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 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: Superman has enthralled generations of comic book readers for over half a century 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 behaviorin The '50s.
Archive Panic: As one of the most enduring and popular characters in fiction, this is to be expected.
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 Supermans 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 Supermans 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.
For that matter, who is the best Lois, Lex, Jimmy, Lana, or Perry?
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: Instead of going to DC Comics Earth, Superman lands on [insert literally anywhere]. 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... ohcrap), are only two of many tales- and those are Elseworlds! In the 1970s, Saturday Night Live did a parody version in which Superman is raised in Nazi Germany and grows up to fight for "untruth, injustice, and the Nazi way."note which itself becomes Hilarious in Hindsight when Final Crisis introduced Overman, who was basically Superman raised by Nazis, but wasn't that evil
Spider-Man fans and Superman fans tend to get along well, despite the whole DC vs Marvel thing, perhaps because the twoheroesaresosimilar that you can't really like one and hate the other. Doesn't hurt that the two have had three crossovers to themselves and two company-wide crossovers where they both appeared. There's also the fact that both are prominent examples of married superheroes, whose marriage was 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 In 2000, a number of writers for Superman including Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, and Mark Waid, pitched an idea for a Superman reboot that would return the character to what the writers believedwas its roots. Their solution...Mr. Mxyzsptlk forces them to bargain their marriage in exchange for saving the world, and Clark and Lois would accept and this would lead to a reboot. It's probably not a coincidence that Mark Waid went on to serve as one of the consulting writers to Joe Quesada when he planned the reboot in 2005 and went on to write early issues in Brand New Day. In any case, Superman did get rebooted to single status in the New 52 relaunch but this was a Continuity Reboot that didn't nullify and erase an existing relationship and love story as opposed to the Continuity Snarl caused by the Cosmic Retcon of OMD.. The two fandoms became the other's sole confidant when the two franchises started facing thesameproblems. I guess capes gotta look out for each other.
Subverted. Superboy-Prime's apparent demise in Blackest Night elicited this response, but it was undone barely a year after and he was just as bad as ever.
Played straight however, for New 52 Superman, since Savage Dawn finally had him acting like Superman before the very next arc killed him off. 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.
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 "I tried to decide whether Clark or Superman is more important... and realized that to do away with one would be to kill half of myself—whoever I really am! So... I'd decided meek, mild-mannered Clark Kent will still walk the streets of the city—while up in the sky... the world will still watch and thrill to the sight of—a job for Superman!".
One good story involved a pair of gambling aliens separating Clark and Superman. All that happened was that there were two Supermen, and that when one of them was Clark the other felt compelled to be Superman, and vice versa.
Michael Fleischer once suggested that if Krypton had not exploded and Kal-El had grown up there, he might have been so overshadowed by his brilliant father that he might have been more like shy, mild-mannered Clark.
Post-Crisis is the opposite, 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 film, Western Animation or live-action TV, but only comic books. For the record, the exaggerated nerd appeared in most cinematic interpretations, but not Man of Steel or Superman & the Mole Men whereas of the four live-action shows, he only played the exaggerated nerd in Superboy. Animation has tended to follow whatever interpretation the comics were going with at the time.
What is interesting is that the Golden Age Batman had Batman being the mask Bruce Wayne wore, while Clark Kent was the mask Superman wore. Now, it's reversed - Bruce is the mask that Batman wears, while Superman is the mask Clark wears.
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 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?
Silver Age Superman stories were notorious for coming up with convenient new powers for the main character all the time.
Superman had pure kryptonite injected into his veins, yet was still able to overpower a villain who had been a match for him even when he was healthy.
Audience Awareness Advantage: Probably the ultimate example of this, and has been for decades (since the Silver Age at the least). For instance, a remarkable number of criminals seemed to not only know that Superman was weakened by Kryptonite, but exactly what each color of Kryptonite would do... even if it was that color of Kryptonite's first time showing up. Because everyone knows Superman is hurt by Kryptonite! But even more than that is the whole "people don't know Clark Kent is Superman wearing glasses" deal. Again, having gotten blatant enough that even characters in-universe who are in on the secret have mocked others for not getting it. And the number of times "Clark Kent and Superman are never in the same place together!" is used as evidence is almost appalling - though that was solved in the late Silver Age by Supes having Superman robots, while post-Crisis, a few times Clark and Superman appeared together and it was established they were besties. (In The Death of Superman, for example, Matrix Supergirl posed as Clark when he was "rescued".)
