James Bartholomew Olsen

Jimmy OlsenThis appears to be the trailer’s week, as also Supergirl got one, with quite a bunch of characters to speak about. Let’s start from the most famous…and unrecognizable one: Jimmy Olsen, the goofy photographer who in the show will be portrayed by Mehcad Brooks. This Jimmy, however, won’t be goofy at all, apparently, quite the opposite, and he’ll also act as a liaison between Kara Danvers and her cousin Superman (and he’ll be Kara’s love interest). Jimmy is a fundumental part of Superman’s mythology, and has appeared in nearly every movie or tv series about the Man of Steel: his very first live action appearance was in the Superman serial, portrayed by Tommy Bond, while the most popular is probably Marc McClure‘s version, since he played the character in all five the original movies (including the Supergirl spinoff). Aaron Ashmore portrayed him (and his older, nearly omonymous brother) in Smallville, while Sam Huntington did the same in Superman Returns. In every portrayal, Jimmy was the brave yet clumsy photographer with a particular relation of friendship with Superman…and it seems Brook’s portrayal will differ quite a lot from the usual Jimmy, at least for the clumsy part, and in appearance. Waiting to learn something more, let’s see who he is in the comics.

James Bartholomew Olsen was born in YonkersNew York, the son of military officer Jake Olsen and of his wife, newsagent Sarah. When Jimmy was still a kid, his father went missing in action while on a secret mission in Asia, and was declared dead soon after (he wasn’t dead though, but working as a secret agent for Cadmus). As a result, Sarah became overprotective over her son, and Jimmy was constantly guarded by his mother, growing up a little bit insecure. The Olsens moved to Metropolis, where Sarah started running a newsagents: Jimmy wanted to jimmyolsencomics1help, so every morning he woke up early and read all the newspapers, collecting the stories he liked the most, cutting out pictures and articles and pasting them into a scrapbook he made. With time, he became more and more passionate about journalism, and in particular about photography. With his first savings, he bought a camera, and started practicing, learning the technique from books he borrowed. Growing up, Jimmy Olsen proved to be pretty smart, but school wasn’t exactly his thing: he often got bored during lessons, so sometimes he just cut classes to attend lectures he really was interested in; he also used the time he didn’t spend in school practicing with his camera. All the hours spent outside school eventually paid off, as during a lecture he met Perry White, the editor in chief of Metropolis’ most important newspaper, the Daily Planet. White had quite a liking for the boy, since in Jimmy he saw a younger self; the two became fast friends, and Perry eventually offered the boy a job as an intern at the Planet, everything while Jimmy was still a junior high school student (of course, in the deal with Perry, Jimmy had to promise he would have finished school). From a day to another, Jimmy found himself working with some of the best journalists in the city, including the nearly legendary reporter Lois Lane. Jimmy befriended Lois as well, and he saw her talent as unrivaled…until something unexpected happened: Lois lost a scoop.

Metropolis found its new hero in the greatest of them all, Superman, a flying man who kept saving the day, without revealing anything about himself. Jimmy tried to take some pictures of the new costumed hero, but Superman was too fast, and the best he got was a red-and-blue blur. Everyone, Jimmy included, believed Lois would have been the first one to discover something about the flying man, but another reporter beat her on time: Clark Kent, who obtained the first interview ever with Superman, and was immediately hired by Perry White as a result. Jimmy befriended Kent as well (usually entertaining himself with the rivalry Lois had started with her new colleague). jimmyolsencomics2Following Kent’s interview, Jimmy tried to learn everything he could about Superman, so that he would have been the first one to take a picture of him…but his efforts went all in vain. One night, however, one of his school friends, Chrissie Walker, knocked to his door: she had tried to committ suicide with a pill overdose, but she had changed her mind immediately after, and she now asked for help. Jimmy and Sarah put the dying girl on their couch, but they were unable to contact any emergency personnel, or to bring her to the hospital: thinking fast, Jimmy assembled parts of his father’s old radios, sending a hypersonic signal in a frequency that, according to the interview, Superman could hear. Jimmy’s plan miraculously worked, and the Man of Steel himself rushed to the source of the signal, recognised the emergency and brought Chrissie to the hospital, saving her life. Complimenting Jimmy for his wit, Superman built a miniaturized version of Jimmy’s sonic device, and gave it to the boy in the form of a wrist watch: from that time, if Jimmy was in an emergency, he would have been able to summon Superman with the same signal. Exploiting the occasion, Jimmy also took a photograph of Superman, the first good one since the hero had appeared: the picture was a success, and Jimmy was promoted from simple gopher to photographer (who occasionally acted also as a reporter). Finally, he could follow Lois Lane or Clark Kent on the field as a professional photographer, with his works usually taking the front page of the Daily Planet: his dreams had come true.

