Man of Steel
|Appeared in||Superman: The Movie|
Superman II (Donner Cut)
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
- "I'm here to fight for truth, justice, and the American way."
- ―Superman [src]
Kal-El is the last son of Krypton, when his father, Jor-El, realized that his planet was doomed, he and his wife Lara sent Kal to Earth, where he would be found by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who named him Clark Kent. Using his powers, he defends the good citizens of Metropolis from threats like criminals, particularly, Lex Luthor and Dru-Zod; Clark would then become the superhero known as Superman.
- "Easy, miss. I've got you."
- ―Superman [src]
The planet Krypton is in danger of imminent destruction. Unable to convince Kryptonian elders, scientist Jor-El promises that neither he nor his wife, Lara, will leave the planet. However, he sends his infant son, Kal-El, to Earth to ensure his survival, just as Krypton begins its death-throes. Kal-El's spaceship crash-lands three years later in Smallville, Kansas, where the boy is found and adopted by a childless couple, Jonathan and Martha Kent, who named him Clark after Martha's maiden name.
Clark is no ordinary boy: he is incredibly agile and strong. But at the urging of his parents, he keeps his abilities hidden, frustratingly accepting the ridicule and scorn of his peers as he assumes a mild mannered temperament, fading into the background rather than becoming the star of the football team. But as Jonathan Kent reminds him, Clark was put on Earth "for a reason, and it's not to score touchdowns". Soon after, Jonathan has a fatal heart attack and dies, after which a grieving Clark conveys helplessness about having "all these powers and I couldn't even save him".
After a few months pass, Clark hears the call of a mysterious green crystal hidden in his parents' barn. He realizes that it is time to discover his purpose, and bids an emotional farewell to his Earth mother. He soon departs on a journey to the Arctic and uses the crystal to build the Fortress of Solitude, a majestic crystal palace in the architectural style of his home planet, Krypton. Inside, Kal-El learns the reason he was transported to Earth and his future role on the planet from holographic recordings of his father. After 12 years of education and training within the Fortress of Solitude, he emerges garbed in a red cape and blue body suit with the El family symbol on the chest and flies off.
Clark returns to civilization, arriving in the city of Metropolis. He's hired as a reporter for The Daily Planet newspaper by its editor-in-chief, Perry White. While there, he meets teenage photographer Jimmy Olsen and the paper's star journalist, Lois Lane. Clark becomes immediately infatuated with Lois, but is unable to properly gain her affection while in the bumbling guise of Clark Kent. It isn't long before Clark's true nature is unveiled when, in his blue suit and red cape, he publicly rescues Lois from a helicopter accident atop the Daily Planet building.
Following a series of incidents in which Clark in his yet-unnamed guise comes to the rescue and saves the day, Perry White issues to all his reporters to find out as much information as possible about this mysterious hero. Lois receives an invitation to meet someone at her place, signed only "a friend". Following a perfunctory interview with the Man of Steel, Lois joins him on a flight over Metropolis, ostensibly to see how fast he can go. After their romantic flight, the costumed hero flies off and Lois says to herself, "What a super man", then pauses, and says "Superman!", thus giving the mysterious man his name.
Meanwhile, super criminal Lex Luthor is intent on committing "the greatest real-estate swindle of all time", with the unwitting aid of the U.S. government and the test launching of two ICBMs. To accomplish this, Luthor hopes to cause a major earthquake in California by using the missiles, one of which he has programmed to hit the San Andreas Fault (the other has been programmed to head east to detonate in Hackensack, New Jersey, providing a diversion for the westbound rocket). The quake will cause most of California to slide into the ocean, killing millions of people while simultaneously making the vast tracts of worthless desert land that he had quietly purchased skyrocket in value when it becomes the new West Coast of the United States.
