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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member misslane's Avatar
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    Question Should Lois Lane Learn Clark Kent's Secret?

    I've noticed a lot of discussion lately regarding superheroes and secret keeping as a result of both Arrow and The Flash using it to fuel story lines. Most of the discussion focuses on how frustrating it can be to watch and how damaging it can be to viewers' and readers' perceptions of the characters being kept in the dark. The problem intensifies the more others are let in on the secret, leaving the other individual as the odd one out. Numerous articles have sprung up like this one from The Atlantic which actually labels it the "Lois Lane Problem." More recently, GeekMom posted its thoughts on the matter. Among their points is this one:

    The hero pushes people away because, well, heís too different. And sad. And lonely.

    When DC comics rebooted a few years ago, we ended up with angsty, lonely Superman, who was also featured on the big screen in Man of Steel. Supermanís alien nature pushed him away from humanity, made him sad, isolated, and lonely. In other words, he became Peter Parker, whose personal life sucks on a regular basis.

    Except Clark Kent isnít Peter Parker. Clark Kent has a good job he loves, work friends, and friends from Smallville. Clark Kent likes people. Heís a well-adjusted guy. At heart, heís a small town farmboy made good. Having the most powerful person on the planet mope around doesnít work. And having the most powerful person on the planet mope around because he wonít tell Lois how he feels is ridiculous. At least Man of Steel avoided that last one. Not so the current comics.

    My primary question, after weighing these new opinions with my own, is whether or not others agree that Lois Lane should learn Clark's secret in the comics sooner rather than later? If you do not, why not? If one wants her to know it, how would you like her to learn it? What do you think the effects would be?

    I'm also curious, though to a lesser extent, whether others agree that Lois Lane is an apt comparison to these other characters? Is there something unique about the way the secret operates in the Superman mythos that protects Lois from suffering too much from her lack of knowledge? Is there a threshold where the secret is no longer tolerable, such as when Lois and Clark are close friends or dating?

    I'd love to know everyone's thoughts.

  2. #2
    Ultimate Member Sacred Knight's Avatar
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    I think so, yeah. My reasoning is just that its one of the few dynamics we haven't seen yet between Lois and Clark before.

    We've had Lois having a crush on Superman, being a rival to Clark, and not knowing the secret.
    We've had Lois liking Superman and liking Clark while not knowing the secret.
    We've had Lois dating/engaged/married to Clark knowing everything.

    We have not, however, seen Lois and Clark as platonic friends and rivals, while at the same time her knowing Superman and Clark are the same guy. To me this opens up some interesting avenues. You have a reporter of high integrity who knows one of the worlds best kept secrets. But its a best kept secret regarding her best friend and the world's greatest superhero. How does she deal with vowing to protect that secret while at the same time being dedicated to truth without the romantic element as a potential influence?

    Should be noted that hinting as of late marks the high likelihood that this might be played with Perry White first, as he's likely to learn the secret in Johns' Superman run. But as that will probably be a father-figure type role, plenty of room to have Lois learn it and be a caretaker of the secret from a peer and friend standpoint like Lana (she's different from Lana because again, as a reporter, there's a dichotomy there that's not present with Lana).

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member The Kid's Avatar
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    Why not? Man of Steel did that with Lois knowing Clark's identity and it worked fine
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  4. #4
    Savior of the Universe Flash Gordon's Avatar
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    No, at least not right now. I still think his reveal should be a dramatic moment and an act of love. I don't think she has nearly enough focus in-story right now to warrant it. I don't really like Lois and Clark as "just pals", I like them as either rivals or lovers.

    MAN OF STEEL did it, sure, but they're also pretty much implied to have some sort of relationship post-MAN OF STEEL. They have a ton of chemistry right off the bat, and she's the one holding him after he kills Zod in battle.
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  5. #5
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    Clark in Man of Steel wasn't isolated because of his alien nature he was isolated because his adopted dad was an paranoid redneck who filled his head full of lies and fear mongering. It's actually once he meets his alien dad and fully embraces his alien side that he gets over himself and realizes that it doesn't matter what happens to him because he's invincible and there are people who need his help. Add to that a part of the reason Lois found out who Clark was in MoS was because Goyer wrote him and the Kents as dimwitted hicks. There is one point where he's getting interviewed by the military and he just up and tells them everything about himself just shy of what his name is. Then you had the Kents who decided to enroll their clearly unstable alien child in public school when he obviously wasn't fit to do so, even after he flipped his heat vision on. It was one of the aspects of the series that made it less than what it could have been.