Jimmy Olsen is an extremely smart kid, resourceful and fast-thinking, able to muddle through any kind of situation, albeit being incautious and sometimes even goofy always puts him in trouble. He’s a skilled photographer, always ready to catch the perfect moment, and he’s an ambitious young man who dreams of becoming a renowned photojournalist. He’s also Superman’s pal, and he possesses the one and only Signal Watch, a device he can call Superman with any time there’s an emergency (being quite the fanboy, he even used it for more trivial and mundane matters, getting scolded by Superman as a result). Brave and intelligent, Jimmy Olsen is a loyal friend and a daring young journalist, a “kid” for all his mentors, but also a colleague who earnt their respect.

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Lana Elizabeth Lang

Lana LangTime for a major character in the Superman mythology: in Man of Steel, she just has a cameo as a little girl on the school bus, portrayed by Jadin Gould, but for every fan Lana Lang is surely not an unknown name (the pic is awful, but I didn’t find anything better). Her first live action appearance was in The Adventures of Superboy pilot, where she was portrayed by Bunny Henning, and she also had a small cameo in Superman: The Movie, appearing as a school friend of Clark Kent (she was portrayed by Diane Sherry); in the original movie series, she had a major role in the third movie, portrayed by Annette O’Toole. She mostly appeared on television, always as Clark’s best friend and/or love interest: in Superboy, a single episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and, of course, Smallville, where Kristin Kreuk gave the character a world-wide fandom. Let’s see together who Lana Lang is in the comics.

Lana Lang’s story has been rebooted even more than the other characters’ one: in the first version, she was born the daughter of Lewis and Sarah Lang, a couple living in SmallvilleKansas. When she was a teenager, she fell in love with two people at the same time: lanalangcomics1Clark Kent, her neighbor, and Superboy, the local hero. During much of her high school days, she spent her time trying to discover Superboy’s secret identity, either by following him and by feigning to be in distress in order to lure the hero. At a certain point, she helped an alien who gave her the powers of the Insect Queen, but this is another story. In her second version, we find Lana as an adult, as a television critic for the Daily Star. She was born in Smallville, but moved to Metropolis when she was very young. In this reality, she wasn’t attracted by Clark, nor by his superhero alterego, Superman. Lana met Clark in television, and she recognized in him her childhood friend she hadn’t seen in decades, and the two became friends once again. Even this Lana became the Insect Queen, but this time she obtained her powers not through a grateful alien, but through a mystical amulet her archaeologist father retrieved in an ancient temple, and that he gave her daughter as a gift unaware of its properties. If a live action version of Insect Queen will ever see the light, we’ll speak about Lana’s expolits as a superheroine.

The third and final (at least for us) version sees Lana as a childhood friend of Clark’s. The two of them grew up together in Smallville, and they fell in love with each other when they were still children. Lana discovered about Clark’s powers when she was very young, when Clark saved lanalangcomics2her life deploying his incredible strength. From that moment, Lana stayed close to him and helped him keep his secret, and she also helped him to control and understand the new powers he was discovering: the first time they kissed, the arousal made Clark develop his heat vision, and when Lana was sucked up in a tornado, Clark learnt to fly and saved her. The two parted when Clark left Smallville, and Lana herself moved to Metropolis to attend University, getting a degree in Business. When Superman appeared, Lana was the only one (apart from Martha Kent) who knew perfectly who was hiding behind the red cape. Lana became a successful businesswoman, and met again Pete Ross, another childhood friend from Smallville. Pete fell in love with her and proposed to her, but Lana still felt something for Clark; when she realized that Clark would have never loved her the way she loved him, she eventually married Pete and moved to Smallville with him. She became pregnant, but the child was born premature: fearing for his son’s life, Lana called Superman and asked him to take the baby to an advanced medical facility in Metropolis as soon as possible, but on the way Superman was attacked by Brainiac in the body of Doomsday, who defeated him and kidnapped the baby. Brainiac wanted the baby as a new host, and started a process of rapid aging, but Superman interrupted it and saved the child, who was however older than before. He brought him back to his mother, and Lana chose to name him Clark Peter Ross. Lana then moved to Washington, D.C. when Pete became Lex Luthor‘s Vice President and then President himself. After their White House adventure, anyway, Lana’s and Pete’s marriage was severly tried, and the two eventually divorced. When Luthor fell from grace, Lana became the succesfull chairwoman of LexCorp, a powerful woman who was now triying to use her resources to help her hero and friend, Superman.