With Superman's fame rapidly spreading, Luthor perceives him to be a serious problem, luring to his lair with a phony threat to gas the population of Metropolis. Having succeeded in attracting his attention, he traps the superhero with a nodule of kryptonite - the only thing to which he is vulnerable. However, Superman effects an escape with the help of Luthor's assistant, Eve Teschmacher, who is both attracted to Superman and frightened for the fate of her mother, who happens to live in Hackensack.
Superman keeps his promise and diverts the path of the Hackensack missile first, forcing it into space. In the meantime, the California missile hits the San Andreas Fault, triggering the massive earthquake Luthor had intended. The length of the fault is devastated by the initial quake, but Superman prevents the catastrophic landslide Luthor intended by plunging deep into the earth to shore up the fault line. However, the quake's violent aftershocks still cause massive damage that creates multiple disasters. As he builds a natural dam from rocks and boulders to stop the flooding caused by the breaching of the Hoover Dam, Superman realizes that he has forgotten about Lois. He discovers her car, fallen into a crevasse that opened up behind it and closed again, trapping her inside and crushing her to death.
Overcome with grief and fury, Superman flies into the upper atmosphere of Earth, where he hears Jor El's voice forbidding him to interfere in human history. Disobeying his father, Superman flies around the Earth until he is moving faster than the speed of light, thus travelling back in time. This is visually represented by the Earth appearing to spin backwards.
By reversing time, he prevents the Hoover Dam burst, and fixes the fault line in such a way that the crevasse doesn’t reach Lois’ car. The reversal stops at the point where the earthquake began. He then flies back to Lois, who is alive and well. Superman bids farewell and flies off, with a task to finish. Jimmy Olsen then mentions that it is unfortunate Clark is never here to see Superman, and it is this moment only that Lois suspects that Superman and Clark may be the same person, only to dismiss it as "the silliest idea". Superman captures Luthor and Otis and delivers them to prison. The prison warden thanks Superman for his efforts, while Superman modestly demurs, insisting that "we're all part of the same team" before flying off.
- "Good afternoon, Mr. President. Sorry I've been away so long. I won't let you down again."
- ―Superman [src]
Clark learns from Perry White that Lois is in France, where terrorists who have seized the Eiffel Tower and threatened to level the city with a hydrogen bomb. While in the course of rescuing Lois, the bomb is activated and Superman throws the elevator out of the atmosphere and into deep space, where it explodes. The shockwaves shatter the crystalline conduit into the Phantom Zone, now floating near Earth and Zod, Non, and Ursa are released. Lex Luthor, meanwhile, finally breaks out of jail with the help of Ms. Teschmacher using a hot air balloon, but leaves Otis behind as bait so he can escape. Using the black box device, he goes north to the Fortress of Solitude. Luthor, activating the Fortress control panel, then learns from hologram recordings of Jor-El about the three Kryptonian villains who have escaped. He decides that he will collaborate with the Kryptonian villains to defeat Superman and take over the world.
Clark and Lois are on assignment in Niagara Falls, Ontario, investigating what Perry calls a "honeymoon racket". Superman rescues a boy who falls over the railing, and Lois suddenly decides it is far too convenient that Clark disappears every time Superman makes an appearance. She tries to prove it by jumping into the Niagara River, screaming for Superman to save her. Clark never changes identities but, unbeknownst to Lois, uses his heat vision to break off a tree branch for Lois to use to stay afloat. However, later in their hotel room, Clark's powers are revealed when he quickly retrieves his fallen glasses from the fireplace with his bare hands. Realizing that he wasn't burned, Lois realizes the truth. After some hesitation, Clark admits the truth and takes Lois to the Fortress of Solitude, showing her the crystals which created and control the operations; Lois leaves the primary green crystal under her purse, outside the control panel. Kal-El speaks to his father through hologram about his desire to give up his responsibilities as Superman so he can live a normal life with Lois. Jor-El criticizes Kal-El for his decision, but nonetheless offers him a choice. In order for him to relinquish being Superman, he must enter a crystal chamber and be exposed to harnessed rays from the Krypton red sun. He will, therefore, lose his powers permanently and no longer be invulnerable as he has been before. Despite his father’s pleas to reconsider, Kal-El, without hesitance, enters the chamber and undergoes the de-powering process, which culminates in the destruction of the crystal control panel. The two retire to his bedchamber and sleep together. Meanwhile, the three Kryptonian criminals have devastated a joint NASA-Soviet moon expedition, killing three astronauts. They fly to Earth, which they believe to be a planet called "Houston" (having overheard radio transmissions with Mission Control in Houston, Texas). They wreak havoc on a small town, easily defeating the U.S. military. After defacing Mount Rushmore, the trio attack the White House, where Zod forces the President of the United States to kneel before him.
