One of Man of Steel‘s most diverse elements (neck-snapping Zod not withstanding) has been the ‘Tornado-scene’, where Jonathan “Pa” Kent sacrifices himself to prevent the fellow interstate traveler’s from seeing Clark use his gifts to save his adoptive father from the impeding tornado. “Stop, Invincible Son” has become an internet meme among many other things, mocking this emotional scene from start to finish which is unfair, given that this scene has actually shown more for the ‘tragic’ element of a super-hero than anything else that has come before.
Pa Kent stands next to Spider-Man‘s Uncle Ben as one of the most iconic father-figures in comic-book lore, and while there is no mantra of power and responsibility uttered by Jonathan Kent, his single hand-movement and knowing look to clark in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel tells the audience everything they need to know about why Superman does what he does, and how far a father’s love truly goes.
I was unsure [about doing Man of Steel] But I was very sure that [Director] Zack [Snyder] would make something really original. I really felt that he wouldn’t be making another version — he would be making something that stood on its own. I was really hoping that was the case … I’m taking a little bit off of what you’re saying and what a few other people said. So, I wanted it to be original, I wanted it to stand alone — those are the kinds of things you want to try to be a part of.
Kevin Costner joins the small list of Glenn Ford, Ed Cassidy, and Smallville‘s John Schneider as actors who have portrayed Kal-El’s ‘Earth father’ in live action adaptations, and as such, director Zack Snyder hit the nail on the head by casting a man everyone at some point has wished to be their father.
Without Jonathan Kent, it’s difficult to imagine how exactly the world would turn out on the on-set of General Zod’s attack on the Planet Earth. While we, as an audience, do not see Jonathan and his wife, Martha (Diane Lane) find Clark, we see pieces of Clark’s childhood with his adoptive parents, and see Jonathan’s perspective on Clark’s secret: at no cost, now, can Clark reveal himself because the world is not ready.
The funny thing about the world, is that it’s never ready.
My father believed that if the world found out who I really was, they’d reject me… out of fear. I let my father die because I trusted him. Because he was convinced that I had to wait. That the world was not ready. What do you think?
– Clark Kent, Man of Steel
When Clark saves a bus full of children as a child, a Smallville resident tells Martha she believes it to be an act of God or something greater while outside instead of greeting Clark with approval and praise for saving his classmates, Jonathan more or less tells him that he should have let them die. Woah, that doesn’t sound like a sugar-coated comic book origin does it? Well it’s not- it’s a realistic example of a father sticking to his beliefs, and to his fear of a future where Clark is exposed, taken, and held at an early age so that the world may never get to experience his gifts. A world where a tyrant from a dead planet could come and conquer, because at that point a boy named Clark Kent would be too shunned and feared to have any reason to save these people.
A constant theme through Man of Steel is fathers and the concept of destiny and fate, and nothing personifies that in a character more than Kevin Costner did with Jonathan Kent- a man not only bent on protecting his son; but bent of protecting the world through his son.
Kind of make’s Clark’s church visit in the film just that much more important.
That’s another edition of Character Spotlight! I know we’ve been behind the past few weeks, so to make it up to those who actually read this edition of the piece, we’ve included a fun personality quiz you can take below that tells you which Man of Steel character you may be.