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Kal-El / Clark Joseph Kent / Superman
"It's not an 'S'. On my world, it means 'hope'."
Click here to see him in the black suit
Click here to see Clark Kent

Species: Kryptonian

Citizenship: Kryptonian, American

Affiliation(s): House of El, Daily Planet, Justice League

Portrayed By: Henry Cavill, Cooper Timberline (age 8), Dylan Sprayberry (age 13), Ryan Handley (SHAZAM!), Brad Abramenko (Peacemaker)

Voiced By: Edson Matus (Latin-American Spanish), Guillermo Romero (European Spanish), Takanori Hoshino (Japanese), Adrien Antoine (European French), Patrice Dubois (Canadian French), Guilherme Briggs (Brazilian Portuguese)

Film Appearances: Man of Steel | Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice | Justice League | SHAZAM! | Zack Snyder's Justice League | Black Adam | The Flash

Appearances in Other Media: Man of Steel Prequel | Metropolis Turkish Airlines TV Spot | Peacemaker

"You're scared of me because you can't control me. You don't, and you never will. But that doesn't mean I'm your enemy."

Shortly after his birth, Kal-El was sent to Earth to escape the destruction of his birth world, Krypton. He is the biological son of Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van, the first naturally-born Kryptonian in centuries, and was adopted and raised on Earth by an American couple, Jonathan and Martha Kent, who named him "Clark".

After learning of his heritage, battling his own kind to save his world of adoption as well as overcoming his inner doubts, a sinister conspiracy against him and even death, he decided to become a protector for mankind.

This was capped off when he joined the Justice League and helped repel an Apokoliptian invasion of Earth.

