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YMMV / Superman

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  • Adorkable: Several times, especially as Clark Kent. His shyness and sweet nature are very much genuine. Appropriately for a character who is meant to be a representation of the ideals of each age he's written in, post-Rebirth Clark (2015-onward) is overtly quite nerdy, such as when Lois playfully calls out his love of "old movies" like The Hustler (1961) and To Kill a Mockingbird. This quality is directly reflected in Steve Lombard, the Sports columnist at the Planet: Steve is basically the embodiment of a Jerk Jock, and his need to emphasize his "manly man" status actually comes off as a lack of confidence, and representative of "fragile" masculinity. Clark, however, doesn't hide his dorky side, which not only doesn't diminish his measure in the eyes of Lois, Jon, and the crew of the Planet, but actually endears him to them (and the reader), representing "true" masculinity — that is, being physically powerful, yet so self-confident and comfortable with who he is as a person that he doesn't feel the need to show off that power. Instead, he is very humble and gentle.
  • Anvilicious: Arguably more than any other superhero, Superman has enthralled generations of comic book readers for over eighty years because his story is one of the most unsubtle and in-your-face arguments for the Power of Good in the history of fiction. Even with enough strength to rival most militaries, Superman selflessly works to protect people of every race, culture, class and creed, he turns aside every chance at using his gifts for wealth or power, and he acts with genuine compassion and humanity in all things—despite having been born on a world light-years from Earth. Why? Because doing the right thing is a choice, and everyone is capable of making that choice. And from those who have much to give, much is demanded. He also touted calling out discriminatory behavior in The '50s.
  • Archive Panic: As one of the most enduring and popular characters in fiction, this is to be expected. Superman has been around since 1938, and continues to be popular into the 21th century, spinning off many comic book series, action figures, tv shows, movies, crossovers, merchandising and even lots of fanworks. Trying to collect every single work of the Superman franchise would prove to be extremely difficult.
  • Broken Base:
    • After Superman Returns, the fans were deeply divided over whether the next film (if there was to be one) should be a sequel to said film or a reboot. This culminated with Man of Steel which some fans viewed as a betrayal for going in a Darker and Edgier direction, while other fans thought the film was the modernization the hero needed.
    • Naturally this happened with the New 52 reboot as well. Some fans didn't like the body armor (because why does an invulnerable man need body armor?), the increased aggressiveness and rebelliousness, the slightly odd "collar" design and of course the fact that he no longer wears his red trunks on the outside. Other fans think of it as a "modernization" of the character, and in fact, appreciate the removal of the trunks, feeling these had become cheesy by this point.
    • There are debates about if Superman should have his career as Superboy or keep to his Golden Age roots and it seems that the majority wants Superman’s career as Superboy back since it has caused continuity snarls with the Legion of Superheroes since they were inspired by him and it does fit with Superman’s role of being the Hope Bringer.
    • Crisis on Infinite Earths and the 1986 reboot splintered the fandom and the rift hasn't yet healed after several decades. The real identity is/should be Clark Kent or Superman? Superman should be able to move planets or only mountains? He must be the only survivor of Krypton or characters like Kara Zor-El, Krypto the Superdog and General Zod are essential to the mythos? Krypton provides excellent world-building and storytelling opportunities or must be reduced to mere background excuse for the powers? The debates will NOT stop.
    • Speaking of Supergirl, the fanbase is polarized between fans of the original Supergirl Kara Zor-El and fans of the other Supergirls that DC spent eighteen years attempting to replace Kara with. Kara's fans feel she's the only Supergirl who actually makes sense, worked fine for twenty-six years until DC killed her off, and her death and failed attempts to replace her with short-lived substitutes led to a gigantic Continuity Snarl. Fans of the other characters to take up the Supergirl mantle think Matrix, Cir-El, and others were more interesting characters and resent Kara's increased popularity and exposure since her return in 2004.
    • The red trunks. For some they represent everything great about classic Superman, being old-fashioned, goofy, and withstand any cynical attempts to 'update' him for modern times. For others, they represent everything wrong with Superman, being old-fashioned, goofy, and refusing to modernize and get with the times. Some Take a Third Option in that they don't necessarily mind the trunks but don't like how certain gatekeeper types put so much emphasis on what they see as a superficial aspect as somehow being more "essential" to the character than his deeds and personality. There's also an aesthetic element; the red trunks give his design some color balance and help emphasize his big "strongman" torso and arm physique.
  • Cant Unhear It: Everyone has a favorite voice for a character that has been around since 1938, but on average, the most famous examples are Christopher Reeve, Tim Daly and George Newbern.
  • Critical Backlash: An eternal trope when it comes to Superman and honestly a lot of "classic" superheroes generally. Cynical, edgy critics will dismiss the character as a "boring, overpowered boyscout," gathering a mass of angry, mostly-young haters who parrot their opinions in the process. Eventually, they turn audiences against them with the extremity of their views, especially when they start Running the Asylum and trying to make stories so cynical and edgy that audiences quickly become exhausted and begin to appreciate the idea of a lovably-wholesome everyman with godlike powers who just wants to help people and make the world a better place more than whatever this is. Often, this process leads to these same audiences (and even some of the haters who've aged out of youthful edginess) discovering the richness and emotional complexity the character and his world are capable of demonstrating in the right hands.
  • Fandom-Enraging Misconception: Automatically labeling Superman a boring Invincible Hero because of his powers is enough to get fans of the character riled up.
  • Evil is Cool: Most of Superman’s enemies get this, such as Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Zod, Metallo, Parasite, Lobo, Doomsday, and more.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • Superman fans vs. Goku fans. The latter thinks that Superman is an overpowered bore, while boasting about how Goku could defeat him, while the former thinks that Goku is an idiot that couldn't out strategize a brick and that Superman is far more complex then they give him credit for as they boast that Superman is invincible. There's been a small but growing third party that just wants to see them become best buddies. And then Saitama entered the mix, creating a three-way rivalry between fans of the characters. Debates on who would win are never pretty.
    • Superman fans vs. Batman fans. The latter thinks Superman is an overpowered, boring one-dimensional goody two shoes and his fans are children with a lack of understanding of the world. The former thinks that Batman is an overrated, wangsty, ineffective man-child of a Creator's Pet and that most of his fans are biased, overly-cynical jackasses that don't actually read comics and think cynicism equals realism, and whose combination of absurd wealth and Charles Atlas Superpower is no more or less realistic than a Flying Brick who works a day job as a reporter.
    • Back in the day it used to be Superman versus Shazam! fans or rather Captain Marvel fans. Captain Marvel was a superhero who regularly outsold Superman and who was far more popular in The '40s and widely known than even Superman was. This led to a famous court cause that led to DC swallowing its competitor Fawcett Comics while poaching Captain Marvel's chief writer Otto Binder for Superman. Decades later, the fighting has lightened up, and while Shazam's popularity has gone down he's still acknowledged as one of the few characters that can take Superman in a fight.
