Headscratchers / Superman: The Animated Series

  • In "Apokolips . . . Now!" Part 2, the citizens of Earth rise up against Darkseid. All manner of Hell is about to break loose when the armies of New Genesis arrive, and Orion informs Darkseid that Earth is now under their protection. Any further aggressive action will result in a war between them. Darkseid agrees to withdraw. As his armies retreat back to Apokolips, he hits Dan Turpin with his Omega beams, vaporizing the man before teleporting himself back home. He cold-bloodedly kills a person, for no reason other than to spite Superman, less than 15 seconds after agreeing to withdraw. HOW is this NOT an act of aggression? Don't get me wrong, it's perfectly in-character for Darkseid, and it makes for one of the most dramatic moments in the DCAU, but is there some reason that the New Genesis troops don't promptly open fire?
    • It's not worth it. That's it. There's no point starting what would amount to a war of extermination over one man.
    • Also, these guys know Darkseid. Retreating with only one murder under his belt is practically leaving on good terms for Darkseid.
    • Plus he's heading back into his boom tubes and the guns would have had a short window to do anything. From what I recall, he was the last person retreating.
  • In "Mxyzpixilated", Mxyzptlk is a powerful, supernatural being who can easily conjure things up out of thin air. Why then, does he spend 90 days building a robot suit? Also, Superman defeats him a few times by making him spell his name backwards. How the heck did he know how to spell Mxyzptlk's name, forwards or backwards? Mxyzptlk never revealed the spelling, and it's not the sort of thing you can sound out.
    • For the first question, Rule of Funny. For the second, Mxy *did* reveal the spelling. Early in the episode (just before Mxy appears to lecture Clark on how to properly pronounce his name) Jimmy shows Clark a comic strip entitled "Mr. Mxyzptlk". It was probably a projection of Mxy's, but Clark saw it nonetheless.
    • As for the robot suit, Mxy suffers from serious Plot-Induced Stupidity: he could have just made Supes disappear if he wanted to but seems to have a self-imposed limitation against using his powers directly on Superman. The robot could be explained as Mxy needing to put more effort into creating a robot that could actually beat Superman; maybe his powers are enough to create a giant robot but giving it the attributes necessary to actually hurt the Man of Steel required more forethought.
  • In "Livewire" our titular supervillianess transforms into electricity to escape the hospital. This is all well and good for an electricity-based metahuman, but how can her clothes transform with her? Couldn't she have created her "ionized air" costume at the hospital and then gone into the outlet?
  • "Speed Demons". Superman uses his heat vision to seal a hole in an actively-leaking oil tanker. Hey, Supes, isn't that stuff, y'know... flammable? I mean, even he did kinda pinch the leak together you'd think that the superheated metal would catch the stuff inside on fire and cause a HUGE FREAKING FIREBALL and kill everyone inside...
    • Like gasoline, liquid crude oil in and of itself isn't as flammable as one might think. (See also Every Car Is a Pinto.) You'd also need a lot of oxygen — or something else for the oil to react explosively with — to create that 'huge freaking fireball'; spot-welding a still mostly full tank underwater seems a relatively poor candidate for that.
  • The Batman/Superman Movie (or "World's Finest", whichever you prefer). The Joker splits the Kryptonite dragon into two halves to use in two schemes. Um, why? Each half is easily ten times the amount shown to be necessary to incapacitate Superman (heck, the movie even shows that a piece the size of a peanut can make Superman wince in pain). It just seems wasteful. Heck, the Joker could've even sold a chunk of it if he's in such dire straits financially. Remember that the initial estimate of its value was when they thought it was just jade. Revealing it to be Kryptonite would get him a million bucks a chunk, easy.
    • It doesn't have to make sense - he's the Joker!
    • How about when they use hydrochloric acid to dissolve the Kryptonite? Dissolving something in acid is a chemical phenomenon, whereas radioactivity is a nuclear one. Dissolving it wouldn't do anything, just make a still-harmful Kryptonite puddle.