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  • The Ace: In Justice League, he gets this treatment posthumously as well as once he's back in the climax.
  • Action Hero: While previous live-action versions of Superman were not lacking in the action department, they mostly used their powers to save people and prevent disasters. This Superman finally gets to show how powerful he can be in a straight-up fight against characters of equal strength in modern live action movies. He has saved the Earth three times and counting.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: From having a much less happy backstory (including growing insecure due to having to conceal his powers as much as he could and facing accusations after the battle of Metropolis — which are for a large part a conspiracy against him orchestrated by Lex Luthor), this Superman is much less of a cheerful boy scout than other versions. It's all gone in both versions of Justice League, in which he has become much more upbeat after his resurrection.
  • Adaptation Personality Change:
    • Because he constantly suppresses his super senses and facing bad publicity in spite of his best efforts, this Superman is a lot more serious than other versions. By contrast, his Clark Kent persona, while indeed a serious and hard-hitting reporter, is more lighthearted especially in his scenes with Lois (when Clark smiles his whole face lights up in an adorkable grin). He seems to need that switch in order to keep himself from giving in to his despair and isolation when great doubt is publicly cast on his actions in Batman v Superman.
    • He shifts into his more mainstream demeanor after resurrecting and realizing he's not alone anymore, though not without experiencing a psychotic episode beforehand.
    • He's also more confident and serious in his civilian persona in contrast to the bumbling and nervous personality he usually adopts, even having the courage to call Perry out on his refusal to run stories about Batman. This is something it would be almost impossible to imagine Christopher Reeve's Clark doing.
  • Adaptational Seriousness: This version of Superman is way less lighthearted and humorous than other Interpretations of the character.
  • Age Lift: In the comics, Clark is anywhere between 22 and 25 when he first becomes Superman and a lot of his Justice League teammates are around the same age and start their careers around the same time, too. Here, Clark is 33 when he becomes Superman, and while around the same age as Aquaman, he's older than Flash and Cyborg, but younger than Batman and Wonder Woman. Also he's six years younger than Lois, while in the comics they are either the same age or one is only a few years older than the other.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: He was bullied a lot while growing up because his Super-Senses tended to leave him freaking out and made him the "weird kid."
  • All-Loving Hero: Downplayed compared to most versions, but it should be noted that Clark saved his childhood bully from drowning, cried over having to kill Zod (who had previously sworn to kill all humans), stood up for criminals whose lives were indirectly taken by Batman's "one man reign of terror" and even rescued Lex Luthor (whom, mind you, ruined his reputation, kidnapped and nearly killed his mother, nearly killed his girlfriend and blackmailed him to murder a human) from Doomsday's fist. Not to mention the many times where he's willing to sacrifice himself to save the entire human race regardless of how much pain it brought him. For all of his angst, he's still portrayed as a man whose compassion for others is his main driving force no matter what.
  • Alternate Self: He has counterparts on various Earths as well: a Superman from an Earth where a blonde female cousin eventually joined him, a Superman from an Earth without color, and a Superman who lives elsewhere, as well as in the changed main timeline of the DCEU where a black haired female cousin also exists, and in the alternate future "Knightmare" timeline where he turns villainous.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: A possible way to interpret Superman's new level in cheerfulness in Justice League is that his temporary death erased part of his memories and his time with Lois and Martha allowed him to show more confidence in his superhero duties and life in general. It is likely that Superman is more cheerful than before because he doesn't remember most of his intense pre-Justice League traumas.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Superman shows up in The Stinger of Black Adam after being alerted by Amanda Waller that there's an unstoppable force living in Kahndaq. Whether they'll fight each other or come to a shaky truce is never shown.
  • Animal Motifs: Butterflies. They're featured prominently at his childhood home during moments when Clark is at his most blissful. When he's trying to look intimidating, Superman makes his eyes glow red, similar to how some butterflies can ward off predators by displaying eye-shaped markings on their wings. On two occasions when Clark enters the Kryptonian scout ship, he walks out dressed as Superman and his first flight is portrayed with more spectacle than any other flight scene, in a manner similar to a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. Much like the mythology of butterflies causing natural disasters when they beat their wings, Superman is blamed for the Metropolis invasion until cooler heads prevail. His death and rebirth is also akin to how butterflies are considered a symbol of resurrection or ascendance. Butterflies are traditionally said to be gentle and delicate, very prominent traits of Clark's character. Also, obviously, butterflies fly.
  • Atlas Pose: Does something similar to this pose while holding part of a Soyuz spacecraft over his head.
  • Back from the Dead: He is resurrected in both versions of Justice League with a combination of the Kryptonian Genesis Chamber, a Mother Box, and a Speed Force lightning bolt.
  • Badass Armfold: He calmly folds his arms while telling General Swanwick that he will not allow the military to learn his secret identity in Man of Steel.
  • Badass Cape: So badass that, like the New 52 version, the cape seems to be even more resistant than Superman himself. While he gets bruised and wounded during battles against Zod and his followers, the cape is unscathed. It's also the longest cape out of all Superman incarnations.
  • Badass in Distress: After entering Zod's ship, he gets weakened by the ship's atmosphere and taken prisoner. He escapes with the help of Lois and Jor-El, then saves Lois from crashing on Earth in a failing escape pod.
  • Barrier Maiden: Moreso than even other metahumans, Superman is what's standing between Earth and oblivion across multiple timelines. Superman's death is what reactivates the Mother Boxes and summons Steppenwolf in Zack Snyder's Justice League and in the Bad Future Superman's will is so strong that it resists the Anti-Life Equation, forcing Darkseid to mentally break him by killing Lois. In the alternate timeline of The Flash Kal-El is killed by General Zod as an infant before even arriving at Earth; in his absence Zod successfully terraforms the planet into a new Krypton after overcoming opposition from heroes including Supergirl.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Superman has no problem flying to space, and staying there for long periods of time while not needing to breathe at all.
  • Beard of Sorrow: The usually clean-shaven Clark grows a beard during his years Walking the Earth seeking his purpose in life, before becoming Superman. Arguably, he looks better with it.
  • Being Good Sucks: He gets hit by this trope hard in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. His attempts to do good are mostly met by suspicion and even outright derision. He even goes into temporary exile after Lex bombs the Capitol, realizing that just showing up might be doing more harm than good at that point.
  • Beneath the Mask: As Superman, he seems to really take to playing the aloof-but-benevolent alien diplomat, being very confident and flawlessly composed. Beneath it, as we've seen, he's wracked with indecision and can come off as awkward from restraining himself so much.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: He's an extremely nice guy, but pissing him off isn't a good idea, as seen by the bullying trucker and both Zod and Lex threatening his mother.
  • Big Damn Heroes: As is the norm, Superman gets several moments.
  • Big Good: Jor-El told him that his destiny was to become this for humanity, and he works hard to reach this point in both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Even while he's believed to be dead, his example still inspires Batman and the rest of the Justice League (in both versions of the film).
  • Birds of a Feather: In the theatrical cut of ''Justice League'', he takes a shine to the Flash when he sees that he's also got super-speed. They race each other for fun after saving the world.
  • Blessed with Suck: Growing up in an alien environment, he underwent a painful adaptation process that involved spending years being unable to control the stimuli his senses were exposed to. He could see every layer of everything at all times and he could hear everything all together to the point of having a flip-out and running away from class to hide in a closet. It was paralleled with sensory over-stimulation and reactions of children with autism. Martha eventually coached him in tuning out the excess. A flashback to Clark's childhood deconstructs his super-hearing and X-ray vision, showing how such powers would cause a lot of distress if they were to kick in and would require mental discipline to switch off.
  • Blue Blood: His father was a Kryptonian noble and was their planet's premiere scientist.
  • Blue Is Heroic: Per the norm, he is a Primary-Color Champion but blue is the most prominent color of his superhero costume.
  • Breath Weapon: He gains a frost breath after being revived by the Justice League using a Mother Box, in both versions of Justice League. He uses it to freeze Steppenwolf's Electro Axe in both versions
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": His big red "S" chest insignia is the crest of his Kryptonian family and a symbol representing hope on Krypton, but to humans, it looks like the letter "S", which gives Lois the inspiration for the name "Superman".
  • The Bus Came Back: Henry Cavill's appearance as Superman went on a 5-year hiatus in-between the initial screening of Justice League and Black Adam, with body doubles providing faceless cameos in the interim. The in-universe explanation for his absence is that Bloodsport shot him with a kryptonite bullet that left him in critical condition.
  • The Cameo: He shows up at the final scene of SHAZAM!, but his face is very pointedly not shown on camera, only showing him from the head-down, as he was played by Zachary Levi's stunt double. David F. Sandberg wanted Henry Cavill to appear, but a scheduling conflict prevented him from appearing in the film.
  • Came Back Wrong: Subverted. Both Barry and Arthur are strongly opposed to Batman's plan to revive Clark out of fear of this. Though initially it seems it happened (to the point that he nearly killed Bruce out of revenge), Lois talks him down and after reuniting with his adopted mother, regains his sense of self.
  • Carpet of Virility: Shown during his shirtless scenes.
  • Character Development: Begins as a Classical Anti-Hero who doubts himself a lot secretly despite (originally) putting on the facade of a benevolent-if-aloof alien diplomat who's very confident and well-composed. Though he increasingly becomes The Cape and The Paragon throughout Man of Steel, by Batman v Superman he fits the two roles much better. He fully embraces The Cape in both versions of Justice League, eventually.
  • Character Shilling: In the theatrical cut of ''Justice League''. Batman and Wonder Woman gush over how he was a paragon of hope to the world and with his death, the world has become a darker place, leading Batman to plan his resurrection. Even after he gets off to a rocky start with the rest of the heroes, he easily befriends them and earns their respect. Flash, in particular, is elated to stand alongside Superman and they have a race at the end of the movie. This also happens in the Snyder Cut version as well, but to a much briefer extent.
  • Chest Insignia: His uniform has one shaped like the letter "S", which is the crest of his Kryptonian family and a symbol representing hope on Krypton.
  • Chick Magnet: Thanks to his Samaritan Syndrome, women tend to see Clark as something of a "guardian angel". His handsome features are definitely a plus, as well.