  • Fandom-Specific Plot:
    • Many Alternate Universe Fics and official Elseworlds stories love to explore the possibility of how Kal-El would have turned out if his rocket pod didn't land in Smallville, or otherwise like to transplant him into other universes via utilizing the crossover. Superman: Red Son (where Superman lands in Soviet Russia) and Superman: The Dark Side (where Superman lands on Apokolips and becomes a loyal servant of... oh crap), are only two of many tales. In the 1970s, Saturday Night Live did a parody version in which Kal lands and is raised in Nazi Germany and grows up to fight for "untruth, injustice, and the Nazi way"note .
    • Some fanfics like to explore the possibility where Krypton wasn't destroyed.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • With almost every other DC Comics fandom! Especially Shazam!, Wonder Woman, Supergirl and, for the less militant of either fandom, Batman fans.
    • Spider-Man fans and Superman fans tend to get along well, despite the whole DC vs Marvel thing, perhaps because Clark and Peter share many traits in common, being The Determinator and Genius Bruiser Nice Guys with similar Happily Adopted backstories and Escapist Character elements, so it's difficult to just like one and hate the other. Doesn't hurt that the two have had three crossovers to themselves and two company-wide crossovers where they both appeared. There's also the fact that both are prominent examples of married superheroes, whose marriages have been plagued by writers and editors who wanted to restore a status-quo, with one idea proposed in 2000 more or less foreshadowing what One More Day ultimately did to Spider-Mannote . The two fandoms became the other's sole confidant when the two franchises started facing similar problems behind the scenes. Seems like capes gotta look out for each other.
    • Similar to the Spider-Man example, there's a decent amount of overlap with the Superman and Captain America fandoms due to both characters' histories in being all-American icons and being the Big Good of their respective universes.
  • Incest Yay Shipping: A number of Superman and Supergirl fans ship both characters together despite them being first cousins, either because they think there's no getting around the "Kryptonian of Steel, Human of Kleenex" trouble or because they genuinely think Clark/Kal and Linda/Kara make a good couple. To be fair, Silver and Bronze stories provide plenty fuel, accidental innuendo and subtext if you know where look (Action Comics #260, Action Comics #270, the infamous Action Comics #289, Superman #309 during the Krypton No More story arc, this panel from The Super Dictionary). Fanfic writers such as Megamatt09 have penned long tales featuring them together.
  • Love to Hate: Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and General Zod have committed a lot of terrible deeds and have their petty moments every once in a while, but there's a good reason why they've earned the title of being Superman's arch-enemies; they're compelling, interesting, and formidable adversaries who can challenge the Man of Steel in several ways as well as represent potential darker sides of the hero, play major roles in some of the best Superman storylines, and sometimes are more nuanced than viewers would expect. There's a reason why these three tend to be popular choices for best comic book villains and why Lex in particular is seen as one of the greatest villains in fiction.
  • Mainstream Obscurity: A complicated case. Superman is an extremely well-known character, being the superhero's superhero. His relationship with Lois, Jimmy, Perry, and the Daily Planet along with his Clark Kenting persona are well known elements. His feud against Lex Luthor is one of the most iconic hero/villain stories of all time. And at any given time, he's probably the third most popular superhero of all time, trailing closely behind Spider-Man and Batman. But despite being such a renowned hero, the majority of Superman's central Rogues Gallery has lagged behind in recognition and simply being relatable to a more general audience. Everyone knows about Lex (and secondarily Zod, Doomsday, and Darkseid) but for people like Metallo, Parasite, Brainiac, Toyman, and Mr. Mxyzptlk? Some of them may be at the tips of some peoples' tongues due to past cartoons and TV shows but the severe lack of live cinematic representation for those villains has left them in a strange spot where their level of memorability with general audiences isn't at the same level as Superman. If you go up to any random person on the streets, you could probably have an serious discussion about the iconic Luthor or Batman's Arkham villains or Spider-Man's rogues but couldn't get people to talk about Parasite or Toyman with the same breadth, much less have them understand why these villains are so important to the Superman mythos or name any important storylines they've been in.


    A to B 
  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: New 52 Superman. His dignified acceptance of his impending demise, and selfless prioritization of ensuring Earth's protection all while heading towards the inevitable was enough of a tear-jerker that even some readers who never got on board with the character were genuinely sorry to see him go.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: The debate has raged for years over whether Kal is Superman or Clark Kent first.
    • Pre-Crisis, Superman was very much the dominant personality, with Clark Kent as the mask he puts on in order to "hide." He noticeably wasn't very committed to it, as the Clark Kenting trope is quick to point out, and several times tried to just give up on the persona and be Superman 24/7.
    • The idea that Superman was the dominant personality was theorized by Jules Feiffer, whose words were paraphrased by Bill the Snakecharmer in Kill Bill Vol 2. While that was the case in The Silver Age of Comic Books, several Bronze Age stories, most notably the "Mr. Xavier Saga" (no relation), came to the conclusion that he valued both identities equally, and felt miserable and stressed whenever he was forced to neglect either for an extended period of time. Without Clark, he had no way to ever relax; and without Superman, he couldn't help people in danger.note 
    • One good story involved a pair of gambling aliens separating Clark and Superman. All that happened was that there were two Supermen, and that when one of them was Clark, the other felt compelled to be Superman, and vice versa.
    • Michael Fleischer once suggested that if Krypton had not exploded and Kal-El had grown up there, he might have been so overshadowed by his brilliant father that he might have been more like shy, mild-mannered Clark.
    • Post-Crisis, it's the opposite, where Clark is the dominant personality with no knowledge or memories of Krypton until well into his adult years and after he started operating as a superhero. This means that Clark comes off as a far more assertive and aggressive person than the Pre-Crisis "wimp." This makes Superman come off as stiff and artificial because, as Clark puts it, "Clark is who I am, Superman is what I can do."
      • To a certain extent, this is how George Reeves played Clark. He was easygoing but could be assertive if there was an emergency. There were times when Reeves' Clark seemed to forget he wasn't supposed to be Superman.
    • Modern writers now suggest that there are actually three personalities - the first is Clark at home, who is a decent, normal guy like any other. Then there is Clark at the Daily Planet, who is still a nice guy if occasionally clumsy and a little goofy, likes to play things safe but also an ace reporter and Deadpan Snarker par excellence. Finally, there is Superman, who is every inch The Cape and honestly believes in Truth and Justice, almost to a fault. He sees Krypton as his birthright, but not his home and tries to bring the best of that society to Earth while trying to steer away from its shortcomings.
      • It has been implied that, similarly, there are three personalities - Clark Kent, the mild-mannered, calm and somewhat geeky dude; Superman, the superhero, who fights for Justice and Freedom and wants to inspire the world to be good; and finally, Kal-El, a merge of both personalities and who he really is for those who are closest to him.
    • Superman is typically portrayed as an eager hero, happy to save everyone else. Five For Fighting's song about him, also called "Superman," portrays him as "a man in a silly red sheet" who's aware that he's not as special or heroic as everyone else thinks he is, and who struggles under the pressure of being the person everyone looks up to.
    • More importantly, Superman was originally a hard-nosed bruiser who went after not just criminals, but businessmen and lawmakers who he perceived as screwing people over.