    As for Lois, yeah that's fine it's may or may not help her character; it certainly helped Lana. Though at the same time I feel like people give the characters too much shit for not knowing, as the people that are keeping them out of the loop have vast powers aiding them in keep up the act. On the other side people get angry at the protagonist for not telling everyone they know about their personal lives but for the most part hero's tend to only hand out that info on a need to know basis. I couldn't finish Arrow but on Flash it's largely just been circumstance that has lead to people figuring out about his personal life and even then look at how it's turned out for him. Joe is being stalked by the same guy that killed his mom and his mentor Well's is practically using him, I'd say he actually has good cause to keep as few people as possible on the loop. I personally feel the secret identity issue is more complex than how it's get played to be.
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  6. #6
    Burn Baby Burn Burning Eyes's Avatar
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    I've always believed that Lois should know that Clark Kent and Superman are one and the same. It makes for a more interesting interaction between the two characters IMO.
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  7. #7
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misslane View Post
    My primary question, after weighing these new opinions with my own, is whether or not others agree that Lois Lane should learn Clark's secret in the comics sooner rather than later? If you do not, why not? If one wants her to know it, how would you like her to learn it? What do you think the effects would be?

    I'm also curious, though to a lesser extent, whether others agree that Lois Lane is an apt comparison to these other characters? Is there something unique about the way the secret operates in the Superman mythos that protects Lois from suffering too much from her lack of knowledge? Is there a threshold where the secret is no longer tolerable, such as when Lois and Clark are close friends or dating?

    I'd love to know everyone's thoughts.
    Hmm. Excellent questions.

    I think the Clark/Lois/Superman dynamic should, like all dynamics, grow and evolve on its own natural course. We've seen lots of different variations of their relationship and I think there's room for just about all of them, even within the constraints of a single continuity.

    The "classic" dynamic between them, where Lois doesnt know the secret, admires/wants Superman and is a work rival/personal friend to Clark is something that can be a lot of fun; thousands of stories have been told using this dynamic and its something that is cemented in popular culture. That said, I think its a dynamic that cannot exist for long before it becomes detrimental. Lois is supposed to be one of the greatest reporters of her generation; the idea that she could have personal relationships with both Clark and Superman, but not realize they're one and the same, does her a great disservice the longer it's carried out. Early on, I dont think it does any real damage to her (or anyone else) as a character, and it helps prove how good the "Clark" disguise is. But its a dynamic of diminishing returns and eventually Lois ends up looking like a idiot and Clark looks like a douche. It's a great setup, but it only has so many miles before it runs out of gas and ends up hampering development.

    Now, in versions where this dynamic is still used but there is very little prolonged interaction between Lois and Superman, the dynamic works better for longer. The more Lois interacts with Superman, the less sustainable the dynamic becomes. So by making them interact less, you can get more mileage out of it.

    Ultimately, Lois should learn the secret on the sooner end of the "sooner/later" spectrum. I myself am a fan of the idea that Lois knows who Clark is, but Clark doesnt know that she knows. Smallville played with this briefly and I thought it was an absolute riot. You get to see Lois carry the burden of this knowledge and wrestle with its implications on her own, weighing her personal ethics against her career advancement and the greater good of the world, while Clark gets to be the one in the dark for a change. It explores character aspects that rarely get explored otherwise. And its actually easier for this dynamic to maintain longer before it starts doing any character damage. Clark would realize fairly quickly that something is bothering Lois; her pulse accelerates, her pupils dilate, a billion microscopic tells exist that he'd notice like neon signs, but he wouldn't know exactly what her problem is and could make some wonderfully hilarious assumptions along the way. Then you get to explore the dance, as Clark suspects that Lois knows, Lois suspects that Clark knows that she knows, and they each try to carefully figure out their footing without giving anything away to each other.

    As for whether Clark should tell her, I think its only appropriate when/if they become serious romantically. The world is full of telepaths and wizards and Superman's secret identity is a dangerous bit of information to have. Just look at the number of times Lois has been endangered just because Superman gave her a few interviews. If Queen Bee decided to do the same, Clark Kent's life is over and everyone he knows becomes a major target. By keeping Lois in the dark about it, Clark's giving her, Jimmy, Perry, and himself a layer of protection. Even when they start dating, its better for everyone involved if she doesnt know. But as soon as they become serious and Lois has made it clear that she's all in for the long haul, Clark not telling her becomes detrimental to his character. At that point, he has to recognize her autonomy as an individual and her right to make her own informed choices, and he should have enough trust in her to know that she wont rat him out for the story. He should also express enough trust in her to tell her.