  • Child of Two Worlds: He is one of the most famous examples in fiction. Before escaping from Zod's ship, Jor-El tells him that he wanted Superman to know what it means to be human so that, in time, he could become the bridge between humanity and Kryptoniankind.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Clark can never leave well enough alone, even though it goes against his adoptive father's wishes for prudence. The only time he doesn't jump in is when a tornado engulfs Jonathan, and even then it was only because Jonathan insisted he stand down, despite the consequences for both of them.
  • Civvie Spandex: His suit seems to be some sort of Kryptonian formal wear, either a scout uniform or, considering the ceremonial cape, some kind of diplomatic dress. The "S" symbol is the House of El crest standing for "hope." He wears it unaltered throughout Man of Steel.
  • Clark Kenting:
    • Par for the course in the Superman mythos, being the Trope Namer. Clark is shown disguising himself with nothing but a pair of glasses, as he joins the crew at the Daily Planet in the conclusion to Man of Steel. For the duration of Man of Steel, however, both Superman and Clark are treated as the "real person" wearing different clothes, neither being a disguise. The issue of a disguise persona isn't dealt with until the end of the movie.
    • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice makes this more convincing by showing Clark with a different posture and demeanor (that of an aggressive, somewhat brash Intrepid Reporter to contrast with Superman's Gentle Giant kindness), and having him wearing loose-fitting clothing to hide his Heroic Build.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: Probably the fundamental difference between Man of Steel and previous ones starring the character is that Superman isn't an Ideal Hero yet, being more of this instead. From a young age, Clark has to deal with insecurity about being accepted by the world in spite of his powers. Despite this, he has a sense of duty to use his powers for good so, as an adult, he's unable to settle down in a civilian job for long, since he skips town whenever his cover is blown. This ends when he becomes Superman and finally gets a job at the Daily Planet. Earlier, this leads Clark into an "Uncle Ben" situation: Pa Kent dies to protect his secret and he blames himself for not saving him.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Played with in Man of Steel, where he hasn't become "Superman" yet, and the name is suggested by Lois as a possible alias for him, and later on, it catches on with a few soldiers (though General Swanwick initially seems to find the name a bit silly-sounding). Averted by the time of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where everyone on Earth calls him by that name.
  • Crucified Hero Shot:
    • A shirtless Clark underwater with his arms extended, after the oil rig he's on collapses.
    • On leaving the Kryptonian ship, he floats out through a hole in the wall in this pose.
    • In a pre-Crucifixion example, when Clark is in a church pondering whether he should surrender himself to Zod, a stained glass window of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is prominently in the background.
    • In a post-Crucifixion example mixed with Pietà Plagiarism, the imagery of Batman and Wonder Woman lowering his dead body after the battle with Doomsday with Lois crying at his side is evocative of de-Crucifixion paintings.
    • In Zack Snyder's Justice League, he flies up in space and is shot in this pose in front of the sun.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: He wears a black version of his suit for the climax of Zack Snyder's Justice League, but is just as heroic as ever.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
  • Death Wail: Lets one out after killing Zod. He has another one during his own death, which is picked up by the Motherboxes who alert Steppenwolf to Earth's vulnerability.
  • Destructive Savior: In Man of Steel. Though he's fighting to protect humanity, his battles with Zod's soldiers and later Zod himself cause lots of damage to nearby buildings. Justified in this case, as he's just starting out as a hero and hasn't quite gotten the hang of things yet. note  As of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, he's more careful about what gets damaged in combat. In both versions of Justice League Superman's able to keep his fights with both the League and Steppenwolf contained to a small area.
  • Designer Babies: Averted with a purpose - Kal is the first Kryptonian in centuries to be naturally conceived and birthed, as Jor and Lara believed that Krypton's rigid caste system (reinforced by how Kryptonians were genetically engineered to occupy a certain station) took people's ability to choose their own lives away.
  • Determinator: No matter how outnumbered he is or how much Kryptonite his enemies may have, Superman will never back down. He demonstrates a lot of Heroic Resolve while under the debilitating effects of Kryptonite poisoning, both during his battle with Batman and the subsequent battle with Doomsday.
    Superman: Maybe, but I'm not about to let that stop me from trying.
  • Disney Death:
    • In Man of Steel, he loses consciousness and seems to be dead after destroying the World Engine. Thankfully, the Sun kicks in.
    • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, he has two of them, both in the span of minutes of each other. One is when he gets nuked whilst fighting Doomsday in space. Naturally, the Sun came out. The second time is when he has a near-death experience with Doomsday that leads most people to believe that he's dead. However, some dirt rises around the coffin after his funeral ends, revealing that he is, in fact, alive.
    • In the Snyder cut, he's completely obliterated with the rest of the League sans Barry when the Unity explosion happens. Barry then manages to revert time just enough to undo Steppenwolf's victory and his teammates' deaths.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: As a child, Clark's first understanding of his abilities comes across as a case of sensory overload (a symptom commonly associated with disorders on the autism spectrum, among others). However, he quickly learns that what he's experiencing is happening to him because he's an alien, not because he has a neurological or mental disorder. Furthermore, his need to constantly keep his super hearing and x-ray vision under control isn't too far removed from what people with social disorders have to go through. After being revived, he briefly loses control of his super-senses and goes temporarily berserk.
  • Doorstop Baby: In a way. He was sent to Earth on a rocket that dropped him on the Kents' farm, where he was subsequently adopted and raised. This trope is implied to be how Jonathan and Martha explained Clark's arrival to the rest of the community in Smallville.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: While Clark previously warned Bruce that he'll take him down if Bruce doesn't stop being the Batman, by the time of their actual fight, he's realized that Lex Luthor is the real threat, and wants Bruce's help to rescue his mother, who Lex is holding hostage. When his initial attempts to talk to Bruce fail as Bruce just attacks him before he can finish his sentence, Clark shows how powerful he is in an attempt to convince Bruce that if he was here to fight, Bruce wouldn't stand a chance. Unfortunately, this fails to convince Bruce, who just breaks out the Kryptonite.
  • Doomed Hometown: Krypton was his doomed home planet. His parents sent him to Earth shortly after his birth to have him escape its destruction.
  • The Dreaded: In Zack Snyder's Justice League, it's speculated that the reason why the Mother Boxes on Earth only now began to awaken was that they were scared of Superman. Steppenwolf identifies him as a potential threat during his report to Desaad. It's what convinces Bruce and eventually the others that the only way they're going to stop Steppenwolf is if they revive Clark. They all were right in the end, as Superman pummels Steppenwolf without breaking a sweat and Darkseid would rather admit defeat than fight him then and there.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After two movies' worth of turmoil that culminates in his death, Superman gets a break when he's resurrected. Lois accepted his engagement (and is implied to be carrying his child), he now has a group of friends who also have powers and the world is less divided on his presence.
  • Establishing Character Moment: When he was a boy, Clark rescued an entire school bus that had careened off a bridge into a river. He even goes the extra mile to rescue a boy that had been picking on him mere seconds beforehand. This was before he had any contact with Jor-El and his adoptive parents wanted him to keep his powers hidden, so in this moment we see that Clark's motivation to do heroic deeds is derived entirely from within.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Despite pulling no punches against Zod for killing his biological father and threatening his adoptive mother, he really did not want to kill him. When Zod reaches Despair Event Horizon and threatens some trapped humans, Clark begs in desperation for him to stop, not just for their sake, but because he knows he will have no other choice but to take said action.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Inverted. When he comes Back from the Dead in the Snyder Cut he dons a black and silver Kryptonian outfit, but reverts back to the traditional blue and red when he’s corrupted by Anti-Life in the Knightmare future.
  • Extremely Protective Child: Clark's adoptive mother, Martha Kent, is the only parental figure he has left in his life. So do not make any attempt of endangering her.
  • Extremity Extremist: Whenever he fights in Man of Steel, Superman almost exclusively uses his fists. Justified in that he hadn't learned the full extent of his powers.
  • Eye Beams: As a Kryptonian exposed to a yellow sun, he can project solar energy into a beam through his eyes.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When Batman is about to kill him, he doesn't beg for his life at all, but simply requests that Batman save Martha Kent. It ends up saving him.
  • Fake Shemp:
    • He appears in SHAZAM!, but his face is not shown. Henry Cavill was not available, so a stand-in (Zachary Levi's stunt double) showed up wearing the suit.
    • In the finale of Peacemaker, Season 1, he is only seen as a darkened silhouette. Henry Cavill didn't film anything, only Ezra Miller and Jason Momoa did for that particular scene.
  • Farm Boy: Raised on a farm in Kansas, which he points out to some military guys who can't get past the whole "alien" thing. Zod also uses this as a taunt against him in their final fight.
  • Fatal Flaw: Superman's Chronic Hero Syndrome ends up pushing long past the point of martyrdom, especially in Dawn of Justice.
    • He also has a habit of drawing out fights against opponents who can keep up with him. This leads to said opponents wising up to his fighting style and weaknesses and in a few cases even leveling up mid-battle to overwhelm Superman. He learns from this mistake in time to stop Doomsday, though the military interferes and makes things worse.
  • The Fettered: Unlike most portrayals of Clark Kent as a doormat who lets injustices slip by (which he'll eventually correct as Superman), this version of Clark displays a strong moral code at all times. One stand-out moment was when he clashed with Perry White over his sense of apathy regarding the downtrodden in Gotham.
  • Fight Off the Kryptonite: Grabbing the Kryptonite spear severely weakens him, but he resists long enough to kill Doomsday.
  • Fish out of Water:
    • The main conflict of Man of Steel, as Clark's abilities alienate him from society.
    • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice takes it even further, as people either hate or revere him, but do not treat him as an equal.
  • Flash Step: He pulls this off twice, once in BvS during his fight with Batman to step through the lead smoke, the other time to appear instantly in front of Wonder Woman and grabbing her Bracelets of Submission, demonstrating just how ridiculously fast he actually is.
  • Flying Brick: Although the classic line isn't used, he is still a super strong and durable flyer. He's Trope Codifier after all.
  • Foil: To Zod. Both are survivors of Krypton's destruction with designs on being the messiah of their lost civilization. However, whereas Zod is a ruthless Darwinist, Kal-El is compassionate and altruistic. In this manner, Kal embodies all the hopes and aspirations of Krypton's people for a better future while Zod personifies the authoritarianism and Social Darwinism that drove Krypton to ruin in the first place. They're also similar in the sense that they both have a blunt and upfront personality, and from their perspective, they're both trying to save their planet.
  • Forced to Watch: During a tornado, Jonathan refused help from Clark in order for his adopted son to hide his abilities from the people there. Cue Manly Tears.

