Beyond Heroes and Villains

Investigating the nature of good guys and bad guys in fiction and real life

Superman's True Disguise: The Power of Social Invisibility

Superman's disguise is not about observers being too dumb to recognize him wearing glasses. Writer Jerry Siegel daydreamed about what it would take to get noticed. Clark Kent was no disguise; he was a man confident he was secretly something more. The mild-mannered reporter symbolizes hope to those who know they possess great qualities that other people have yet to see. Read More

Secret powers

I like how you sum it up. I agree. I think Superman symbolizes that belief that we have qualities no one has yet seen. But I also believe that because he is Superman, it works for him only. Sometimes great qualities are best when they seen.

For example, in grammar school, I was a pretty shy guy. Smart and shy, I was hesitant to talk to people. To me, I cared, but not enough. It was how I was raised. I had my own territory, but if people wanted to talk to me, I would gladly talk back. But I wasn't popular, nor charismatic to the point that I was known as an affable and social person. There were the funny people, as well as the smart people. And they made it known. Until my day came, without even realizing it.

The Olympics was a competitition where we displayed our athletic talents, as well as our physical strength. In my eyes, I assumed everyone was physically athletic. After all, I saw many of these guys play baseball outside. So to me, I thought as a man, all men, were athletic. Was I wrong, and before you know it, my qualities manifested in many ways than others.

It was no doubt the first time I realized how physical talent can grab attention. I literally grabbed more attention doing pushups than solving math problems. I was already a smart guy, and school can be a place where social approval is salient than any part of your life. But doing push-ups, doing high-jumps, and breaking records running was something I realized early on that physical prowess was a given. All the girls talked to me, telling me how strong I was. How cool is that? A smart guy getting told he is strong as well? Take that nerds! Lol

Sometimes the greatest qualities must be presented. Some people are good at things than others. You may be a exceptional writer, or be the star of the football team. Luckily for me, I can write and workout. I not only like sports, but I like science. My fluid intelligence is pretty remarkable, and my memory? I remember things like if its nothing. I was fortunate, though. I had friends who were good in sports, which in turn, encouraged me to play or workout. The reading and writing was something I already did as a child. I would write. A lot. And that I credit my love to read. So I had a balance, but we all know your smarts won't get much attention as your muscles.

Not everyone will have superpowers, or do pushups(come on nerds, lol) but who knows. Sometimes the greatest power you can have is to be able to show it. And to reveal your identity. That's much better than flying...who am I kidding, fliying is better(lol).


From Smallville Season 10:

Lois Lane: Clark, you can't just whip out a new costume at work.
Clark Kent: The Blur is not the disguise, Lois. Clark Kent will be the mask.
Lois Lane: Okay. Okay, but the only way the glasses are ever going to work...
Clark Kent: If I adjust my behavior when I use them. I know. The world needs to believe that Clark Kent is way too normal to be...
Lois Lane: Super.
Clark Kent: And even though we silenced Godfrey, we shutdown Granny's orphanage, and buried Desaad underneath Belle Reve, it's not the last time we've seen Darkseid. But I'll be ready...
[puts on glasses]
Clark Kent: ...hiding in plain sight.
Lois Lane: So you're willing to dial back the hometown hero and crank up the Average Joe?
Clark Kent: If that what it takes to be the hero the people need, yes, Miss Lane, I am.


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may quote other posts using [quote] tags.

More information about formatting options

Travis Langley, Ph.D. is the author of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight.


Subscribe to Beyond Heroes and Villains

Current Issue

Let It Go!

It can take a radical reboot to get past old hurts and injustices.