Doomed planet. Desperate scientists. Last hope. Kindly couple. Superman. Everyone knows in one way or another, the origin story of the most famous hero of pop culture. However, this origin has been modified along his 77 years of existence. In 2010, writer J. Michael Straczynski told us a new version of this story in the comic book Superman: Earth One.
In this version, Straczynski emphasized the fact that Superman was superior to all of us in many ways. His physical strength (obviously) made him a superb athlete and football player, the player that every team wanted to hire, but his mind was superior as well. Clark Kent was considered a genius who could “crack” science formulas with great ease. It appeared everyone was willing to pay a fortune to hire Clark, everyone but The Daily Planet.
In spite of the fact that Clark Kent is a scientific genius, Perry White considered him a good writer, but nothing special. What Clark failed to see at the time, was that it’s not enough to be an intelligent person, even a genius to be able to write stories. In Perry White’s words: “A good writer writes from the soul”.
I think that was the time when Clark realised that the most difficult thing to understand about humans were the humanities; those academic disciplines whose subjective complexity challenge even a Kryptonian genius like Superman. But in spite of that, Clark saw in other fellow reporters like Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane a side of humans that he found particularly interesting.
It’s easy to think Clark became a reporter to be “close to the news”, so that he could act quickly as Superman, but I don’t think that’s what happened. Remember that Clark can find out about the news whenever he wants because of his super senses. When Clark saw how Jimmy and Lois risked their lives to do their jobs, to get the news, to inform people, to defend what’s right, Superman realised the potential human beings have.
Of course we are imperfect beings, Superman knows that. However, in certain situations we manage to make aside our survival insticts and pull extremely heroic actions driven by a sense of duty or social welfare. Journalists, Firemen, many people we know are that way.
Bottom line, I don’t think Clark decided to become a reporter to find out about the news. I think he saw in this job the opportunity to help people as a human being; an opportunity to understand better what it’s like to be human.
I’m writing this from Mexico, a place where being a journalist is a dangerous job. In a country where freedom of speech is in danger and where you can lose your work or your life by saying the truth, it’s important to remember the value of this profession. Truth is a dangerous weapon, words create, words destroy and Superman knows it. Let’s remember that in many occasions Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen managed to win fights even the Man of Steel couldn’t.