As we all are aware that Kryptonians were highly intelligent people, with far more advanced technology than humans. Therefore if an alien from Krypton comes to Earth, why isn't he regarded as a genius?

Or if he is a genius then why didn't he try to help humans by becoming someone important, like a scientist, and then finding a cure for cancer or something? Or inventing something that we humans cannot invent in millions of years?

  • 4
    Having better technology isn't necessarily evidence of higher intelligence. It could simply be that Kryptonians have been around longer to develop it.
    – DavidS
    Mar 8, 2016 at 11:34
  • Why didn't he become the world's greatest comedian? As Seinfeld said: "He's got super strength, super speed. I'm sure he's got super humor."
    – Ben Miller
    Mar 8, 2016 at 11:40
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    If Kryptonians are so smart, why didn't they move to a yellow sun planet as soon as they had space ships?
    – Paul
    Mar 8, 2016 at 12:20
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    It really depends on the writer. In most cases he wants to have a job that is on the pulse of the world, similar to why Spiderman is typically a news photographer. There is going to be drama, but it shouldn't be "should I save that plane, or wait for this test to complete?? I've worked so hard on it...". It's just unfulfilling. In many cases he isn't written as being particularly smarter then anyone (often less so), just stronger & faster. Other times he's brilliant on par with Tony Stark & Bruce Wayne. It's all over the map.
    – Vogie
    Mar 8, 2016 at 13:41
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    @Paul It depends on which continuity, but in some of 'em, rocketry was a still a young science to the kryptonians when Krypton was destroyed; The only reason Superman's dad had a baby-sized rocket handy was because he was a literal rocket scientist.
    – user867
    Mar 10, 2016 at 3:39

3 Answers 3


The premise of the question relies on the faulty assumption that Superman wants to effectuate the maximum "good" in the world without respect for other principles. Therefore, it comes off as a short-sighted criticism of Superman's calculation without understanding his character.

Superman is not- and nor has he ever been- driven primarily by utilitarianism.

Which is hardly a radical idea isolated to him; principles over a trite short-term "good" is basic-level philosophy for religions, governments, companies, and families. A parent could chew your every morsel of food for you so that you don't have to expend the effort or risk a rogue bit of bone or gristle, they could bubble-wrap your life and shelter you from all harm and hurt... but in the process completely and utterly stunt your growth as a well-rounded human being with agency. Your boss could micromanage you to death or he could allow you creativity to flourish even if that allows for opportunity for failure. Governments must tolerate criticism and crime if they want free speech, free press, and liberty. Even omnipotent beings find little value in love that doesn't come from free will with all the risks of rejection that entails.

Star Trek has its Prime Directive, Superman has his own similar philosophy. Supplanting human innovation and civilization with advances from a long-dead civilization that clearly couldn't handle its own progress is not merciful, wise, or well thought out. Suppressing the symptoms of social ills or systematic problems fails to allow humanity to learn or grow from its failings or to expand its own compassion. The proposals in the question shortcuts and short circuits human development.

Superman's role isn't to save us from life or even from ourselves, but to give us more opportunities to catch-up when catastrophic externalities would render us extinct or to act as a symbol of selfless volunteerism and benevolence to show our fellow man. It's has never been about maximizing utility and doing all that you can do to limit suffering in the short term. If it were, there'd be no justification for ever leaving super speed or indulging a secret identity.

Superman would sooner have you see him save someone and think to yourself, "I should help my neighbor suffering from cancer and donate to research." than cure it and see people callously move on without a care.

  • I am not saying that Superman should have become a god, but rather expand his capabilities in field of sciences that could help humans round the world, not just Metropolis. If someone in real world scenario invents something which is highly useful to humans, e.g computers that does not mean that humans didn't need computers at all or by inventing something that useful restricts our creativity or imagination, computers are here, air planes are here, new technology is being introduced everyday, but is it restricting us in anyway? I don't think so. Mar 10, 2016 at 13:17
  • You might be more useful as an accountant than an online poster. Does that obligate you to do the thing that is more helpful to society or is there some intrinsic value in your freedom to do what makes you happy however inefficient? In your "real-world" scenario HUMANS invented the thing and only after GRADUALLY coming to grips with it. The computer didn't appear overnight. They started out the size of barnyards and now fit on the head of a pin. Your proposal is nothing like that. It completely short-circuits the cultural and societal development that lead UP to CPUs. Prime Directive. Mar 10, 2016 at 16:37
  • Well I don't want to argue with you, sorry not convincing at all. Mar 10, 2016 at 16:46
  • You're not convincing. Everything you've proposed so far would be disastrous if it arose without cultural sophistication. Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death and the the primary driver of altruistic research, remove it and we have a surge in population and decrease in altruism. Introducing the computer earlier would have resulted in a more violent and protracted World Wars unable to beat encryption and with pinpoint targeting / artillery on both sides. The same with air power. Unleashing it early is bloody irresponsible and lacks wisdom. Inability to see costs is not optimism or maturity. Mar 10, 2016 at 18:28
  • In one liner I can sum up your thought process as very vague and pessimistic. Can't help you friend. Mar 11, 2016 at 7:31

