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  1. #1
    Extraordinary Member superduperman's Avatar
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    Default Who is the most "realistic" Superman?

    Your criteria are:

    Physics of powers.

    Personality.

    Relationship to other heroes (if any)

    Costume materials.

    Krypton design.

    Enemies.

    My answer: Earth One Superman

    Physics of powers: This is the one area I would say he might fall down. But since they don't go into a lot of detail about how is powers work in this series, I'm willing to give it a pass.

    Personality: He genuinely acts like someone who's been forced to hide his whole life. He is stand-offish and very introverted.

    Relationship to other heroes: The short answer is, he doesn't have one. Batman is just some urban myth with makeshift gadgets in that universe and there is no logical reason the two should ever have met.

    Costume materials: This is another slight against him but they make it clear that it's hard to cut so that at least works a little bit.

    Krypton design: Krypton genuinely looks like an "alien" world here. Especially his ship.

    Enemies: This is the one that put him over the top for me. All of the aliens he's encountered were directly related to the destruction of Krypton. There are no alien dictators come looking to just pick a fight. The only one that is a drawback is Parasite. Superman had no hand in his creation and actively made the situation worse whereas a well placed cop with a gun could have ended the problem more quickly.

    Runners up:

    2) TAS Superman.

    3) Kingdom Come Superman.
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  2. #2
    Extraordinary Member superduperman's Avatar
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    I should also say that another reason I picked this Superman as the most realistic is that Krypton wasn't destroyed by natural means. It was an act of revenge. That kind of put this one above the others.
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  3. #3
    Astonishing Member Adekis's Avatar
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    I don't think there's anything about Krypton being destroyed through natural means that's more unrealistic than a space war. After all, we know from real life that an advanced species of dominant life can do significant damage to a planet. We don't know that there's really such a thing as a space war.

    I'm also not sure I'd pick the same criteria as you, preferring things like relationship with co-workers, type of origin story, how long it takes him to become Superman- etc. But I'll play by your rules.

    For my money, I'm torn between several candidates: the film Superman from Snyder's Man of Steel, the Golden Age Superman, DeHaven's It's Superman version, and a character who I regard as an obvious shoo-in, except I'm not sure he's eligible: Hugo Danner from Wylie's Gladiator.

    Physics of powers
    There are no actual scientific explanations of Superman's powers, so I'm inclined to let this one be.

    I do think John Byrne's tactile telekinesis explanation (not to be confused with the same term later applied to Kon-El) deserves an honorable mention- it's based on pseudoscience, but it also resists objection on scientific ground. If you take it along with the Silver Age claim that Krypton is much more massive than Earth, it sort-of explains both the strength and the flight, the latter of which isn't usually justified in any way.

    Wylie's no scientist, and Siegel borrows his insect-based comparison from Wylie, so that's that. I have to admit to an attraction to the low-rent version of the powers that Wylie, DeHaven and initially Siegel present, though Siegel kind of takes off running with them pretty quick. For example, Danner exhausts himself and passes out due to running around shooting people during World War I, DeHaven's Kent takes the train across the country instead of running, and Siegel's Superman flies across the Atlantic by hitching a ride on the outside of an airship- though I'll gladly admit that that's already somewhat outlandish. In any case, none of these Supermen can fly. DeHaven's has heat vision and Siegel's becomes increasingly more powerful and learns to fly pretty quick, but at least initially, none of them fly.

    I also think that both Abednego Danner's chemical formula is a pretty neat backstory for the powers, as well as Siegel's "planet of Supermen", both of which I think lend a little verisimilitude to the powers. But I digress.

    Collapsing from exhaustion puts Danner far ahead of the crowd, and I think DeHaven's Kent is just behind him. Goyer and Snyder's is in dead last.

    Personality

    Personally, I don't think that any Superman has an unrealistic personality. How could they? But as it happens, all of the Supermen I've chosen to write on are sort of soul-searchers, except Siegel's. DeHaven's Kent travels the country for years doing odd jobs (including notably as a Hollywood stuntman), Goyer and Snyder's does as well, though Kent takes longer to get to the point in Man of Steel than in It's Superman. Hugo Danner, of course, never hits on that magic combination of branding and the secret identity which makes Kent so successful as Superman. Siegel, of course, only describes that Kent's grief at losing his parents "strengthened a determination that had been growing in his mind" to become Superman, and then proceeds to give Superman a sardonic wit and an outsider's bemusement at humanity's failings, as well as a mildly cruel sense of humor both at the expense of crooks and Lois, who is, naturally, even worse to Clark than he is to her.

