Random Questions About Superman (Possible unboxed Returns spoilers)

After seeing Superman Returns and some other stuff about the Man of Steel, I have a few questions about this great hero. Of course, some of these probably can’t be answered, but what the heck:

  1. Does Superman need a cape to fly, or is the cape just for show? In Superman Returns, there’s a flashback where Clark Kent jumps through a barn roof and hovers in the air instead of landing on the ground. If he wanted to, could he have flown at that point? If Clark had never figured out that with great power comes gre…I mean, you should help people out and decided to live his live as an ordinary joe with super powers (“Clark Kent is a dick?”), could he just fly around instead of walking the streets of Metropolis? There’s a scene in the original Superman where Clark transforms into Superman in midair.

  2. In Superman Returns, there is a scene in which Superman is stabbed in the side with Kryptonite. We later see a bit of blood on the removed Kryptonite. If Superman gets stabbed or wounded (which could presumably only happen with Kryptonite), would it leave a wound when removed, or would it heal itself?

  3. Let’s take the title of the love theme from Superman literally: Can Superman read my mind- or anyone else’s, for that matter? Is mind-reading among his abilities?

I haven’t seen Superman Returns but my standard answer, which is always correct for all situations, is that Superman’s powers are anything the writers want them to be. Period.

However, AFAIK, the current canon in the comics is:

  1. The cape is just for show.

  2. He scars if you wound him.

  3. He cannot mind-read.

Warning: these answers can be changed tomorrow in the comics if the writers decide otherwise.

The cape is just part of his costume. He can fly or use any of his other powers at any time, no matter what he’s wearing. The flashback scene showed him discovering his powers for the first time, so he didn’t yet know what he was capable of.

Superman can definitely get beaten up if his foes are powerful enough (such as Doomsday or Darkseid), and can even bleed. His wounds would eventually heal like most people’s would, but it’s just more difficult to wound him in the first place.

Superman’s comic-book powerset was pretty much fixed after 1945. The Salkind movies, though, took lots and lots of liberties, apparantly because Ilya Salkind had never read the comics.

He can’t read minds, but he can use super-hypnosis to affect other people’s minds, make them forget who he is, and so on.

  1. The Cape’s for show, but it’s made from material his parents wrapped him in when they sent him from Krypton. As such, it’s also resistant to damage (although no so much as the man himself). In the old days, when Superman had to fly someone at dangerously fast speeds, or through fiore or something, he’d wrap them in his cape to protect them. It also has pockets, where he can keep snacks.

  2. It doesn’t come up much since he’s hard to hurt in the first place, but Superman does have a healing factor, a la Wolverine. If you injure him with Kryptonite, even grievously, he’ll heal much faster than a normal person once it’s removed.

  3. No. No mind reading. Once, he had super-hypnosis, but not any more.

Not true. There have been at least two major and several minor revisions in his power levels since the 1980s.

And his power varied all over the place before then.

The pocket is for keeping his Clark Kent clothes and glasses in when he’s Superman.

Well, I said power set, not levels. Although level-reduced in 1971 and again in 1986 (as well as adjusted to suit the drama of any particular story), he’s had the basic list of super-strength, speed, invulnerability, vision (admittedly heat-vision was a relatively late addition), hearing, smell and flight for decades. Some of the lesser abilities like hypnosis (established as early as 1941 and used well into the early eighties) and ventriloquism (likewise) have fallen away since 1986.

Useful summary of Superman’s powers over the decades.

I have a random superman question:

In the scene where Lex is looking through the ship library while his girl is drinking, am I mistaken, or is that Belvedere Vodka? I caught the frosted glass tree on the front and the cork stopper with the white-blue sealing paper strip, but I didn’t see it too closely and I’m not sure how many other brands also have this.

But also snacks! That superman, he loves his soft pretzels.

Well, that depends on the version. Per the 1986 revision, there is no such thing as Kryptonian super-fabric. The clothing next to his skin is protected by an aura of invulnerability (which his body projects & can be turned off by various things). The cape, on the other hand, gets shredded easily, so he goes through those pretty fast.

Of course, I haven’t read the post-Smallville revision, so they may have changed it back.

A post-Crisis story shows Supes receiving a cape made by aliens as a gift, with it having similar durability and stretchability as the pre-crisis version. I never understood the whole concept that Kryptonians artifacts were invulnerable under a yellow sun. It would have made more sense to say that these artifacts were the products of ultra-futuristicky tech and were super-durable as a result of that engineering.

They changed it back. Between some time travellers meddling and the recent Infinite Crisis, there’s been some changes. The most recent revision was “Birthright”, which is kind of a “best of” from Silver Age, Post-1986, and some definite Smallville influences.

I thought it was quite good (art needed work, but the story was solid), but I think I’m in the minority there.

Just saw SR and loved it. On the way home, I did have this one question, though.

When he was taken to the hospital, they removed his clothing. Wouldn’t they have gone through the costume/clothing then? And wouldn’t they have found the Clark Kent clothes hidden away in the cape “pocket” along with CK’s wallet, credit cards, press pass, etc.?

Maybe the pocket is sealed beyond the ability of mere mortals to open by super-Velcro.

The implication is that he dumps his Clark Kent clothes (as down the Daily Planet elevator shaft) rather than carry them with him.

Fortunately, one of his powers is dry-cleaner breath.

Way back in the old days, they were “super-compressed.”

How he uncompressed them was never explained. :rolleyes:

Same way you un-compress a ZIP-file.

What are you, nuts? Superman feasts exclusively on hostess twinkies! (CAUTION! May contain spyware!)