    • Is Clark Kent an exaggerated disguise Superman takes to fake everyone out? Or is Superman a projection of Clark's desire to help others? Or, does Kal-El struggle to balance the nerdy reporter with the macho crimefighter? Before 1986, the answer was clearly the former, but between that point and about 2003, it was the later. From that point forward, it's been somewhat open to interpretation, but in 2011, the New 52 pretty much got rid of the exaggerated nerd angle once again.
      • This is not counting appearances in adaptations, but only comic books. For the record, the exaggerated nerd appeared in most cinematic interpretations, but not in Man of Steel or Superman & the Mole Men whereas of the four live-action shows, he only played the exaggerated nerd in Superboy. Animation has tended to follow whatever interpretation the comics were going with at the time.
      • What is interesting is that the Golden Age Batman had Batman being the mask Bruce Wayne wore, while Clark Kent was the mask Superman wore. Now, it's reversed - Bruce is the mask that Batman wears, while Superman is the mask Clark wears.
    • Consider Mr Mxyzptlk. Is he merely a Jerkass Reality Warper who tests the Man of Steel's patience, or a more benevolent Trickster encouraging Superman to use his brain and to think and use his powers in unconventional ways? He may well be a big Superman fan who loves seeing what he can do!
    • Superboy Prime: An Omnicidal Maniac who destroys anything he doesn't like, or a kid who's been given incredible power and thrust into a situation he was in no way ready to handle? Or a deliberate parody designed to screw with the fans heads with lines like "I'll kill you to death!" Or maybe he's just dumb?
    • Lex Luthor: Pure evil? A hero striving to show the human race that it has some worth when set against the impossible, unreachable ideal that is Superman, rejecting no act that would prove his point as worth it to the greater good? A tragic figure whose actions are ruled by obsession based in deep insecurities unearthed by Superman's mere presence? A secular humanist who believes that Superman is holding back social growth on Earth because people rely on him too much and is preventing humanity from achieving its grandest destiny? A titan of industry and politics driven mad by a world that truly can't appreciate his genius nor see the "threat" Superman poses? A futurist who believes in the advancement of mankind no matter what the cost, sometimes resulting in him doing TRULY horrifying stuff for the "greater good"? A petty dick who'll stoop to any level of crime, including stealing forty cakes, which is as many as four tens And That's Terrible?
      • Is Lex Luthor's Fantastic Racism towards Superman genuine or is it a front he puts up because he knows it's one of the few, legitimate ways he can publicly attack such a beloved figure? Lex hating Superman for being an alien is one of the defining traits of his character but even that can be called into question because Lex otherwise gets along with and works with other aliens like Brainiac, Sinestro, and Perpetua without showing any prejudice around them. If one were to assume that Lex secretly envies Superman and wants to be Superman as some stories strongly imply if not outright state, then one could also surmise that Lex is only cynically exploiting anti-alien prejudice because he realizes attacking Superman for his alien origins is probably the only legitimate way he could publicly criticize Superman and if Superman were to turn on Earth one day, then Lex would be fully vindicated in his criticisms in the public eye, but otherwise couldn't care less about Superman being an alien, considering Lex's Villainous Friendship and work camaraderie with other aliens like Brainiac and Sinestro.
  • Ass Pull:
    • Silver Age Superman stories were notorious for coming up with convenient new powers for the main character all the time.
    • Superman had pure kryptonite injected into his veins, yet was still able to overpower a villain who had been a match for him even when he was healthy.
  • Audience-Alienating Era: Superman has been around since 1938. Being a very Long Runner, everyone has one period they consider an Audience-Alienating Era. The most common candidates, however, are:
    • Superman transforming into an electrical being, then splitting into Red and Blue Superman, in the 90s. (This odd development was in fact a take on a 50s "imaginary story" with a similar concept.)
    • Superman: Grounded, J. Michael Straczynski's half-aborted run on the main title which involved Superman walking across America "to rediscover the country" was so critically derided that it was called the worst comic of the year.
    • The New 52 version has its detractors, mainly due to a relatively radical costume redesign and a perceived attempt to make Superman Darker and Edgier. During that time, Superman suffered from inconsistent characterization because every writer was more interested in portraying their own interpretation of Superman rather than delivering a single, more cohesive narrative, the dissolution of his marriage with Lois Lane, his divisive relationship with Wonder Woman and his lack of meaningful connections to his fellow superheroes. These problems only grew worse with...
    • Superman: Truth, a mishandled attempt to reinterpret Superman as a cynical, brooding character. It was so bad that DC's sales numbers fell to their pre-New 52 levels that following initiatives worked overtime to undo the damage.
  • Audience Awareness Advantage: Probably the ultimate example of this, and has been for decades (since the Silver Age at the least). For instance, a remarkable number of criminals seemed to not only know that Superman was weakened by Kryptonite, but exactly what each color of Kryptonite would do... even if it was that color of Kryptonite's first time showing up. Because everyone knows Superman is hurt by Kryptonite! But even more than that is the whole "people don't know Clark Kent is Superman wearing glasses" deal. Again, having gotten blatant enough that even characters in-universe who are in on the secret have mocked others for not getting it. And the number of times "Clark Kent and Superman are never in the same place together!" is used as evidence is almost appalling - though that was solved in the late Silver Age by Supes having Superman robots, while post-Crisis, a few times Clark and Superman appeared together and it was established they were besties. (In The Death of Superman, for example, Matrix Supergirl posed as Clark when he was "rescued".)
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Some fans find Superman one of the greatest comic characters in history while others find him a boring character that is too perfect and overpowered to connect with the fans.
    • Lex Luthor: Competent antagonist who provides an interesting Evil Brains contrast to Superman's Good Brawn, or weakling that the writers make too big of a deal over purely out of the Grandfather Clause?
    • Lois Lane - awesome woman by way of her guts and intelligence, or an annoying pain in the ass Designated Love Interest?
    • Naturally, the changes made to Superman in the New 52 have divided fans, from the changes to his costume to some differences in his personality to the fact that he's dating Wonder Woman instead of his usual default love interest Lois Lane.

    C to D 
  • Captain Obvious Aesop: This article mocks Superman: Grounded for this, pointing out that Superman appears to be making the statement that drug dealers and child abuse are bad and treating it as though it's some radical new idea.
  • Complete Monster: See here.
  • Common Knowledge:
    • Everyone "knows" that Clark Kent's only disguise is his glasses that inexplicably fool everyone. In actuality, Clark slouches and acts awkward in his civilian persona, making it harder to believe someone like him could be Superman and, most infamously, in some continuities Clark's glasses have special kryptonian lenses that hypnotize people and keeps them from adding 2 and 2. Other reasons don't really work on the comic page: altering the pitch, tone, and accent of his voice and the way he talks, Clark's suits hiding Superman's Heroic Build, differences in facial expression and body language. Clark Kenting has a full accounting of how the disguise can really work, if Clark is a good actor.
    • While everyone thinks of Clark Kent changing into his Superman clothes in a phone booth, the truth is that he's hardly ever done so in the actual comics. He does, however, do so in the Superman Theatrical Cartoons.
