"For the Man Who Has Everything" is a classic Superman story by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons; it was published in Superman Annual #11 (1985). The story was later adapted into a very popular episode of Justice League Unlimited. It also received a live action (and far looser) adaptation in Supergirl (2015). The story was also included in the trade omnibus of Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?.
The story works around the idea of The Final Temptation: Superman's mind is trapped in an illusion of him living a happy life on an intact Krypton. In the illusion, he's married to a former actress and has a large, loving family. However, Krypton is shown to have changed since the time it would have been destroyed, turning from the idyllic representations in the Canon to a dystopia teetering on social collapse. Amongst other things, Kara is in the hospital after being assaulted by a anti-Phantom Zone protester. Further compounding the problem is Kal-El's estrangement from his father, Jor-El; while the latter was often portrayed as a heroic visionary in the Silver Age, this Jor-El is a bitter shell who turned to radical reactionary politics after wrongly predicting Krypton's self-destruction (his wife dying of "wasting sickness" might have something to do with it, too).
In reality, Superman has fallen under the spell of an alien plant called the Black Mercy, which grants a logical extrapolation of its victim's fondest desires. Superman is discovered by Batman, Wonder Woman, and Robin (Jason Todd), who have come to the Fortress of Solitude to celebrate Superman's birthday. They run afoul of Mongul, the powerful supervillain who trapped Superman in the Black Mercy's grasp; while Wonder Woman engages Mongul in battle, Batman desperately tries to figure out a way to remove the plant.
While Superman feels contentment with his family and his career (being free from the conflict inherent with being a superhero), he realizes all is not as it seems as the dream deepens. Through sheer force of will (Mongul comments that the sensation is akin to Superman tearing off his own arm), Kal-El tells his beloved son that he doesn't think he's real. With this revelation, the illusion is dispelled, and Superman is freed in time to save his friends from Mongul. During the ensuing fight, the Black Mercy attaches itself to Batman; we see briefly see images of his idea of an idyllic life (which involves his parents never being gunned down in front of him). Jason Todd manages to pry the Black Mercy off of Batman using Mongul's special gauntlets.
As Superman prepares to deliver a crushing (perhaps killing) blow to Mongul, he is distracted by the sight of the statues of his parents, which allows Mongul to deliver a stunning counterattack. Mongul is on the verge of killing Superman when Robin attaches the Black Mercy to Mongul, who is instantly seized by the plant and submerged into his own deepest fantasy: he swats the Mercy aside, kills Superman, and conquers the universe.
The animated version removes the darker aspects of the original dream world and gives Superman a mostly idyllic life. In this adaptation, he is a Kryptonian farmer with his wife Loana (three guesses as to which two characters she's an amalgamation of — her voice actress is the same as Lois Lane's, to boot), his son Van-El, and a pet dog named Krypto. Jor-El appears as a contented, doting grandfather (who is somewhat dismissive of Kal-El's farming lifestyle), and his bitterness at his false prediction is reduced to a single line about how his reputation took years to salvage. Brainiac even appears as a dutiful household A.I. The only clues something is amiss are a constant stream of random earthquakes and Jor-El's voice continually changing. Jason Todd is also absent from this adaptation; Batman instead escapes from the Mercy's dream with Wonder Woman's help, and Wonder Woman is the one who puts the plant on Mongul.
The Supergirl (2015) episode, "For the Girl Who Has Everything," makes rather more significant changes. Kara retains her old memories and spends a while trying to get out of the dream world before accepting that it's "real," and her sister Alex has to actually enter the dream herself to get her out. The Black Mercy then dies once it's pulled off, allowing the perpetrator Non to live to fight another day after a beating from Supergirl.
"For the Man Who Has Everything" provides examples of:
- Arc Words: "He is content."
- Armor-Piercing Response: Kal tells his father, "Sometimes, I think you wanted to be right. Sometimes, I think you wanted Krypton to be destroyed." After he leaves, Jor-El angrily smashes a crystal tree sculpture then sobs piteously.
- Bad Vibrations: Animated version only. Superman's life on Krypton is interrupted by small earthquakes, which are implied to be caused by his mind rebelling against the Black Mercy. The earthquakes get worse over time, and turn into full-blown volcanic eruptions that destroy Krypton when the illusion is broken.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Apparently the Black Mercy tries to give you a happy illusion, but if the logical extrapolation of what you want is not really happy, you'll end up in a nightmare like Superman does.
- Beware the Nice Ones: It is rare for Superman to truly unleash on someone with intent to kill. Mongul is lucky to be alive.
- A Birthday, Not a Break: It's Superman's birthday and he gets a house call from someone who wants him dead.
