The Death of Superman : Loïs Perfectly Knows That Clark Is Superman, part 2 (2800 words)
------------------Kal El’s Parents -----------------
Now that Superman owns the copyright for masculinity, all men become non-masculine or lose faith in their masculinity, whatever the “concept” might have meant for them. At the core it means that men cannot feel that they are deserving of any woman’s attention anymore; Superman is always there to be quicker, better, stronger in every ways and to make them useless.
The first scene after the title screen has four men in it and all of them are emasculated. The sailor is homosexual. Superman saved him numerous times and is now a godlike figure for him. Flash is superhomosexual man. Cyborg is deprived-of-his-sexuality-by-his-dad’s-ego-man*. And Jimmy Olsen is the kid/virgin.
*I can't remember in which other DC anime, there's a scene involving Cyborg and a woman who finds it excessive to remove yet another part of the man's body, his remaining lung I believe. She was ready to accept him as a man the way he was but approving to the new surgery meant rejecting her for some reason.
The sailor invites Superman to his restaurant. Flash is asked to clean up Sup’s mess and Cyborg can now go back and see his dad. If there’s no masculinity anymore, there’s nothing problematic between Cyborg and his dad anymore.
I wish I knew the hidden meaning that there is between “taking out the trash” or “cleaning someone’s mess” and homosexuality. I already saw the pattern in several other movies (Commando, Stand and Deliver, Juliet Naked, for example) but I just can’t put my finger on the logic behind this.
Anyway, the world that follows the introductory scene is a world without masculinity; I suppose it won’t last long. As all men are now emasculated, Clark Kent, the unimpressive guy, becomes as eligible as any other one. What’s striking though is that it’s Superman who will try his luck with Loïs first, not Clark. Remember that Kal El feels inferior to human beings, he isn’t a hero, he is an invincible "coward" and as such he still needed to eradicate any competition before trying anything with Loïs even as Superman.
He presents her with a piece of kryptonian tech that contains information about his race and family. It’s the closest thing she’ll ever get to meeting his parents. She reacts negatively to the idea of telling the public about them and argues that it would remind people that Superman is an alien. It’s a lie. It would actually make people realise that he isn’t a god and would reduce the gap between him and them.
This she wants to avoid because at this point of the story Loïs aims at securing the role of Superman’s woman for herself. And she wants Superman to remain the most admired individual on the planet because she wants to be the girl of the most admired man on the planet, hence her remark when she sees the picture he’s taken with the sailor:
“(Very heavy sigh) He’s gonna take pictures with anyone who asks.”
And then she takes a look at herself in the mirror as if this picture made her feel insecure about how she looked. Superman is part of her self-image. She’s narcissistic and immature; appearances are what matters most to her… that which makes total sense as Superman is an image, a two dimensional cardboard figure.
She also dislikes the idea of Kal El revealing that he has parents because that’d make him more accessible. While chatting, they’re interrupted by a woman who waves at him and shouts “Hey Superman, looking good.” The competition is ready to jump on any occasion and it’s quite easier for Loïs to pretend that Kal El’s parents should remain secret than to become just one woman amongst a thousand.
That woman is clearly open for sexual intercourse when the baby in the cradle suggests that she very probably already has a man.
Loïs takes note of how popular Superman is and of how much she would just look unspecial if she admitted that she's just like everyone else on that matter.
Again, she most probably knows that he is Clark Kent. I wouldn’t say that she is manipulating him entirely; maybe she is only suppressing the information into her subconscious but still behave according to it (which is exactly how suppression into the subconscious works).
When he asks whether she wants a lift, her answer is manipulative and corresponds exactly to the type of personality that would bring her to hide and take advantage of the fact that she knows that he is Clark Kent: “and save me from expensing cab fare to Perry White. You are heroic.”
This joke voluntarily undermines the excitement she can experience at the idea of being transported by a flying man. (She is transported = Elated, subjected to a strong emotion). If she was honest with him, she’d say “Ho yeah, I love it when you carry me, like the naïve little girl I am who’s looking for an invincible father figure more than for a man.” Well ahem, sorry… she’d say “Yes, I love it when you carry me !” Her joke about the cab fare aims at hiding how much she loves his “superness,” she wants to avoid looking like all the other women. Her best move here is to pretend to be in love with Clark Kent more than with Superman.
------------------Clark Kent’s Parents -----------------
In the Planet’s office, the manipulation carries on. Loïs vexes Clark by making him feel that Superman is the most interesting subject one can have for an article -he has something on intergang, she ignores him- until Clark asks about her interview with Superman and makes the conversation more personal.
Let's take a close look at this:
If Loïs didn't know Superman is Clark, She wouldn't know that she's going to come accross him in a second either and would be looking for him with much impatience. Instead she pretends to be so caught up in her reflections that she doesn't notice him.
... and suggests that an interview with Superman is far more interesting. She doesn't look at him, doesn't show any happiness or enthusiasm to see him. That's violent.
She just offers him her back. "I'm busy. I'm not interested. Leave me alone." It's an incredibly humiliating and hurtful behaviour from a woman who is supposed to be your girlfriend.