    That's not to say that Lois finding out another way before they become serious doesnt have its good points, but it would be something I'd rather see happen by accident, rather than a conscious choice of Clark's to put his co-worker and friend in that kind of danger.

    I guess Im pretty much open to any version, so long as its allowed to grow and change. Sticking them eternally in one particular status, especially one where Lois' intellect becomes questionable or Clark's morality starts to crack (such as letting Lois get close without letting her know how dangerous it could be to her) doesnt help either character and works against what they're both meant to be.
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  8. #8
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    Five Plot Elements That Need to Die in a Fire:

    1. We must keep the secret to protect the girlfriend.
    But Iris must be kept in the dark because it would expose her to danger.

    This despite the fact she’s been kidnapped once already by a meta-human and held hostage by the Clock King. I see not knowing the secret is keeping her perfectly safe, right? I’m reminded of Spider-Man 2, the one with Tobey Maguire, where Peter keeps his secret in order to keep his loved ones safe but, hell, Aunt May gets kidnapped like five seconds later. Mary Jane gets grabbed too despite not knowing.

    Know what would help? Maybe knowing who the superhero was so one could take precautions and be aware of what might be stalking you and why.

    2. The hero must not engage in any relationship with the woman he loves because she might be hurt/her life might suck.

    A corollary to #1. Currently running on Arrow. Ollie loves Felicity but can’t be close to her because it would be bad because she’d be hurt or something. This despite the fact Felicity works for Team Arrow all the time. She’s in danger constantly. Heck, she nearly got killed by Captain Boomerang this week.
    Good points made by Geekmom. There's the argument that tell the secret will endanger the girlfriend lives, but it doesn't have a logical sense when the GF get endagered anyway. It's even worse because the GF won't even be in alert to anything strange that might happen.

    then the hero doesn't date the girl because of that. even if her job is be on the line of danger.

    Lois is a reporter that put herself in danger because she wants the truth. she got brainiac'd even without knowing superman ID, it's something I thought clark would think about it. That's the reason many movies like MOS, new spider man, ultimate spider man, green lantern... girlfriends more like partners/supporter than clueless.

    If Clark wants to date Lois, he has to tell it. It's not nice to sleep with someone, that is not even from earth but you think it is. It could be a case of rape by deception;

    I always assumed telepaths were never played seriously on comics, or it would be just to easy discover some hero ID

    I hope that Johns can do something interesting, he hinted at lois going to investigate how clark get his exclusives. I think is time to give a proper character arc for lois and put some fire on her relationship with clark.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blacksun View Post
    If Clark wants to date Lois, he has to tell it. It's not nice to sleep with someone, that is not even from earth but you think it is. It could be a case of rape by deception;

    Wouldn't that just make the person racist?
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by The World View Post
    Wouldn't that just make the person racist?
    It's relative, maybe some people would freak out or maybe some would take it easier.It's hard judge someone in this situation. Pretend that is human but it's not human is big deal, specially a superpowered being like Superman.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blacksun View Post
    It's relative, maybe some people would freak out or maybe some would take it easier.It's hard judge someone in this situation. Pretend that is human but it's not human is big deal, specially a superpowered being like Superman.
    I kind of get your point, in that he's an alien and no one probably knows what his physiology might do but at the same time there is no real reason for him or anyone else to believe that it would have negative side effects on anyone. But if the base line is the person just doesn't want to have sex with someone who isn't human it's get kind of sketchy.
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  12. #12
    Extraordinary Member Robotman's Avatar
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    I think she should. Kinda hard to believe she's one of the world's greatest reporters yet she can't figure out Superman's secret identity. I liked how Man of Steel didn't even try to do the whole thing with Lois not being able to figure it out.

  13. #13
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    The problem is , Lois seems rather stupid if she can't figure out who Superman is. Lois is supposed to a be an intelligent investigative reporter and she spends a lot of time both Superman and Clark. Clark's tricks separating himself from Superman (pretending to clumsy and weak as Clark) may fool the layman, but they should not fool Lois. Lex has a built in excuse for not figuring out Superman's identity (his own arrogant belief that Superman would not lower himself and pretend to be a normal person) but Lois has no such belief and no reason not to see past Clark's deceptions.

  14. #14
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    Yes, she should know, and the old Silver Age tropes that keep pulling the relationship into a tired and stupid status quo should be forever banished from modern Superman.

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    In a way I guess. I think she should learn it but not any time soon. I think that between those two characters, his secret identity shouldn't really be addressed at all until it's revealed to her. I like the idea that if she were to really think about Superman's identity, she would figure it out just like almost anyone Clark is close with would.

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