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…

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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.