    • As for Lois Lane, everyone thinks she's a Damsel in Distress, can not figure out Clark's secret, prefers the powers to the man, and would not survive their wedding night... Except not: she's the poster girl for Damsel out of Distress, as she's actually mastered martial arts and has been able to handle herself since very early on (and when she does need rescuing, it's less her being helpless and more her Intrepid Reporter tendencies putting her in dangerous situations). She's known Superman's secret identity since 1993 (after actually suspecting it for decades), and in numerous instances settled down nevertheless with a depowered Clark. Lois not only survived their wedding night in 1996 (and all the following) but also their son's birth.
    • Lana Lang was Supes' love interest back when he lived in Smallville... aaand when he lived in Metropolis, too. People tend to forget Superman had a long-lasting Betty and Veronica situation with the two of them that lasted decades, not unlike Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy/Mary Jane Watson. And it was only resolved in "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?", the epilogue to the Silver Age Superman's story. So it's not as though Lana wasn't a part of Clark's life following his Superboy days.
    • Everyone knows Supergirl (especially her Pre-Crisis self) is a gender-flipped weaker Superman, a submissive sweetheart with no distinctive traits to distinguish from her cousin, who does not even has her own villains. Her comic-books, though, have gone to great lengths to establish her personality is different, depicting her as more hot-tempered, more reckless, and focusing on her alienation and survivor trauma). Jerry Siegel himself established that she is as powerful as Superman in "The Unknown Supergirl". And she has her own recurring villains.
    • "The Super-Steed of Steel"'s second half, wherein Comet the Super-Horse develops a crush on Kara, started the "Silver Age Supergirl dated a horse" meme. Too bad that Kara never dated a horse. To start with, Comet was not a horse but a centaur, and he flirted with Kara while in human form. Kara never knew who that handsome cowboy was, and although she kissed him once, she never dated him, the whole thing being forgotten after two issues and never brought up by the characters again.
    • Due to the Supergirl (2015) show, the general public believes that Lena Luthor is a mainstay of the Supergirl comics, filling the role of best friend/rival/friendly enemy. In reality, Supergirl and Lena have not been friends for decades. The original Lena was in fact conceived as a Lois Lane's supporting character (first appearing in Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #23) before being transferred to the Supergirl strip in "The Girl with the X-Ray Mind", made an smattering of appearances during the 60's, and then she almost completely vanished, reappearing briefly in "The Strange Revenge of Lena Luthor" to complete her character arc before heading into comic-book limbo for good. Althought she would be replaced by other versions, Lena Luthor and Kara Zor-El have not talked or even known each other in the main continuity since that 1981 storyline.
    • Everybody knows that Darkseid is Superman's other nemesis alongside Lex Luthor, serving as the Greater-Scope Villain of the Superman mythos. While this might be true now, it's a fairly recent development, and it started in the adaptations rather than the original comics. For most of his early history, Darkseid was the Big Bad of the Fourth World family of comics (of which New Gods is the most famous), which largely existed in their own corner of the DC Universe, and hardly ever featured established DC superheroes. Their connection to Superman was pretty tenuous: the spinoff series Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen was part of the Fourth World epic, but it only featured Darkseid as The Man Behind the Man for Intergang, and only his agents Simyan and Mokkari actually battled Superman and Jimmy.
    • You would be hard-pressed to find a comic fan who does not believe that Pre-Crisis Lex Luthor hated and wanted to kill Superman because Superboy caused his baldness...even though this is false. "How Luthor Met Superboy", the story where Jerry Siegel narrated their feud's origin, shows that Luthor came to hate Superboy because Clark accidentally ruined his life-creating experiment (while saving Lex from a lab fire which Lex himself recklessly caused, mind you), and Lex convinced himself that Clark did it on purpose. Through the story, Lex only complains about his baldness twice in the same scene in an added-insult-to-injury fashion, whereas he rants on and on and on about Superboy being a treacherous rat who is attempting to ruin his career as a scientist because he is jealous from his genius.
    • During The Golden Age of Comic Books, Superman was nowhere near as powerful as his Silver Age Superpower Lottery levels, right? He started that way, but after a couple years, he was blowing out stars and flying through time without a care. Later comics played up that Golden Age Superman was always at "leaping tall buildings, nothing less than a bursting shell can penetrate his skin" levels in order to contrast him with the Silver Age Superman, in the same way as they pretended he'd "always" worked for George Taylor at the Daily Star, when Perry and the Planet came in with the radio series.
    • It's commonly said of the Silver Age Superman that he had New Powers as the Plot Demands, and that all he had to do was add "super" onto a given word and that was something he could do, while his Post-Crisis incarnation removed all of that and codified his powers while removing a bunch of others. In point of fact, Superman's powerset was pretty much set in stone by the mid-50s, and the only powers he really "lost" after the Crisis were hypnosis, ventriloquism, and altering his facial structurenote  (Super-Breath and high intelligence were initially removed, but came back), all of which had been shown pretty consistently. Powers like "super-weaving" were just him being flowery about saying "I will use my super speed to weave very fast." The closest thing to New Powers as the Plot Demands he had was using Hollywood Science to apply his powers—for instance, using Super-Speed to "break the time barrier" or spin or vibrate objects—or various gadgets he'd invented with the aforementioned intelligence. In point of fact, the Silver Age Superman was more of a Science Hero than anything, and usually defeated his opponents with his intellect. The main change the Post-Crisis series made was limiting the scope of his power, attempting to restrict him to city-scale battles rather than cosmic-scale ones and focusing more on the straightforward physical aspects of his abilities—and even then, being Strong as They Need to Be, he often fought on a cosmic scale anyway (albeit a noticeably lower one).
    • The idea that the Silver Age Superman was completely unstoppable and all-powerful. While he does have far more impressive high-end feats than most other incarnations of the character (i.e. pulling planets), he was very much not portrayed as omnipotent on average, and in many, many issues, he was shown to be threatened by common-but-clever mundane criminals (albeit ones who usually had access to one of his weaknesses), forcing him to outwit them. And superpowered villains frequently outright defeated him: for instance, Brainiac (the character often held as his first Silver Age villain) decisively crushed him in his first appearance, and Superman ultimately only won by way of being able to escape his prison after Brainiac had put himself in stasis.
    • It's commonly stated by fans authoritatively that "Clark Kent is the 'real' identity, not Superman." In point of fact, this is probably one of the biggest points of Depending on the Writer in Superman comics, and even in stories that do utilize the idea, he's still shown affecting a personality and planning out specific mannerisms as Clark Kent to some degree or another. It's less a fact and more an Alternative Character Interpretation. Even if you specify "post-Crisis", it's still only a "most of the time" thing. (Some post-Crisis writers have proposed that there are three personalities, the two public ones and "Smallville Clark", which is who he is around Lois and his parents, just as some pre-Crisis writers said there were the two public personas and "Kal-El".)
