YMMV: Superman

Franchise

  • Archive Panic: As one of the most enduring and popular characters in fiction, this is to be expected.
  • Broken Base: After Superman Returns, the fans were deeply divided over whether the next film (if there was to be one) should be a sequel to said film or a reboot. This culminated with Man of Steel which some fans viewed as a betrayal for going in a Darker and Edgier direction, while other fans thought the film was the modernization the hero needed.
    • Naturally this happened with the New 52 reboot as well. Some fans didn't like the body armor (because why does an invulnerable man need body armor?), the increased aggressiveness and rebelliousness, the slightly odd "collar" design and of course the fact that he no longer wears his red trunks on the outside. Other fans think of it as a "modernization" of the character, and in fact appreciate the removal of the trunks, feeling these had become cheesy by this point.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Who's the best Superman? Christopher Reeve? George Reeves? Dean Cain? Tim Daly? George Newbern? Tom Welling? Henry Cavill? Fans fight endlessly over this.
    • Superman fans vs. Goku fans. The later thinks that Superman is an overpowered bore, while boasting about how Goku could defeat him, while the former thinks that Goku is an idiot that couldn't out strategize a brick.
    • Superman fans vs. Batman fans. The latter thinks Superman is an overpowered, boring one-dimensional goody two shoes and his fans are children with a lack of understanding of the world. The former thinks that Batman is an overrated, wangsty, ineffective man-child of a Creator's Pet and that most of his fans are biased, overly-cynical jackasses that don't actually read comics.
  • Friendly Fandoms: With almost every other DC Comics fandom! Especially Shazam and Wonder Woman fans.
    • Superman fans and Spider-Man fans tend get along well, despite the whole DC vs Marvel thing, perhaps because the two heroes are so similar that you can't really like one and hate the other. Doesn't hurt that the two have had three crossovers to themselves and two company wide crossovers where they both appeared. The two fandoms became the other's sole confidant when the two franchises started facing the same problems. I guess capes gotta look out for each other.
  • God-Mode Sue: Superman sometimes gets treated as this from fans (both dedicated and casual), but in canon, he is far from being a flawless character. (Bad) writers often think he suffers from this, and have stories in which he is Brought Down to Normal and goes through a Humiliation Conga.

Comics

  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: Subverted. Superboy-Prime's apparent demise in Blackest Night elicited this response, but it was undone barely a year after and he was just as bad as ever.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: The debate has raged for years over who is the real personality, Superman or Clark Kent?
    • Pre-Crisis Superman was very much the dominant personality, with Clark Kent as mask he puts on in order to "hide." He noticeably wasn't very committed to it, as the Clark Kenting trope is quick to point out, and several times tried to just give up on the persona and be Superman 24/7
    • The idea that Superman was the dominant personality was theorized by Jules Feiffer, whose words were paraphrased by Bill the Snakecharmer in Kill Bill Vol 2.
      • While that was the case in The Silver Age of Comic Books, several Bronze Age stories, most notably the "Mr. Xavier Saga" (no relation), came to the conclusion that he valued both identities equally, and felt miserable and stressed whenever he was forced to neglect either for an extended period of time. Without Clark, he had no way to ever relax; and without Superman, he couldn't help people in danger.note .
      • One good story involved a pair of gambling aliens separating Clark and Superman. All that happened was that there were two Supermen, and that when one of them was Clark the other felt compelled to be Superman, and vice versa.
    • Michael Fleischer once suggested that if Krypton had not exploded and Kal-El had grown up there, he might have been so overshadowed by his brilliant father that he might have been more like shy, mild-mannered Clark.
    • Post-Crisis is the opposite, Clark is the dominant personality with no knowledge or memories of Krypton until well into his adult years and after he started operating as a super hero. This means that Clark comes off as a far more assertive and aggressive person than the Pre-Crisis "wimp." This makes Superman come off as stiff and artificial because, as Clark puts it, "Clark is who I am, Superman is what I can do."
      • To a certain extent this is how George Reeves played Clark. He was easygoing, but could be assertive if there was an emergency. There were times when Reeves' Clark seemed to forget he wasn't supposed to be Superman.