    Due to Danner's marked lack of success as a hero, the way he holds himself back out of fear of discovery, how he's constantly set apart by his strength, you might expect me to give him the props again, but in fact I think the way that the story presents him as being too superior to exist in a world of lesser men is ridiculous almost pre-Randian nonsense, so I'm going to give the award to Dehaven's Kent. In It's Superman, Kent would seem an outsider even without his powers, avoiding the trap of making him different primarily because of them, as Wylie does with Danner and indeed as Byrne and Straczynski do with Clark Kent. Indeed, DeHaven's Clark always seems different, from the way he sits out in the yard writing stories on his typewriter to the way he doesn't enjoy Mickey Mouse cartoons to the fact that his father is a kind of Buddhist in the early twentieth century. He's quiet and introspective, but with a good deal of the anger at injustice and the "will to act" that makes his career as Superman inevitable later on.

    I do want to give a shout out to Morrison's Superman from Action Comics # 0-18, whose backstory basically does what Siegel's version did in far greater detail, and makes Siegel's Superman's personality more developed even as he adds some of the more modern traits to him. Once again, his decision to become Superman isn't ruminated on, it's obvious, as I think it should be only because Kal-El is such a remarkable man that he should hit on such a remarkable idea as a matter of course. His Kent is an outsider like DeHaven's, his Superman is a badass like Siegel's. In my mind, he nailed Superman's personality to a T (or should I say an S?) but his spacey five-dimensional adventures keep him out of the running for most "realistic" in my book. Too bad.

    Relationship to other heroes

    None of them have other heroes to meet with, initially. Eventually the Golden Age Superman meets the JSA, but that's not really the part of him I'm looking at. Snyder's Kal-El is where I want to focus. He only has the Batman to deal with, and he deals with him by attempting to use the power of the press to stop the dangerous vigilante, not knowing that Luthor arranges the prison murders in the Batman's name- not that it absolves Bruce Wayne of guilt. In any case, the socially conscious aspect of the relationship between Snyder's Kent and Wayne puts that version ahead in this category. His relationship with Wonder Woman is of course practically nonexistent.

    Also, if we're going to count the likes of Lois, Jimmy, etc. then DeHaven's loses points just for how Willie Berg takes over the damn book. Rao, it's like after making such a cool and introspective version of Kent DeHaven decided that he was too introspective to possibly be an active force in the narrative and forces him to spend entirely too much time as this poor-man's Jimmy Olsen's sidekick! What a mess.

    Costume materials

    Danner, obviously, wears no costume.

    Again I want to sing Morrison's praises but I'll get it out of the way- a t-shirt and jeans, the chest emblem traced from a single symbol from the one Kryptonian artifact Kal has in his possession, his cape. It's so brilliant and obvious as a first costume that I'm surprised Smallville didn't do it, obsessed as they were with "no tights". The way the t-shirts keep getting blown up and the fact that he always has more? Also pluses. The Kryptonian armor he later picks up from the Collector of Worlds is pretty cool too, though I don't know about "realistic".

    Siegel's Superman says he made the indestructible fabric himself, but if so, why keep it to himself when he could save the lives of innocent people by selling it?

    DeHaven's gets his initially from the set of a movie where he plays a "space-man from Saturn", if I recall correctly, but when he starts to use it to fight crime, it gets blown out pretty quickly by all the action, and Luthor, the gracious nemesis, goes out of his way to make him an indestructible variant of the same suit. Personally

    Kal's suit in Man of Steel, as the suit Morrison's Kal gets from Brainiac, comes from his homeworld. I don't know whether it's realistic or not but accepting its presence, it's clearly the coolest outfit of the main four. Here's the unrealistic bit: in Dawn of Justice, Kal has a new suit. All the Kryptonian ships seem to have been destroyed, Phantom Zoned or quarantined by the government. Bewilderingly, Kal appears to have no access to the ship General Zod crashed downtown, which is the one place I'd assume he could get it. So where'd he get it? We just don't know. I'll knock off a couple points and give the award to DeHaven. Besides, as I indicated with Morrison's, I really like the idea of a costume that can get smashed for a while before Kent gets an indestructible one.
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  4. #4
    Astonishing Member Adekis's Avatar
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    Krypton design

