There are plenty of superheroes that come and go from public consciousness, and then there are others that are evergreen and never really leave the spotlight. Superman has had a major impact on the comics industry ever since his debut and his game has only extrapolated over the years. Superman is all over the place; whether it's comics, feature films, or animated series.
He's a character that audiences just can't get enough of and even though he's seen as an overpowered behemoth, there are still layers to this guy and what he stands for. Due to Superman's typical boy scout demeanor, he's typically a beacon for good and a prime example of how to act. However, Superman is flawed, just like everyone else, and he has a number of traits and stories that aren't nearly as impressive or admirable. Accordingly, Here Are 20 Shady Things Everyone Ignores About Superman.
20 He Can Raid Your Mind
Modern age Superman has so many super skills and absurd abilities that some of the powers that were established during his earlier years had to be retconned out of existence. Before Superman had all of the tricks that he does now, telepathy was another one of his strengths. Not only could Superman read other people’s thoughts, but he can also supplant memories or thoughts into their head to disastrous effect.
19 He’s Become The Vengeful God That Everyone Feared He Would
The major caveat with someone as strong as Superman is that they could potentially enslave the world if they really wanted to. This is Lex Luthor’s major crusade against Superman and even though Superman typically remains just, there have been alternate storylines where the impossible happens.
Several stories have featured a version of Superman that snaps and takes it out on the world, but one of the most evocative is Injustice. It’s here that Superman’s turn to the dark side sets off a major chain of events that pits heroes against villains and leaves the world in chaos, all with him at the head of it all.
18 Tiny Hand Superman
Okay, so this definitely has to be one of Superman's strangest and most forgotten abilities. In 1958 there was a comic entitled "Superman's New Power!" and what a power it is! Superman briefly loses his powers, but gains a new ability where he can shoot out a tiny version of himself from his hand. This Tiny Superman has all of his standard abilities and Metropolis actually likes him, which leads to a strange internal jealousy story as Superman tries to work through all of this.
17 His X-Ray Vision
A number of Superman’s special abilities have an immediate practical use when it comes to combat and defense. Flight, strength, and super breath are all techniques that could end up winning a fight and saving the day. X-ray vision is a skill that often gets colloquially talked about with Superman, but seldom comes into play. The strength of this x-ray vision varies, but the bottom line is that he can invade your privacy and see whatever he wants.
16 The Time He "Got Together" With Big Barda
This is not only one of the more absurd Superman stories out there, but it’s one of the crazier DC Comics storylines in general. Superman is no stranger to mind control, but in this instance both he and Big Barda are taken over by the psychically powered Sleez of Apokolips. Sleez uses his brain meld to force Superman and Big Barda to engage in a romantic encounter together in order to get the whole thing on tape. It’s all very weird and it leaves both Superman and Barda with a great deal of shame.
15 He Was Briefly A Centaur
Whom Gods Destroy is a four-issue Greek mythology-infused mini-series that goes all alternate history on the DC universe. In this rendition of events, Superman is a villainous centaur who holds a torch for Lois Lane. It's a crazy take on Superman, especially by making him evil. In the end, though, it turns out that both Superman and Wonder Woman are just being used by Zeus and Hera.
14 He’s Not The Best To Lois Lane
Even if you don’t read Superman comics, it’s probably safe to assume that you’re at least aware that Clark Kent’s true love is Lois Lane. Above all else, Superman will try to save Lois, but during the earlier years of Superman comics ,Clark was just as much of an obstacle to Lois as he was a savior.
It seemed that the flashiest way to sell comics and come up with a quick story was to throw Lois into trouble, usually with Superman involved in some misguided way. Clark still cherishes Lois above everything else, but he’s endangered her dozens of times and even accidentally led to her demise on a few occasions.
13 He's Afraid Of Vampires
Vampires might seem totally off of Superman's radar, but they do manage to square off once in a while. Superman fights against Crucifer, a vampire who manages to successfully drink Clark's blood. Curiously, vampires seem to not like the taste of Kryptonian blood and he doesn't turn Clark into a fellow vampire.
However, he does use the opportunity to temporarily take control over Clark's mental state. Superman has fought great foes and nearly seen anything, so it's still kind of surprising that one of his major fears is something as outlandish as vampires, even if he has faced off against them before.
12 He’s Turned His Back On The Human Race
Superman’s relationship with the human race has been a complicated one, to say the least. Superman loves humanity and wants to fight for their safety and be their champion, but he also gets extremely disappointed in the nature of the world. Someone as powerful as Superman is definitely a double-edged sword.
Superman realizes this before anyone else and when he realizes that the safety net that he provides on humanity can actually hold them back, he decides to flee Earth and leave them to their own devices. Superman does later return, but it’s an impulsive decision that probably could have been improved upon.
11 He's Dated A Mermaid
Clark meets a mermaid named Lori at Metropolis University (although he doesn't know she's a mermaid yet). Clark falls into a whirlwind romance with Lori and impulsively asks her to marry him, yet she declines. Her major reason and shame here is because she's actually a mermaid. It's all rather weird, especially since Clark could have surely looked past such things.