    • "Remember that the initial estimate of its value was when they thought it was just jade." Yeah, that's another thing. How could anyone, never mind a trained jeweler, look at a statue made of brightly glowing rock and declare it to be simple jade? You know, I'm glad all those people caught radiation poisoning from that dragon statue. Clearly they were Too Dumb to Live anyway.
      • Because it, uh, wasn't glowing maybe? Watch the episode. It doesn't glow.
      • Yes it was. It very clearly was glowing. See here and here. It's kryptonite. Kryptonite glows.
      • Actually it glows when The Joker discovers it's Kryptonite. Prior to that, the statue was portrayed as not glowing. The small pieces of the statue left behind were glowing a tiny bit but overall the statue appeared to be jade. It's a very curious property of Kryptonite that it doesn't start to actually glow until it's being used/acknowledged as Kryptonite. Happened on Smallville all the time.
      • I believe that the DCAU population at large only found out that Kryptonite was harmful to humans (in the long run) in Justice League, which takes place a while after STAS.
    • To answer the question about splitting it, he planned on selling the other half piece by piece for a fortune after Superman was dead. As for the first half There Is No Kill Like Overkill. Better to use too much Kryptonite then too little.
      • That's a little odd, though. Why would Kryptonite be valuable if Superman's already out of the picture? Was he going to make them into souvenir key chains?
      • Its a semirare gemstone that is visually unique and has high potential as an energy source. Of course it'd still be valuable.
      • Besides, you know, if his plan was successful, he could sell the first half too. Superman's death wouldn't turn Kryptonite into lead after all.
      • Joker's reasoning (at least as he explains it) for selling it after Superman was dead was that that particular piece note  of kryptonite would be made extremely valuable because it killed Superman.
    • It was in case the Joker's first plan involving the kryptonite fell through and he needed more to kill Superman afterwards. Which is exactly what happened. The Joker is insane, but he can still understand the concept of a "back-up plan."
      • What the OP is asking is "Why only two pieces" as opposed to splitting it into several.
  • The above discussion only raises another issue: how did the Joker know the Laughing Dragon was Kryptonite in the first place? It looks like ordinary jade in all the pawnshop scenes, and the fact that all its previous owners died shouldn't have meant anything at that point (see above point: they didn't find out that Kryptonite was harmful to humans until Justice League). And he tracked it down before Lex "how can I kill Superman today?" Luthor did?
    • Maybe rather than specifically tracking it down the Joker just happened to hear about 'that green dragon statue whose every owner died before his time' and thought 'Hmmm, there is some kind of green alien rock that's lethal to that Superman guy. What if it also kills humans - it's just since he is Super-man it kills him Super-quickly?' And once he had the Dragon he could carry a chemical analysis to make sure it's indeed no ordinary jade.
  • In the first episode, am I the only one who remembers Lara, Kal-El's mother, turning down the chance to go with him to die on Krypton with her husband? Why would she do that? Why turn down the chance to raise and PROTECT your son to die with your husband? Who does that? I'm sure that was put in to show the great love Lara had for Jor-El, but... then it just makes her seem like a horrible, selfish mother. "Oh, I won't be able to live without my man! Hope that whole being the last of your kind on an alien planet works out for you, kid!"
    • She did it out of love. She would only be a burden for Kal-El, weighed down by the fact that she has lived on Krypton, remembers all of it, and would eternally be depressed at the loss of the entire planet she grew up on and the people she loved on it such as her husband and father. Kal-El, meanwhile, is only a baby. Too young to remember. Sure, he'd find out his origin years later and that would set him off a bit, but it's much easier to get over finding out you're an alien than having to live with the burden that you fled while everyone else you ever cared for died a horrible death.
    • Also, the rocket wasn't designed to fly with her and Kal-El, just Kal. Jor-El would have had to do some super fast last minute adjustments, and with planet collapse imminent, there would be no time to double check to make sure the rocket would stay on course and keep two passengers alive instead of two. Staying with Jor-El probably maximized Kal's chances of surviving (at least the initial) trip off his planet.
      • To add onto that, he said something about re-adjusting the course, suggesting that with the added weight the rocket would have to take a more straight-arrow path to Earth, possibly getting caught in the gravity of some planet or star that the original course was meant to avoid.