  • Genius Bruiser: Closer to his comic book counterpart, this Clark is established as being quite intelligent, knowing how to treat wounds, maintaining a high degree of control over his powers, being a pretty good tactician, and being knowledgeable about science and a fan of the classical Greek philosophers. He may have been the first "genetic roll of the dice" in Kryptonian civilization in centuries, but those "dice" (Jor-El and Lara) were loaded towards intellectualism to begin with. Also like in the comics, he eventually chooses a civilian career where his powers give him no special advantage over anyone else (well, typing at super-speed does help with the deadlines).
    • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice shows him learning from his previous fights, as he immediately moves the battle with Doomsday into Earth's orbit, which not only allows him to minimize property damage, but receive support from a nuclear missile.
  • Gentle Giant: He's tall, hugely built and almost immeasurably powerful but he has a shy, soft-spoken personality and is kind and altruistic. This is best illustrated in Batman v Superman when he offers himself before Congress and the scene is framed to show just how big he is, how he gently opens the door and even politely waits to be addressed before talking.
  • The Ghost: Superman doesn't appear in The Suicide Squad or The Flash despite being namedropped.
  • A God I Am Not: He is very uncomfortable with the thought of people revering him as, or even comparing him to, a god in any way.
  • Godzilla Threshold: He doesn't express a Thou Shall Not Kill code, but he only uses lethal force as an absolute last resort against an opponent who is simply too dangerous for him to hold back against. His killing of Zod is actually what inspired said code in the first place. And, true to form, Zod's reanimated corpse (Doomsday) is what causes him to cross this threshold once again.
  • Good Is Not Soft: He levels devastating blows on villains (who are a match for him, so it's give-and-take). As Superman, he does not visibly hold back at any point, which is usually a major facet in his combat ability. Just ask Steppenwolf in Zack Snyder's Justice League.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: His sacrifice inspires Batman to assemble the Justice League, who takes up his role as protector of the Earth until his resurrection.
  • Happily Adopted: As usual. Clark may be a Human Alien, but he and his adopted parents are closer than blood. Flashbacks make the relationship more nuanced; he went through a phase of rejecting Martha and Jonathan as just the people who found him. Though he seems to have gotten over it for the most part, he does refer to Jor-El as his father pretty consistently, which hits Martha pretty hard.
  • Healing Factor: The more exposed to the Sun he is, the more his wounds can regenerate. It's best seen in Batman v. Superman when he's reduced to a corpse floating in space by the nuke that was intended for Doomsday — he gets supercharged by the unfiltered rays of the Sun and returns to life, and the scar left by Batman's Kryptonite spear also gets healed and disappears in the process.
  • Heroes' Frontier Step: Clark demonstrated his innate heroism at the age of 13 when he saved a schoolbus that careened off a bridge, going the extra mile to save the life of Pete even after he'd tried to bully Clark. This was years before he met Jor-El and was inspired to become Superman, showing that Clark was always inclined to become a superhero under his own initiative.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: He shares many affectionate moments with his dog.
  • Heroic BSoD: In Dawn of Justice, the Senate subcommittee bombing and his inability to stop it hits him hard.
  • Heroic Build: Justified. Spending years and years Walking the Earth and working in all kinds of jobs that require great physical effort tend to do that to you. Plus, having a body that "drinks the sun" helps.
  • Heroic Bystander: What Clark was before he discovered his heritage. His Chronic Hero Syndrome was clashing with his adoptive father Jonathan's admonishments that the world was not ready for someone like him.
  • Heroic Resolve: Especially in Man of Steel. Superman, raised in a farm by a normal human couple, puts up a hell of a fight against Kryptonians specifically born and bred to be soldiers. He (along with some help from the US military) is able to force Faora and Nam-Ek to withdraw and regroup after their fight in Smallville and, after a vicious fight, is able to kill Zod by breaking his neck.
  • Heroic Willpower: In true Superman fashion. In the Knightmare Bad Future Superman was actually able to resist the Anti-Life Equation, and only fell under its influence after Darkseid killed Lois Lane and took advantage of Superman's resulting Despair Event Horizon.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the climax of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, he kills Doomsday with the Kryptonite spear, which weakens him and allows Doomsday to impale him. But luckily, he will get better.
  • Heroic Spirit: He's Superman, this is a given. Whether it's preventing a disaster or punching out supervillains, Superman doesn't stop fighting until people are safe.
  • Hero Protagonist: Of all the DCEU protagonists introduced so far, Superman is the best example of the standard heroic archetype. He is brave, modest, responsible, saves people from both human threats and natural disasters, etc.
  • The Hero's Idol: Barry Allen and Freddy Freeman are both fans of him.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Several protestors, politicians, and such angrily blame Superman for the massive destruction and loss of life from his battle against General Zod and his forces in the months after the battle ended. Batman also considers the Man of Steel a threat to the planet instead of a hero. It all dies out when Superman saves humanity once more through a Heroic Sacrifice against Doomsday, he's eventually recognized as a true savior and mourned by everyone.
  • Hidden Depths: He displays some medical and scientific knowledge in Man of Steel, which is unexpected considering the amount of time he spent as a vagabond. He's also seen reading philosophy texts as a kid.
  • Hope Bringer: He tells Lois that the "S" on his chest is the Kryptonian symbol for "hope". Thus, Kryptonians would see someone with this crest flying towards them as "hope is coming". Jor-El intended him to become a hope bringer for the people of Earth, although they were divided between trusting him and fearing him following the battle of Metropolis. It's not until his Heroic Sacrifice against Doomsday that everyone realizes he truly was a savior, and he became an Inspirational Martyr as a result.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: He took years honing his natural gifts (with a lot of help from his adoptive parents) and even wrecked part of a mountain on his first attempt at flight.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: At 6'1", he towers over the 5'4" Lois.
  • Humble Hero: He is very modest despite being practically a god among men, and he doesn't seem to enjoy being perceived as the latter.
  • Hunk: Handsome, check. Manly, check. Lantern Jaw of Justice, check. Big arms, check. Large torso, check. Pronounced muscles, check. Body hair, check. There's no doubt that this version of Superman is a perfect example of Hunk.
  • Ideal Hero: He spends the entirety of Man of Steel striving to become this. By the time of Batman v Superman, he apparently fits the mold considerably better, but still isn't quite there. He fully becomes this in both versions of Justice League.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Paraphrased in his second confrontation with Batman. Superman's goal in the battle is simply to get Batman to stop fighting, and he has no interest in seeing him die (likely because of Thou Shall Not Kill principles).
    Superman: Stay down! If I wanted it, you'd be dead already!
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Clark's reaction after finding out he's a super-powered alien. As an adult, he moves from place to place trying to live a quiet life. But both as a child and an adult, he's compelled to be a Heroic Bystander until he finally becomes Superman.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: When he stabs Doomsday through the chest with the Kryptonite lance, Doomsday returns the favor, impaling him on one of his Spikes of Villainy as he's also weakened by the Kryptonite. Superman then uses said spike as leverage to further push the kryptonite lance.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Of the heroic and idealistic variety.
  • Inspirational Martyr: His death fighting Doomsday convinces humanity that he was their protector, and it shows at his funeral (with this message on a shrine "If you seek his monument, look around you"). His sacrifice also motivates Batman to form the Justice League ("I failed him in life, I won't fail him in death").
  • Intrepid Reporter: As Clark Kent, he assertively and effectively looks for scoops.
  • Interspecies Romance: He (a Kryptonian) and Lois Lane (a human).
  • Ironic Echo: In Batman v. Superman, Batman asked him "Do you bleed?" before making efforts to kill him. In the theatrical cut of ''Justice League'', when suffering from Resurrection Sickness, Superman manhandles Batman and throws that very same line back in his face.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: This is a running theme in his narrative arc; he was conceived by his parents to break the eugenic cycle of Krypton and to serve as an inspiring figure for Earth. However, he never asked or wanted that responsibility. Similar to the depiction of Jesus of Nazareth in the Martin Scorsese film, The Last Temptation of Christ, Superman here is presented as fully human (well, Human Alien) and fully "divine" (superpowered) and is unable to reconcile the two halves. He wants to have a normal life but circumstances beyond his control (and a general sense of obligation) force him to continually expose himself to a judgmental and suspicious world.
  • The Joy of First Flight: When Superman learns to fly, it is treated with great gravitas, as it's one of the last of his superpowers he learns.
  • Kryptonite Factor: The Trope Namer appears in Batman v Superman where Batman uses the green rocks to create both a gas and a lance in order to even the playing field. He gets a nasty reminder of his weakness sometime prior to The Suicide Squad when Bloodsport is able to seriously wound him with a kryptonite bullet.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: He suffers from this upon being resurrected, forgetting about the Doomsday battle and Martha Kent's rescue when he head-butts Wonder Woman and almost crushes Batman's chin, only retaining memories of the latter's hostility and reminding him of "Do you bleed?!".
  • Last of His Kind: The only survivor of Krypton... until the reveal that Zod and his followers survived. Then said followers got sucked in the Phantom Zone, and Zod died, making him this again.
  • Leitmotif: This iteration of Superman has two: Hans Zimmer's motif created for Man of Steel, and John Williams's iconic theme from Superman: The Movie.
    • Zimmer's theme is used most prominently in Snyder's movies:
      • Composed by Hans Zimmer and officially released as the trailer theme An Ideal of Hope. The full version of this theme appears in Man of Steel as "What Are You Going To Do When You're Not Saving The World." A simple piano melody, representing Clark Kent and his Earthly home and life, that crescendos into a full orchestra with marching drums in the background, symbolizing Superman's purity and power. When Clark dons the cape again after coming back from the dead, his theme gets a reprisal with a faster tempo. His face-off against Steppenwolf also has a bit of John Williams' influence.
      • The motif gets a Dark Reprise in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as "Day of the Dead" as Superman is still struggling to do the right thing despite the burden of heavy criticism from the media in an increasingly morally-gray world.
      • The theatrical version of Justice League (2017) makes use of the theme briefly when the team is preparing to resurrect Superman.
      • Zack Snyder's Justice League brings back the Zimmer motif in full force with "Superman Rising". The opening notes can also be heard in Zack Snyder's Justice League through "All of You Undisturbed Cities" at about the 4:42 mark, but it sounds a little off to reflect Superman's corruption by Darkseid.
    • The Williams theme begins to appear from 2017 onward:
      • Danny Elfman reintroduced the theme through Justice League (2017), which initially gets a Dark Reprise when Superman fights the team, and later a Triumphant Reprise when he arrives to face Steppenwolf.
      • The first few notes of the original version of Williams theme appears faintly during Superman's Fake Shemp appearance in SHAZAM!, when he walks into the cafeteria.
      • Black Adam plays the theme when Superman emerges from the shadows to speak to the title character.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • He's not as brutally fast as Faora, but holds his own quite well against her and Nam-Ek since he has the advantage of superior strength and flight. And in the climactic battle with Zod, he flies fast and hits hard.
    • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, he is able to stand toe-to-toe with Doomsday and even overpower him on occasion through his strength and speed. And in both versions of Justice League, he effortlessly overwhelms the when amnesiac, and once he's back, Steppenwolf in .
  • Living MacGuffin: Prior to launching Kal-El to Earth, Jor-El imbued his cells with the Codex, which holds the genetic potential of the entire Kryptonian species.
  • Load-Bearing Hero: He demonstrates this multiple times, because of course. This gets turned on its head early on Man of Steel during the burning oil rig scene. Clark is strong enough to hold up a falling oil rig, but the rig collapses under its own weight anyway.

