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At the end of Man of Steel, Superman destroys a surveillance drone belonging to the army.

During the conversation with the general he says:

"I grew up in Kansas General. I'm about as American as it gets."

Knowing that the general is actively seeking to find out where Superman lives, why would he volunteer information regarding his past (which could lead the General to track him down) and therefore blow Supermans cover?

Given Kansas' size it would obviously be difficult, but potentially not impossible, to find a person. We know Lois traced him back and didn't have access to military resources, which the General almost certainly would have.

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    Because he's a schmuck. – Valorum Jul 21 '15 at 19:25
  • He is trusting, and is trying to build trust in himself. So, yeah, a schmuck. – Politank-Z Jul 21 '15 at 19:36
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    The size of Kansas isn't as relevant as the population, which I imagine is roughly 17 people. – Wad Cheber Jul 22 '15 at 0:22
2

You revealed the answer in your question.

It's not hard to uncover where Superman lives... and you don't need an overwrought investigation or a linguist or drones. If push comes to shove, they can always find out from Lois Lane (whether directly or otherwise). This is the same government that seized her in derogation of her civil rights and who has a Suicide Squad program. Getting the information from Lois Lane is exactly what an unsavory government could do... and Superman knows this.

Instead, however, in this case the government took the high road.

Despite holding Lois they didn't subject her to "enhanced interrogation" and didn't disappear her (at least not beyond Superman's senses) or threaten her... and although they tasked a drone, that's "fair play." Based on the first article Lois leaked, it's clear that Superman didn't give her his identity at first, but the fact that she hasn't been reduced to a pile of ashes or sent one a one-way trip to the Sun indicates that Superman doesn't disclose his identity, but he also doesn't seem to mind if you find out. So the government endeavored to find out by legitimate means but Superman downs the drone and says:

"I know you're trying to find out where I hang my cape. You won't."

Note, he says WON'T not CAN'T. Essentially, Superman is saying, "You're going to stop investigating my identity because its one of the terms of how I'm going to help and you're going to agree to those terms." And, Swanwick does agree by conceding the point and moving on, "Then I'll ask you the obvious question...." If Swanwick didn't agree either that they wouldn't or couldn't determine his identity, he wouldn't concede by saying "Then...."

So why does Superman volunteer Kansas in the face of that? Well, why does he give Batman Kryptonite? Is it because Batman can't get Kryptonite on his own? No. Is it because Batman is the best person to use the Kryptonite against him? Not really, no, the advantage would be more useful in the hands of someone like Wonder Woman or The Flash. Is the Kryptonite the sum total of everything necessary to defeat Superman? Again, no. So why give Batman Kryptonite? Why give Swanwick a morsel of info on his identity?

Trust.

It's a symbol that says, "Here's something that could lead to a vulnerability, but as a sign of my respect for you and trust in you, I'm giving you this... please extend me back some trust in return." How does Superman end the exchange?

"I don't know General. Guess I'll just have to trust you."

What did Superman ask for in that encounter? Swanwick to talk to Washington on his behalf, because a super-powered alien descending on the seat-of-power uninvited is terrifying and could cause a panic... how does our Batman v. Superman trailer open? Washington having invited Superman to the Capital Building. Seems like it worked and, for all we know, Swanwick kept that detail to himself.

Adapted from: http://www.manofsteelanswers.com/what-was-the-point-of-the-drone-scene/

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    Can't and won't are interchangeable in common speech. In this context, won't means that the military can not find it, not due to inability (typical can) or ineptitude on their side, but because of Sups actions. Can implies ability, will implies inevitability – user16696 Jul 26 '15 at 4:37
  • They may be mistakenly used interchangeably, but that doesn't make them interchangeable. Either way, it's ambiguous, but your interpretation flies in the face of the fact that Lois holds that info and Superman knows the government could extract the info from her at any time and the friendly conclusion of the meeting. My interpretation addresses all those points and his line, "Look, I'm here to help but it has to be on my own terms." In other words, agreeing to discontinuing an investigation is one of his terms. – manofsteelanswers.com Jul 26 '15 at 12:39
  • "They may be mistakenly used interchangeably, but that doesn't make them interchangeable." It literally does. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 30 '16 at 16:35
  • That's not the right use of literally either. The distinction is use and definition. You can "use something interchangeably" without the thing "being interchangeable". – manofsteelanswers.com Apr 6 '16 at 16:36
  • We'll have to agree to disagree on that. – Lightness Races in Orbit Apr 6 '16 at 16:40
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Because the General would already know.

Superman has spoken with the General on several occasions. Given that he's spent the majority of his life in a small town in Kansas, his accent would be (for someone with unlimited access to government linguists) relatively easy to place.

Note that Cavill underwent extensive training to sound like an American. Presumably his voice coach would have had a Kansas accent in mind given Superman's distinctive back-story:

“Doing an American accent is about exercising the muscles in your throat and your mouth,” said Cavill. “Sometimes it can sound great for a long period of time, sometimes your inflection is wrong. It all depends. As long as you’ve got a professional watching over you saying, “You did this wrong, you did that wrong..” it can be made to seem effortless. But you still get days when it just seems to stick in your mouth.”

The flipside of this is that had Superman lied and told the General that he grew up in New York, then his story (and his good intentions) would not have been believed.

  • if Zod and his people found the Kent Farm it's a decent bet that the army also found it. – KutuluMike Jul 21 '15 at 19:42
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    @Richard : This is a great point. +1 – Praxis Jul 21 '15 at 19:42
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    A smart director would have had him say "middle America", not the specific state. But oh well. Good answer! – Omegacron Jul 21 '15 at 19:42
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    @Richard I disagree with the accent being easy to place. In small midwestern towns, not everyone speaks with some sort of hick drawl, especially Kansas. Source: Lived right across the river from Kansas only heard an accent from the old folks. – CBredlow Jul 22 '15 at 0:42
  • @cbredlow - My guess is that team of linguists and accent specialists could identify someone's accent down to a few hundred miles with trivial ease. – Valorum Dec 4 '15 at 14:23

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