the "Season's Greedings" episode of the television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
  2. ^ The religion of Superman (Clark Kent / Kal-El)
  3. ^ t h e n e w B A T M A N - S U P E R M A N a d v e n t u r e s
  4. ^ Superman (vol. 2) #67 and #81)
  5. ^ This is discussed by the producers in their DVD commentary to the original theatrical cut.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Simpson, Paul (2004). Smallville: The Official Companion Season 1. London: Titan Books. pp. 8–17. ISBN 1840237955. 
  9. ^ Episode in which the pair start and end their relationship: season two's "Exodus", season three's "Phoenix", season five's "Arrival" & "Hypnotic", season seven's "Fierce" & "Arctic"
  10. ^ "Heat". Mark Verheiden (writer) & James Marshall (director). Smallville. The WB. 2002-10-01. No. 2, season 2. 42 minutes in.
  11. ^ "Sneeze". Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer (writers) & Paul Shapiro (director). Smallville. The WB. 2006-10-06. No. 2, season 6.
  12. ^ "Pilot". Alfred Gough, Miles Millar (writers) & David Nutter (director). Smallville. The WB. 2001-10-16. No. 1, season 1. 42 minutes in.
  13. ^ Adventure Comics #271 (Apr 1960)
  14. ^ Superman (vol. 1) #330 (December 1978)
  15. ^ a b Superman (vol. 2) #2 (February 1987)
  16. ^ Green Lantern #44 (September 2009)
  17. ^ Superman: Secret Origin #3 (2009)
  18. ^ Action Comics #597 (February 1988)
  19. ^ Superman: Secret Origins #3 (2009)
  20. ^ illustration included in the Penguin Book of Comics by George Perry and Alan Aldridge, published in 1967.


External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

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Clark Kent

  1. The alter ego or secret identity of DC Comics superhero Superman.


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