    • Bizarro has entered the pop cultural lexicon as an inverted, anti-Superman being that is supposed to behave like his exact opposite, and is therefore ridiculed by the way writers try to portray him. The thing is, Bizarro himself is invoking the "exact opposite" trope to define himself, and he often fails at it - that is to say, Bizarro's failure as Superman's opposite is an In-Universe flaw.
    • Superman's other main weakness (besides kryptonite) is magic....except not really. A large portion of comic book fans and the general public at large seem to equate the Man of Steel's ability to be affected by magic spells, mystic weapons and such to be a vulnerability inherent to him and/or others who share his Kryptonian origins as a debilitating and potentially fatal chink in his otherwise invincible aura, like the green rock from his doomed home planet. This is not actually the case. Most writers nowadays convey the notion that Superman, despite his Nigh-Invulnerability that enables him to laugh off bullets, fire, and even high explosives, affords him no more protection against say, a spell cast by a minor sorcerer to make him burn, turn into a rabbit, or just sneeze uncontrollably, than a regular, non-enhanced human being. But it's not as if just being near a mystic talisman (like Dr. Fate's helmet or Dr. Strange's Eye of Agamatto) will cause him to weaken and possibly die, like being in the presence of a chunk of kryptonite would. Muddying the waters further is that some stories do suggest he is somewhat vulnerable to magic, but only in the sense of offensively-minded magic (i.e. a magic sword would cut him more effectively than an equally invulnerable character who isn't a Kryptonian).
  • Continuity Lock-Out:
    • Inaccesible continuity was not an issue during the first twenty-five years of the character's history, since both the Super Family books kept a loose continuity, and status quo's alterations usually consisted in the introduction of some new character or concept. Any new reader could pick any issue and understand what was going on. However, DC became gradually a stickler for continuity through the 1960s, publishing longer multi-part stories -"The Unknown Supergirl" was eight-issue-long-, introducing new developments (such like Lex Luthor getting married, Supergirl getting adopted and graduating high-school or Clark Kent becoming a newscaster), demanding that Superman's writers sticked to the already existing backstory, ensuring that previous stories counted, and then publishing continuity-heavy mini-series like The Krypton Chronicles and World of Krypton. By the early 1980s, DC decided that Superman's long and storied continuity were hindering sales and drawing away readers.
    • The 1986 reboot was meant to provide a clean slate, but it made everything worse. Not only had three continuities -Golden Age, Silver/Bronze Age and Post Crisis- now to keep track of, but also DC published four monthly Superman books and a quaterly one during the 90s. Those solo books actually worked as a single weekly book telling a continuous story. No matter what issue you bought, you were dropped right in the middle of an ongoing story, and you needed to buy at least two more books to figure out both the beginning and ending.
    • According to Jeph Loeb, this is the major reason why the 90's Supergirl, was benched and the original Silver Age Supergirl was brought back in "The Supergirl from Krypton (2004)". His argument was that Linda's origin was far too confusing and tenuously-tied to the Superman mythos to make sense to casual fans, which is hard to argue. After all, "Kara Zor-El is Superman's teenage cousin who survived the destruction of Krypton while in stasis" is a far more coherent origin story than "Linda Danvers is a teenage Satanist who merged with a protoplasmic creature from another dimension to become the new Supergirl, as well as an Earth-born Angel of fire".
  • Crazy Is Cool:
  • Creepy Awesome:
    • Metallo, whenever writers and artists play up his mechanical nature.
    • Parasite.
  • Damsel Scrappy: This is the characteristic once strongly associated with Lois Lane. Ironically, it can be argued that Lois' role as a Damsel in Distress was far more important to the Superman plot than her role as a love interest, Depending on the Writer. In the 1940's, she did need to be rescued a lot (usually while pursuing a news story), but was fairly intelligent and could sometimes get herself out of scrapes by kicking ass and taking names. Once the 50's, 60's and early 70's came around though... Yeesh. She was an empty headed twerp who was constantly putting herself in danger for no reason, and whose sole goal in life was to trick Superman into marrying her. She took Too Dumb to Live to uncharted levels. In recent comics and other media she's a much more well rounded and developed character, who is extremely competent and able to take care of herself. She still needs to be rescued sometimes, and the trope may pop up occasionally, but for the most part she's a very independent, intrepid and intelligent reporter who just needs a little help against super powered aggressors from time to time.
    • The sixties-era book Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane seemed dedicated to making sure every single reader hated poor Lois. If you Google around, you'll find scans of multiple letters columns where readers asked for Superman to spank Lois (which would in fact occur, though in the context of Superdickery). A few may have had other motives than scrappyhood, though.
    • Even when there's neither any Super Villain's ill will nor a big scoop one jump away from her window, she can be trusted to find something dangerous. Letters on the label are bigger than her eyes, so... they just don't fit in, right?
    • Starting late in The '70s comics, Lois was written to be more assertive to avert this trope, and needed rescuing much less often, including in her solo stories in Superman Family. This included Lois having mastered a Kryptonian form of martial arts named "klurkor."
    • Being associated with this trope is probably what spurred John Byrne, in his Post-Crisis retelling of Superman's origin, to make it very, very obvious that Lois was now an Action Girl. This eventually led to an Inversion immediately after her wedding to Clark when he was kidnapped after temporarily losing his powers. Lois took her Army brat background to extremes, becoming a G.I. Jane in order to come to the rescue.
  • Diagnosed by the Audience: Just what exactly is wrong with Lex mentally is up for debate, and depends on which version is being discussed. That said, nearly every version of Lex has a textbook case of Malignant Narcissism, particularly the ones that insist on putting their own name on everything they own, of course.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Lex Luthor's humanistic rhetoric can be convincing enough that some fans forget that he rarely ever actually means it.

    E to I 
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Lots over the years:
    • Bizarro. Only appears every once in a while and rarely plays a major role in the story, but beloved for his goofy and lovable personality, plus his at-times legitimately tragic nature.
    • Mr. Mxyzptlk, mainly for always being really funny whenever he shows up.
    • Krypto the Superdog. Cheesy maybe, but the dog is so brave, loyal, and just plain fun that he'll always be a welcome part of the Superfamily.
    • Supergirl for being cool, lovely, awesome and different enough from her cousin to earn a good number of loyal followers.
    • Bibbo Bibbowski, the Ace of Clubs bartender who has a surprising amount of heart underneath his rough exterior, in particular providing one of the most memorable, tearjerking scenes during the Death of Superman saga.
  • Escapist Character: Superman is this by design as the prototypical Flying Brick with minimal drawbacks, though good writers try not make his problems too easy to solve. But special mention has to go to how he was originally written by Siegel and Shuster, when he was completely unstoppable, had no backstory or inner conflict, and spent all his time beating up and torturing different kinds of bullies whom the reader probably encountered or heard about in real life.
  • Fan Nickname: Superman has earned the moniker "Super-Dad" from fans in DC Rebirth for his warm and loving relationship with his son and being a generally great father and husband while still going on hair-raising adventures.