    Siegel's Krypton is a world of Supermen, which is a very cool idea nobody ever went back to, but one with a fairly Earthlike social structure. DeHaven's Clark Kent knows nothing of Krypton, we never ever see it, though he does dream up a "scientifiction" story highly reminiscent of his own origin where a scientist sends his son to Mars before Earth explodes. Wylie's Hugo Danner has no Krypton, which is, I suppose, quite realistic indeed, since in "real life" we have no evidence of alien life. I tend to give the award to him based on that-
    but the sheer amount of effort put into Snyder's Krypton is staggering. It looks totally alien, it clearly has divergent evolution, the society has little in common with Earth, and as with Marc Platt's Gallifrey, they don't even have natural births anymore! The language itself is totally object based and distant, not that they kept the spoken tongue in the film (I wish they had). So I think I shall give this one to Snyder.

    Honorable mentions to John Byrne, whose emotionless, cold Krypton inspired Snyder's more vibrant action packed one, and to Millar's Krypton from Red Son, which mixes the "not alien" thing from Gladiator with a great time travel twist on the Silver Age's Krypton.

    Enemies

    Here I think Gladiator's Danner is pretty much the most realistic, but by far the least fun- his worst enemy is himself and his own lack of drive. He's very ineffective. He works as a pearl diver, and he's good at that. He's a circus strongman, but there's no greatness there. He spends a long time fighting World War One on the front lines. He asks when he joins to go to Berlin and smash the Kaiser himself, but then when turned down he just fights the war as a Herculean soldier, which as you might imagine, doesn't go very well. He does plan to do just that after a friend dies, but the day he decides to take a plane and just go, the war ends. He can't work in a factory without making other workers look bad, so the unions hate him. Later he tries to be a vigilante, but without the bright colors of "the Superman" that set Kent apart, Danner is just some crackpot strongman, and his attempts to pressure politicians not to be corrupt fails entirely.

    DeHaven and Snyder's Kents are both sort of like Danner, in that he uses his powers to do odd jobs but doesn't really get far into his destiny, but in neither case is it his primary obstacle. I do want to point out that DeHaven's Kent gets bonus points in my book for being a journalist before he moves to Manhattan. His first big foe, being in fact a sort of final boss for the book, is Luthor, whose Lexbots are a clever ploy to put world leaders at his mercy- today an alderman, tomorrow dictator of the western world! Not so realistic when described, but the book sets them up very believably. This is definitely an area where I have to give Snyder his props though. In Man of Steel, the pulse that brought Kal to the ship where he learns about his heritage also brings Zod to Earth. Zod's destructive attack and subsequent battle with Superman cause the hate from Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne which makes up the primary conflict in Dawn of Justice, and Luthor also encourages the enmity between Wayne and Superman in a highly complex but very believable way, making Kal doubt himself without ever making it obvious that there even is an outside source of the strife. By the time Luthor reveals himself, Lois was already able to prove he was the mastermind. Additionally, his last deranged ploy, "Doomsday", ties into Krypton's destruction. It all ties up in a nice little bow. There are external factors that arguably hurt that Kryptonian Christmas present- Diana and the Apokoliptan contact Bruce has in dreams and Luthor has after contacting Steppenwolf- but they hardly matter to Superman's arc.

    The Golden Age Superman is highly underrated though: he stops wars, thwarts kidnappers, takes a stand against illegal gambling- generally faces down real-world threats. Even the most outlandish foes of the early Golden Age, Ultra, Luthor and the radio's Yellow Mask, have no powers. I'm still giving the point to the movieverse, but I think Siegel and Shuster's original makes a strong play for this category.

    Overall: I still think it's Danner by a hair, but just because he's the most realistic doesn't make his story the most sophisticated or the most interesting. Disqualifying Danner, I think I'd give the prize to DeHaven's It's Superman despite Willie Berg's stupid overshadowing presence.
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  5. #5
    THE MARK OF MY DIGNITY Superlad93's Avatar
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    Clark Kent from Superman: Secret Identity. It's literally "what if someone was Superman in the real world." His powers are explained more or less. His foes are natural disasters and the US government. There is no Krypton but he does think there is for a while. His costume is normal material but his powers make it durable. No other heroes.

    I also think this is the most intelligent and earnest looks at the concept of Superman. It just so happens to be the most "realistic" too.