Returning from the Fortress of Solitude, Clark is beaten up in a diner by a bullying truck driver. His despondent mood worsens when, in horror, he watches the President announcing the surrender of Earth to General Zod. The President suddenly pleads for Superman's help and Zod issues a challenge to Superman to face him. Realizing the danger posed to the world and the terrible mistake he made, Clark heads back to the Fortress, now a darkened sanctum, and calls out to his father for help. Dreading that there may be no hope left, he then notices He sees the green crystal glowing where Lois accidentally left it– the same crystal that has called out to him in the first movie. He uses the crystal to activate the panel, and once more, Jor-El emerges in hologram. He tells Kal-El about his terrible mistake and offers him one last resort to regain his powers – he will channel all of his remaining energy to his son, thereupon dying. Jor-El bids farewell and emerges in full body and spirit; upon touching Kal-El, he restores his son’s powers and dies by fading away. Kal-El emerges once again, as Superman. He sees the green crystal glowing where Lois accidentally left it.
Lex Luthor visits a bored Zod at the White House and negotiates a means to lure Superman to the villains by holding Lois hostage. He also reveals that Superman is the son of Jor-El, their imprisoner. They arrive at the Daily Planet offices and seize Lois, only to be interrupted by the arrival of Superman, his powers fully restored. A destructive battle ensues among the four Kryptonians as Superman struggles with the new experience of battling multiple enemies of his power level. During the battle, Ursa and Zod discover Superman's weakness, his concern for human life, and use this against him. Finally, Superman flees, seemingly in defeat. Luthor convinces the villains that they must pursue Superman to his Fortress. At the Fortress of Solitude, Superman attempts to distract the villains with a hologram that creates multiple images of himself. However, after grappling with Zod, Ursa and Non threaten to tear Lois limb from limb, and Superman agrees to release Zod and capitulate to them to spare her life. Superman manipulates Luthor into tricking the criminals, counting on Luthor to double-cross him. Superman is forced into the same depowering chamber he used before, and the red light that drains super-powers is actually set loose on the Fortress while Superman is safe inside the chamber. Superman feigns weakness and then crushes Zod's hand after seemingly accepting it in submission. Lois easily dispatches the now-powerless Ursa, and Non leaps towards Superman, only to find he can no longer fly. All three villains fall into the depths of Superman's fortress, apparently to their dooms. Superman and Lois, leaving Luthor stranded in the Fortress and fly away. Superman then uses his heat vision to destroy the Fortress. He then turns back to Lois, who realizes and agrees that Superman must continue to serve humanity, conforming to his father's wishes. After Superman flies her home, Lois begins to break down in despair. Although life would never be the same, she heartbreakingly assures Superman that she can be trusted to keep his secret identity, which Superman acknowledges consolingly, and he flies off. Superman, realizing that life with Lois can never be, decides to turn back time, flying around the Earth at tremendous speed and reversing events that have occurred throughout, such as the destruction and mayhem done to Metropolis during Superman's battle with the villains and the shattering of the Phantom Zone that releases the Kryptonian villains, as well as Lois' knowledge of his secret identity. The status quo is finally changed back to normal, although both Lois and Perry White seem to experience a sense of déjà vu. Clark, now with his powers restored as Superman, goes to the diner and confronts Rocky, who is more than willing to pick a fight with him. Much to everyone's surprise, this strange, young man handles the bullying customer like a little child, eventually felling him across the counter and sending him crashing into the pinball machine, knocking him unconscious. Clark then offers to pay the owners of the diner for the damage. With those around wondering how the stranger was able to beat the bully, Clark simply replies; "Oh, I’ve been, working out". The film closes with Superman restoring the American flag atop the White House and assuring the President that he'll always rescue the Earth.