      • Why Lara didn't join Kal-El in the spacecraft varies from continuity to continuity: In one, there is room in the craft, but she stays in order that the ship will have a greater chance of a successful trip; in another, it's loyalty and love to and for Jor-El; in another the primitive culture on Earth repels her; in another Jor-El lies by omission by promising that he and Lara will not leave Krypton, carefully not mentioning Kal-El. The net result remains the same, of course, with the launch being the largest Hail Mary pass in human imagination.

Another Jor-El question: his plan was to put all of the Kryptonians in the Phantom Zone: this poses two questions:
  1. The council rightfully points out that they'd be vulnerable to all the criminals they'd locked up there, so what was Jor-El's plan to protect them within the zone, and to ensure that the criminals wouldn't be released?
    • As we later see you can pick and choose who you release from the zone. Also in the zone they all exist as phantoms with no real physical form, so they can't be harmed. The council just didn't like the idea of being put in the same place as criminals even for a few hours to save themselves.
  2. Brainiac says he refused to tell the council about Krypton blowing up because there was no plan to save them; why didn't he consider Jor-El's plan to put everyone in the Phantom Zone and, tying in to point 1, come up with a solution for protecting them?
    • Brainiac is known to lie. As he later reveals his goal is to take all a planet's knowledge and then destroy it so that he can be the only one who has it. Brainiac didn't want Krypton to be saved at so naturally he wouldn't suggest a good idea to the council.

  • "The Promethean", why didn't the aliens just send the titular machine into their sun? Either it has all the heat it wants and no way to get off anyways, or its destroyed. Why leave it to fall onto some other planet and reawaken.
    • I suppose there was the possibility, given its absorption powers, that doing that would cause their sun to go out and turn the machine into some sort of Physical God. On the other hand, This Troper is bugged by the end of the episode: what the heck are they going to do with the thing? If it thaws out, the heat from the sun will revive it. If they leave it there and somehow keep it frozen, that's the Metropolis Reservoir. It's the water supply for 10 million people, and they froze it solid. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero, indeed.
      • Maybe after the episode ended, they cut/broke the ice around the thing, and moved it elsewhere?
      • Superman's Fortress of Solitude is in the Arctic; This Troper would assume Supes heat-visioned cuts into the ice around the Promethean, like those bug-in-an-ice-cube things, carried it to the Arctic, stuck it deep under the ice cap, and, well, left it there., nice and chilly for all eternity.
      • or just toss him into space, like Wizard magazine said about how to handle Doomsday; it won't kill the Promethean but it will make him someone else's problem.
      • Or better yet, maybe Superman cut the machine out and then, while it was still frozen, sent it to the Phantom Zone.
    • I always figured it was kept in cold storage somewhere just in case the Godzilla Threshold was ever reached by Superman. Of course, long before any menace that it would have been useful against popped up, the Justice League was formed as a better alternative.

  • On the matter of Darkseid, in "Father's Day", there was no concrete reason given for him to reject Desaad's plan to build a better weapon with which to take Superman out or Kalibak's plan to beat the stuffing out of him when Darkseid had no better alternatives. If he was so determined to kill Superman, why didn't he just let his underlings at least try?
    • Been a while since I saw the episode, but it seemed to me that Darkseid had his own plan for killing Superman, and just didn't want Desaad or Kalibak taking him on at all. He wanted to be the one to take down Kal El, and he wanted Superman not to expect it. If he's got Desaad churning out machines to keep attacking, and Kalibak keeps showing up to beat on him, it's only going to harden Superman and make him used to fighting Darkseid's forces.
    • Darkseid's dialogue suggested he did order Desaad to send a machine to beat Superman and that when it failed, he refused to allow him to build another. Perhaps Desaad should have stated from the get-go that his machine was intended to assess Superman's capabilities rather than defeat him outright. Still, Darkseid did have the chance to finish Superman off himself at the end of that episode with his Omega Beams but instead settled for hurting Superman just enough to send a message.