  • Fanon: Some fans believe that Perry White is Superman's Secret Secret-Keeper because he's too good of a journalist not to have figured out who Superman is by now, but doesn't say anything because he wouldn't want Superman compromised.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Stories where the inhabitants of Kandor get killed en masse (something that they avoided Pre-Crisis but that sometimes happens in more recent continuities) tend to go unacknowledged by a large part of the fanbase.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Both the Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis versions of the villainous Ultraman. The Pre-Crisis version wore a blue bodystocking with huge spiked shoulderpads, and the Post-Crisis version is wearing pajamas with weird circular bubbles on the belly. The New 52 versions avoids this by wearing an outfit almost identical to Superman's.
  • Foe Yay Shipping: Superman and Lex Luthor, partly because the latter has the same initials as all of Clark's major love interests.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In Action Comics #1 (1938), Superman investigates the murder of a man named Jack Kennedy. Even though this was printed in the 1939, it is eerie how the comic predicted the murder of a president by gun. Worse, the murderer happened to be a blonde like Marilyn Monroe, who has often been tied up in JFK conspiracies.
    • In 1963, during Superman's 25th Anniversary Special, Superman and Clark must appear at the same event in Washington DC, and none of his usual tricks will work. But lo and behold, they do both show up, and Superman even flies 'Clark' home - to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the other Clark being none other than JFK himself, who Superman confided his secret in. The issue was written and drawn before November 22, 1963, of course, but not published until February, 1964, when it became both a Unintentional Period Piece and a bittersweet tribute to the fallen President.
    • In Action Comics #270, Superman dreams he travels to the future and his cousin is now Superwoman, the world's greatest heroine. Fast-forward twenty-five years and she is killed by the Anti-Monitor, never becoming Superwoman or taking over her cousin. And Superwoman is one of her worst enemies in the Post-Crisis universe.
    • In Action Comics #275, Supergirl dreams that Superman never turned up and she lived her cousin's life. In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl, written 37 years after, Superman never turned up and Supergirl was the world's greatest hero... because Lex Luthor found Kal-El's rocket and murdered the baby.
    • One comic from 1945 showed Lex Luthor creating an "atomic bomb" in order to instigate chaos in Metropolis. The story in question was actually ordered embargoed by the US Government until after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki so that there wouldn't be any accidental hints towards the Manhattan Project note . The intro text from the issue even lampshades this.
    • In Superman #56 vol. 2, Superman is stuck in a nightmare world where he's despised by everyone on the planet after he murdered most of the planet's villains, including The Joker. Twenty-two years later we would see eerily close to that come to pass.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In Action Comics #270:
      • Superman dreams he travels to the future and he has become a sickly, powerless old man. Fast-forward several decades, and it's been established that Kryptonians age more slowly on Earth due to the yellow sun, and they actually become more powerful as they grow older.
      • Linda Lee works as a reporter in the Daily Planet. Linda never was a reporter in the comics, but in 2016 she became one in her Live-Action show.
    • In Superman: Man of Tomorrow #3, a letter by a couple of readers suggested it would be cool if Lex Luthor somehow defeated Superman and took over his titles, like Action Comics. Fifteen years later the second part of their wish came true in The Black Ring.
    • Superdickery was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek interpretation of Superman being a jerk. While that's not the case in the Silver Age comics that are frequently targeted by the site, in the early comics, Superman was kind of a jerk (or at least much more aggressive than how he became later).
  • Ho Yay: His comments about how Jimmy looked in a bow-tie in Many Happy Returns were not subtle. This is arguably a variation on Kissing Under the Influence since he had just been exposed to pink Kryptonite.
  • Iron Woobie:
    • The New 52 emphasizes Superman's alien nature. Clark has lost both his parents and is a Hero with Bad Publicity at the start of his career. And yet he is always committed to be the best hero he can be, hanging onto the happy memories he had with the Kents.
    • Some versions of Lois Lane (that are still alive and relevant to the storyline) have serious shit fall upon them, but always try to improve their situations rather than whine or give up. Case in point: Flashpoint and Superman: Lois and Clark.
    • Pre-Crisis, Vartox first lost his wife. Then he and Lana fell in love but learned they could never be together. Then his planet exploded. Then (at least in the unofficial canon of Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?) Lana died. Add in all the times the poor guy got mind controlled over the years... yeesh. In Pre-Crisis days, despite being one of the mightiest beings in the cosmos, life was not kind to this man. But he always kept on going.

    J to O 
  • Jerkass Woobie: Conduit. In the end, all he wanted was to be special like Superman. Even in-universe, Superman mourns and pities him after his death.
  • Magnificent Bastard: See here.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • In The Super Dictionary Lex Luthor stole forty cakes. And That's Terrible.
    • Pre-internet memes from Superman include:
      • Kryptonite, as an object/substance/etc. that forms the fatal weakness of someone. Similar to an Achilles' heel, but that's more Attack Its Weak Point.
      • Superheroes wearing their underwear on the outside.
      • Clark Kenting, keeping a Secret Identity through a disguise that's not even paper thin.
      • The terms "superpowers" and "superhero". Before Superman, they were "mystery men" who had "extra-normal abilities" or similar terms. Superman introduced the all-purpose "super" prefix.
      • "It's a bird! It's a plane!" And it's variation "Is it a bird? Is it a plane?".
        Is it a bird? Noooo! Is it a plane? Noooo! Oh my gosh, it's Mighty Mouse! - Actual pow-wow song by the Black Lodge Singers.
      • Brainiac.
      • "Bizarro" is frequently used to refer to things that are completely insane and/or inverted from what one would expect.
      • "Take your hurt feelings and go."
  • Memetic Psychopath: Superman himself, thanks to the infamous Superdickery covers of the Silver Age that depicted shocking events out of context and all the stories where his alternate counterparts or substitutes are villains who show how terrifying his powers would be in the wrong hands.
  • The Merch: He was the first comic book character to have a steady flow of merchandise through the 40s and 50s ever since he debuted on the four-color page.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Superboy-Prime has resonated more and more with fans who are tired of DC radically changing established characters and adding new but familiar ones ever since New 52, despite the fact that he is a monster who is part of the cause in similar events more often than not.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    Luthor: (just after Superboy had beat him in rage over what he had done) You're—pttt—you're not much like Superman at all, are you?
    Superboy: And I'm not like you. I'll never be like you. To do that to someone. To crush their hopes. To ruin lives. That's evil. That's true evil.
  • My Real Daddy: Siegel and Shuster did create him, and it's important for legal, and ethical reasons, given the rights' issues that this should be emphasized. Having said that:
    • Superman first got many of the features of his Worldbuilding from adaptations: Kryptonite from the radio shownote , and most crucially the power of Flight from the Superman Theatrical Cartoons. Likewise, Christopher Reeve can be credited for making many people buy the Clark Kent disguise as more than The Artifact and codified the idea that Superman is a Master Actor, making many Handwave in the Silver Age (such as Superman apparently using subtle Kryptonian hypnosis and whatnot) needless. It was absorbed into the mainstream like all of the other elements mentioned here, including Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman.
