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  1. #1
    Mighty Member LordUltimus's Avatar
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    Default Does Superman lie?

    Yeah, this has been bugging me a little:

    "Are you Clark Kent?"

    "No."

    Yeah, I'm kinda calling BS on this.

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member Soubhagya's Avatar
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    Superman's lies are limited to his secret identity only. Otherwise, he never lies. I think that was the idea here.

    The film makes him a sort of dual person. Clark Kent is a projection of his failings, weaknesses, shortcomings. And Superman is a projection of his goodness, his nobility and his heroism. Some writers theorize that in both cases he is acting, and the real person is somewhere in the middle.

    If he is acting as the all good Superman, he does a real good job about it. I haven't seen a lot of questions raised about this scene.

    You will believe a man can fly is not just the tagline. Reeve actually captured the duality of Superman.
    Last edited by Soubhagya; 01-11-2019 at 10:57 PM.

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member
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    Yes, only about his identity does Superman lie out right when asked.

  4. #4
    Father Son Kamehameha < Kuwagaton's Avatar
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    Yeah I mean, he clearly does even if the answer to that question is semantic. In the silver age they tried to install that as a feature of the character to provide a good influence for the audience, but he... was definitely still lying when he needed.

    The best I can give him is that he lies defensively and not offensively and that he's above average in coming clean despite inconvenience. He avoids putting himself in spots where he must lie and then perpetuate the lie. But he lies just like anyone. "Liar" is a weird title I hate bestowing because it's a very natural thing to do under a specific circumstance.

  5. #5
    Fantastic Member OpaqueGiraffe17's Avatar
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    Well yeah, pretty much every version of him totally unambiguously lies all the time. Yes he can still stand for truth and justice while still bullshitting everyone he knows in order to maintain the lifestyle he feels most comfortable in. Good characters can have contradictions. It’s part of what make them interesting.

  6. #6
    Master Hero Vladimir
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    Superman can lie, he simply chooses not to because he wants to set a good example. His only lies are only related to his secret identity.

  7. #7
    Amazing Member TaliaJoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OpaqueGiraffe17 View Post
    Well yeah, pretty much every version of him totally unambiguously lies all the time. Yes he can still stand for truth and justice while still bullshitting everyone he knows in order to maintain the lifestyle he feels most comfortable in. Good characters can have contradictions. It’s part of what make them interesting.
    Pretty much hit the nail on the head here (emphasis mine).

    There's a part of me that would argue that Superman should be criticized for lying to maintain his secret identity, not even to his closest friends, since it can be considered that the wrong people knowing could be a threat to "national security" or worse. But then again, you could also argue that in most modern continuities, there isn't really a practical necessity for him to maintain his Clark Kent life to begin with. Continuing to live a human life is perhaps something he does primarily for psychological reasons at this point. In which case, you could easily argue that his lies are just to maintain the lifestyle he wants to live, which is technically "selfish", and yet understandable. I think that adds a rich layer of depth and complexity to Superman. He's a paragon of good, and yet there's a major area of life in which he perpetually does what is "wrong" for reasons that one could argue don't have a direct obvious benefit to anyone. What's so important to him about being Clark Kent that he continually violates the basic moral principle of honesty to maintain it? Not to mention the practical difficulties of having a full-time job and "normal-ish" life while you're also Superman full time.

    The question of "Why be Clark?" is such a crucial one to answer, and yet most people don't think about it. He's been living this double life since before WWII began. It's just a part of Superman. And to an extent, it's a good thing that it's not questioned all the time, because I like to think that's sort of the way it is for the character itself. He just considers it a fundamental part of his life just as we consider it a fundamental part of the character.

    And yet, it's still something that needs to be thought about and addressed sometimes. Because if it's obviously so important to the character despite a slim list of practical benefits and a pretty high expenditure of effort and even some moral cost, it needs to really make sense that he does it. We need to see that being Clark really means a lot to Superman and provides him with something that his Superman life cannot.

    The fact that being Clark is so important to Superman is both bizarre and fascinating yet understandable. It seems so strange that such a powerful and amazing being would want to live such a limited and comparatively ordinary life, and yet, it's perfectly understandable that, being raised by and living among humans, he would want to be a part of our society and be able to connect with people on that level, and that he might even think of himself as really Clark Kent, really being "one of us", in his heart of hearts. (Yes, not every Superman interpretation goes that way, and I'm not saying it's required, but it makes a lot of sense to me personally.)