    • Didn't the series finale kind of answer this? Darkseid considers himself Surrounded by Idiots and hoped to convert Kal-El into The Dragon. It was only after Superman slipped free of that control that Darkseid decided to settle for annihilating him.
    • The impression I got was that Desaad was just lying about building a better machine to cover up his failure and Darkseid saw right through it.
  • In "Heavy Metal", they gave a concrete explanation for Metallo's return, namely Intergang. The explanation made sense since he was left to rot in a volcano. At the end of the ep, he's been incapacitated and has Steel's hammer blocking his Kryptonite so it should be no trouble for Supes to deliver him to the authorities, yet he returns with no explanation in "Superman's Pal" and later in Justice League. Most of the returning villains in the show got an explanation for how they extricated themselves from being incarcerated or left for whatever fate they were last seen in, yet Metallo shows up out of nowhere.
    • Recurring villains appearing out of nowhere with no explanation to harass the main characters is a classic superhero trope. We don't really need an explanation for how or why he came back. The fact that he wasn't dead by the end of his last appearance is enough.
      • Metallo isn't just any other villain. Without a chunk of Kryptonite, he's nothing more than a statue, incapable of any sort of self-directed movement. He doesn't "return" unless someone wants him to.
      • Again, this doesn't really need an explanation. Supervillains just "showing up" in later stories is a classic superhero trope. Any villain who isn't dead is nigh-on guaranteed to show up again later on. If you really need an explanation, just assume the deal he made with Intergang was still valid and they busted him out again.
      • Except as I noted, this goes against the show's established pattern of explaining how the villains return, in particular for Superman's rogues who are powerful & dangerous enough that when they break out, Superman and the SCU are at the ready. Intergang was disbanded by that point in the series so it couldn't have been them. There probably isn't a worthwhile explanation since Bruce Timm called "Superman's Pal" one of the worst eps in the DCAU.
    • Villains only get an explanation for their return if it's important to the plot or if they'd been left in a state that was completely unfixable without significant help. Metallo needs his kryptonite piece to stay alive so even if they cut him off from it during the fight someone has to give him at least limited access to it so he doesn't die. He either bribed whomever was in charge of feeding him or they just made a mistake and gave him too much power.
  • In Legacy Darkseid's Omega Beams are deflected by the stone that Superman moves and later by Superman's hands. Wouldn't the second shot punch through the hands and continue onward?
    • The beams not piercing Supes' hands was likely a reflection of his invulnerability. If Darkseid was firing at maximum power, then the writers were stating concretely that the beams can't beat Superman's invulnerability.
  • Also from Legacy, why didn't Superman delay his raid on Apokolips so that he could oversee Supergirl's whole operation? Given Hamilton's newfound distrust and reluctance, Supes had no guarantee that he would keep it up through the end. And then there was the risk of the government showing up and stopping it or taking Supergirl, or STARS handing her over to the authorities.
  • In "Bizarro's World", the Brainiac ball is able to mistake Bizarro's DNA for Kal-El's DNA, even though Bizarro's cell structure is so different from Superman's, that he's immune to kryptonite. How is that possible?
    • Cell structure is different, but perhaps the DNA is similar enough that device couldn't tell.
    • This might be a clue that K-radiation doesn't see genes as the definition of what a 'Kryptonian' (or Argonite) is. There are scientific, mystic or psychic explanations which I leave as experiments in rationalization for the audience.
    • Maybe the ball didn't look at the whole genetic code, but just checked for certain genetic markers that happened to come through the imperfect cloning process intact.
  • How could Mala and Jax-Ur speak perfect English if they had been in the Phantom Zone for over 20 years?
    • And for that matter, how do Lobo, the Collector, Maxima, and almost every other alien speak English?
      • You just said it yourself, most other aliens speak English. Someone seems to have spread it around the galaxy so that the various species could communicate. It was probably the Lantern Corps.
      • Why would the GLC choose an Earth language to be the "universal" language? Unless you're implying that it didn't originate on Earth, having been brought there by the Corps, which would require serious rewriting of human and human language history.