    • Modern writers now suggest that there are actually three personalities; the first is Clark at home, who is a decent, normal guy like any other. Then there is Clark at the Daily Planet, still a nice guy if occasionally clumsy and a little goofy, likes to play things safe but also an ace reporter and Deadpan Snarker par excellence. Finally there is Superman, who is every inch The Cape and honestly believes in Truth and Justice, almost to a fault. He sees Krypton as his birthright, but not his home and tries to bring the best of that society to Earth while trying to steer away from its shortcomings.
      • It has been implied that, similarly, there are three personalities; Clark Kent, the mild mannered, calm and somewhat geeky dude. Superman, the superhero, who fights for Justice and Freedom and wants to inspire the world to be good. And Kal-El, a merge of both personalities and who he really is for those who are closest to him.
    • Superman is typically portrayed as an eager hero, happy to save everyone else. Five For Fighting's song about him, also called "Superman," portrays him as "a man in a silly red sheet" who's aware that he's not as special or heroic as everyone else thinks he is, and who struggles under the pressure of being the person everyone looks up to.
    • More importantly, Superman was originally a hard-nosed bruiser who went after not just criminals, but businessmen and lawmakers who he perceived as screwing people over.
    • Is Clark Kent an exaggerated disguise Superman takes to fake everyone out? Or is Superman a projection of Clark's desire to help others? Or, does Kal-El struggle to balance the nerdy reporter with the macho crimefighter? Before 1986, the answer was clearly the former, but between that point and about 2003, it was the later. From that point forward, it's been somewhat opened to interpretation, but in 2011, the New 52 pretty much got rid of the exaggerated nerd angle once again.
      • This is NOT counting appearances in film, western animation or live-action TV, but only comic books. For the record, the exaggerated nerd appeared in most cinematic interpretations, but not Man of Steel or Superman & the Mole Men whereas of the four live-action shows, he only played the exaggerated nerd in Superboy. Animation has tended to follow whatever interpretation the comics were going with at the time.
      • What is interesting is that the Golden Age Batman had Batman being the mask Bruce Wayne wore, while Clark Kent was the mask Superman wore. Now, it's reversed - Bruce is the mask that Batman wears, while Superman is the mask Clark wears.
    • The writer of The Screamsheet has had a love/hate relationship with Superman over many years, resulting in a number of different interpretations, from a cynical dick to a desperate outcast wanting acceptance to a straight-up awesome guy.
    • Cracked has pointed out that for a person who is fighting for truth among other things, he has chosen a way of living with separate identities that is not only inconvenient but involves a lot of lying to some of the people that are closest to him. Does he have a psychological need for being not only the next-to-invincible alien but also a regular human?
    • Consider Mr Mxyzptlk. Is he merely a Jerkass Reality Warper who tests the Man of Steel's patience, or a more benevolent Trickster encouraging Superman to use his brain and to think and use his powers in unconventional ways? He may well be a big Superman fan who loves seeing what he can do!
    • Superboy Prime: An Omnicidal Maniac who destroys anything he doesn't like, or a kid who's been given incredible power and thrust into a situation he was in no way ready to handle? Or a deliberate parody designed to screw with the fans heads with lines like "I'll kill you to death!" Or maybe he's just dumb?
      • Fanwank personified?
      • Incidentally, are his lines really that stupid? Could you do better after having the equivalent of a nuke explode in your face? Or would you also scream the first thing that came to your mind, even if it made no sense?
      • Superboy-Prime is us. That's all. People on all of the other earths are just different from people on Earth-Prime. When someone on New Earth or somewhere gets random superpowers, they run around, fight evil, and make more or less the right decisions for the big picture. Because of their superpowers, they are essentially good people. There are another caste, supervillains, that have excuses such as Well-Intentioned Extremist or insanity. Whatever their reason, they are evil. Permanent Heel Face Turns are uncommon. But what happens when you give a normal, Earth Prime kid the powers of a god? Consult your psychology textbook: He doesn't know what to do with himself. He has problems, he makes stupid decisions thinking they're the right ones, and he says random things in the middle of a fight. Other superheroes have no problem making big flowery speeches beating somebody up. Other superheroes will be able to make the right decision. Supervillains will always know what they want. But Superboy Prime? He just wants to go home.