- "I can give more than I take."
- ―Superman [src]
A computer genius named Gus Gorman is brought into the employ of Ross Webster, who has designs on ruling the world. However, all of his schemes are thwarted by Superman. Webster then orders Gorman to use his computer knowledge to create synthetic Kryptonite after remembering a Daily Planet story about the last original chunk disappearing years earlier after falling to Earth. (Whether Webster is referring to the Kryptonite robbery in Superman is unclear.) After scanning the coordinates of Krypton's former location via satellite, the results show a small percentage of an unknown component. The substitution of tar (which Gorman used after glancing at a cigarette carton) for a crucial, but unknown, component resulted in the synthetic kryptonite behaving like Red and Black Kryptonite; in this case, turning Superman evil and eventually split him into two people.
An Evil Superman and Clark Kent, the embodiment of Superman's remaining good qualities, engage in an epic battle at a deserted junkyard, where Clark emerges victorious and Bizarro fades from sight.
Later, Gorman's greatest creation, the Ultimate Computer, severely weakens Superman with a Kryptonite ray before Gorman has a change of heart and attacks his own machine. The computer starts to malfunction and Ross, his sister Vera and his girlfriend/assistant, Lorelei Ambrosia realize there's a danger. Ross and Lorelei are able to escape from the control room, but Vera is sucked into the huge circuitboard. The computer transforms her into a robot and she attacks the other two. Superman arrives, and destroys the computer, turning Vera back to normal. He then flies away, taking Gus with him.
There is a subplot in this film detailing Clark Kent's return to Smallville for his high school reunion, where he reconnects with Lana Lang, an old childhood friend. Lana is now a divorcee with a son named Ricky. Lana's former boyfriend Brad, a former jock and Clark's childhood bully, is now a security guard and is still vying for her attention.
- "It's the same as it's always been, Luthor. On the brink. With good fighting evil. See you in twenty."
- ―Superman [src]
Clark Kent/Superman learns that the United States and the Soviet Union may soon engage in nuclear war, threatening the survival of the planet.
Before taking action, he departs to the north pole to seek advice from the spirits of his Kryptonian ancestors at the Fortress of Solitude.
At a meeting of the United Nations, he tells the assembly that he is going to rid the Earth of all nuclear weapons. Over the next several days, Superman takes all the nuclear weapons, and gathers them into a gigantic net in orbit above the planet. When he has almost all the weapons, he closes the net and tosses it into the sun.
Meanwhile, Lex Luthor's nephew, Lenny, helps break Luthor out of prison. The pair steal a strand of hair that Superman had donated to a museum. Luthor creates a genetic matrix from the strand of hair, and attaches it to the final American nuclear missile. After the missile is fired off into the air, Superman grabs the missile and throws it into the sun. A few moments after the missile explodes on the sun's surface, a ball of energy is discharged from the sun, which rapidly develops into a "Nuclear Man". Nuclear Man finds his way to his "father", Luthor, who establishes that while he is indeed powerful, he will completely deactivate if isolated from the sun's rays or suitably bright artificial light.
A worldwide battle soon follows between Lex's creation and the Man of Steel. While successfully saving the Statue of Liberty, Superman is injured by the radioactive nails of Nuclear Man. The Daily Planet, to Lois' disgust, blares the headline that Superman is dead. Felled by radiation sickness, Clark staggers weakly to the terrace of his apartment, where he retrieves the last remaining crystal from Krypton, which he took from the barn in Smallville at the beginning of the film.