Lana Lang is, in every incarnation, a loyal friend and a good girl (or woman), with a strong character and an indomitable will. Despite being quite uncertain about her feelings (she’s always in love with Clark Kent, despite her try to deny it, first of all to herself), she has proven more than once to be a reliable ally for Clark, in both his civil life and his super identity. Since she divorced from Pete Ross, she has started some sort of rivalry with Clark’s wife, Lois Lane, who doesn’t see well the return on scenes of her husband’s first love…

Perry White

Perry WhiteAlmost at the end of the list of characters appeared in the last Man of Steel trailer: this time, we’re speaking of Perry White, portrayed on screen by Laurence Fishburne (who’s the first Afro-American version of the character). Perry is one of Superman‘s most popular minor characters, and appeared in every single live action version of the Man of Steel (with the only ecception of the Superboy tv series, in which he was replaced by a son, T. J. White). From Pierre Watkin to John Hamilton, from legendary Jackie Cooper to Lane Smith, with the latest additions from Smallville and Superman Returns (respectively Michael McKean and Frank Langella), Perry White has had many faces, but let’s see what his comicbook one looks like, despite it has been rebooted at least four times (I’ll just write about my favourite one).

Perry White’s childhood surely wasn’t an easy one. He was born in Metropolis, in the city’s worst area, nicely called the Suicide Slum. He found himself alone when his father went missing overseas, and learnt to take care of himself. He became the only and best friend of another young one from the Slums, Alexander “Lex” Luthor. Growing up, the two of them took different roads, but both promised each other that they would have become something better than what their actual life promised to them, and in a certain sense they both kept their word. Perry was hired as a copy boy at the perrywhitecomics1important newspaper Daily Planet, and the job allowed him to live without a father taking care of him; after some years, he became a young reporter. Investigating some racial crimes, Perry went to the small town called Melonville, where he met Franklin Stern, a young and talented student who was about to head off for Harvard Business School and that was investigating on his own about the disappearance of several members of his family. Perry and Franklin didn’t get along well at first, but things changed the moment White saved Stern from a beating coming from the Aryan Brotherhood. The two young men started working together, and soon discovered a racial nightmare, in which the local members of the Brotherhood kidnapped and killed many black men trying to transform them, through so-called scientific and eugenic experiments, into “supermen”. Perry White’s article (ironically called Supermen Plot Foiled) led to the arrest of the entire group, won him his first (but surely not last) Pulitzer Prize and created a strong friendship between him and Frank Stern. From that point on, his career in journalism became an all-ascending road, and he soon arrived to be Daily Planet’s editor in chief.

Perry White found a good girl he fell in love with, Alice Spencer, and the two formed an inseparable couple. The problem was, also Lex Luthor liked Alice. When Perry sailed overseas to report a war, Lex made Alice believe that her beloved boyfriend was dead, and, while comforting her, he slept with her. Coming back from the war, Perry found out that Alice had betrayed him, and that Lex, not happy with just ruining his sentimental perrywhitecomics2life, was attempting to shut down the Daily Planet, since he had become a media mogul and wanted to erase the competition. Perry managed to save his journal, but (it was the least!!) his friendship with Luthor ended once and for all. With time, he forgave Alice (it wasn’t her fault, after all) and ended up marrying her; the two had a son, Jerry (who in reality was Luthor’s biological son), who would have become Perry’s pride and joy (until he was killed by a gang). Perry and Alice would have (much) later adopted an orphaned boy, Keith Robert. His work with Daily Planet became the center of Perry’s life, an incredibly stressful job, but extremely satisfying. Perry hired some of the best journalists he ever met, such as a teenager Lois Lane, or the apparently goofy countryman Clark Kent, making the Daily Planet one of the best newspapers in the world.

Perry White is a hard working man, with a strong moral code and a precise idea about journalism, which he sees as a means to serve the people. Despite he’s often angry and mostly shouts instead of speaking, he’s a good man, an example for all his employees and one of the best journalists ever lived.