      • Another way of looking at Superboy-Prime: He grew up in a world where all these people were fictional characters. Deep down, he still doesn't see them as real. If he kills them all and then creates a world where he didn't, he hasn't really killed anyone, any more than Geoff Johns has. To him, the whole thing is no different from playing Grand Theft Auto, he's not killing anyone because nobody's really alive. And so long as nobody's getting hurt, isn't it much more fun to play the villain than the hero? After all, Evil Is Cool.
      • Maybe he never killed anyone. No really, in the real world (Earth-Prime) it's been implied that the DC team controls everything! So who's to say that they couldn't just write everything Superboy's done away? If they wanted to, they could simply teleport him back here, bring back everyone he killed and reset the mind of all the DC characters that hate him. Prime's not even the real threat to DC, it's the Writers.
      • In fact several of the people he's killed have come back since then. Given that he's seen the do that time and again from his prison, it's possible he's at least subconsciously aware none of his victims will stay dead forever.
    • Lex Luthor: Pure evil? A hero striving to show the human race that it has some worth when set against the impossible, unreachable ideal that is Superman, rejecting no act that would prove his point as worth it to the greater good? A tragic figure who's actions are ruled by obsession based in deep insecurities unearthed by Superman's mere presence? A titan of industry and politics driven mad by a world that truly can't appreciate his genius nor see the threat Superman poses? A petty dick who'll stoop to any level of crime, including stealing forty cakes, which is as many as four tens And That's Terrible?
  • Ass Pull: Silver Age Superman stories were notorious for coming up with convenient new powers for the main character all the time.
    • Superman had pure kryptonite injected into his veins, yet was still able to overpower a villain who had been a match for him even when he was healthy.
  • Audience Awareness Advantage: Probably the ultimate example of this, and has been for decades (since the Silver Age at the least). For instance, a remarkable number of criminals seemed to not only know that Superman was weakened by Kryptonite, but exactly what each color of Kryptonite would do... even if it was that color of Kryptonite's first time showing up. Because everyone knows Superman is hurt by Kryptonite! But even more than that is the whole "people don't know Clark Kent is Superman wearing glasses" deal. Again, having gotten blatant enough that even characters in-universe who are in on the secret have mocked others for not getting it. And the number of times "Clark Kent and Superman are never in the same place together!" is used as evidence is almost appalling - though that was solved in the late Silver Age by Supes having Superman robots, while post-Crisis, a few times Clark and Superman appeared together and it was established they were besties. (In The Death of Superman, for example, Matrix Supergirl posed as Clark when he was "rescued".)
  • Base Breaker: Lex Luthor: Competent antagonist who provides an interesting Evil Brains contrast to Superman's Good Brawn, or weakling that the writers make too big of a deal over purely out of the Grandfather Clause?
    • Lois Lane - awesome woman by way of her guts and intelligence, or an annoying pain in the ass Designated Love Interest?
    • Naturally, the changes made to Superman in the New 52 have divided fans, from the changes to his costume to some differences in his personality to the fact that he's dating Wonder Woman instead of his usual default love interest Lois Lane.
  • Captain Obvious Aesop: This article mocks Superman: Grounded for this, pointing out that Superman appears to be making the statement that drug dealers and child abuse are bad and treating it as though it's some radical new idea.
  • Complete Monster: As a Long Runner, Superman has a sizable Rogues Gallery. These, however, stand out.
    • Brainiac has counted since his first appearances in the 1960s. When you force Silver Age Superman, perhaps DC's ultimate boy scout, to resort to lethal force, you know you are a monster. His crimes over the years have ranged from shrinking cities and planets for his private collection, to coldly slaughtering thousands in a quest to destroy the "Master Programmer" and become God, to brainjacking Luthor, leading to the deaths of Lex, Lana Lang, and Jimmy Olsen in Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow?. And that's just Pre-Crisis. Since then, he has fed on human spinal fluid, possessed countless victims and destroyed their minds in the process, exploited the Imperiex War in an attempt to rewrite the fabric of the universe, tried to destroy New Krypton, and, most recently, gone in for planetary destruction and city collection in a big way. He has never shown any remorse, his presence in a story inevitably signals that the bodycount is about to rise, and he has been a genuine physical threat to Superman since the early days when his Deflector Shields made him untouchable.