Nuclear Man develops a crush on Lacy Warfield, daughter of the tycoon who has purchased The Daily Planet, and threatens mayhem if he is not introduced to her. Superman agrees to take Nuclear Man to Lacy. In an attempt to disable the villain, Superman lures Nuclear Man into an elevator in the building, traps Nuclear Man in it, and pulls the elevator out of the building and flies to the moon, heaving the elevator onto the ground there. Superman doesn't realize the doors have opened a crack. As the sun rises, Nuclear Man breaks out of his makeshift prison and the two resume battle on the moon's surface. At the end of the battle, Superman is driven into the ground by his nuclear-charged opponent.
Nuclear Man returns to Earth, abducting Lacy and flying her into outer space (where she, strangely enough, is unaffected by the lack of breathable atmosphere and air pressure). Meanwhile, the Man of Steel pushes the moon out of its normal orbit, casting Earth into a solar eclipse which shuts off Nuclear Man's powers. He then rescues Lacy from the arms of Nuclear Man, of whom he disposes by returning him to Earth and sealing him into the core of a nuclear power plant.
Later, in a press conference, Superman declares only partial victory in his peace campaign, stating: "There will be peace when the people of the world want it so badly, that their governments will have no choice but to give it to them".
Powers and Abilities
- Super Strength
- Super Speed
- X-Ray Vision
- Heat Vision
- Super Hearing
- Super Breath
- Jor-El - Biological father; deceased.
- Lara Lor-Van - Biological mother; deceased.
- Jonathan Kent - Adopted father; deceased.
- Martha Kent - Adopted mother; deceased.
- Lois Lane - Love interest.
- Lex Luthor - Enemy.
- Dru-Zod/General Zod - Enemy.
- Lana Lang - Former love interest.
- Perry White - Boss.
- Jimmy Olsen - Friend.
- Kara Zor-El/Linda Lee/Supergirl - Biological cousin.
- Zor-El - Biological uncle.
- Donnerverse (7 films)
- Before Christopher Reeve was cast as Superman, Muhammad Ali, Al Pacino, James Caan, Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood and Dustin Hoffman were DC top choice. Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone and Paul Newman turned down the role. Neil Diamond and Arnold Schwarzenegger lobbied hard for the role, but were ignored. James Caan, James Brolin, Lyle Waggoner, Christopher Walken, Nick Nolte, Jon Voight and Perry King were approached. Warren Beatty, John Beck, Ryan O'Neal, Jeff Bridges, Jan-Michael Vincent, David Soul, Robert Wagner, Kris Kristofferson, Charles Bronson and Elton John were also considered for the title role. Patrick Wayne was cast, but dropped out when his father, John Wayne was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Bruce (now Catelyn) Jenner turned down the role of Clark Kent to appear in the Village People musical Can't Stop the Music.
- Christopher Reeve voice dubbed the Teenage Clark Kent.
- Christopher Reeve threatened not to return for this film, to protest Richard Donner's firing and because he hated the script. With the film already in pre-production, the producers scrambled to find an actor to play Superman. John Travolta was approached, but declined. Jeff Bridges and Kurt Russell were also considered, but they weren't interested. A few days before filming was set to begin, the Salkinds settled on Tony Danza as Clark Kent/Superman. Richard Lester was mortified with the casting of Danza, and pleaded for Reeve to return. Reeve eventually agreed, if he was allowed to change the script. The producers agreed.
- Christopher Reeve bowed out just before filming began on Supergirl. Superman's absence is explained early on by a radio broadcast that says he is in a far off galaxy, on a peace-seeking mission.
- Henry Cavill wore Reeve's Superman suit in his audition for Man of Steel.
- Clark was 18 when Jonathan Kent died, and then spent 12 years learning about his powers at the Fortress of Solitude, which would make Clark about 30 at the time of the first movie.