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?
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.
"Common Knowledge": Everyone "knows" that Clark Kent's only disguise is his glasses that inexplicably fool everyone. In actuality, Clark's glasses have special kryptonian lenses that hypnotize people and keeps them from adding 2 and 2. On top of that, Clark also slouches and acts awkward in his civilian persona, making it harder to believe someone like him could be Superman.
And let us not forget that Silver Age Supergirl headbutted planets out of course, kicked the Moon back into orbit, tanked black holes, flew across dimensions and beyond the boundaries of realityaccidentally and threw one object so quick it time-travelled.
That time in Superman/Batman that Bizarro managed to assemble an army of Supergirls from across the multiverse.
Metallo, whenever writers and artists play up his mechanical nature.
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.
Dork Age: Superman is now more than 75 years old. Everyone has one period they consider a Dork Age. The most common candidates, however, are:
Superman transforming into an electrical being, then splitting into Red and Blue Superman, in the 90s. (This odd development was in fact a take on a 50s "imaginary story" with a similar concept.)
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 does have its defenders, but that DC's sales numbers fell to their pre-New 52 levels that followinginitiatives worked overtime to undo the damage.
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.
Evil Is Cool: Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Metallo, General Zod, and plenty of others.
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.
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.
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, this connection was notched up. 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. Sadly, this comics was published very close to the November assassination.
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 one old Silver Age comic (see It Only Works Once), Superman burns out a part of Jimmy Olsen's brain after he discovers his secret identity. After Irredeemable, where Superman Expy the Plutonian lobotomizes his sidekick Samsara, it's a lot more disturbing.
Superman's famous match with Muhammad Ali has become a tearjerker since they both died in 2016 (twice in Superman'scase).
One comic from 1945 showed Lex Luthor creating an "atomic bomb" in order to instigate chaos in Metropolis. Months later, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed.
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.
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.
In that same issue, 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 Vol 1 #282 made his appearance a Kryptonian called Nam-Ek who wished he was immortal. This tale was written ten years before the birth of Dragon Ball.
In a letter at Superman: Man of Tomorrow #3 a couple of readers said that it would be cool, if Lex Luthor killed Superman and took over his titles, like Action Comics. What do you know, fifteen years later the second part of their wish came true In The Black Ring. And it was awesome.
Superdickery was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek interpretation of Superman being a jerk. While that's not the case in the Silver Age comics that are frequently targeted by the site, in the early comics, Superman was kind of a jerk (or at least much more aggressive than how he became later).
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.
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 not kind to this man. But he always kept on going.
"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."
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.
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 show, 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 thats still in use today. Supergirl, Kandor, Bizarro, the Legion, the concept of the out-of-continuity imaginary story, those are Binder stories. He didnt 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 Kurtzmann 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.
Stane is an odd example; he predates Corporate Lex by a couple of years, but physically the comic book Stane is Lex's identical twin, the only difference being he is slightly taller and doesn't have green eyes. Just look.◊ Even more bizarrelly, 80's corporate Lex was the spitting image of The Kingpin◊.
Siegel and Shuster's original proto-Superman character was a bald villain with Psychic Powers.
Older Than They Think: 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. Theyve been together since the franchises inception and finally got married in the 90s. 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}.
Ship-to-Ship Combat: Between Superman/Lois fans and Superman/Wonder Woman fans, at least in modern times.
Sleez, the villain from an infamous story were Superman and Big Barda were kidnapped and brainwashed into starring in a porn film. Despite most readers wishing they could forget him, writers kept finding ways to bring him back every few years just to remind everyone he still existed. It took until Countdown to finally kill the little creep off for good... at least until New Super-Man proceeded to bring him back.
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.
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.
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 appearance.
The second Post-Crisis Zod swore revenge on Superman when the Brainiac 13-created Krypton was disappearing. But nothing ever came of it. It was speculated that Loeb intended him to become...
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.
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.
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.
"Weird Al" Effect: 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.
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 Grant Morrison's Action Comics 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.