    • The Bronze Age incarnation of Galactic Conqueror Mongul was a deeply nasty piece of work, particularly given the time period. In his first appearance, he kidnapped Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Steve Lombard in order to blackmail Superman into giving him the keys to Warworld, then tries to kill both Superman and Supergirl with the weapon. He later traveled to Prince Gavyn (one of the Starmen)'s homeworld, murdered Gavyn's sister, and tried to force Gavyn's girlfriend into marrying him so that he might take over the planet. Beaten by Gavyn and Superman, he seized control of a Sun-Eater and unleashed it on Earth's solar system, seeking to wipe out all human life. It was in his last appearance, however, in the iconic For the Man Who Has Everything storyline that Mongul showed just how low he could sink. Ambushing Superman on his birthday, Mongul trapped him in a fantasy world, from which Superman could only escape by sacrificing his heart's desire; in Mongul's own words "It must have been like tearing off your own arm." While Superman is occupied with this, Mongul tries to beat Wonder Woman to death, while gloating about how women are too weak to stop him. Eventually trapped by the same weapon he had used on Superman, Mongul dreams of a galaxy awash in bloodshed, with himself seated on a throne, orchestrating it all.
    • The first Post-Crisis version of General Dru-Zod was from a Pocket Universe. Manipulating Lex Luthor into freeing him and his allies Quex-Ul and Zaora, the three take over Earth. When Luthor leads a resistance, the three basically wipe out all humanity on Earth. After New Earth’s Superman depowers Zod and his allies, they vow to find a way to his universe to slaughter everyone on his Earth as well, causing Superman, in a rare occurrence, to kill them.
    • Of all the Evil Counterparts Superman has had over the years, Superboy-Prime is easily the most repulsive one. While the reader could at first sympathize with him a little, since he lost his homeworld, it quickly becomes clear that he is nothing more than a selfish, immoral and absolutely ruthless sociopath who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Throughout his numerous appearances, he has done nothing less than killing and crippling several Teen Titans (Superboy among them), massacring countless alternate Supermen and blowing up their Homeworlds, because he saw them as inferior to him, killing his own girlfriend because she was repulsed by him and much more. His most common excuse is that his victims brought it upon themselves. In Blackest Night, it seemed like he wanted to redeem himself, but he promptly threw his chance out of the window in his next appearance, when he tried to attack the Titans again.
    • Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey: Bertron, an alien Mad Scientist, was obsessed with creating the so-called "ultimate lifeform." Every day he exposed a newly cloned child to the harsh environment of prehistoric Krypton; when the child died, Bertron would incorporate its memories into the next child, which would be exposed the following day. Bertron continued this process across the course of his lifetime, slaughtering, in his own words, "thousands upon thousands" of children in an effort to achieve the result he wanted. The creature he finally created was, unsurprisingly, completely insane, and sought to destroy everything it encountered, butchering all the life on ancient Krypton, including Bertron himself, before moving onto the rest of the galaxy. Its name was Doomsday, and in it, all of Bertron's malice and Lack of Empathy would live on, devastating all that it encountered.
  • Crazy Awesome: Silver Age Superman is so ridiculously powerful, that he can literally juggle planets with his pinky finger, travel back in time with all the effort of going on a Sunday drive, and invent and acquire crazy abilities whenever needed, such as the ability to shoot a miniature version of himself out of a rainbow from his hand!
    • That time Bizarro managed to assemble an army of Supergirls from across the multiverse.
    • Vartox
  • Creepy Awesome: Metallo, whenever writers and artists play up his mechanical nature.
    • Parasite.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome: Superman's Shut Up, Hannibal! to Manchester Black: "Dreams save us. Dreams lift us up and transform us. And on my soul, I swear... until my dream of a world where dignity, honor and justice becomes the reality we all share - I'll never stop fighting. Ever."
    • Meta-example - The Superman radio show fought the resurrection of the Ku Klux Klan. And defeated the real one's attempted post-War revival.
  • Crowning Moment Of Funny: Yellow Lantern.
    • And Pink Kryptonite. Lookin' pretty hot there, Jimmy.
  • Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: Considering Superman's idealistic nature, he's prone to causing a whole lot... but let's face it, one of the biggest one has got to be the Kents' discovery and adoption of the infant Kal-El, regardless of the version of it.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Superman has inspired a lot of great music over the years. The original march in the Kirk Alyn serials count as this trope, as does the more famous John Williams theme from the Christopher Reeve movies. The song "Save Me" by Remy Zero ended up getting immortalized and remembered as this trope after it was chosen to be the theme song for Smallville. And perhaps the most famous use of this trope as applied to Superman is 3 Doors Down's career-making rock single "Kryptonite."
    • Either that or Five for Fighting's "Superman".
    • Or Daughtry's "Waiting for Superman".
  • Damsel Scrappy: This is the characteristic once strongly associated with Lois Lane. Ironically, it can be argued that Lois' role as a Damsel in Distress was far more important to the Superman plot than her role as a love interest, Depending on the Writer. In the 1940's, she did need to be rescued a lot (usually while pursuing a news story), but was fairly intelligent and could sometimes get herself out of scrapes by kicking ass and taking names. Once the 50's, 60's and early 70's came around though... Yeesh. She was an empty headed twerp who was constantly putting herself in danger for no reason, and whose sole goal in life was to trick Superman into marrying her. She took Too Dumb to Live to uncharted levels. In recent comics and other media she's a much more well rounded and developed character, who is extremely competent and able to take care of herself. She still needs to be rescued sometimes, and the trope may pop up occasionally, but for the most part she's a very independent, intrepid and intelligent reporter who just needs a little help against super powered aggressors from time to time.
    • The sixties-era book Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane seemed dedicated to making sure every single reader hated poor Lois. If you Google around, you'll find scans of multiple letters columns where readers asked for Superman to spank Lois (which would in fact occur, though in the context of Super Dickery). A few may have had other motives than scrappyhood, though.
    • Even when there's neither any Super Villain's ill will nor a big scoop one jump away from her window, she can be trusted to find something dangerous. Letters on the label are bigger than her eyes, so... they just don't fit in, right?
    • Starting late in The '70s comics, Lois was written to be more assertive to avert this trope, and needed rescuing much less often, including in her solo stories in The Superman Family. This included Lois having mastered a Kryptonian form of martial arts named "klurkor."
    • Being associated with this trope is probably what spurred John Byrne, in his Post-Crisis retelling of Superman's origin, to make it very, very obvious that Lois was now an Action Girl. This eventually led to an Inversion immediately after her wedding to Clark when he was kidnapped after temporarily losing his powers. Lois took her Army brat background to extremes, becoming a G. I. Jane in order to come to the rescue.
  • Dork Age: Superman is now more than 75 years old. Everyone has one period they consider a Dork Age. The most common candidates, however, are:
    • Superman transforming into an electrical being, then splitting into Red and Blue Superman, in the 90s. (This odd development was in fact a take on a 50s "imaginary story" with a similar concept.)
    • Superman: Grounded, J. Michael Straczynski's half-aborted run on the main title which involved Superman walking across America "to rediscover the country" was so critically derided that it was called the worst comic of the year.
    • The "New 52" version has its detractors, mainly due to a relatively radical costume redesign and a perceived attempt to make Superman Darker and Edgier.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Lex Luthor's humanistic rhetoric can be convincing enough that some fans forget that he rarely ever actually means it.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Lots over the years:
    • Bizarro. Only appears every once in a while and rarely plays a major role in the story, but beloved for his goofy and lovable personality, plus his at-times legitimately tragic nature.
    • Mr. Mxyzptlk, mainly for always being really funny whenever he shows up.
    • Krypto the Superdog. Cheesy maybe, but the dog is so brave, loyal, and just plain fun that he'll always be a welcome part of the Superfamily.
  • Escapist Character: Superman.
  • Evil Is Cool: Lex Luthor, Metallo, General Zod, and plenty of others.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Both the Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis versions of the villainous Ultraman. The Pre-Crisis version wore a blue bodystocking with huge spiked shoulderpads, and the Post-Crisis version is wearing pajamas with weird circular bubbles on the belly. The New 52 versions avoids this by wearing an outfit almost identical to Supermna's.
