The Many Faces of the Man of Steel



The Man of Steel's Magneticism

Superman's sex appeal is a integral component of his superheroity. The article Go West, Superman, describes Superman's power and ability as a stereotypical appeal to young boys and men. However, for a superhero to appeal to girls he must have superior sex qualities. The writers, Seigel and Shuster, imprint basic morals in America's youth's collective memory. To capture the attention of both male and female they must create a father figure/male sex object.
Seigel and Shuster must create a man for girls and boys alike.

He is the archtypal aloof, yet sexy and chivalrous man. Joanna Connors, in her article, "Female Meets Supermale" (See Works Cited List), refutes this superiority and portrays Superman more as a typical male, describing the Fortress of Solitude as a sort of haven for male autonomy, a den where men retreat to watch football. She certainly has support for her thesis. He is quite literally impenetrable. He can not even receive a vaccination for needles can not break his skin. He has a protective covering, literally and figuratively in his pseudonym, Clark Kent. She further writes that he has an incapabililty to divulge emotions to his girlfriends, closing off his feelings like a typical male.

However, Connors thesis of Banalman can only possibly stand in reference to Clark Kent. Superman is in fact the furthest thing from ordinary. He is perfect, an Apollo figure of heroirity. His physique is modelled after Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Clark Kent's name is derived from Clark Gable and Kent Taylor, (see Mirrored Image, all men whom were greatly admired in the thirties (for more on Superman's identity see Superman at the Star). These male movie stars are not simply actors, but the sex objects of the 1930s (for more on 1930s film see Breadlines to Choruslines).

Not So Sexy
Ray Middleton, the first man to act as Superman in 1939's Superman Day.
His body is superior to all other men in the comic strips, especially in contrast to his major enemies, like Bizarro, the grotesque imitation of Superman. He is tan, fit, and strong. In fact, he is the strongest man on Earth, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings. He flies through the sky rescuing damsels in distress. Seigel and Shuster have recreated the modern-day knight in shining armor. However, the muscle-bound Superman of the imagination is not quite realized in Ray Middleton's figure when he dresses as Superman in the 1939 Superman Day. The photo on the right really deflates our tall, darl, and handsome superhero.

Superman's love life extends far further than Lois Lane, the Superman-starved journalist. Superman's Oedipal complex comes into play when, like his mother Lara, all his lovers' names are initialled L.L.. For example, there is Lyla Lerrol, Superman's "Kryptonian Romance" and perhaps the most erotic of his romances.
Kryptonian Love
Lyla Lerrol

They have a special connection because on Krypton Superman is not "super" but a regular man. Finally he finds someone who can love him for who he really is, not for his superpowers.

Kryptonian Kisses
There is also Lana Lang who is one of few who suspect that Superman and Clark Kent have the same personality. She is a childhood friend from Smallville. Already it is clear that the L.L. trend is neither bound to Earth or Krypton. Lois Lane is Clark Kent's co-journalist at The Daily Planet, and strangely enough, her sisters name is Lucy Lane. Lucy is Jimmy Olsen's girlfriend and although Jimmy proposes, she refuses his offer. Her reason is that she must wait until Lois is married before she can. Of course, since Lois' heart is set on Superman it is unlikely that she will be married soon. This conundrum ensures Lucy's virginity, a necessary characteristic of a superhero, and retains Lucy's initials. Linda Lee is the name of Supergirl's secret identity; Supergirl being Superman's cousin. Then there is Lori Lemaris, the mermaid of Atlantis who meets Clark Kent and who, with her telepathy, discovers the hidden identity. Lori and Superman can never have a relationship because Lori feels that a relationship between a mermaid and a superman can never work out. She eventually marries Merboy.
Lori Lemaris

Lyrica Lloyd is the movie actress who Superman falls in love with and decides to marry, thus revealing his identity. Naturally, fulfilling the plot of supreme unfulfillment, Lyrica dies of a severe illness. Luma Lynai is the prospective wife of Superman, but of course, Earth's rays are deadly to her and she can not survive on Superman's planet. The only woman whose name does not initial L.L. is Sally Sellwin, but she does have two sets of two "L"s within her name. The interesting twist on this pattern is that Lex Luther is Superman's most vicious enemy and his name is also initialled L.L. It draws the comparision that woman are an enemy to our altruistic Superhero. Perhaps this is the final indication that requited Love would be the death of Superman. For more see The L.L. Legend.
Lois & Clark
Lois, caught in the middle of a love triangle.

Many have speculated that this inability of Superman to consummate any of his passions is a way of maintaining the virginity of our national superhero. This "last unicorn" type theory insists that the Love Triangle between Clark Kent and Lois Lane and Superman is another way of using unrequited love to saving the virginity of the characters. Somehow allowing any of them to consummate a relationship would sully their idealogies. Moreover, America's obsessive myth of virginity, as in the case of Henry Nash Smith's Virgin Land, often stands stronger than history.
A much anticipated kiss
Lois finally gets what she wants?
So while realistically Lois and Superman's relationship would probably not stay in the courting stage of their relationship for 50 years, in this myth it must. Joanna Connors supports this by noting that whenever Lois gets close to peeking inside Superman's Fortress, total chaos erupts. It is interesting, too, that Lois is the pursuer and Superman is the pursued in a society in which opposite gender roles are the norm.

Although lustful romances have certainly been proven audience-engaging, there is something that keeps that drawing of Lois and Clark from ever being realized. Superman's actual job description is not journalist, but savior of the world. His job is the most demanding in the world; he's always on call. His first love must always be the planet Earth. Lois will never get her Superman nor will she find out the secret identity of Clark Kent.

All the women of Superman's Love Life.

Created by: Erin Barnes Dave Hendrick Chris Yeung