Can Superman lie to Lois Lane and still be Superman?

August 19th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

Quick hit, because I have a question but no answer and I haven’t had one of these conversations in a while:

Superman is, as depicted in the comics, essentially perfect. He’s an upright, straightforward, and moral man. Like Captain America, the choices Superman makes are generally the ones that we would consider correct or moral. There are exceptions, obviously, but in general and in canon, Superman is the moral center of the DC universe.

The one thing about Superman, the franchise and character, I’ve never been able to figure out is his relationship with Lois Lane. There are a couple minor things that bug me—Superman is literally the Best Man Alive, so every story where Lois gets jealous because he’s hanging out with some other lady is silly at best—but the biggest one is the Superman/Lois Lane/Clark Kent triangle.

How does that love triangle not make Superman look really dishonest? Superman is Clark, Clark is Superman. They’re both reflections of the same core person, who is generally unfailingly honest and moral. But he lies to the woman we’re supposed to believe he loves. He actively lies, in fact, concocting schemes and routines that’ll maintain his identity at the expense of Lane’s career and personal life.

I know that this is partly the result of the friction that comes when stories for children are haphazardly turned into stories for adults, and the horrifying juxtapositions that situation tends to bring with it, but it’s also something that’s stuck around as the character has been continually rebooted into someone meant for adults, rather than children. That means that it’s a significant part of the character, something with deep roots and importance to basically every single portrayal of Superman.

But, knowing what I know and feeling what I feel about Superman, it seems like one trait that’s in extreme opposition to his usual portrayal. I can’t bridge the gap between Superman being The End-All Be-All Of Goodness and lying to Lois Lane.

So what’s the deal? How did you make this work situation for you?

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