Finally, when Clark tackles Superman, she does a 180°, looks at him for the first time, and take it upon herself to proove him that she loves him as if it wasn't her behaviour that made him feel insecure. Her whole behaviour aims at pressuring Clark into saying "I am Superman !"
I call this manipulation because if it wasn’t, Loïs would have given Clark her attention. She would have listened to what he had to say about intergang even if it wasn’t as interesting as what she had on Superman in order not to vex him. Instead, she does vex him on purpose so that he becomes worried that she is more interested in Superman than in him, only to have the opportunity to prove him wrong.
Her reaction is complex; it’s a mixture of slight annoyance, benevolence, authoritativeness and infantilisation. But it can also be summed up easily: she won’t acknowledge the fact that it is normal that Clark should be worried. She’s had an interview with Super-Man.
Instead, he should feel childish, he should feel that it’s him who lacks confidence and imagines things, he should feel ridiculous, he should feel that he doesn’t trust her enough and as she orders him inside a storeroom and jumps on him he should believe that he obviously is the only one she’s attracted to. All of this is a manipulation.
And because he is not convinced: “You’re always on fire after seeing him. Should I be jealous ?” She resorts to “sluttishness”:
- I think it’s the tights.
- I can pick up a pair if that’s all it takes.
Anything is better than acknowledging that she can find Superman attractive… that which would be understandable. And then she carries on with the act. She pretends that any reason he could have not to go on a week end with her is unacceptable even before Clark has had time to say anything, and also reminds him what SHE cancelled in order to be able to spend time with him. See ! I value your time so much Clark !
How is that manipulation ? She is talking to Clark Kent, she perfectly knows that he loves her, values her time and that if he dares cancel their week-end there isn’t one chance in a million that he doesn’t have a very good reason. She talks to him as if he was a whimsical selfish idiot who constantly oversteps the mark. He is a harmless naïve devoted shy guy who is trying hard to prove himself worthy of love.
Plus, she knew that he was most probably going to talk about his parents as Superman did it five minutes ago. I mean. Seriously. If she didn’t know before that, the specific coincidence would necessarily have struck a chord. “Funny, Superman too made me meet his parents today… Ho.” She doesn’t understand because she already knows.
“Look Clark, I’m not going to waste time worrying if a guy likes me or not. We’re both adults. I know it was my idea to keep things secret at work but… I’m really trying here.”
Should I explain how this too is a manipulation ? She acts as if they’re on the verge of splitting up, when she would never ever leave him simply because he doesn’t want her to meet his parents. It’s so funnily diabolical.
Clark thinks that she doesn’t know and that he is behaving unlike a normal boyfriend by hesitating. Lois would never leave him for such a dumb reason but pretends that she’s just about to do so in order to gain more influence over him, to force a closeness that will allow her to “capture” him. Once she’s met his parents, no other woman is eligible, the flag is planted.
“What am I going to find out ? That you were a huge dork ? I already know that.” Loïs making sure that it is firmly engraved into Clark’s head that she finds him ridiculous and still loves him anyway so that he cannot think for one second that she might love him for his superpowers and superhero persona.
She exits the room, close the door and Kal El is confronted to his reflexion in a very strangely placed mirror. He is wearing his glasses and looks discomfited. We have to remember that these glasses are a disguise for him. He doesn’t look at his real face but at his human persona. There truly are a Clark Kent and a Kal El for him, it completely eludes him that it is a very poor disguise.
Cyborg’s problem with his dad is that the Dad’s manliness rests upon scientific research and “being a genius” while Victor wanted to be an athlete, most probably as a way to force his parents to accept him for who he is or prove that he is by essence more important than their scientific researches. So, the problem is truly that his parents do not care enough about him, he’s just a lab rat.
As all men are now equally subordinate extensions of Superman, the rivalry between science and athletics is null and void and Victor finds himself hoping for a reconciliation. It won’t happen.
The visit at the Dad’s lab looks like a trip in a parallel universe. John, Victor’s substitute, isn’t marked by his parents’ dedication to science anymore, he is marked by their admiration for Superman (T-Shirt). And the real Victor remains the ugly duckling because he isn’t in awe of the kryptonian. Nothing is solved. Poor Cyborg.
At the lab, Superman also learns about a connection between the attempted abduction of the mayor and Lex Luthor.
------------------Clark, Luther and Lois------------------
He goes and visits the man and their discussion ends on a simple statement from Sup to Lex: “The city is never gonna love you, just for hating me.”
We’re already back to the fight between Superman and men. All that’s left of masculinity is disembodied hate = Lex Luthor. And the fight is for Love.
In movies, bald men are regularly (not systematically) used as the embodiment of the sex drive (They’re walking penises). A few examples spring to mind:
1986: Sixth Sense. Francis Dollarhyde.
2015: Spy. Rick Ford.
2017: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Bill Willoughby
Men being useless, their existential sex drive is now pure hate directed towards the one who makes them useless. The priority is destroying Superman in order to recover a reason to be.
Interestingly enough, Luther is wearing kryptonite jewels at his ankle. Even if he pretends that they are fake, I suppose it suggests that Superman wouldn’t be able to kill him if he wanted to, Luthor would pick up a "jewel" and defend himself.
