After Superman‘s mother, we’re now speaking of his father, Jonathan Kent, who will be portrayed in the upcoming Man of Steel by no less than Kevin Costner. Jonathan had fewer appearances than his wife, since in most of them he dies when Clark is still a young boy, leaving Martha a widow (it’s the case of Glenn Ford‘s version in Superman: The Movie, or even John Schneider‘s one in Smallville). In some of his comicbook alternate versions, he indeed dies before his wife, but in the mainstream one (now called New Earth) he lived much longer. Let’s take a look at his story.
Jonathan Kent was born in the 1920s, son of the farmer Samuel Kent, who had a farm in Smallville, Kansas. Despite now being a peasant family, the Kents could boast quite a great family tradition, being the descendants of the legendary Sir Brian Kent, better known as the Silent Knight in the Medieval Age (the Silent Knight was an incarnation of the Egyptian prince Khufu, who was cursed to be born in every century to love and lose his wife Chay-Ara: his modern incarnation is the archaeologist Carter Hall, aka the superhero Hawkman, so Superman and Hawkman are some sort of relatives). When his mother Eliza died, Jonathan became, along with his sister Sarah and his brother Harry, the major help to his father, despite being extremely young. When he was a teenager, he fell in love with a local girl, Martha Clark, but the two never managed to stay together during Jonathan’s youth. In 1944, Jonathan was old enough to enlist in the U.S. Army, and left Smallville to fight in World War II. During a mission, he was captured by Japanese soldiers, and was declared missing in action. He managed to survive, anyway, and to come back home on his own. Back in Smallville, anyway, Jonathan found out that Harry had died, and that Martha had married rich businessman Daniel Fordman. He clearly was sad because of it, but decided to respect Martha’s decision, concentrating on his farm. When he knew Kent was alive and back from the war, Fordman asked him for a personal meeting, during which he told Jonathan that he was dying from cancer, and that he wanted him to take Martha away, knowing that the two were in love before she believed him dead, and wanting to spare her the sight of him dying. Jonathan refused, not wanting to break a marriage. Soon after, when Daniel died, Martha was free to start where she left with Jonathan, especially after she left all of her husband’s fortune to his sister Eliza, who wanted to cut her out of Daniel’s will. She was able to be with Jonathan, and some months later, they got married, and she moved at Kent Farm with him (Samuel died, and Jonathan inherited the farm).
Jonathan and Martha had a beautiful life together, but they suffered greatly when they tried to form a family of their own. After some miscarriages, Jonathan had Martha see a doctor, Smallville’s Doc Whitney, who told them they would have always been unable to conceive. Although Jonathan put up with his impossibility of being a father, Martha kept praying God for a miracle. Two years later, during the worst blizzard Smallville had suffered in over one hundred years, Jonathan and Martha were driving back home after being in the city, when they were caught in the middle of a massive meteor shower. A big asteroid crashed near Jonathan’s truck, and he decided to go and see it. In the middle of the crater, Jonathan and Martha didn’t find a rock, but a rocket, with a baby inside of it. Clearly surprised, they decided to take him with them after a brief discussion, during which Martha pointed out that the child was clearly an answer to her prayer. Jonathan and Martha adopted the alien baby, called him Clark and raised him as he was their own. Jonathan taught Clark a strong sense of morality, and when he manifested prodigious powers coming from his alien inheritance, he helped him to control and hide them, at first, and to secretly use them for good under the identity of Superboy, later. He and Martha were overwhelmed with joy when their boy became a famous journalist for the Metropolis newspaper Daily Planet and the most loved and famous superhero of all time, in his Superman identity; Jonathan also befriended immediately his daughter-in-law, Lois Lane, finally enjoying the beautiful family life he had always wanted.
Jonathan Kent is a good man, with grounded values and a good sense of morality. Because of a life spent working, he has a strength superior to the average men of his age, and remembers some of his soldier training from the ’40s, thus rarely helping his son with the most human of his adversaries. Jonathan is the perfect father for the perfect son, and a loving husband for his loving wife: they form the ideal American family, for Jonathan a dream come true.