I referenced Kill Bill: Volume 2 in the previous post. You can watch the scene with David Carradine here (or borrow, rent, or buy the movie and show Quentin Tarrantino you support his work, but no pressure here) but I’ll sum up the speech.
Superman is unique in the genre of costumed vigilantes. When Bruce Wayne begins his day, he is Bruce Wayne. He puts on a costume to become Batman. Peter Parker was born an ordinary human and became Spiderman when he was bitten by a radioactive (or genetically engineered) spider. Superman was born Kal-El. The x-ray vision, heightened sense of hearing, laser eyes, and ability to fly are all the result of his Kryptonian physiology’s reaction to our yellow sun. In the earliest incarnations of Superman, his costume was made from the clothes he was swaddled in as an infant. Unlike comic book protagonists who have to put on a costume to assume their superhero identity, Superman has to put on a costume to assume his alter ego, Clark Kent.
There are dissenting views on this. Some might say that Clark, who was so named by his adopted parents, the Kents, considers the human race his people. His identity was forged by his all American upbringing and not his birth. I would counter that by saying upbringing does not negate birth. You can raise a newborn baby rat with a litter of newborn kittens and as they grow up, the kittens will think the rat is one of their litter. It doesn’t change the rat’s true nature. Kal-El is a non-human being, raised on a world that was alien to him when he was born and he had to learn to adapt to the conditions of that world to survive. For my part, I agree with Quentin Tarrantino’s opinion of the character and on some level, I wonder if David S. Goyer and Zach Snyder also agreed with this.
Superman has been handled by many writers and artists. Like a lot of comic book characters we’re familiar with, anyone who wasn’t born in the past five years probably knows the origin of Superman. Aside from slight variations on where he was born, like in The Red Son, the basic criteria have to be included or it’s Superman-in-name-only.
Man Of Steel stays faithful to the story, taking a few minor liberties in order to make the story fresh and unique for someone who might have seen the other incarnations. But to me, the most unique aspect of the story is the timing of Clark Kent’s introduction as a reporter for The Daily Planet.
People who disagree with David Carradine’s monologue need to remember: Clark Kent grew up in Smallville, Kansas as the average All-American teenager. He didn’t have the glasses and the somewhat skittish demeanor until he got to Metropolis. Those were decisions he made afterwards in order to further blend in with humanity. So whether this was his critique of the human race may be up for debate, but the glasses and the shyness are still part of the Clark Kent, Reporter for the Daily Planet “costume”.
Choosing to re-deploy this at the very end of the movie was the Darth Vader costume at the end of Revenge of the Sith. It was Iceman’s transformation in his battle with Pyro in X-Men: The Last Stand. Clark Kent, Reporter, was the money shot. And it was Kal-El’s true costume.