Lois Lane

Lois LaneAfter overlooking Superman‘s parents, let’s speak of his eternal love, Lois Lane, comics’ most famous love interest, who’s been, in the many live action appearances she collected over the years, his girlfriend, wife and even lover. In the upcoming Man of Steel, Lois will be portrayed by Amy Adams, clearly in a pre-marriage version of the character. The tough journalist is one of the major elements in Superman’s mythology, and has appeared along him almost every depiction of the hero, but her most famous portrayal is possibly Margot Kidder‘s one, who gave her an enojoyable neurotic character; many other actresses have donned Lois’ tailleur, from Kate Bosworth to Erica Durance, from Noel Neill to Teri Hatcher. Let’s see who she is in the comics.

Lois Lane was the eldest daughter of Ella and Sam Lane. Her father, an army general, wanted two sons, and didn’t care much of the fact that the sons he was promised were actually daughters, so he raised Lois and her sister Lucy as they actually were males, arriving to the point of training them in armed and unarmed combat (a skill that would have proved useful in the future, but was quite odd at the beginning). Because of Sam’s soldier life, Lois used to travel a lot when she was a kid, and moved from a place to another with her family, never settling down. This made her become very independent and self-reliant, anloislanecomics1 uncommon girl with a strong character and a stubborn attitude. When she was fifteen, the Lane family moved in a military base near Metropolis, the biggest city in USA. In Metropolis, she approached Perry White, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Daily Planet, who Lois had met once when she was visiting the journal’s building with her class. Lois, lying about her age (she told Perry she was eighteen), asked him for a job, but her brilliant plan was thwarted by Lucy, who came with her and told Perry her sister’s real age. Lois was clearly sent away, but she managed to overhear some journalists who were speaking of White’s desperate desire of having a scoop about Lex Luthor, Metropolis’ new celebrity. Lois, who didn’t surrender at all, escaped from her house during the night (a house that was inside a military base, so the task wasn’t an easy one at all) and sneaked into Luthor’s tower (another hard task). In Luthor’s office, Lois managed to steal some files, but was caught by the tower’s owner, who just scolded the child and sent her away. Perry White, knowing what Lois did, was so impressed that he decided to giver her a job, despite her very young age, and that proved to be one of the rightest choice of his life, since Lois soon grew up to be one of Daily Planet’s best reporters ever.

The biggest story Lois had ever covered fell literally from the sky. While she was flying on the new experimental shuttle Constitution as one of the test passengers, an incident occured, and the space cruiser started to fall on Metropolis. The tragedy was foiled by a flying man, who grabbed the shuttle in mid-air and made it land smoothly and safely. Lois tried to reach him, but he flew away before she could even speak to him. Back to the Daily Planet, Lois wrote an article about the incident, in which she named her unknown savior “Superman”, a name that he would have loislanecomics2become famous with all over the world. Superman became an obsession for Lois, and she tried to have an exclusive interview with him many times, but always failed, until the day she faked a car accident to get his attention. The expedient succeeded, and Lois had her interview, but back at the Planet she learnt that a newcomer, Clark Kent, had beaten her on time. This event at first put a professional enmity between Lane and Kent, but with time the two became good friends, and even started dating. With many superheroes showing up, Lois became an expert in the field, and was among the very first humans to visit Themyscira, the Amazons‘ kingdom. With the years, Lois also became a media enemy of Lexcorp and of its CEO, Lex Luthor, and she managed to expose many illegal deeds of the corporation, putting in danger the Planet many times in the process. After some time together, then, Clark Kent finally proposed to her, and she agreed to become his wife; willing to share his life with her, Clark also revealed Lois that he was Superman. She accepted her husband-to-be dual identity, and from that moment on (after a brief time in which she tried to use her position of Superman’s wife for getting the best scoops) she helped Clark to keep his identity secret the best she could.

Lois Lane is an incredibly strong and determined woman, a girl who is used to fight for everything she wants since she was a child. She has a nearly infallible reporter instinct, and her boss, Perry White, forgives her many professional misdeeds because of her indubitable talent and honesty. She’s deeply in love with her husband, Clark Kent, aka Kal-El, aka Superman, and learnt to live well with being married of a super-powered alien from another world. With a deep sense of duty and a strong belief in the power of journalism, a tough character and a true affection towards her friends and family, Lois Lane is one of the best citizens Metropolis has ever had.

Kal-El/Clark Kent (Superman)

supermanfilmWith another official poster for Man of Steel released, I think it’s time to speak about the first superhero ever, the character who gave birth to the word “superhero” itself: Superman. Superman is one of the most portrayed character in both cinema and television, live action and animation alike, and earned the title of most famous superhero of all times. His most famous portrayals are the ones of George Reeves, who starred in the first movie dedicated to the hero, Christopher Reeve, the protagonist of the four movies started with Richard Donner‘s one, and maybe Tom Welling, who gave his face to the character for ten seasons (!) of Smallville. The latest addition to the long (long long) series of actors is Henry Cavill, who will portray the Man of Steel in the homonymous movie from Zack Snyder. Let’s see where all of those movies and tv series came from.

