Monday, September 24, 2007

Geek Challenge!

Ok, I’m throwing down the gauntlet to my fellow geeks. The challenge is to explain to me why Superman needs a secret identity. What follows is my thoughts, so if you can prove me wrong…you get bragging rights for all eternity.

Superman is different from most other Superheroes in that his real identity is the superhero one. Spider-man is really Peter Parker, Batman is really Bruce Wayne…but with Superman it’s the other way around. The mild mannered Clarke Kent is his disguise.

Basically, while Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and became Spider-man, Superman had his powers when he arrived on Earth as an infant. He ‘pretends’ to be Clarke Kent to fit in.

The thing is, he totally doesn’t need to.

The number one reason for the secret identity is to prevent your friends and family from suffering reprisals based on your actions. However, this only works when your friends and family have nothing to do with your Superhero identity. Aunt May doesn’t know Peter is Spider-Man. The only people who know Bruce Wayne is Batman is Alfred and his side-kicks.

Basically, no one’s going to attack Aunt May because she has no visible link to Spider-man.

On the other hand, most of Clarke Kent’s friends are also his friends as Superman, in many cases moreso. Everyone knows Lois Lane has a thing for Superman, but Clarke’s just a geek chasing a girl who’s way out of his league.

So basically, the people he wants to protect are going to come under fire anyway. Superman takes Lois Lane on a date to the Fortress of Solitude, and Lois writes a fricking newspaper story about it!

People are going to go after Lois because they know she has a special relationship with Superman. Clarke Kent is pointless.

In fact, this puts people like his adopted parents are in more danger. Think about this. Think about all the people who get robbed, mugged and murdered every day. Your average run of the mill criminal wouldn’t think twice about mugging Mr. and Mrs Kent…on the other hand, if it was common knowledge that they’re Superman’s parents…who’s gonna be dumb enough to mug them.

Finally on this point, say someone does get at his parents or his girlfriends and kill them. All he has to do is fly around the world really fast and make time go backwards!

So, as far as I can see, the only reason for Clarke Kent to exist is to not get hassled or be under constant attack and so he can have a day-job…but even this is uneccessary.

First of all, he doesn’t actually need a job. What does he work for? Food? Rent? Well, he can recharge himself from the sun, so doesn’t really need to eat…but even if he did, can you think of anyone who’d refuse Superman a free hotdog or pizza? He’s not a ‘controversial’ hero, where just as many people dislike him as love him…everyone loves him.

Do you think if he landed next to a Subway, walked in and said: “I just stopped a nuclear missile from hitting Metropolis and I’m hungry…any chance of a free Meatball Marinara?” Would the owner say “Sorry, Superman, no cash, no sandwich”.

Oh, and he can also crush a piece of coal into a diamond…is he ever gonna be short of money?

The second thing is he doesn’t need rent because he has the Fortress of Solitude. He owns his own home…and as for not getting hassled, it’s one hell die-hard fan who travels all the way to the North Pole to camp in his front yard…and if they do, he’s Superman! Why not just chill out on the moon for a bit.

As for coming under attack…the guy can stop a .45 bullet with his eye. His enemies could strap a nuke to him while he was sleeping and he wouldn’t even wake up. He’s not like Spider-man or Batman where he has to worry about a sniper-shot or something.

So to recap, Superman’s secret identity:

1) Doesn’t protect his friends and family.

2) Actually puts some of his friends in more danger.

3) Isn’t needed for self protection.

4) Helps him keep a job he doesn’t need.

5) Stops him from ‘getting the girl’.

6) Would be worthless anyway because he can reverse time.

So there you have it. The only slight reason for the secret identity is to ‘fit in’, but if you’re really Superman, see Superman as your ‘real’ identity, you’re already as universally liked and accepted as you can ever hope to be.

So, If anyone can explain to me why Clarke Kent even exists gets eternal bragging rights.


Saffyre said...

Ummmmm, nope i'm stuck. I'll ponder on this one for a while though and maybe we can talk about it when I see you guys at xmas!

MC Etcher said...

On their planet, Kryptonians were not superheroes, but normal folk. So Superman has a secret identity -

1) To live among humans, and have some semblance of a 'normal' life, if just part of the time. He grew up among normal humans, and likes that sort of company.

2) Being the ultimate hero 24/7 would do bad things to your psyche. Crosswords and reality tv help keep him sane.

Marie said...

Can you imagine the the constant pressure Superman must be under? He needs an escape just to be normal. And thats where Clarke Kent comes in. Even superman needs to blend in and relax sometimes.

Paulius said...

Etcher: That still doesn't explain why he decides to pretend to be a complete and total nerd.

Marie : Superman has his fortress of solitude where he can hang with his friends and get away from it all.

Both of you said he needs to have a 'normal' life...but to him, being super IS normal. It would be like you or me pretending that tinfoil is like toughened steel, or pretending to struggle to lift a 2lb weight.

Blending in is fair enough, but his chooses almost a social outcast as his secret identity