This means that even though Superman can emasculate men, he cannot get rid of masculinity. It’s indestructible and will come back as soon as Superman slightly loosens his grip. So here, he is forced to take note of his powerlessness in front of this entity. He’s told Lois about his parents because for a minute he felt safe enough and now he realises that the danger will always be there.
In the last scene before the space sequence that shows Doomsday’s arrival we can see Loïs chat with a colleague of hers who warns her about how she shouldn’t force things too much with Clark:
- Just be careful. You always said Clark seemed different like he’s got a wall around him. It’s like he doesn’t want anyone to get too close.
When I said that Metropolis women were models I was thinking of Loïs' friend. And actually, her attitude towards Loïs tells a lot about the reporter. This woman is an anchor and she is clearly more attractive than Clark's girlfriend, yet she looks up to her and chases her around constantly in order to know what's happening in her life. Loïs is good at making people believe that she is "more," that her life is "more."
What (metaphorically) triggers Doomsday’s arrival is a misstep and a misunderstanding. Both Lois and Clark each made too swift a step forward.
Loïs isn’t aware of the difference between meeting Clark’s parents and meeting Superman’s. She believes that she’s going to be introduced to a “kryptonian” family, that Clark is going to reveal to her his true identity, and that this core identity is Superman, not Clark.
When she says: “What am I gonna find out ? That you were a huge dork ? I already know that” she is bluffing. She actually believes that he is going to confess that in reality he isn’t the huge dork she thinks he is. She is convinced that the confession is going to go the other way around, that Clark is going to admit that he is Superman, that Clark isn’t real, not the contrary.
In a previous movie (Throne of Atlantis, at 15min), she comes across her male colleague on a date with Wonder Woman in disguise and immediately identifies her and tells him about it. 1-How could she not be able to see through Clark’s pair of glasses while still recognising Wonder Woman ? 2-How could she not make the connection ? Clark dating Wonder Woman ? How would they know each other ?
I was saying earlier that behind every Superman, there’s a Clark Kent. The dynamic is very present in our cultures in which everybody has to pretend that they are perfect. One fall in love with a deception but this deception cannot receive love, it’s the imperfect human being behind the two-dimensional lie that wants and needs love.
Clark’s approach and intention were to slowly reveal more and more about Superman's weaknesses, hence reducing the gap between the superhero and the man. Exactly like some men do, admitting that they too can be scared after having seduced the girl over their pretended bold courage, admitting that they have feelings, after having pretended that nothing could get to them, admitting that they lack confidence after having shown off blind trust in their capacities, and then denying anything that the girl doesn’t seem ready to accept, letting her shape who they are according to her desires.
Superman’s admission that he has parents allows Clark to talk about his. Clark always needs to walk in the steps of a God in order to feel reassured. The problem here is that Lois doesn’t realise that; she sees a Superguy who regurlarly slips into a secret identity in order to infiltrate her world. The more ridiculous Clark is, the more she feels that Superman loves her because he is ready to ridicule himself in order to get closer to her. I don’t know how she gets to know him in the DC anime universe, but in Man of Steel, she meets Superman first and Clark Kent gets a job at the Daily Planet afterwards.
So when she forces the meeting with the parents, it’s also because she thinks that Clark can’t wait to tell her who he is, that for him it’ll be a relief to confess that he is not this stupid dork. Of course, truly, Clark is terrified because on the contrary he believes that his parents are going to make him look even more like a child, even more unmanly. It’s going to enlarge the gap between him and Superman. Actually, it's the contrary that is going to happen, they are going to dangerously reduce the gap between him and superman. But that's the problem, Clark has put himself in a dead end. He wants Loïs to be attracted to him, but he's created an entity that makes every man not enough.
Amongst other things, Doomsday represents Clark accepting that Loïs will never like him. The kryptonian has been working so incredibly hard in order to pass off as a human being, while emasculating all men and fascinating all women (as Superman), that if at this point Loïs doesn’t fall for Clark, if she still finds him unmanly, then there’s no hope and Kal El’s libido will turn against humanity. “If I cannot be accepted, then you can all die.”
However, the last words that she told him were that he was a dork and he is very well aware of the fact that she’s “always on fire after seeing Superman.” So, on the one hand, Doomsday is Clark’s rampant fear that Loïs prefers Superman that which he hadn’t seen coming as he considers Superman incompatible with humans... but on the other hand, Clark truly is Kal El and truly is superpowered. So, Doomsday could also be Kal El’s frustration at Loïs preferring Clark. In this case obviously, he would totally be oblivious to her manipulation. Doomsday would thus represent the rebellion of Kal El’s kryptonian side. If Loïs is in love with Clark, if Kal El finds a place amongst human as a human, there’s no need for Superman anymore, there’s no need for superpowers anymore and the kryptonian side of Kal El can vanish. Just like the Joker for Bruce Wayne, Doomsday would be the atrophied and oppressed deeper self of our main character.
It might look suspicious to have two opposite interpretations side by side, but really it works with Kal El having two opposite personnalities.