We all know the history of Superman, even if, of course, it has been retold more than once during the years, changing some details in the process. The fact that in the DC Universe there are many Supermen depending on which reality you’re looking at doesn’t help at all. Anyway, there are some common traits. Everything began on the planet Krypton, a distant world on the verge of disaster (depending itASSMv1 p1-32.qx on natural causes, the intervention of the artificial intelligence Brainiac or the terrorist Black Zero, the fact remains that Krypton was about to explode). Two scientists, man and wife, Jor-El and his beloving Lara Lor-Van, since they failed to convince the Kryptonian council of the approaching catastrophe, went against the pillar traits of their culture (which preached sterility) and conceived a son, Kal-El, who they wanted to save from the end of their world. Jor-El built a rocket for his son, entrusted the on-board computer with the memory of Kryptonian culture and history and digital copies of his personality and his wife’s, and sent the baby in open space, aimed to Earth, a distant and primitive planet. Once on Earth, the radiations from its yellow sun would have granted Kal-El powers unknown to the local population, and would have made him a god among mortals (on Krypton a red sun made everyone like normal “human” beings, apart from intelligence). Kal-El’s rocket landed in SmallvilleKansas, a small rural town: in here, he was found by Jonathan and Martha Kent, an elderly couple (or not so elderly, depending on the continuity you’re reading in) without children
who chose to adopt him, presenting him as their own to other towners. They named him Clark Kent, and raised him teaching him the most human of values, such as compassion, humility, love for every living creature, respect for life. Growing up, the boy developed outstanding powers, that made him one of the most powerful beings on planet. When he was 18, the Kents revealed him his alien origins, and showed him the rocket. Clark acknowledged his origins, and, following his putative parents’ teachings, he decided to use his powers for justice.

He went to Metropolis University, and saved the day in his spare time, always avoiding to be seen. When he was 25, anyway, while saving a falling spacecraft, he made his first public appearance. Believing that his real identity had to remain secret in order to allow him to live among people, understand them and their needs without being recognized as an almost almighty being, Clark decided to create a symbol, a new identity to show in public as the world’s savior. He transformed Clark Kent in a nerdish, clumsy, shortsighted, shy and awkward man, while Martha created a costume for him. A Metropolis young reporter, Lois Lane, who witnessed his debut, nicknamed him supermancomics2Superman, and that remained the official name for the world’s most powerful superhero. While Clark Kent started working at the local newspaper Daily Planet, befriending many colleagues (including Lois), Superman became a world-wide known hero, some sort of benign god who saved everyone who was in need, in every part of the world. More than convinced to be Earth’s guardian angel, Superman founded, along with some other heroes, the Justice League of America, a super team that would have faced treats that were too much for every single one of them alone, including Superman. His amazing powers attracted the attentions of many ill-intentioned people, the first being Lex Luthor, a powerful industrialist who started to hold a personal grudge towards Superman, trying to kill him in many ways (and sometimes succeeding in it) wanting to punish him for not sharing his powers with normal human beings. Kal-El, Last Son of Krypton, began a real double life: while Superman lived in his Fortress of Solitude in the North Pole, Clark Kent lived in Metropolis, coming back to Smallville from time to time; the first one was an always present hero, the second an unreliable absent-minded journalist. Things got easier the moment he revealed his secret identity to Lois Lane, who eventually became his wife: with Lois covering him, he was able to have Clark Kent disappear without raising too many doubts.

Kal-El is easily one of the most powerful beings in the universe: with incredible super strength and speed, invulnerability, the ability to fly, x-ray vision, heat vision, freezing blow, a longevity that could possibly be real immortality, superhuman senses, a healing factor working with sunlight, a genius level intellect, a good training in combat and many other powers and skills, Superman is virtually invincible, his only weaknesses being magic, a force that affects every living being, included gods and aliens, and Kryptonite, a rare mineral composed of the fragments of his destroyed planet, that weakens him to the point of killing him. Kryptonite has various effects on Superman depending on its specific conformation (and color), but it never has pleasurable effects. With right values and solid principles, Superman never uses his powers to dominate over other beings, quite the opposite, he uses them to serve, and sacrifices his own life to protect humanity, just as a god would do with his people. The world’s mightiest hero is also the world’s greatest man, the most human and compassionate person ever lived.