    Semi-related, but I remember a story from early post-Crisis (by Wolfman & Ordway I believe) where Superman was beginning to get depressed because his Superman obligations were interfering with his ability to fulfill his Clark Kent obligations and as a result he was beginning to feel like Superman was "taking over" and the Clark Kent side of himself was losing. His Dad sort of snapped him out of it, pointing out that he is who he is no matter which "life" he is operating in, and it ended with Clark getting a nice scoop due to his Superman life. I really like that sort of thing being explored. Because when you put it that way, it really makes it clear why he lives his double life despite the difficulty, tension, lying, and everything else. But there's also his wise and helpful Dad pointing out that he is not defined by what "costume" he's wearing, which is also critically important. My personal preference is that Clark usually thinks of himself as a single entity in both identities, because that's the truth of the matter - both identities are "really him" to some extent - but because of the tension of trying to maintain both lives, he sometimes gets lost on that point and will begin to think of his identities as different entities that are competing, causing internal strife.

    Though Superman: The Animated Series often didn't really do Clark justice, the excellent episode The Late Mr. Kent is a very different story, and I think a quote from that episode pretty much sums it up: "But l am Clark. l need to be Clark. l'd go crazy if l had to be Superman all the time." His psychological well-being actually depends on his double life. And in that sense, maybe it's not really selfish at all to lie to maintain it. We wouldn't want an insane Superman on our hands, now would we? :P
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  8. #8
    Astonishing Member theoneandonly's Avatar
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    well it may cost him his boy scout badge but he does lie and pretty effectively. he could have been a great method cum character actor. it's a little strange for a person to prefer be lesser than what he is no matter how you look at it.
    The Self is the only existing reality

  9. #9
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Clark lies all the time. He lies about the secret identity, which is usually a lie of necessity, but he lies about other stuff constantly, even when he doesn't have to. Often it's a lie of omission, sometimes its a straight up bald-face lie. But yes, Clark lies a lot.

    For specific examples.....I've listed them so often in other threads I just don't have the interest to do it again here. I'm sure others can do it if they care to.

    I suspect the biggest reason behind Clark's habit of lying is because he's had to compartmentalize his life, since he was a kid, to such a wild extent. It may be that he's had to keep so many secrets out of necessity for so long he no longer fully recognizes when a lie is necessary.
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  10. #10
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    lying is just a part of human nature.

  11. #11
    Mighty Member Vordan's Avatar
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    Yes he lies. He’s been called out on it repeatedly throughout his history, even the recent Death of Superman animated movie had Lois call him out on the rather unethical practice of writing stories about himself. Morrison brought it up in All-Star Superman. Clark has frequently failed to live up to the “ideal” of Superman but that’s part of the appeal. Despite the common perception of Clark as utterly flawless, he does have flaws that are right there to be explored.

  12. #12
    Ultimate Member Sacred Knight's Avatar
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    Lying is an artform for Superman. I don't even say that to try to be humorous it really is. He lies all the time and he lies really well. Its ensconced in his very lifestyle and is the only way he can live on this planet. At least in the way he wants to live it.

    The line for Superman: The Movie, while like everything else Reeve did was masterfully delivered and touching on those grounds alone, is quite inaccurate.
    Last edited by Sacred Knight; 01-12-2019 at 06:54 PM.
    "They can be a great people Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you. My only son." - Jor-El

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  13. #13
    Savior of the Universe Flash Gordon's Avatar
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    He's purposefully vague, constantly. He lies a lot, like most mystery men.
    Follow your inner moonlight, do not hide the madness. -Ginsberg

  14. #14
    Mighty Member Johnny Thunders!'s Avatar
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    Yeah he lies, but if the question is "Can you Trust Superman? Can you count on Superman?" For Sure!

  15. #15
    Master Hero Vladimir
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    A lot of you might say that because Superman lies, he is no longer the paragon of truth and justice he is supposed to be. The truth is that Superman has a self-imposed ideal that he tries hard to live up to every day and more often than not, he fails. That's the point. He is not perfect, he is not infallible and he cannot right every wrong. He has flaws as any other person, but what makes him a hero is that he struggles to overcome them. Superman's virtues might make him admirable, but his flaws are what ultimately make him human.

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