    • Many of DC's own staff will point to Mort Weisinger as being this for Superman, as it was his direction as editor that expanded Superman beyond being a guy who could lift cars, jump high, and run fast into the super-powerful Flying Brick fighting other evil super-powerful aliens, as well as turning Lex Luthor into the implausibly intelligent Mad Scientist. Weisinger as editor also saw to expand on the Kryptonian Worldbuilding (Brainiac and the City of Kandor) and introduce the powerful sense of loss and longing for his lost world to Superman's stories which bridged the Silver and Bronze Age.
    • As many observers point out, Shazam!, the superhero formerly known as Captain Marvel, while famously painted in a legal battle as a copy of Superman and an infringement of him, was more or less bought and co-opted into Superman's legal world, with many of Superman's cast, altered to fit that of his competitor:
      While it would take them a while to finally acquire Captain Marvel, they got something more important out of it than the character. They got Otto Binder, the writer of those classic Captain Marvel Adventures stories, who would go on to be the definitive Superman writer of the ’50s, and certainly one of the most influential of all time. His tenure at DC saw the creation of some of the most popular elements of Superman, the stuff that’s still in use today. Supergirl, Kandor, Bizarro, the Legion, the concept of the out-of-continuity “imaginary story,” — those are Binder stories. He didn’t create Jimmy Olsen (Jimmy, the Harley Quinn of his day, was an import from the radio show), but he certainly defined his character and with it, the feel of the Silver Age. And he did it by just continuing the style he and CC Beck had been honing on CMA...The irony of DC suing Captain Marvel because he was too similar to Superman, and then hiring a writer to make Superman more like Captain Marvel is staggering.
    • Harvey Kurtzman can be credited for introducing one of the most common Superman tropes, i.e. the Let's You and Him Fight between Superman and Captain Marvel/Shazam. It was his landmark MAD parody "Superduperman" that first had the title character fight against Captain Marbles in a crowded populated city, as a riff on their real-life legal rivalry. Once Billy Batson became DC, this showed up in real continuity, albeit with all kinds of flimsy justifications, leading to such stories as Kingdom Come, Public Enemies, the DCAU episode "Clash" and even Superman Substitute like Miracleman.
  • Narm Charm: Powered by this. It's a super-powerful Human Alien fighting monsters, robots, and supervillains with help from a newspaper team, a superpowered dog, two other Human Aliens, and sometimes a mad scientist. And yet none of this craziness prevents the comic from telling stories with gripping pathos and heart.
  • Newer Than They Think:
    • Lex Luthor. Many villains of a certain type - Corrupt Corporate Executive Karma Houdini Magnificent Bastards, generally bald - have been described as Lex Luthor Expys on this site. Norman Osborn and Obadiah Stane, for example. However, Luthor was only a Corrupt Corporate Executive Karma Houdini after the Crisis in 1986. For most of the character's history he was a Mad Scientist driven to criminality by his hatred of Superman rather than the other way around. If anything, he is an Expy of the Green Goblin rather than the other way around.
    • Stane is an odd example; he predates Corporate Lex by a couple of years, but physically the comic book Stane is Lex's identical twin, the only difference being he is slightly taller and doesn't have green eyes. Just look. Even more bizarrely, 80's corporate Lex was the spitting image of The Kingpin.
    • Siegel and Shuster's original proto-Superman character was a bald villain with Psychic Powers.
  • Nightmare Retardant: Anytime an artist uses Parasite's purple, but largely human-looking Pre-Crisis design. It's just not as scary as his later designs, and makes the character look like a loser in a purple suit, rather than a terrifying Humanoid Abomination.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • A fun fact that's surely lost on modern readers is that Superman's iconic costume is based on that of 19th-century "strongman" circus performers.
    • Another thing that many readers don't know is that Kryptonite wasn't actually invented for the radio show, but for an earlier unpublished comic book story called "The K-Metal from Krypton".
    • Fans who resent Superman losing his "Last of his kind" status blame it on Supergirl and the Silver Age, but other Kryptonian survivors showed up for first time in Golden Age story Superman #65 (July, 1950).
  • One True Pairing: Clark and Lois, obviously. Albeit supporters of other couples are far from scarce or undevoted, this one is practically synonymous with comic book romance. They’ve been together since the franchise’s inception and finally got married in the 90’s. The fact that Lois is Supes' official girlfriend in the vast majority of adaptations and spin-offs definitely helps.

    P to Z 
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Sadly one of the biggest examples of this trope. Aside from the various fighting games he's appeared in, virtually none of the games starring Superman has been considered better than So Okay, It's Average. Superman 64 is even considered one of the worst video games of all time, with the NES Superman game being considered almost as bad. Many developers have pointed out that making a game where Superman has all the powers that players would associate with him while still provide enough challenge to be satisfying would be a nightmarish balancing act.
  • Sacred Cow:
    • Superman himself, as the originator of the superhero genre and one of the world's biggest icons of fiction. While some people dismiss him as a boring and unrelatable Invincible Hero, many of his fans strongly believe that his powers don't make him any less of a compelling and lovable character, and will adamantly defend him from any criticism. Some have noted that this making of Superman as a sacred cow, either as a folk hero or as a quasi-religious allegory to Jesus and/or Moses, has come at the detriment of making him a rounded relatable character. It's been noted that a major problem with Superman's live action films and its constant repetition of elements from Richard Donner's films is that the movies treat Superman less as a character and more as a cultural icon and folk hero, and it often leads to Superman being the Vanilla Protagonist in his own movies. (Man of Steel went out of its way to not imitate the Donner/Reeve movies much, though that didn't make it free from criticism).
    • In the same vein, Lois Lane and her role in the Superman mytho. Any adaptation, even the ones that focus on Clark's life before Metropolis, will instantly get flak for not having Lois as his love interest or as a major part of the mytho. Given that she appeared the very same chapter as Clark as well as being the most consistently enduring love interest and supporting character of the mytho, her role, characterization and prominence in the story is usually served as an indicator by fans if this will be a good adaptation or story. Smallville is one of the few adaptations escaped this trope for its first 4 seasons due to its constant Foreshadowing of her appearance and eventual role as Clark's love interest while the Injustice: Gods Among Us storyline was heavily criticized for her being Disposable Woman.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: Between Superman/Lois fans and Superman/Wonder Woman fans, at least in modern times.
  • Signature Series Arc:
    • The Unknown Supergirl was the first lengthy story arc in the franchise (spanning nine issues), and changed irreversibly Supergirl's status quo in favor of giving Kara Zor-El her own setting and supporting cast, as well as her first nemesis. Metropolis holding a parade in honor of Supergirl is one of the most iconic moments in the character's decades-long history.
    • Kryptonite Nevermore was the storyline where Superman transitioned from the whacky Silver Age to the darker Bronze Age. The Neal Adams' cover where Superman breaks his chains has been reproduced and copied time and again.
    • Who Took the Super out of Superman?: One of its era's best remembered stories, it delved into the duality between Superman and Clark Kent.
    • Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?: Written by Alan Moore, it was the Grand Finale for the Pre-Crisis Superman, and one of his most iconic story arcs.
    • The Death of Superman: His best-selling and most famous storyline, featuring the first battle between Superman and the savage monster Doomsday.