  6. #6
    Incredible Member 13th Superman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Superlad93 View Post
    Clark Kent from Superman: Secret Identity. It's literally "what if someone was Superman in the real world." His powers are explained more or less. His foes are natural disasters and the US government. There is no Krypton but he does think there is for a while. His costume is normal material but his powers make it durable. No other heroes.

    I also think this is the most intelligent and earnest looks at the concept of Superman. It just so happens to be the most "realistic" too.
    Agreed on all counts. One of my all time favorite reads. I liked that the fact that his powers grew weaker as he grew past his prime and that he was aware how convenient his powers were possibly hinting a mental connection. What I liked more was that in a world without alien invaders, time travel, or any other comic book shenanigans, a Superman was still needed. Natural disasters, accidents, civil unrest, the concept is still strong.

  7. #7
    Extraordinary Member superduperman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Superlad93 View Post
    Clark Kent from Superman: Secret Identity. It's literally "what if someone was Superman in the real world." His powers are explained more or less. His foes are natural disasters and the US government. There is no Krypton but he does think there is for a while. His costume is normal material but his powers make it durable. No other heroes.

    I also think this is the most intelligent and earnest looks at the concept of Superman. It just so happens to be the most "realistic" too.
    I deliberately excluded this one because it seemed too obvious. I wanted a challenge.
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  8. #8
    Extraordinary Member superduperman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adekis View Post
    Krypton design

    Siegel's Krypton is a world of Supermen, which is a very cool idea nobody ever went back to, but one with a fairly Earthlike social structure. DeHaven's Clark Kent knows nothing of Krypton, we never ever see it, though he does dream up a "scientifiction" story highly reminiscent of his own origin where a scientist sends his son to Mars before Earth explodes. Wylie's Hugo Danner has no Krypton, which is, I suppose, quite realistic indeed, since in "real life" we have no evidence of alien life. I tend to give the award to him based on that-
    but the sheer amount of effort put into Snyder's Krypton is staggering. It looks totally alien, it clearly has divergent evolution, the society has little in common with Earth, and as with Marc Platt's Gallifrey, they don't even have natural births anymore! The language itself is totally object based and distant, not that they kept the spoken tongue in the film (I wish they had). So I think I shall give this one to Snyder.

    Honorable mentions to John Byrne, whose emotionless, cold Krypton inspired Snyder's more vibrant action packed one, and to Millar's Krypton from Red Son, which mixes the "not alien" thing from Gladiator with a great time travel twist on the Silver Age's Krypton.

    Enemies

    Here I think Gladiator's Danner is pretty much the most realistic, but by far the least fun- his worst enemy is himself and his own lack of drive. He's very ineffective. He works as a pearl diver, and he's good at that. He's a circus strongman, but there's no greatness there. He spends a long time fighting World War One on the front lines. He asks when he joins to go to Berlin and smash the Kaiser himself, but then when turned down he just fights the war as a Herculean soldier, which as you might imagine, doesn't go very well. He does plan to do just that after a friend dies, but the day he decides to take a plane and just go, the war ends. He can't work in a factory without making other workers look bad, so the unions hate him. Later he tries to be a vigilante, but without the bright colors of "the Superman" that set Kent apart, Danner is just some crackpot strongman, and his attempts to pressure politicians not to be corrupt fails entirely.

    DeHaven and Snyder's Kents are both sort of like Danner, in that he uses his powers to do odd jobs but doesn't really get far into his destiny, but in neither case is it his primary obstacle. I do want to point out that DeHaven's Kent gets bonus points in my book for being a journalist before he moves to Manhattan. His first big foe, being in fact a sort of final boss for the book, is Luthor, whose Lexbots are a clever ploy to put world leaders at his mercy- today an alderman, tomorrow dictator of the western world! Not so realistic when described, but the book sets them up very believably. This is definitely an area where I have to give Snyder his props though. In Man of Steel, the pulse that brought Kal to the ship where he learns about his heritage also brings Zod to Earth. Zod's destructive attack and subsequent battle with Superman cause the hate from Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne which makes up the primary conflict in Dawn of Justice, and Luthor also encourages the enmity between Wayne and Superman in a highly complex but very believable way, making Kal doubt himself without ever making it obvious that there even is an outside source of the strife. By the time Luthor reveals himself, Lois was already able to prove he was the mastermind. Additionally, his last deranged ploy, "Doomsday", ties into Krypton's destruction. It all ties up in a nice little bow. There are external factors that arguably hurt that Kryptonian Christmas present- Diana and the Apokoliptan contact Bruce has in dreams and Luthor has after contacting Steppenwolf- but they hardly matter to Superman's arc.

