Man of Steel develops the Superman mythos in a very interesting way. The film asks a question on why Clark should save humanity, why should he choose to be Earth's champion but it never truly answers Clark's true motivation to be a hero.

It seems like he just becomes a hero either because he is forced into action or because of destiny. But why develop the whole concept of choice for an hour only for Clark to become a "hero" despite of his own free will.

Did I miss something in the movie and if I did, where does it explain his motivation?

  • It's like asking what any true superheroes motivation is. It's what they think is truly right and just. And it's instilled in them from their life events. Generally anyways.
    – Villan
    Aug 6, 2021 at 16:50
  • That's exactly what Synder was aiming against. Not just develop a character who just inherently good or bad. Hence there was a character motivation behind zod and his violent behaviour he simply did not posses free will. Clark on the other hand is "just good" seems kinda one dimentional and doesn't really help what synder was aiming for in the first place. Aug 6, 2021 at 19:23

1 Answer 1


This is addressed (in length) in the tie-in novel 'Man of Steel - The Early Years' which focuses heavily on Clark's upbringing. In brief, he's been raised by the Kents to focus on living his life as a good person. His father advises him to keep his true identity a secret for Clark's own sake. Clark obeys, but this leaves him feeling depressed and directionless. Once he starts doing superhero stuff, he instantly feels better.

He remembered how right it had felt to rescue Susie from the fire, and even Whitney from that flood years ago. Human or otherwise, he had a chance to make a difference on Earth, no matter what world he had been born on.His head was full of questions, but one thing was certain. Clark wanted to be the hero his parents had raised him to be.

Note also that being heroic Is something that he views as his moral imperative.

In time, he had learned the truth about himself: that he was the Last Son of Krypton, sent to Earth by his birth parents, Jor-El and Lara, so that he would have a chance for life on a new world. The "S" on his chest, which now stood for Superman, was also the crest of his Kryptonian family. He honored their sacrifice by doing his best every day to protect the people of his adopted planet. Krypton was gone, but he could still fight for truth and justice on Earth

  • Although the novel is a tie-in with the movie, I was talking about whether what is mentioned in the novel is made clear in the movie. Sure the Kents raised him to be good and him saving people gave him a sense of direction and a way to honor his parents but where is that explained or alluded to in the film? Aug 6, 2021 at 14:35
  • @EPICTubeHD - The novel expands on what's in the film and the script and seems pretty consistent with how Clark acts and emotes in the film
    – Valorum
    Aug 6, 2021 at 16:53
  • Yea I understand that the novel expands on what the film is. But assuming people won't be reading a novel after a movie, it's important to put all the information in the movie alone. You said Kents raised him to be good sure... we can assume that but we have no mention or node to him having a sense of direction because he saves people. In fact, he just feels like a guy passing by just giving a hand to help fix a broken tire just because he can, but at the same time...we still don't get a clear enough explanation on his why. The best I can think of for his "why" is cuz of destiny. Aug 6, 2021 at 19:27

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