    • All-Star Superman: A love letter to the Silver Age Superman, it has remained one of his most important and iconic stories since publication, to the point it was adapted into an animated movie.
    • The Supergirl from Krypton (2004) was the storyline which reintroduced Kara Zor-El in the modern DC Universe after remained exiled from continuity for eighteen years. The story arc was popular enough to be adapted into an animated movie: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.
    • Superman: Brainiac was the storyline which effectively defined Post-Crisis Brainiac. Every appearance of the villain Coluan in other media since 2008 have been influenced or based in this story, including an animated adaptation (Superman Unbound).
    • Red Daughter of Krypton, wherein Supergirl becomes a Red Lantern, is one of her most famous and most popular stories.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • Superman in the Action Comics comic "Muscles For Money". Sure he was being a jerk, but his argument that he deserves a reward for all his good deeds does have merit.
    • Superboy-Prime may be insane, but he's not far off when he says that superheroes have gotten too dark for their own good.
    • Lex Luthor may be pure evil (and a bigot) but some of his criticisms about humanity putting its collective faith in the godlike alien that is Superman are not entirely unreasonable.
  • Super Couple: Again, Clark and Lois. DC even based an entire show based around the couple, Smallville built them up similarly, and Superman & Lois is widely beloved by critics and audiences (even among those that weren't fans of the Arrowverse before then). Even Superman: Lois and Clark, a New 52 book focused on pre-Flashpoint Lois and Clark, was a surprise hit for DC because it featured Clark and Lois together again.
    Superman: "This is my world. You are my world."
  • Stoic Woobie: When Lois at one point breaks off their engagement and returns his ring (with fair cause; marrying Supes is a daunting prospect for a dozen reasons), a brokenhearted Superman flies out to the middle of the Atlantic to try to calm down. There he bumps into Lori Lemaris of Atlantis, his ex-girlfriend, and confides in her how frustrating it is that he's the only man in the world who can never allow himself to get angry. He chucks the ring miles over the horizon. Then Lori asks, "Wasn't that Ma Kent's engagement ring?" Supes realizes she's right and bolts off over the horizon to retrieve it.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Conduit, due to being an Evil Former Friend of Clark, who could have been a recurring enemy with a personal history. But then gets killed in his single story arc.
    • The second Post-Crisis Zod swore revenge on Superman when the Brainiac 13-created Krypton was disappearing. But nothing ever came of it.
    • The third Post-Crisis Zod, the dictator of Pokolistan. He could have easily been the Doctor Doom of the DC Universe, but ends up getting killed at the end of the storyline.
    • Elliot S! Maggin invented a character named Superwoman who had a lot of potential. Kristin Wells was a time traveler from the distant future who used then-commonplace technologies to be a superhero in the present day (she actually first appeared in non-superhero form in Maggin's Superman novel Miracle Monday.) Superwoman only received a handful of appearances before Crisis on Infinite Earths erased her from history. She's probably best known these days for having a non-speaking cameo in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? Half her shtick, meanwhile, got appropriated by the Post-Crisis character Booster Gold (a time traveler who uses his era's tech to be a superhero).
    • The fourth Post-Crisis Zod, introduced in For Tomorrow. He was last seen drifting away in the Phantom Zone. This version would have been the true Zod of the DC Universe, before Infinite Crisis's Cosmic Retcon introduced a new version of Zod.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Despite the horde of interaction that can result from being the clone of Superman, Connor Kent's relationship with Clark's supporting cast (primary Lois, the Kents, Supergirl, Krypto and later Clark's son Jon) are never focused upon.
    • The very popular "Super Sons" dynamic between Damian Wayne and Jon Kent came to an abrupt end with Jon becoming an older teen, with many readers bemoan the decision, especially when it wasn't even explored how an aged-up Jon and his experience being raised by Ultraman for a very influential part of his life would alter the dynamic.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Mr. Mxyzptlk. In-universe most of the cast thinks he's an annoying little snit. Out-of-universe he's one of Superman's most endearing and well-known enemies, albeit with a concept and power-skill that is so innately tied to the comics medium that it makes him hard to adapt (the showrunners of Superman: The Animated Series stated they considered their take on Mxy to be one of their best episodes but it was also so hard to write and animate that they couldn't come up with enough plots in the production time they had). Thanks to Alan Moore, he is the terrifying villain of one of Superman's greatest stories, an appearance that in and of itself puts him in the rank of Superman's greatest enemies.
  • Values Resonance:
    • A poster toasted the ideals of inclusiveness and spoke out against discrimination, and urged kids to do the same. And it was produced in The Fifties, coming from a 1949 book cover:
    "...and remember, boys and girls, your school—like our country—is made up of Americans of many different races, religions, and national origins. So...if YOU hear anyone talk against a schoolmate or anyone else because of his race, religion, or national origin—don't wait: tell him THAT KIND OF TALK IS UN-AMERICAN."
    • The story of Superman's father Jor-El, whether it's the Silver Age's tragic story of a utopia or Byrne's final days of a stagnant culture, is one of a scientist desperately trying to convince his peers about the impending destruction of their homeworld, only for his warnings to be dismissed by the ruling bodies of Krypton. With climate change becoming a serious threat to human civilization in the 21st century and many governments refusing to take action to mitigate its effects, the fate of Krypton serves as a cautionary tale about failing to take the warnings from the scientific community seriously.
  • Vindicated by History: The sales on Superman comics were very low back in the 1980s because it focuses a lot more on stuff about Krypton, Supergirl, Krypto, and Superboy, so therefore DC Comics decided to reboot it in 1986 to make Superman the last son of Krypton and they tried to put non-Kryptonian stuff on it but unfortunately with the exception of Superboy, none of it worked out because of the fact that Supergirl, Krypto and the stories about Krypton are too iconic and too popular to get rid of so they decided to bring back Supergirl, Krypto, survivors from Krypton such as Kandor and the villains from Krypton as well, like Zod.
  • The Woobie: Superman himself. The fact that his home planet exploded and left him the Last of His Kind (Depending on the Writer) is enough to make one want to give him a big hug.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: Superman's uniform is so iconic that any drastic change to its design is bound to bet met by derision from the most dedicated fans. To elaborate:
    • The New 52 suit created controversy by removing the traditional red trunks and replacing them with a red belt. Also, fans did not like the explanation that the suit was an armor because Superman obviously does not need armor. Also, the excessive seamlines make it look ugly and messy on the page.
    • The "T-shirt and jeans" look in Action Comics (New 52) was at first well-received, mostly because it was used in Superman's new origin story and was only temporary. By the time Superman: Truth hit the shelves, however, such outfit had outstayed its welcome with the readers.
    • The Rebirth suit (a combination of the classic, New 52 and DCEU designs) has been mostly well-received, with the only major point of contention being that the boots are now blue instead of red.
    • Superman's post-Action Comics #1000 costume, which effectively brings back the missing red trunks has gotten some contention because there have been fans who like the Superman Reborn costume and feel that the red trunks are now outdated, a vast 180 from its disappearance on the New 52 costume.

YMMV Tropes with Their Own Pages



Live-Action TV

Western Animation