  • Male Might, Female Finesse: Despite both having super strength, Superman is a heavy-hitting brawler, while Wonder Woman relies on agility and precision.
  • Manly Tears: He bursts into tears with the death of his adopted father, then his Tears of Remorse for killing Zod. For the third time after the Senate bombing.
  • Messianic Archetype: Superman is modeled after Jesus as a symbol of hope and savior figure. Among the many examples:
    • When he decides to hand himself over to Zod, he's in a church after talking with a priest and the stained glass depiction of Jesus wondering if he should, and then deciding to, give himself up in the Garden of Gethsemane is pretty clear in the background.
    • When he escapes Zod's ship, he has his arms stretched out into a crucifix pose.
    • He dies for humanity and is then resurrected.
    • He was 33 years old in Man of Steel, the age of Jesus when he was crucified.
    • His birth name is Kal-El. "El" is one of the Hebrew names for God and in a name means "of God". "Kal-El" in particular has been defined as some as "Voice of God".
    • He came down from the sky to miraculously grace a childless couple. Though in Clark's case, he literally came down from the sky and Joseph and Mary were a virgin couple while Martha and Jonathan tried, but couldn't for whatever reason.
  • Momma's Boy: He cares very much about his mother, so attacking her when he's around probably won't end well for you. Unfortunately in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Lex Luthor guesses this and kidnaps both Martha Kent and Lois Lane. Lois is quickly saved, but that was just to get Superman's attention — his mother is the real hostage.
  • Morality Chain: The theatrical cut of ''Justice League'' shows that Superman was one to the whole world. Without him, people lost hope, crime rose to an exponential degree and Steppenwolf is free to invade without any significant threat. Bruce has to resurrect him to give the world hope again.
  • Moses in the Bulrushes: He was sent to Earth as a baby by his Kryptonian parents to escape the destruction of their world. Ironically, while Moses was a herald for death and disaster upon those who wronged his people, Superman rescues people from disasters when he's not preoccupied with supervillains.
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black: His costume is notable darker and less colourful than his famous outfit from the comics and earlier live-action-costumes with the blue of the costume being much darker and seeming black in some shots of Man Of Steel.
    • In Zack Snyder's Justice League, he literally wears black as this version of the movie introduces the famous black costumes from the comics after Superman returns.
  • Mr. Fanservice: He is a certified Hunk with at least one Shirtless Scene per movie to show it off. Lampshaded when Captain Carrie Farris of the Air Force is completely Distracted by the Sexy when near him (and admits it to her commanding officer, General Swanwick).
    Swanwick: What are you smiling about, Captain?
    Captain Farris: Nothing, sir! [Beat] I just think he's kinda hot...
  • Muggle Foster Parents: He was born of Kryptonian parents and raised by a human couple.
  • My Greatest Failure: He feels guilty to some degree for the destruction that occurred in Metropolis, but he is also keeping said guilt in mind as a way to make sure that nothing so drastic ever occurs again on his watch.
  • Name From Another Species: Inverted. Clark, a Kryptonian, is adopted by humans and given a human name. His birth name is Kal-El.
  • Nice Guy: Of course. He wouldn't be Superman if he wasn't one. Despite being initially met with hostility from all sides, he's almost never less than courteous and helpful. At one point, he saves one of the soldiers that had been firing on him as well as on Zod's troops, and as he puts him down, he asks him sincerely and without any rancor, if he's alright; this seems to dumbfound the soldier. He is also gentle and understanding with civilians in Gotham and listens to their concerns about Batman's behavior. One news report best sums him up as "just a guy trying to do the right thing". He agreed to have lunch at a school cafeteria with Billy Batson and his foster siblings, for the shake of helping Billy’s brother, Freddy, who is big fan of his, gets no longer bullied and get a popularity boost. And in his appearance in The Stinger of Black Adam, he's nothing but courteous and respectful to Teth-Adam, a potential enemy.
  • No-Sell: He is immune to physical harm and the strength of normal humans can't even budge him (without Kryptonite, that is). This is best illustrated when he works as a waiter, as Ludlow (the Jerkass and pervert Canadian truck driver) responds violently to his defense of his coworker Chrissy, who was being harassed by Ludlow. Ludlow tries to push him and nothing happens.
    • He manages to pull this trope on Steppenwolf as well. He doesn't even need to block the New God's powerful Electro Axe, just jump in front of it and take the hit to the shoulder without a single flinch.
      Superman: Not. Impressed.
  • Not Quite Dead: As revealed in the last shot of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice with dirt particles starting to ascend over his coffin, he's seemingly healing, albeit very slowly. By Justice League, his body is healed enough for the Justice League to perform a resurrection with a Mother Box.
  • Not So Stoic: His stoicism all goes out of the window when lives are in danger. He spent an entire lifetime holding his anger in, and then Zod threatened his mom...
  • Official Couple: With Lois. At the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it's revealed Clark had an engagement ring stashed at his mother's house waiting for the right moment, which Martha gives to Lois during his funeral, and since she's later seen wearing it, she would have said "yes". They reunite in Justice League.
  • One-Man Army: Downplayed in Man of Steel; though individually, he is much more effective against Zod's crew than the human Armed Forces, he wouldn't stand much of a chance of stopping it by himself without their involvement since he's outnumbered. Likewise, it takes a team effort with Batman and Wonder Woman to take Doomsday down in Batman v Superman.
    • He plays this completely straight in the theatrical cut of ''Justice League'' however, instantly turning the tide of the battle once he steps in. It's a bit downplayed again in Zack Snyder's Justice League, where his Big Damn Heroes moment does decisively put Steppenwolf out of commission, but stopping the forces of Apokolips is very much a team effort.
  • Out of Focus: Following the events of Justice League, Superman isn't seen outside of faceless cameos in SHAZAM! and Peacemaker until Black Adam, nearly five years later. He also gets mentioned in The Suicide Squad, but that's about it.
  • The Paragon:
    • Not quite yet in Man of Steel. He has more than potential for it in him, that much is for sure, and both of his fathers understood this. Throughout the film, he's mostly trying to discover what direction to take his powers in, settling on being the alien mediator and representative. So while Jor-El tells him to be "an ideal to strive towards", he is not his usual Ideal Hero self yet. (He also doesn't have the benefit of 12 years' training through Neural Implanting that Jor-El's avatar subjected him to in Superman: The Movie. In this movie, he spends the corresponding amount of time doing odd jobs)
    • By the end of Batman v Superman, he has quite clearly grown into this. His Heroic Sacrifice inspires Batman to create the Justice League, and it also most likely prompted Batman to undergo some Character Development, from cynical, brutal and careless vigilante to a more suitable defender of justice.
    • At the end of Justice League, he fully embodies the trope, helping the Flash to gain more confidence most notably.
  • Patriotic Fervor: "I grew up in Kansas, General. I'm about as American as it gets."
  • Play-Along Prisoner: In Man of Steel, he willingly turns himself over to the US military, even allowing them to handcuff him.
    Lois: You let them handcuff you?
    Superman: Wouldn't be much of a surrender if I resisted. And if it makes them feel more secure, then... then all the better for it.
  • Power Floats: A very rare example of floating horizontally rather than vertically in the final battle against Zod in Man of Steel.
  • Power Incontinence:
    • He experiences this through Sensory Overload in his childhood as he adapts to the Earth's environment.
    • He has a bit of this again upon being resurrected, seeing the skeletons and organs of the Justice League members.
  • Powerful and Helpless: This happens to him in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. After kidnapping Martha, Lex coerces him into fighting Batman in exchange for his mother's life. Superman is so angry that he attempts to physically threaten Luthor if it means saving Martha, but Luthor made sure his men didn't tell him.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Gives one to Steppenwolf in Justice League, though it varies depending on the version:
    Superman: (theatrical cut) Well, I believe in truth. But I'm also a big fan of justice.
    Superman: (Snyder cut) Not. Impressed.
  • Primary-Color Champion: In Man Of Steel, it's a visually-darker example, but still counts. In Batman v Superman, the colors on his costume are brighter.
  • Punch Catch : He does it to a newly born Doomsday, proceeding to overpower him via twisting his arm (albeit with two hands to counter for Doomsday's much greater mass).
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: In Zack Snyder's Justice League as he takes Steppenwolf’s Electro Axe to the shoulder and No Sells it.
    Superman: Not. Impressed.
  • Rage Breaking Point: When Lex Luthor takes Martha hostage and Batman goes on the offensive even when Superman is trying to reason with him, Superman just snaps and starts fighting Batman, though he stops short of killing or injuring him, likely to show that he's not the enemy in spite of the circumstances.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: A Tall, Dark, and Handsome man who in spite of his reliance on solar energy has noticably fair skin, making him a Rare Male Example of this trope note .
  • Red Baron: Is known as Superman (following the tradition set by Superman: The Movie), "the Man of Steel" and "Son of Krypton".
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: His eyes glow red when he's about to shoot his beams.
  • Red Is Heroic: His red cape and his heroism invoke this trope.
  • Relative Button: Don't threaten Martha Kent. Zod found this out the hard way.
    • Happens again in Batman v Superman when Lex has Martha kidnapped. He goes from and in control to livid in a matter of seconds. Despite Lex warning Clark that if Clark kills him, Martha dies, Clark looks ready to vaporize Lex on the spot.
  • Resurrection Sickness: He suffers from Laser-Guided Amnesia (forgetting about the Doomsday battle and Martha Kent's rescue when he head-butts Wonder Woman and nearly kills Batman) and a bit of Power Incontinence (his X-Ray Vision is unfocused once again, making him see skeletons and organs) upon being resurrected. Lois helps him put the pieces together afterwards.
  • Running Gag: Thanks to availability issues behind-the-scenes with Henry Cavill, Superman went faceless from 2019 to 2022 in his live-action appearances. Over time, this became something of a recurring joke.
    • Shazam has him show up at the very end of the film to have lunch with some bullied kids, but the camera only shoots him from below his neck. (A post-credits scene where he talked to Shazam was reportedly planned, but was never filmed.)
    • Peacemaker featured his Face Framed in Shadow when he, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and The Flash are a few moments too late to help out Peacemaker and his team. (Although, in fairness, Gal Gadot wasn't there either. Extras also played Aquaman and the Flash, but some pick-up shots with Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller were filmed and intercut with the appearance as the two joke around with each other.)
    • Black Adam even alludes to this in a TV spot where Hawkman and Black Adam fight inside a room that contains illustrations of the Justice League. In the fight, a hole is burned where Superman's face is before the audience can see it. The joke seems to be fully retired by the end of the movie, however — because Superman appears in-person to talk to Black Adam himself.

