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In Man Of Steel, Clark is shown to have abilities right from his childhood. He has super-strength and other abilities right from the start.

But why only on one certain day at school does he find his Super-vision so disturbing and is there something that triggers this freakout?

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  • I have not watched the movie in a while, but If I remember correctly, its when his vision started evolving and it became to much that day. That is before he still knew how to control it and shut all the extra information out – Oil Apr 8 '16 at 9:04
  • What would you do if you were suddenly overwhelmed with the ability to see and hear everything, but not the experience necessary to understand what was happening to you? – Kevin Workman Apr 8 '16 at 16:05
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It would appear that Clark, as he grows, is coming into his powers. Presumably this is perfectly normal and happens in a way that's analagous to puberty. On that particular day, he suddenly became able to use both his super-vision (x-ray, infra-red/ultra-violet) and his super-hearing. There's no mention in the novel of a particular trigger, only that it was somewhat new and totally overwhelming.

The other children giggled at his discomfort. They couldn’t see what he saw—the inside of Ms. Whitaker. The teacher’s skin and clothes had gone transparent, revealing the bones, organs, and arteries beneath. He could see the blood coursing through her veins, watch her heart beat rhythmically. Her lungs expanded and contracted like fleshy balloons. Chewed-up food made its way through her digestive tract. She looked like the “visible man” model he’d seen in the Sears catalog, but life-sized and pulsing with animation. Exposed muscles, resembling strips of raw meat, covered her bones. Eyeballs rolled in the sockets of her skull.
He looked away from her, only to discover that his classmates had turned into living anatomy lessons as well. Even worse, he could hear all of their heartbeats, which were pounding like kettledrums—and growing louder by the second.
Clark threw his hands over his ears, but it didn’t do any good. He could hear everything. Even the ticking of the wall clock sounded like a jackhammer going off right in his ears.
It was unbearable.

Man of Steel: A Novel

Notably, Zod and his followers go through the same learning curve when they land, albeit much much quicker and with far greater self-control. This strongly suggests that these traits are related to physical maturity rather than the total amount of time spent in Earth's atmosphere.

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  • That's one of the (many) things that bugs me about the movie. If his powers are related to absorption of yellow sun energy, then it logically follows that his powers grow with exposure, for Zod's forces to jump to the same level means that we have to link this to a physical maturity which is fine but removes one of the small number of weaknesses you can use in order to give some limits to Superman within the context of a story – Pooli Apr 8 '16 at 9:32
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    @Pooli - Zod isn't as physically powerful as Clark, as evidenced by the fact that Clark is (after he gets his sh*t together) able to beat him. Zod is, however a far more experienced tactician, a better fighter/soldier and vastly more competent. Interestingly, it only takes a few seconds for both Clark and Zod to regain their superpowers when back on Earth which suggests that the amount of solar energy needed to charge their batteries (at least to superhuman strength levels) is pretty tiny. – Valorum Apr 8 '16 at 9:40
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    Arguably Zod having the upperhand due to being a better tactician, forcing Kal-El to use his higher tier powers in order to take them down, resulting in Zod's accidental death, would of resulted in a better narrative and drove Superman towards his no-kill policy even with higher tier villains. Instead they had all of the same powers and inexhaustible reserves of stored solar energy with which to power them (Heat Vision, Flight, Speed etc.) in order to have the super-being slug fest and wholesale destruction. – Pooli Apr 8 '16 at 9:47
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    @Pooli - Lest we forget that even without a yellow sun, Kryptonians are already super-dense and super-strong (as compared to humans) due to their ultra-high gravity planet. It's not a stretch to imagine that they can "charge up" very quickly as well. – Valorum Apr 8 '16 at 9:49
  • I'm cool with the physical abilities and them matching Superman in raw strength, nobody wanted another film of him fighting a green rock! But I always thought his 'edge' came from the nurture of his adopted planet and his almost continuous absorption of solar energy over the course of his lifetime. I just like the idea of him having to go somewhere that the other Kryptonians can't in order to end the threat rather than him somehow taking down a career military chap in CQC. – Pooli Apr 8 '16 at 9:55

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