  • Foe Yay: With guess who... and Lois. Doesn't help that he has the same initials as all of Clark's major love interests. Though technically he's Alexander Luthor.
  • Fridge Logic: How the hell is Superman vulnerable to his own planet?
    • We are also vulnerable to portions of our own planet that are radioactive.
      • Between Crisis on Infinite Earths and The New 52, it was established that part of the process of Krypton going BOOM was internal chemo-nuclear reactions resulting in the formation of Kryptonite. The natives called it the Green Plague. The New 52's take on it has yet to be revealed.
    • Kryptonite has been subject to so much Fridge Logic over the years (like how you can just about buy it on any street corner on earth by now, etc..) that it's best to mutter Bellisario's Maxim and move on...
    • Symbolism-He's an immigrant to America, kryptonite is the old country.
    • Sometimes (most notably, its first Post-Crisis appearance), kryptonite very painfully drains the solar energy from Superman's cells, hence why it weakens him as well as hurts him, and also why it glows. Of course, how this works opens up a whole new can of Fridge Logic.
  • God-Mode Sue: Superman has been seen as this by some, especially in this Death Battle video.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In one old Silver Age comic (see It Only Works Once), Superman burns out a part of Jimmy Olsen's brain after he discovers his secret identity. After Irredeemable, where Superman Expy the Plutonian lobotomizes his sidekick Samsara, it's a lot more disturbing.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In a letter at Superman: Man of Tomorrow #3 a couple of readers said that it would be cool, if Lex Luthor killed Superman and took over his titles, like Action Comics. What do you know, fifteen years later the second part of their wish came true. And it was awesome.
    • Superdickery was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek interpretation of Superman being a jerk. While that's not the case in the Silver Age comics that are frequently targeted by the site, in the early comics, Superman was kind of a jerk (or at least much more aggressive than how he became later).
  • Ho Yay: His comments about how Jimmy looked in a bow-tie were not subtle. This is arguably a variation on Kissing Under the Influence since he had just been exposed to pink Kryptonite. This was also a spoof of the Silver Age, where that sort of Ho Yay happened all the time.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Lex Luthor and Metallo, both Depending on the Writer.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Lex Luthor, who has been DC's go-to guy for Magnificent Bastardry from the word "go". It doesn't matter whether he's a Diabolical Mastermind, a Mad Scientist, a Corrupt Corporate Executive, a President Evil, or any combination thereof, Luthor stands at the top of DC's villainous hierarchy because of his ability to outmanouvere, outplan, and outfight anybody else who might want the job. As someone once remarked, other villains might fear The Joker, but they want to be Lex Luthor. To see him at his best check out Last Son, New Krypton, The Black Ring, and of course, Lex Luthor: Man of Steel.
    • General Zod achieves this status during New Krypton, going toe-to-toe with Luthor and Brainiac (who would qualify for this trope, were it not for his utter monstrousness) in the MB Olympics and matching them play for play. Every move that Alura, Superman, Luthor, General Lane, and Brainiac make only further cements Zod's position, and brings the two sides closer to war, and while that's what Luthor and Lane want, it ends up backfiring on them horribly when it turns out they cannot take Zod in open warfare.
  • Memetic Mutation: Lex Luthor stole forty cakes. And That's Terrible.
    • Pre-internet memes from Superman include:
      • Kryptonite, as a object/substance/etc. that forms the fatal weakness of someone. Similar to an Achilles' heel, but that's more Attack Its Weak Point.
      • Superheroes wearing their underwear on the outside.
      • Clark Kenting, keeping a Secret Identity through a disguise that's not even paper thin.
      • The terms "superpowers" and "superhero". Before Superman, they were "mystery men" who had "extra-normal abilities" or similar terms. Superman introduced the all-purpose "super" prefix.
      • "It's a bird! It's a plane!" And it's variation "Is it a bird? Is it a plane?".
      Is it a bird? Noooo! Is it a plane? Noooo! Oh my gosh, it's Mighty Mouse! - Actual pow-wow song by the Black Lodge Singers.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In every one of his appearances, Superboy-Prime ends up finding new and horrific ways to become more and more of a Complete Monster.