  • Samaritan Syndrome: As a boy, he saves his classmates from drowning. As an adult Walking the Earth, this is what enables Lois to track him down. Lois's obsession even stems from Clark using his powers to save her when she was investigating an alien crash site. She notes that to completely disappear, Clark would have to stop helping people, and he just doesn't have that in him.
  • Save the Villain: When Doomsday awakens, he attempts to attack Lex Luthor, his own creator. Superman has to intercept the blow and save him from almost certainly getting splattered.
  • Screaming Warrior: Superman lets out a long one when he's pummeling Zod.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Invoked by Zod when they're the only two living Kryptonians left after the rest got sent back to the Phantom Zone, as Superman destroys the last working ship (his, actually) that could have been used to breed new Kryptonians. Its Genesis Chamber is empty, though, as it needs Superman's DNA to work. Of course, Superman himself makes it perfectly clear that his people went down their self-destructive path of their own free will, and he doesn't want a repeat of that. Then Zod himself is killed by Superman shortly after.
  • Shirtless Scene: Quite a few scenes show off Henry Cavill's impressive physique.
  • Shoot the Dog: Killing Zod to save an innocent human family. He's visibly upset that it had to come to that. So much, even, that it may have caused him to adopt his familiar Thou Shalt Not Kill code.
  • Showy Invincible Hero: In the climax of both versions Justice League. While he spends most of the movie dead or recovering from his resurrection, when he shows up during the final battle it's the moment that turns the tide in the heroes' favour. Steppenwolf, who can fight Wonder Woman and Aquaman to a standstill, is unable to land a single punch and gets trounced with zero effort.
  • Signature Move: When up against powerful opponents, as the prototypical Flying Brick with expert control of his flying, Superman will often just slam into them at Mach 3, as some form of Dynamic Entry.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer:
    • Superman doesn't appear in any of the teasers for Justice League (2017), likely to keep the nature of his resurrection a secret. He's resurrected halfway through the movie and spends some time at the Kent farm in Smallville so he can regain his lost memories before joining the League in the climax.
    • Averted for the Snyder Cut trailers, which show off his new black suit.
  • Skewed Priorities: He believes Batman is a dangerous vigilante (not an unreasonable assessment), but Gotham City is a widely known Wretched Hive, and since it's just across the river from Metropolis and Superman has super-speed, he could easily stop a lot more crime in Gotham City than Batman, which would make Batman's vigilantism unnecessary. Superman doesn't do anything to stop crime in Gotham except tell Batman to stop cease and desist.
  • Small Steps Hero: In Man of Steel, despite agreeing (at first) with Jonathan that he needs to keep his powers a secret For the Greater Good, Clark risks outing this secret several times because he just can't stop using his power to help people, before officially becoming Superman. As a teenager, he risks his secret saving a school bus, and as an adult Walking the Earth, he tries to stay below the radar, but always blows his cover by saving people. In Batman v Superman, this trope is deconstructed, as Superman feels self-doubt that he's not doing enough to help people, and there's plently of public debate about his tendency to deal with small and immediate problems without thinking of the bigger picture and potential consequences. For example, his flying into a foreign war zone and saving Lois from a warlord sparking a massacre or at least, this is what Lex Luthor wants people to think happened.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Word of God admitted that this is the reason he's absent during most of Justice League (2017). He's ridiculously, overwhelmingly powerful compared to the rest of the team, the second strongest member of which (Wonder Woman) still occasionally has trouble with normal humans thugs with guns. When he actually does get brought back before the climax, he one-shots every other member of the League, trashes the Mother Boxes with Cyborg's help, saves all the innocent bystanders (lifting entire buildings full of people to evacuate them), and delivers a downright embarrassing Curb-Stomp Battle to Steppenwolf, the Big Bad of the film who had already thrashed everyone else he fought, which includes: a Green Lantern, the Amazons and the rest of the Justice League. Superman does this all with basically no effort and a smug smile on his face the entire time. Suffice to say there wouldn't have been much of a movie had he been there from the beginning.
  • The Stoic: Superman takes pains to control his emotions, mindful of accidentally killing people and/or exposing his powers.
  • Superhero: He is the Trope Codifier and Trope Namer. He is the first modern superhero and, initially, the protector of Metropolis. Over time he extends his activities to the rest of the world and even inspires Batman to create a group of superheroes.
  • Superheroes Wear Capes: He is the Trope Codifier with that billowing red cape. In this verse, it is apparently a tradition on Krypton.
  • Super-Breath: Probably due to the Mother Box boosting his powers upon resurrecting him, he is now capable of chilling his breath to freeze a target.
  • Superpower Lottery: Thanks to Earth's yellow sun, he possesses superhuman strength, speed, durability and senses. He also has separate abilities, such as the power to fly, see through opaque objects, project thick beams of heat from his eyes, generate ice-cold currents with his breath, as well as becoming virtually impenetrable to most weapons and possessing accelerated healing.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: As with all depictions of Superman, he is tall (Cavill is 6'1"), dark-haired and handsome (as noticed by Carrie Farris).
  • Taught by Experience: Since he lacks the formal training all Kryptonian soldiers undergo since birth, Superman had to rely on his own life experiences in how to control his powers. Even Jor-El said the only way to know how strong he had become was to keep pushing his limits. Zod might mock his Farm Boy upbringing, but in the end Superman manages to be a credible threat to Zod’s forces and save Earth. What he lacks in formal training, he makes up for in adaptability.
  • These Hands Have Killed: In the climax of Man of Steel, Superman is forced to snap Zod's neck when he makes it clear that he will never stop massacring humans, while threatening to eye-beam a terrified cowering family to death. Horrified by his own deed, and with the additional burden of having to end his species, Superman can only scream in anguish before Lois comes in to comfort him.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Zigzagged. Superman highly prefers to avoid killing and will even go out of his way to Save the Villain when possible, as shown when he pleaded for Zod to surrender peacefully even after their long and painful battle, and he saved Lex Luthor from getting pasted by Doomsday despite the monster being of Luthor's own making. Upon resurrection, Clark demonstrated just ho far he was above the metahumans on the Justice League by subduing all four of them at once, but he never goes for the kill despite being able to and not in his right mind. While Superman did try to blast Batman with his heat vision, that was presumably a subconscious reaction to the time Batman nearly killed him. He also chose to cherry tap Steppenwolf and keep him pinned rather than quickly and relentlessly pummel him to death. However, also like most versions of the character and in particular the Post-Crisis comics version, he will do it as a last resort if it means saving innocent lives.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the entire film's running theme is how the world Superman lives in can be paranoid about him and easily manipulated into hating and even destroying him, which is contrasted by the unflinching love everyone seems to have for him after his sacrifice to stop Doomsday and save the world... again. Indeed, Justice League (2017) shows that a world without Superman is a world without hope.
  • Took a Level in Cheerfulness: After his resurrection, Clark has lost part of his memories and gets angry, to the point he initially perceives the other heroes of the Justice League as threats. It's only when he gets reunited with Lois and Martha that he gains optimism and sense of hope.
  • Took a Level in Idealism: Being obliged by circumstances to kill the last of his Kryptonian brethren literally with his bare hands only results in him adopting a Thou Shalt Not Kill code and becoming more idealistic and fettered. Becomes fully realized in both versions of Justice League.
  • Tranquil Fury: In Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, he keeps his composure while being thoroughly pissed at Batman. At the worst of times, he comes across like a stern parent scolding a child. Taken to a horrifying degree in the Bad Future, where he keeps a stone-cold face while painfully killing Batman and his allies.
  • Unstoppable Rage: He does this when he's under a severe amount of emotional distress or when someone harms those he cares about.
    • When Zod nearly kills Martha, Clark tackles him out of the way and brutally pounds him to a pulp even though Zod is the more seasoned warrior, as Clark is able to overpower him through sheer protective instinct.
    • His reawakening in Justice League has him going berserk on the rest of the team and outclassing every single one of them.
  • Unstable Powered Child: As a youngster, he didn't have any way to really control his powers, especially his super senses of hearing and sight, making the world far too overwhelming for him. This also led to him having some difficulty controlling his heat vision. Thankfully, he had Good Parents in Martha and Jonathan who helped him to control his powers by helping him to "make the world smaller", and he grew out of this.
  • Unwanted Revival: This is discussed in the theatrical cut of ''Justice League'' when Batman resolves to resurrect him. The other Leaguers are concerned he might not come back with his mind or morals intact, while Alfred points out that he could be at peace. While Superman does suffer some Resurrection Sickness in both versions of Justice League, once he reunites with Lois and has a moment to breathe he seems pretty happy to get a second chance at life.
  • Villain Killer: He's tied with Wonder Woman for the highest number of major villain kills. He killed General Zod, but very reluctantly, Doomsday with help from Batman's kryptonite weapons, and Steppenwolf in Zack Snyder's Justice League, albeit with Wonder Woman herself delivering the killing blow.
  • We Help the Helpless: As Clark Kent, he'd rather bring focus to people who are suffering in various ways such as not having a home to go. It's executed perfectly with this line.
    Clark: Perry, when you assign a story, you're making a choice about who matters. And who's worth it.
  • Willfully Weak: Clark can really hold back his strength on his own accord because he knows that if he doesn't hold back, he would cause major damage if he wanted to. Especially in his fight against Batman, where Clark is clearly using kid gloves.
    Superman: Stay down! If I wanted it, you'd be dead already!
    • In Man of Steel he's only unskilled in that he isn't a trained warrior compared to the very well-trained elite Kryptonian soldiers he has to face off with for his first real outing. Note, for the brief time they were on Earth, Zod manages to overcome his Power Incontinence and need for a breather apparatus, and Faora manages to outright master Super-Speed on second contact. All of which took Clark much longer to hone, and even then, he's never had a chance to test himself to the limits. However, since he has basked in that yellow sunlight and breathed in that richer atmosphere for 33 years, he was able to match them on raw power, but it became a problem when Zod caught up. It's also shown in the fight scenes that his style of hand-to-hand combat, while understandably not on par with the soldiers, is still more advanced than other onscreen portrayals of the character, where he often relies solely on his devastating power rather than technique.
    • This is further seen in Batman v. Superman. Superman is a better fighter than he was in the previous movie, but when his strength is brought down to near-human levels he is no match at all for Batman's twenty+ years of fighting experience, training, skill and Powered Armor. Batman also gets an upper hand in that the kryptonite grenades he uses to bring Superman down a few levels also leaves him debilitating pain until it wears off. Once he recovers, he goes toe to toe with the humongous, increasingly stronger and much more powerful Doomsday. Then in that fight, Wonder Woman surpasses him in technique, while he clearly has more raw speed and power once again - whereas Diana uses precision and agility, Superman uses his sheer flight speed to strike with immense momentum.
    • He also holds back to an immense degree in Justice League, as nothing in the movie can threaten him. The blows he throws out against Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Steppenwolf clearly don't remotely compare to the blows he traded with Zod and Doomsday; instead of sending a monster weighing thousands of pounds flying hundreds of meters and through several skyscrapers, or releasing shockwaves that leave craters hundreds of feet in diameter, his blows simply send his human-sized targets a couple dozen meters into walls or leave them in man-sized craters a couple feet in depth into asphalt. His heat vision against Cyborg also fails to melt through a cop car, even though the beams Zod and him fired in the final battle of Man of Steel were sufficient to melt through entire skyscrapers and thick steel beams in milliseconds.
  • The Worf Effect: An offscreen example; in The Suicide Squad, Bloodsport has been imprisoned for putting Supes in the ICU with a kryptonite bullet.
  • World's Strongest Man: Strongest being on Planet Earth, and as a Yellow-Sun powered Kryptonian, he's one of the strongest beings in the universe.
  • Working-Class Hero: He takes on a number of blue-collar jobs before becoming Superman. Even when he does become a journalist he's assigned to the sports column. A majority of the people he's shown rescuing all tend to come from humble or underprivileged backgrounds and his beef with Batman mainly came from his terrorising of slum dwellers. In Justice League, Bruce points out that this makes Clark "more human" than him.
  • Worthy Opponent: When Darkseid gets his first look at the Justice League, he pays extra attention to Superman.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Only because he is forced to defend his adopted homeworld against a fanatical band of Kryptonian super-soldiers whose ranks happen to include women that are just as skilled and deadly as their male counterparts. He also has no trouble attacking Wonder Woman, but that can be chalked up to being resurrected and having lost his memories.
  • X-Ray Vision: He can see through virtually all opaque objects and surfaces except through lead. Deconstructed in a flashback which shows he had troubles focusing it in his youth, seeing people as skeletons and organs.
  • You Killed My Father: Downplayed. Even though Clark killed Zod, the one who is responsible for the death of his biological father, he is distraught by the fact that he just committed murder on a fellow Kryptonian.