  • Why didn't Metallo fix his face, or remove the rest of his face?
    • Short version: He's crazy. Longer version: He's inclined to let his anger fester rather than try to get past it, so he keeps a visible reminder of what he used to be and what he is now.
  • So...meddling executives vetoed the Kara Zor-El Supergirl because "Superman is the last Kryptonian." OK, but then...explain the two Kryptonian Phantom Zone escapees who are recurring villains.
    • Because they're villains. Having the only other kryptonians around being people he has to keep imprisoned forever just isolates him more.
  • How can Brainiac be fooled by Clark Kent's disguise? He is a super computer. In "Ghost in the machine" he actually believes Clark and Superman are 2 different people. If he is as smart as he says he is, then shouldn't he had deduced Superman's human identity long ago.
    • Depends on what he bothers to scan for. The Brainiacs that show up on Earth are simply drones sent to collect Earth's data. Earth is a fairly primitive planet, no point expending extra resources on the really in-depth all purpose scanners.
    • On a related note: how the hell did Brainiac not know Bruce Wayne was Batman? He was in the Waynetech systems where he could see all the equipment Batman uses, he had mind-controlling nanites inside Bruce Wayne, and he even knew to have him call Batman's allies to explain his absence!
    • 1. Being in the systems doesn't mean that he looked at everything, and it's possible — even probable — that Bruce had extremely heavy encryption to keep people out of his Batman stuff. 2. Mind controlling =/= mind reading. 3. He knew to have him call Bruce Wayne's family. The message he sends is addressed to Tim, not to Robin.
  • In "Superman: Last Son Of Krypton, Part 3", Clark figures out that Lois is on a Kaznian freighter after seeing it in the background of one of her photos (and her latest story is related to Kaznia). Jimmy immediately asks him how he can tell it's a Kaznian freighter since the image is so small, but Clark is gone when he turns around, but with the implication being that he used his Super Sight to identify the ship. My question here is: Why would his super sight affect his perception of the photograph? It's not like he's looking at an object in the distance, it's a fixed image. I guess my question is really "How does his super sight work exactly?" Is it like a magnifying glass or is he seeing it in ultra-high resolution?
    • A high-quality photograph (which this one probably is, given that it was a professional newspaper photograph Jimmy Olsen took) could easily contain fine details inaccessible to normal human vision but readily apparent to Superman. As for how his vision works, he has both telescopic and microscopic vision; the latter would be the relevant one in this situation.
  • Why is Livewire vulnerable to water? Water is one of the best conductors of electricity, like metal is, she can use water to transport herself as she use metal. I know that electricity cause short circuits to electrical appliances, but she is not one, the reason why electrical appliances are vulnerable to water is because water is an electrical conductor, not the other way around.
    • Why does it work against Electro? DCAU Livewire probably isn't an electric "elemental" like most versions; rather she likely still has to conduct the electricity through her own body. Water probably interferes with her ability to do so. In essence her entire body is an electrical appliance.
  • In this video from "The Main Man" Clark confesses his secret identity using a shield of sarcasm to troll Lois. Fair enough, but he uses the phrase "pretend to be a journalist." Huh? Clark is a journalist. He went to school and earned his credentials. Bending the rules with Superman powers once in awhile doesn't mean he's a complete fake, does it?
    • That was part of the trolling and sarcasm.
    • I think he meant "pretending to be nothing more than an ordinary journalist", and the rest was just implied.
  • Why exactly would Bizarro's cells breaking down also cause his costume to change to a darker shade and his "S"-shield to distort?
    • Best answer I can come up with off the top of my head (purely in a "even I don't buy it, but if the creators wanted an outlandish yet vaguely possible Hand Wave" sense) is that this ties into the "invulnerability aura" that Superman has. The genetic breakdown warped the aura, which then warped the chemical makeup of his costume. Although this only covers the base color of the cloth, not the S-shield.