The main reason: He wanted to blend in and be an everyman.

Yes, he is intelligent as evidenced by the robots he's designed. (In Red Son he redesigns a majority of the world, and re-programs Brainiac, and in All-Star Superman, he solves the riddle of the Ultra-Sphinx, just to name other feats)

However, he's still wanting to help people. Where else can you easily get to the action of major events? Can you do it while locked up in some lab? No, it's down in the streets where he gets close to things like robberies and super-villianing as a photojournalist.

  • Well inventing some kind of system that stops people from robbery or murder can help everyone not just Metropolis. Mar 9, 2016 at 4:39
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    @FaizanRabbani SMBC did a comic about how Superman could really help out the world by powering a device to provide free energy for the entire world.
    – CBredlow
    Mar 9, 2016 at 18:45

This question relies on faulty assumptions...

  1. Scientists aren't geniuses.
  2. Not all geniuses want to be scientists.

Intelligence is simply a measure of how fast you can take in new information accurately and put it to practical use. It has nothing to do with your desires, passion, will, access to information, etc.

Likewise, science is just a methodology that rules out wrong answers, that if followed, whether they be the slowest dumbest, person in the universe or the smartest, most intelligent, they will get to the most correct answer possible eventually, by removing all the wrong ones, if done correctly.

A scientist is someone that does science. This implies that the best intelligence is a type of inherrent science and anyone who is intelligent is on some level a scientist, but that isn't what you mean and there are arguments against this, like we are pretty sure that the brain doesn't use the scientific method to come to the correct answer a lot of times, but rather some sort of multiple short hands that put the feeling that the answer is in a general vicinity and some people just have a happened to be pruned a given way that gives the right answer. That's why the process to get an answer is just as important if not more important as the answer itself.

What you mean is someone who sits in a lab as their job, does research, performs tests, and writes published scientific papers. This is a very limited view on what a scientist is and a lot of the people that fall into this group probably wouldn't fall into the group known as scientists based on what it actually means.

The reason Clark Kent does not have this job is simply. He doesn't want to be a scientist. That's not his passion or what he cares about. He does it, as other people have mentioned, but that's not because that's what he wants to do. I like making games and to do that knowing how to program and build computers is very useful. In making a game I do a lot of the things that a Computer Software Engineer does, or an IT person does. However, that part of what I'm doing is just a necessary evil and not the ends of what I'm doing. Superman, likewise, is doing science, not as an end, but as a means to an end.

Clark Kent is a journalist, depending on which cannon you're looking at, because he has always wanted to be a journalist and so that is what he does. Another reason is that this gives him a human connection and keeps him grounded in the real world which is why in some cannon he does primarily human interest stories rather than big breaking news. And another reason which is oft cited is that journalism puts him in a hub of communication about breaking events which allows him to hear about and react to important things quickly as they come up. He can listen to everyone on Earth, but it would not give him the info needed because he can't distinguish important things from non-important. When focuses his hearing he has to direct it and in doing so he is losing the ability to listen to other places at the same time which makes it an inefficient bottle neck since where he needs to be listening is always changing. With taking a job as a journalist it puts him in a bottleneck where he can get use to the voices for certain things and pick them out much easier and have them funneling and prioritizing information he needs to act quickly. (btw, this is also why the modernized blogging Clark is so stupid, because it breaks the point of him being a journalist if this is why he's there being a journalist)

There are other jobs that do this that may be better or worse, such as police, politics, army, etc, but there is probably good reasons why you would not try to use them as such hubs of information, especially while being a superhero, such as with the army, you can't just up and leave, Politics would put you in a position to be scrutinized a lot, and journalists are less feared than the police and likely get more information (at least they used to be).

If I were to redesign Superman today, he might just rely on Social Media, be an author, and do some job where he interacts with people like a counsilor or something like that. At least if you used the same reasoning as to why he became a journalist, especially since journalism is nothing like what it used to be.

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