    The Golden Age Superman is highly underrated though: he stops wars, thwarts kidnappers, takes a stand against illegal gambling- generally faces down real-world threats. Even the most outlandish foes of the early Golden Age, Ultra, Luthor and the radio's Yellow Mask, have no powers. I'm still giving the point to the movieverse, but I think Siegel and Shuster's original makes a strong play for this category.

    Overall: I still think it's Danner by a hair, but just because he's the most realistic doesn't make his story the most sophisticated or the most interesting. Disqualifying Danner, I think I'd give the prize to DeHaven's It's Superman despite Willie Berg's stupid overshadowing presence.
    TBH: If it wasn't for the meta-fifth dimensional stuff, New 52 would probably have been my first choice. When I decided to do this, I included ALL aspects of Superman. Including aliens and super-beings he might encounter. I was torn on the runners up here. The Donner movies were also at the top of the list because the only aliens he encounters are also connected to Krypton. But the flying back in time thing shaved a few points off that one. But you are right, MOS avoids that trap. Maybe it was my personal bias because I didn't like the movie that made me overlook this version. The Byrne version also is in the top five. If not for the other aliens and super-beings he encounters. I'd probably change my runners up if I were writing this today. If we are going solely off Superman alone, then maybe Byrne or TAS. Maybe Kingdom Come. He stuck out in my mind because of the way his powers work. He gets stronger the more sunlight he absorbs. To the point where Kryptonite can't hurt him. He isn't immortal, but his aging process slows down. His reason for quitting is also believable. His wife dies and the rest of the world abandons his values. And, as much as I don't like admitting it, MOS had pretty believable parents. It would make sense the Kents would want him to keep a low profile his whole life. And Krypton's destruction there wasn't a natural disaster either.
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  9. #9
    Extraordinary Member adrikito's Avatar
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    TAS Superman..
    He could have become in Lord Superman but.. he saw the mistake of this version and when the moment came.. was unable to make that mistake.. and Flash never die...


    Kingdoom Come Superman.
    . He had the problem of Magog and he lost many friends and Lois by the Joker.. He leave the world.. The loss of faith in humanity and this deaths... Maybe he leave the world to avoid another Injustice or Lord Superman.. Many heroes followed his example until his return... Years ago, Thanks to Wonderwoman, he saw that humanity really needed him and return as Superman..



    My answer KINGDOOM COME SUPERMAN
    In Tas Superman World, you donīt see thousands of people die... Unlike KCome Superman(he take his own decision) the TAS superman saw the error of Lord Superman, for not repeat this mistake..

    Kingdoom Come is a more darker and realistic universe... Like the characters.
    Last edited by adrikito; 11-06-2016 at 02:35 AM.

  10. #10
    Mighty Member adkal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adekis View Post
    In Man of Steel, the pulse that brought Kal to the ship where he learns about his heritage also brings Zod to Earth.
    Not to get nit-picky, but the pulse was only in the comic book prequel, wasn't it? In the movie, he didn't know about the ship until the off-duty soldiers mentioned that something had been found.

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  12. #12
    Mighty Member adkal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adekis View Post

    Costume materials

    DeHaven's gets his initially from the set of a movie where he plays a "space-man from Saturn", if I recall correctly, but when he starts to use it to fight crime, it gets blown out pretty quickly by all the action, and Luthor, the gracious nemesis, goes out of his way to make him an indestructible variant of the same suit. Personally
    (Apologies if this is now looking like I'm picking on you, I'm really not.)

    I thought Luthor commissioned to have the suit made, rather than actually making it himself.

    Kal's suit in Man of Steel, as the suit Morrison's Kal gets from Brainiac, comes from his homeworld. I don't know whether it's realistic or not but accepting its presence, it's clearly the coolest outfit of the main four. Here's the unrealistic bit: in Dawn of Justice, Kal has a new suit. All the Kryptonian ships seem to have been destroyed, Phantom Zoned or quarantined by the government. Bewilderingly, Kal appears to have no access to the ship General Zod crashed downtown, which is the one place I'd assume he could get it. So where'd he get it? We just don't know.
    Yeah, that bit is...dumb.

    (Made worse with the interviews going on about the costume changes and never addressing the 'how' )

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