10 His Psychotic Vigilante Run As Gangbuster
Superman’s biggest rule is that he doesn’t kill others. This paradigm comes up repeatedly for the character and is often his breaking point. When Superman is eventually forced to end Zod’s life, the results leave Clark an utter mess. Not only does he struggle to cope with his actions, but he goes through a psychotic break and begins to fight crime under the new pseudonym, Gangbuster. Gangbuster is like an anti-Superman. He’s violent, abrasive, and will do what Superman won’t. It’s a dangerous time for Superman, but he eventually gets his head straightened out.
9 He's Super Susceptible To Being Brainwashed
When a character has the extreme level of physical strength that Superman does, it often means that villains try to get the upper hand on him through mental manipulation as opposed to brute force. This is a solid way to deceive Superman, but it seems like basically any psychic character has been able to take control of him at some point. Superman’s been turned into some villain’s psychic plaything more times than he’d like to admit. They make for flashy stories, but what’s the point of super strength if others can just learn how to use it against you?
8 He’s Too Strong
It’s not just super strength and the like, but he’s essentially as strong as a God. When his abilities are literally affecting the Earth’s axis and impacting other planets and solar systems, clearly someone is a little overpowered. Superman has become so strong that it’s practically a liability. Villains are always trying to harness his power and use it against the good guys because there really is no weapon better than Superman.
7 He’s A Massive Jerk To Jimmy Olsen
Clark Kent seems to proudly boast that Jimmy Olsen is his best friend, but a lot of the time it seems like he abuses that relationship and just makes Jimmy think that they’re a lot closer than they actually are. Superman surely does have genuine feelings for Jimmy, but he expresses it in a bizarre way that seems more like hazing.
Jimmy often seems to be at the brunt of Superman’s weird humiliations, whether it’s forcing him to marry a gorilla on television, fighting against Aquaman when completely unqualified, or just generally messing with his head and quality of life. Jimmy needs to get a new perspective here and see how Superman really treats him.
6 He Punches First And Asks Questions Later
Superman isn’t the dimmest superhero out there, but it’s clear that his strengths lie in his, well… strength. Accordingly, Superman’s strategy is to come out swinging, defeat the threat, and then figure out what’s going on. Superman doesn’t usually have to worry about being overpowered, but that makes this approach even more irresponsible. He should develop his other skills instead. Superman’s fought against every member of the Justice League, and then some. This doesn’t seem like the soundest way to retain allies.
5 His Vendetta Against Automobiles
It may be one of Superman’s earlier adventures, but it’s still a formative story for the superhero. Back in Action Comics #12, Superman has to deal with the tragic loss of a friend after he perishes in a car crash. Superman struggles to cope with this so he decides to take his aggression out on all cars in general! Superman wages war against a car manufacturer, dealership, and any automobile he comes across. It’s easy to connect the dots of Clark’s pain here, but it’s a messy way to handle things.
4 He Knocks Out And Impersonates A Football Player
One of the more bizarre Superman stories to come in the pre-Crisis days sees Clark take on organized sports and the corruption that they were facing. A rather innocent storyline involves some criminals invading a football game with the hopes of rigging the outcome and manipulating the system.
Superman simply can’t let this stand, but rather than just arrest the guys, he decides to knock out player, Tommy Burke. Superman impersonates Burke, plays for him, and takes out his aggression on these criminals to right their wrong. It’s a completely bonkers way to handle this problem.
3 He's Worked For General Zod
General Zod is one of Superman’s greatest antagonists and a constant reminder of the world he left behind when he accepted Earth as his new home. Zod is an incredible foe for Superman, but he’s temporarily imprisoned in the Phantom Zone. The events of Superman: World of New Krypton see Superman freeing the shrunken bottle city of Kandor and giving them a New Krypton to populate.
Unfortunately, they also free Zod and enlist his help in the matter. Suspicious of Zod’s intentions, Superman actually joins Zod’s military regime to make sure he’s not up to anything. Clark has his reasons here, but it still doesn’t change the fact that he willingly decides to work for his rival here.
2 He Mentally Destroys One Of His Closest Friends
During Superman’s early days, Pete Ross was another major player in his life that helped him adapt to his secret identity and hiding his powers. Superman and Pete are close, but then Pete’s son, Jonathan, gets kidnapped by a vengeful alien race. Superman tries to rescue Jonathan, but he’s told by the Legion of Superheroes that doing so will negatively alter the future timeline.
Clark abandons Jonathan to his fate, but doesn’t try to bolster up Pete in any way. Pete soon goes mad over losing his son, turns to a life of crime, and get busted by Superman and confined to a mental institution. It’s a tragic fate that certainly seems avoidable.
1 He Can Be A Rampant Show Off
Superman has settled into a noble, altruistic leader during his current tenure in comics. During the earlier years before Crisis on Infinite Earths, Superman was still a good guy, but he wasn’t as strongly defined and he had a much more reactionary personality. Before the character got sorted out, there was a solid run where it seemed like every issue Superman would debut some new arbitrary “power” like super horseback riding or super sneezing, never for it to show up again. For a while it seemed like Superman was just trying to show off that he’s the best at whatever he chooses to do.
These are all of the strange and unbelievable dark Superman secrets that we could pull together, but there's even more out there. Sound off over your favorites in the comments below.
Sources: CBR.com, ScreenRant.com, IGN.com