  • In World's Finest, Batman practically threatens Superman, holding a small Kryptonite fragment near him and saying something along the lines of "It doesn't take a lot, does it?". Then he... hands its over to Superman by leaving it there. Um, what!? Why would Batman let go of the only piece of Kryptonite he has for no reason!? That sounds like a rather foolish and out of character thing to do for the master of preparation. You would expect him to hold onto it so that he has a way of fighting back in case Superman ever goes rogue (which ends up happening in Legacy), or the Earth gets attacked by evil Kryptonians (which had already happening in Blasts from the Past, and came close to happening again later). I know he was there to warn Superman about the Joker being after him and having Kryptonite in his hands, but that doesn't mean that he had to hand over his piece of Kryptonite, or even let Superman know that he had it.
    • Is there any reason to believe that is all Batman has available and not all he has physically on him? In the DCAU Kryptonite seems to be just rare enough to keep common thugs from getting their hands on it but common enough that no matter how many times they shatter the hunk powering Metallo someone (presumably Lex) is able to get another chunk by the time anybody cares. In the case of a Rogue Superman or evil Kryptonians Batman does know where Lex and Metallo are at any given time and DCAU's Supes is not movie or comic book Superman. He's not going to No Sell a combo like Lex Luthor and Batman.
      • Kryptonite is a limited resource, not having originated on Earth. There is no telling when they will run out of it. For all Batman knew, Luthor could have gotten his hands on all samples by the time he (Batman) decides to get ahold of one. And given Batman's character, he wouldn't want to have to depend on Luthor. The only logical thing to do would be securing some pieces while he can, and not when the need for it arises.
      • It could be a way to avoid Superman to follow him. If he takes the kryptonite with him then Superman recovers completely, if he left the kryptonite there Superman will remain weakened for a while.
    • Also from World's Finest, how did the Joker know about Luthor's antagonism with Superman? Luthor is always going out of his way to keep these things under the wraps. Not even Batman seemed to know about it!
      • Luthor has a history of dirty dealings (for instance, the illegal weapon sale that led to his first run-in with Superman was apparently a bit of routine business for him). He'd be known as a player to the criminal underworld, even if nobody's been able to pin anything on him. The Joker could assume that Lex would be interested in a plan to get Supes out of his hair, so to speak.
  • When Superman warned Lana about Luthor, why didn't he tell her that he knows from firsthand experience that he's a corrupt businessman and a murderer? Instead, all he said is that he thinks he's selling weapons to an arms dealer, making it sound like he has, at worst, unverified suspicions about Luthor.
  • If the ship that took baby Kal-El to Earth was designed to transport a Kryptonian and Phantom Zone projector, why didn't Jor-El put his whole family on the Phantom Zone and use the ship himself, then release them once he arrived on Earth?
    • Because that would put them at the nonexistent mercy of the criminals in the Phantom Zone.
      • As stated above, people have no physical form in the Phantom Zone, so they can't harm each other.
  • What was the show's logic behind featuring Jax-Ur only to turn him into a 100% General Zod clone as opposed to just using Zod, like nearly every Superman continuity to feature evil Kryptonians?
    • Copyright probably.
      • Doubtful. Zod originated in the comics, and there wasn't any movie or show being produced concurrently that featured him, so DC should have had the full rights to him.
      • DC but Warner Bros? Who knows, things were tricky back then.
  • In Blasts from the Past Part 1, how did Professor Hamilton not notice when Mala was lifting him by his foot!?
  • In The Hand of Fate, if that stone tablet was created to imprison Karkull, why did they write the words that would release him on it?
  • In Father's Day, what did Desaad and Darkseid mean by the latter sacrificing Kalibak? He's still alive after that episode.
  • In World's Finest, why did Lois get so mad at Supes for leaving to stop some bank robbers at the beginning of the episode that she lost all interest in him? That was his job and was pretty much the only thing he could do; as Lois herself said, people might get hurt if he didn't stop them.
  • Is it just me or Luthor's behavior in A Fish Story makes no sense? Aquaman goes to Luthor on behalf of Atlantis to demand that he stops using the sea as testing grounds for explosives, so Luthor deals with the problem by capturing him. Um, what? Did he expect Atlantis to forget about Luthor and move on because he took away their king?

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