Alternate Timelines

    "Knightmare" Superman 

"Knightmare" Superman
"She was my world... and you took her from me!"

Affiliation(s): The Regime, Apokolips

Appearances: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice | Zack Snyder's Justice League

In the nightmarish alternate future first seen in Bruce's dream in Batman v Superman, Superman has succumbed to Anti-Life, becoming the chief enforcer of Darkseid's empire, taking over the Earth as its tyrant ruler and mercilessly killing anybody who opposes his Reign of Terror.

See also the DCEU Alternate Timelines page for more information on the Knightmare future.

  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In a way. This Superman is based on his counterpart from the Injustice franchise invokedas confirmed by Zack Snyder. Unlike his Injustice version, who turned evil of his own free will, this Superman was brainwashed by the Anti-Life Equation after being made vulnerable after Lois' death.
  • Battle Trophy: He gathers the personal effects of Earth's defenders once they're killed at the wreckage which used to be the Hall of Justice, including the corpse of a Green Lantern. We get a glimpse of Superman descending upon the pile with Batman's cowl in hand.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: He became the antithesis of the Big Good Jor-El intended him to become for the Earth, in a nutshell. Instead of giving hope to the people of Earth or helping to make a better tomorrow, he gives the people fear and leaves them in a dystopia.
  • Beware the Superman: The worst possible extent of the trope...
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Darkseid used the Anti-Life Equation to submit Superman to his will when he was devastated by the death of Lois Lane (which, in the scrapped original screenplay for Justice League, was caused by Darkseid himself Boom-Tubing in the Batcave where she was sheltered. In Zack Snyder's Justice League, Superman is grieving over her charred body with Darkseid behind him).
  • Bright Is Not Good: Even as a merciless tyrant, he still wears his bright-colored suit. Cyborg did however have a vision of him briefly wearing his black and silver outfit right before he started working for Darkseid.
  • Despair Event Horizon: After witnessing a loved one die a horrific death, Superman loses the will to live and is brainwashed by Darkseid.
  • The Dreaded: The four metahumans of the Justice League were powerless to stop him the first time they fought, but Lois was able to calm him down. Now Lois is dead and two of the league's heavy-hitters have been killed, so when Superman shows up to deal with Batman's resistance, Cyborg is understandably frightened.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Immediately after Lois is killed, Superman is overwhelmed with grief. Darkseid uses his emotional fragility to inflict Anti-Life on him, causing Superman to give a look that's both distraught and empty.
  • Evil Overlord: He has become an evil tyrant his subjects kneel before.
  • Expy: Of Regime Superman from the Injustice franchise which is even confirmed though Word of God. Both were once heroic versions of Superman until the death of Lois and his unborn child pushed them into villainy. Both set up a one-earth dictatorship called The Regime with black-clad soldiers with the regime symbol on their shoulders who are both opposed by a group called the Insurgency lead by Batman with many of the same members.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Was once deemed to become a beacon of hope for humanity... then turned against it.
  • Fallen Hero: He saved the world thrice, then jumped off the slippery slope.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Losing the love of his life surely broke him.
  • Hero Killer: In at least one iteration of the Bad Future, he kills Batman by plunging his hand into the Dark Knight's heart. In Zack Snyder's Justice League, he is seen floating above the Justice League's headquarters holding Batman's cowl as trophy.
  • I Want Them Alive!: He gave orders to capture Batman alive to his men, since they don't shoot at him when ambushing him.
  • It's Personal: Between him and Batman.
  • Kick the Dog: He uses his Eye Beams to fry the chest of a few human resistants and plunges his hand into Batman's heart. It drives the point home on how malevolent he has become.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Losing the love of his life was at least part of what made him reject everything he was meant to become and turn him into an Evil Overlord. There are hints that this was also possible because of Darkseid using the Anti-Life Equation.
  • The Poorly Chosen One: The parents of Kal-El and Clark Kent hoped their son would become a beacon to humanity. Instead he became Darkseid's puppet and crushed humanity under his heel.
  • The Quisling: He rules the Earth with an iron fist following the successful Apokoliptian invasion, and became a servant of Darkseid.
  • Superior Successor: Superman effectively takes over Steppenwolf's role as Darkseid's general. Remember that Superman is far stronger than Steppenwolf.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: His rage and despair following the loss of Lois were part of what turned him into a vengeful tyrant and a herald of Darkseid. The latter actually used the Anti-Life Equation to cause his Face–Heel Turn.