- Brick Joke: At the beginning of the comic, Wonder Woman says she got Superman a replica of Kandor made by Themiscyran jewelcrafters and that she hopes he doesn't already have one. At the end, Superman receives this gift — and hastily puts away the Kandor replica he already has.
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Some things have a different name on Krypton (at least, the illusory Krypton in Superman's mind) than they do on Earth, from the simpler things ("first-day" instead of birthday, "units" for minutes) to inventions analogous to Earth ones ("holofactor" for television, and "paragondola" which is a floating, wheel-less automobile).
- Continuity Nod: Countless, particularly to the Silver Age. Superman's wife is Lyla Ler-Rol, who Superman met while time-stranded on Krypton, the various Kryptonian geographical landmarks are callbacks to other Silver Age stories, etc. Alan Moore has stated repeatedly that he is a great fan of the Silver Age Superman, and everything that goes along with him. On Batman's side, his fantasy involves him marrying Kathy Kane, the Silver Age Bat-Woman.
- Crapsack World: What Krypton has apparently become in Superman's dream — at least that's what Jor-El believes.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: While Krypton is generally portrayed as a utopian society, the comic book version subverts this heavily. The fact that Kryptonian skies are a sinister red tone (due to Krypton orbiting a red sun) is the reader's first hint of the darkness of the illusion. Played straight in the JLU version.
- Decapitation Presentation: In Mongul's fantasy, he rips Superman's head off and puts it on a pike, taking it everywhere he conquers.
- Deus Angst Machina: There's probably no logical reason why a logical extrapolation of what Superman's life on Krypton would be like would not involve the world having descended into social upheaval and riots, his father having become a reactionary bigot, and his mother having died of cancer. But there's also no reason it would have to involve those things other than it being necessary for the plot. One might surmise it's his subconscious telling him that something is very wrong — in fact, Kal-El mentions at the Kandor Crater that the entire situation somehow feels wrong.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Mongul breaks Wonder Woman's arm and mops the floor with her, then gets Superman in a death grip. He finally gets taken out by Robin, who cleverly uses the Black Mercy as a weapon. A rare Big Damn Heroes moment for Jason Todd.
- Dream Apocalypse: "You're my son and I'll always love you... But I don't think you're real." And once you wake up, all those you loved who were not real will be gone, of course.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: In both versions, it's implied at the end that Mongul is perfectly content with the fantasy of bloody conquest the Black Mercy is giving him. Whereas Superman is able to break free because, being a hero, he was able to comprehend something wrong with the fantasy he was given. In the animated version, Mongul even goes as far as to speculate that Superman is living out a fantasy of conquest.
- Zig-zagged in the comic, where Mongul guesses that Superman's fantasy is him going back to "whatever aboriginal backwater" he was raised in. He's wrong in this case, but it's a perfectly valid assumption considering Superman's love for the Kents and Smallville.
- Exposed to the Elements: Wonder Woman wears her usual costume in the Arctic. Lampshaded by Robin.
- Expy: The Sword of Rao are pretty obvious Ku Klux Klan expies.
- Faux Affably Evil: "I understand that your society makes distinctions based on age and gender. Perhaps you can tell me which one of you it would be polite to kill first."
- The Final Temptation: What the Black Mercy gives its victims, as shown in the case of Superman, Batman, and (in the comic book) Mongul.
- Fridge Logic: In-universe, this is what ruins the idyllic illusion.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: A downplayed case, but before this one-shot, Mongul was merely an Arc Villain; this story along with Reign of the Supermen catapulted him to one of Superman's select arch-enemies who could stand toe-to-toe with him using nothing but his monstrous strength.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Mongul is defeated by the very plant he used to immobilize Superman.
- Hurl It into the Sun: Or a Black Hole. You know, whatever.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: This is Superman's greatest desire after all: just live as a normal man.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Batman actually says this.
- Ironic Echo: When encountering Batman, Wonder Woman and Robin trying to figure out what happened to Superman, Mongul sneers that they're "almost intelligent". At the climax, just before Robin drops the Black Mercy onto Mongul, he quips "Almost intelligent, huh?"
- Just Friends: Superman and Wonder Woman, according to Wonder Woman. Then Moore tosses in the Ship Tease noted below.
- Karma Houdini/Karmic Death: Mongul's fate. Death being figurative here, of course. Depending on if Mongul's dream turns sour or if he's dissatisfied with it, he got exactly what he wanted and was satisfied with it. In the Justice League Unlimited episode, Batman bitterly states that whatever he sees is "too good for him".
- Kick the Dog: General consensus seems to be that Mongul's sexist remarks are done just to be a prick.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: The Black Mercy.
- Manly Tears: In the comic, Jor-El sobs after angrily smashing a crystal bird feeding its young after Kal tells him he's no longer the loving father he used to be after his career was ruined by falsely predicting the planet's destruction.
