SuperFact No. 3: Clark’s Actually a Great Cover
I’ve been on a bit of a Superman walkabout. Mostly, I’ve been trying to find the essential components – precisely what makes a Superman story feel “right.”
Here’s the best part of the Man of Steel-to-Birthright Clark Kent – he doesn’t have to try so hard. In fact, the Chris Reeves bumbling-dork Clark would probably be more conspicuous than the Clark that has been embraced as a part of the Daily Planet family: the nice Midwestern guy in a big city newsroom.
In other words, he’s “mild-mannered” – but that doesn’t have to mean the same thing as “meek.”
Even with the glasses and stooped posture, Metropolis-Clark is still kind, stands up for the little guy (usually Jimmy Olson) and is vocal about the essential goodness of people. But because people naturally assume he’s Not Superman, this attitude is viewed by his co-workers as the sweetly naïve attitude a Kansas farmboy might try to bring to the big city.
Really: Imagine meeting a big guy from Kansas who worked on a farm and wears thick glasses, and lucked into a job in a city newsroom. No matter how NICE he was, you wouldn’t assume he was Superman just because of the height. (And in Lois’s case, the fact that he snaked a story from underneath you would indicate he has some less savory characteristics hidden underneath the farmboy exterior – further distancing him from Superman no matter what kindness he offered afterward.)
It’s not the glasses that keep people from realizing Clark’s Superman – it’s the urban cynicism that refuses to believe that a Superman-attitude could really exist in a guy who isn’t bulletproof and flying.
Which is why when Lois eventually falls in love with Clark Kent, rather than Superman, nobody would ever question it. Sure, he’s not Superman – but he’s the next best, real-world equivalent.
That Clark Kent gets ranked second-best to Superman is no insult. But it still counts as a decent cover.