  • My Real Daddy: Many of DC's own staff will point to Mort Weisinger as being this for Superman, as it was his direction as editor that expanded Superman beyond being a guy who could lift cars, jump high, and run fast into the super-powerful Flying Brick fighting other evil super-powerful aliens, as well as turning Lex Luthor into the implausibly intelligent Mad Scientist.
  • Narm Charm: Powered by this. It's a super-powerful Human Alien fighting monsters, robots, and supervillains with help from a newspaper team, a superpowered dog, two other Human Aliens, and sometimes a mad scientist. And yet none of this craziness prevents the comic from telling stories with gripping pathos and heart.
  • Newer Than They Think: Lex Luthor. Many villains of a certain type - Corrupt Corporate Executive Karma Houdini Magnificent Bastards, generally bald - have been described as Lex Luthor Expys on this site. Norman Osborn and Obadiah Stane, for example. However, Luthor was only a Corrupt Corporate Executive Karma Houdini after the Crisis in 1986. For most of the character's history he was a Mad Scientist driven to criminality by his hatred of Superman rather than the other way around. If anything, he is an Expy of the Green Goblin rather than the other way around.
    • Stane is an odd example; he predates Corporate Lex by a couple of years, but physically the comic book Stane is Lex's identical twin, the only difference being he is slightly taller and doesn't have green eyes. Just look. Even more bizarrelly, 80's corporate Lex was the spitting image of The Kingpin.
    • Siegel and Shuster's original proto-Superman character was a bald villain with Psychic Powers.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The Alternate Zod's genocide of the entire planet at the end of John Byrne's run. We only see bits of it in flashback, but it's just as horrific as one can imagine.
  • Nightmare Retardant: Anytime an artist uses Parasite's purple, but largely human-looking Pre-Crisis design. It's just not as scary as his later designs, and makes the character look like a loser in a purple suit, rather than a terrifying Humanoid Abomination.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Sadly one of the biggest examples of this trope. Aside from the various fighting games he's appeared in, virtually none of the games starring Superman has been considered better than So Okay, It's Average. Superman 64 is even considered one of the worst video games of all time, with the NES Superman game being considered almost as bad.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: Between Superman/Lois fans and Superman/Wonder Woman fans.
  • Shipping Bed Death: Inverted. Clark/Lois is far and away the most popular couple in the comic book medium. By the 80's, fans were tired of the Clark/Lois/Superman triangle and just wanted Clark and Lois to be in an actual relationship. They were Happily Married until the New 52.
  • The Scrappy: Jimmy Olsen, depending on the era and writer. Mainly because he has a tendency to turn into an annoying Artifact whenever the writers don't actually have need of him.
  • The Woobie: Superman himself.
    • Iron Woobie: The New 52 emphasizes Superman's alien nature. Clark has lost both his parents and is a Hero with Bad Publicity at the start of his career. And yet he is always committed to be the best hero he can be, hanging onto the happy memories he had with the Kents.
    • Stoic Woobie: When Lois at one point breaks off their engagement and returns his ring (with fair cause; marrying Supes is a daunting prospect for a dozen reasons), a brokenhearted Superman flies out to the middle of the Atlantic to try to calm down. There he bumps into Lori Lemaris of Atlantis, his ex-girlfriend, and confides in her how frustrating it is that he's the only man in the world who can never allow himself to get angry. He chucks the ring miles over the horizon. Then Lori asks, "Wasn't that Ma Kent's engagement ring?" Supes realizes she's right and bolts off over the horizon to retrieve it.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Superman in the Action Comics comic Muscles For Money. Sure he was being a jerk, but his argument that he deserves a reward for all his good deeds does have merit.
    • Superboy Prime may be insane, but he's not far off when he says that superheroes have gotten too dark for their own good.
    • Lex Luthor may be pure evil (and a bigot) but some of his criticisms about humanity putting its collective faith in the godlike alien that is Superman are not entirely unreasonable.
  • Tear Jerker: The Death and Return of Superman arc. Especially having to do with his parents is almost hard to read.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Mr. Mxyzptlk. In-universe most of the cast thinks he's an annoying little snit. Out-of-universe he's one of Superman's most endearing and well-known enemies.

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