- Meaningful Name: Batman (Wonder Woman in the animated version) bred a new rose as a gift for Superman, calling it "The Krypton". It's ruined at the end of the story. Superman is aware of the irony and meaning.Batman: Well, I'm afraid it got stepped on, and... Well, frankly, it's dead.
Superman: Don't worry about it, Bruce. Perhaps it's for the best.
- Mythology Gag:
- Many, but the most affecting is that Brainiac still shrunk Kandor in Superman's fantasy and took it away. At the end of his dream, Kal-El visits the Kandor Crater with his son.
- The story might have been influenced by another comic, "Superman's Secret Afterlife" from 1979, where the hero was also trapped in an illusionary alternate life by some of his enemies, also using an alien creature.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Superman deals one to Mongul in a fit of rage. Even Mongul, who during the Pre-Crisis era was consistently portrayed as being slightly stronger than the Man of Steel, was afraid that he was going to kill him.Superman: Do you have any idea what you DID TO ME?
- Noodle Incident: We only learn a bit of Batman's fantasy in the comics.Batman: It was so strange... I was married to Kathy Kane (the original Batwoman) and we had a teenage daughter...
- Nothing Is Scarier: Unlike the comic version, in the animated version we never actually get to see what it is that Mongul sees in his fantasy (though we do hear small snippets of it). And yet, it is so much worse...
- Off with His Head!: In Mongul's dream, he rips Superman's head off, puts it in a pike and parades it as he conquers Earth.
- Oh, Crap!: Mongul has a minor one. When he hears Superman scream his name, he knows he only has a fraction of a second before a very pissed off Kryptonian arrives.
- Playing Possum: Wonder Woman in the DCAU version.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Mongul makes a number of blatantly sexist remarks toward Wonder Woman in both adaptations, which is ironic since at least in the comic he speaks of gender distinctions as something he's only heard about.
- Precision F-Strike:Mongul: Oh, dear. Is that a neural impacter? I didn't know they were still making those. I'd advise you to try the plasma disruptor. It's more of a woman's weapon.
Wonder Woman: Go to Hell!
- Rather obviously, it becomes a Curse Cut Short in Justice League Unlimited, as Wonder Woman fires the weapon just before she can say "hell".
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Wonder Woman, who quickly realizes that the only thing she gains by beating on Mongul is blistered hands.
- Punctuated Pounding: After Superman gives him a face full of heat vision.Mongul: You... insufferable... little... speck... You HURT me. YOU! (pound) HURT! (pound) ME!
- Putting on the Reich: The Sons of Rao in the comic.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning. "Burn."◊
- Rule of Three: The narration of the comic includes three uses of the phrase, "He is content", which is also the same number of people who become affected by the Black Mercy.
- Say My Name: In the comic, after Robin ripped the Black Mercy off, Superman screamed Mongul's name so loud that he knocked Robin over.
- Ship Tease: Alan Moore has Superman and Wonder Woman having a long kiss on the mouth, with this exchange:Superman: Mmmm. Why don't we do that more often?
Wonder Woman: I don't know. Too predictable?
- Significant Birth Date: Superman's birthday is on February 29.
- Skyward Scream: In the original story.Superman: MONGUL!
- Straw Conservative: In the comic, Jor-El becomes one of these after his predictions of Krypton's fate don't come true. It's all but stated that the loss of his wife Lara is what really catapulted him to this.
- Stripperific: In the comic, Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman are making small talk outside the Fortress in the Arctic snow. When Wonder Woman suggests they (specifically, Batman and Robin who are not endowed with superpowers like she is) get inside to avoid the cold, Robin (himself barelegged) comments on how little she's wearing compared to them: "Before us two freeze? Dressed like that?" Batman merely replies with "Think clean thoughts, chum," with a restrained smile on his face afterward.
- Superhero Trophy Shelf: The story takes place partially at the Fortress of Solitude, which is the Trope Namer.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Jason Todd for Dick Grayson as Robin. Wonder Woman meets Jason for the first time in this story and even remarks on how much he looks like Dick that she briefly forgot it wasn't the latter. Pre-Crisis Jason in a nutshell.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Superman is stopped from doing so when he sees his parents' statues. Mongul Lampshades this.
- Title Drop: In the adaptation, this is Batman's explanation for giving Superman cash.Batman: What do you get for the man who has everything?
- Unstoppable Rage: Superman when he wakes from his dream and realizes what Mongul has done to him. The resulting rampage is both terrifying and awesome.
- What Are You: Asked verbatim by Batman of Mongul in the original. Mongul scoffs that if Bats doesn't know who he is, then he's not worthy of an introduction.