    Alternate Kal-El (Spoilers) 

Alternate Kal-El

Appearances: The Flash (mentioned)

In the alternate timeline created by the Flash, Kal-El's ship was intercepted by General Zod and he ended up dying as a baby due to Zod’s attempts to find the Codex in his DNA.

See also the DCEU Alternate Timelines page for more information on the Alternate History.

  • Dead Alternate Counterpart: This version of Kal-El was killed before he could land on Earth, be adopted by the Kents or become Earth's greatest superhero.
  • Death of a Child: This version of Kal-El was murdered in his infancy by General Zod.
  • The Ghost: He is unseen, only spoken of - and by this point posthumously, as it turns out.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Zod ended up killing Kal-El in his attempts to find the codex in his DNA, but he still invaded Earth because in this timeline, the Codex was never entrusted to this Kal, but to his cousin Kara. Furthermore, this timeline establishes that even if Earth never had a Superman it would still face decimation sooner or later, the only difference being the conquerors were Kryptonian rather than Apokoliptian.
  • The Reveal: Barry spends a lot of time looking for the changed timeline's Superman/Clark through searching public and private databases with the Batcomputer, but it's ruled out that he landed anywhere near Kansas, and a lead pointing to a secret Russian base unearths Kara, not him. Thus they think that he never made it to Earth, and the fact that he's not only already dead but was murdered is revealed by Zod himself, who was responsible.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: This version of Kal-El was Killed Offscreen prior to the events of the film, but serves as a prime example of how much the timeline has changed, occupies much of Barry's concerns and efforts, and provides personal motivation for Kara's attack on Zod.
  • Walking Spoiler: It's difficult to talk about him without revealing his exact role in the plot.

Multiversal Variants

  • Alternate Self: They are three different versions of Superman from alternate realities instead of alternate timelines to the DCEU reality.
  • The Cameo: They all appear during the Chronobowl sequence in The Flash to demonstrate The Multiverse.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Due to heavy filters they look more like CGI-animated characters who resemble their respective actors- though behind the scenes articles reveal Nicolas Cage indeed filmed his scenes in person.
  • The Three Faces of Adam:
    • George Reeves is The Lord. He's considered a marvel in his own world, but his look of confusion when he sees Jay Garrick implies he doesn't understand the full extent of the superhero community in his world.
    • Christopher Reeve is The Prophet. His world appears to be the brightest and most orderly and he's united with his cousin, implying this Superman has achieved his aspirations.
    • Nicolas Cage is The Hunter. He's the roughest of the Elseworld Supermen and is shown visibly struggling in his battle against a giant spider.
    • This all plays into Jor-El's predictions of what impact his son would have on the people of Earth. The Lord gave them an ideal, the Hunter stumbled and fell, while the Prophet was joined in the Sun by his cousin Kara.
  • Underwear of Power: Unlike the main Superman, they all wear this.
  • The Voiceless: None of them speak, though Cage-Superman does wordlessly scream.

    Superman (George Reeves) 

Kal-El / Clark Kent / Superman
"Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird!"

Species: Kryptonian

Citizenship: American

Appearances: The Adventures of Superman | The Flash

Played by: George Reeves (computer-generated likeness)

"It's a plane!"

An alternate version of Superman from the Deliberately Monochrome world of The Adventures of Superman

See The Adventures of Superman page for more information on this variant.

  • Alternate Self: A Superman who was born in 1926 and became a crime fighter in 1952, battling gangster and criminals before moving onto non-human threats.
  • Flat Character: Little can be gathered from his appearance in The Flash, besides that he seemed surprised by the existence of Jay Garrick.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The Reeves Superman and his world are like this, due to Reeves's TV show starting in black and white and only later switching to color.
  • Dynamic Akimbo: He's introduced assuming this pose.
  • Incoming Ham: A pair of unseen bystanders loudly exclaim at his presence when he flies.

    Superman (Christopher Reeve) 

Kal-El / Clark Kent / Superman

Species: Kryptonian

Citizenship: American

Appearances: Superman: The Movie | Superman II | Superman '78 | Superman III | Superman IV: The Quest for Peace | The Flash

Played by: Christopher Reeve (computer-generated likeness)

An alternate version of Superman from the more colorful world of the Superman Film Series where he fights crime with his cousin.

See Superman Film Series page for more information on this variant.

  • Alternate Self: A Superman who was born in 1948 and became a crime fighter in 1978 with his career lasting until 1987, battling Lex Luthor and Zod before later dealing with corrupt business tycoons and a Evil Knockoff.
  • Continuity Snarl: This Superman is represented by a CGI-recreated/filtered Christopher Reeve. Previously, the Arrowverse treated Brandon Routh's Superman (not seen in The Flash) as the same version as Reeve's, just older (as was the intention of Routh's Superman Returns), and depicted him even more visibly older than before, taking influence from Kingdom Come. It also called his world Earth-96 which is unacknowledged in the movie. Somewhat justified as the Chronobowl exists outside of normal time. A possible, but as of right now unconfirmed, explanation could be that this Superman is from a reality where the events of Returns never happened and the events of Superman III and Superman IV happened instead.
  • Flat Character: Little can be gathered from his appearance in The Flash outside of being united with his cousin Kara.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: He's a head taller than Supergirl.
  • In Spite of a Nail: He's the only other version of Superman known to have met both Lex Luthor and Zod, though interestingly he met them in the opposite order to the DCEU Superman.
  • Oh, Crap!: A downplayed version. Superman gives Supergirl a concerned look as their world begins to collide with another's.
  • Primary-Color Champion: Moreso than his other variants. This Superman's world is awash with red, blue and yellow which makes it seem far less intimidating than the other worlds. As a consequence, Superman himself doesn't look quite as alien in this world.

    Superman (Nicolas Cage) 

Kal-El / Clark Kent / Superman

Species: Kryptonian

Citizenship: American

Appearances: The Flash

Played by: Nicolas Cage (computer-generated likeness)

A version of Superman from an unknown dimension.

  • All Webbed Up: Was momentarily entangled in the webbing of a giant spider-like monster. However Superman managed to laser his way out via Eye Beams and took down the monster in short order.
  • Alternate Self: A Superman who was an active crime fighter in The '90s and for some reason ended up battling a giant spider.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: This Superman eschewed the clean-cut look of his other counterparts and defeated the giant spider by blasting it with the full force of his heat-vision, showing that he's got an unfettered attitude towards killing his foes.
  • '90s Hair: This Superman let his hair grow out into a lank mullet.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: Downplayed. The Superman from the DCEU is more classically handsome, while this Superman has less conventionally attractive features.
  • Darker and Edgier: He appears in a dark and stormy world fighting a gigantic spider. Contrasting this is that his suit is more vibrant than DCEU Superman's.
  • Digital De-Aging: This version of Superman resembles Nicolas Cage circa the 1990s, around the same time that Superman Lives was being produced.
  • Flat Character: Little can be gathered from his appearance in The Flash outside of him being far more brutal than other versions.
  • Noodle Incident: He somehow ends up fighting a giant spider monster before the worlds start to collide, something none of the other Supermen are shown to have experienced.
  • Spandex, Latex, or Leather: His suit resembles sculpted rubber in contrast to his predecessors who wore plain spandex.

"They wanted me back for a reason. I need to find out why."