Monday, May 5, 2014

Top Ten Reasons the Clark Kent Glasses Are a Good Disguise

Along with Aquaman talking to fish, the Clark Kent disguise is one of those things that everyone likes to make fun of. Back in the day, Clark Kent could shapeshift by moving around his facial muscles, but that was retconned away alongside Super-Ventriloquism and Super-Weaving powers. So these days, he only has the flimsy and laughable disguise of a pair of hipster glasses.

Mmmmm... I don't see it.
Or is it really as flimsy as it seems? The answer: No. And here’s the top ten reasons why.

10. Few people have seen Superman up close.
Superman goes around punching Darkseid and landing planes. When he’s off on patrol, doing his job, he never stays is one place long enough for most people to get a glimpse of him. But even if they get to see him, however briefly....

9. People are looking at the “S” and not his face.

"Excuse me. I'm up here."
It’s big, bright, and right in the middle of his blue chest. The eye will be naturally drawn there. Some have suggested that his very tight uniform means that people are looking at something else… but enough about that.

8. Superman is generically handsome, with no distinguishing features.
If you somehow caught a good glimpse of Superman's face, and were able to remember exactly what Superman looked like, then describe Superman to a police sketch artist (White guy, blue eyes, strong chin, dark hair, spit curl, etc.), here’s what he would give you.

Considered armed and dangerous, and all that.
Here's a sample line up of suspects.

Hmm... I think it's the guy with the dark hair.
Yeah, good luck.

7. If you know a guy who looks just like Johnny Depp, are you going to assume he’s Johnny Depp in disguise?
No. You’re going to say, “Boy, Jeff, you look a lot like Johnny Depp.” And he’ll reply, “Yeah, I get that a lot.” Because that’s what sane people do. Crazy, obsessed people (like 1960's Lois Lane) hatch crazy schemes to reveal the "truth." And no one will believe the ranting fool who thinks that clumsy Clark Kent is Superman. Besides, there's a bigger obstacle than that....

6. No one knows who this "Clark Kent" guy is.
To 99% of the world, “Clark Kent” is someone they’ve never heard of. To maybe 1% at most, “Clark Kent” is just the name by the Superman articles in the Daily Planet. Find a newspaper article. If they don’t put a picture of the writer next to the article, odds are you have no idea what the writer looks like. But even if someone were to pass him on the street, or something....

5. No one’s paying attention to Clark Kent.
Think about the last time you went to the store. What did the person behind you in line look like? In front of you? The cashier? The person who parked next to you? Exactly. People go about their lives paying attention to important things, not the people around them.

One of the things that Man of Steel did absolutely right was making Superman a master of disguise, in a plausible way. When he shows up as “Joe,” neither Lois nor anyone else gives him a second look. He’s just a nondescript guy who stays out of people’s ways, but can still interact with them. It’s like what Brad Pitt told Matt Damon in Ocean’s Eleven.

“He’s gotta like you, then forget about you the moment you’ve left his sight.”

And even if you did suspect that the guy who looks like Superman actually was Superman…

4. No one wants “Clark Kent” to be Superman.
(To pre-empt the argument, in the 90's Lois did fall in love with Clark, not Superman. He revealed his secret to her after they were engaged. But they were close friends and co-workers. Of course Lois is going to see Clark as a good, trustworthy person, regardless of whether or not she knows his secret. The average person sees Clark as a dork.)

Superman is an ideal. Superman is larger-than-life. Most people don’t want Clark Kent to be Superman for different reasons.

A.    If Superman is Clark Kent, then he’s not perfect. And some people wouldn’t be able to handle that.
B.    If Clark Kent is Superman, then he’s managed to hide himself right next to you without you noticing. (Cough, Luthor, cough.)
C.    If Clark Kent is Superman, then why couldn’t everyone see it? Therefore, since millions of people can't possibly all be fooled, he must not be Superman.

But that raises a good question. Why can't everyone see it?

3. It’s not just the glasses, it’s the details.
Superman stands up straight, Clark Kent slouches, so Superman looks taller.

Frank Quitely knows how it is.
Superman has the ever-present spitcurl, Clark Kent’s hair has a cowlick. Superman wears tights that show off muscles, Clark Kent wears baggy clothes, making him look out of shape.

The Man of Steel, everyone.

Superman’s voice is soft but manly, Clark Kent’s voice is at least half an octave higher and he stutters a bit.
Superman’s eyes are blazing blue, Clark Kent’s eyes are obscured by his dorky glasses.

People were making fun of the glasses disguise since the 40's. But Christopher Reeve’s portrayal in the 70's showed us how it could be done. The difference between personas is absolutely astounding. And it’s all in the little details. Glasses are just icing on the cake. In fact, Clark can stare Lex Luthor in the face without his glasses… and Lex still can’t see it.

Uh... try penciling in your eyebrow with a mirror next time, Lex.
Of course, why would he? After all…

2. No one thinks Superman has a secret identity.
Why would he? He’s Superman! He’s solar-powered and doesn’t need to eat, so it’s not like he has to get a job to buy food. Lois has written articles about his Fortress of Solitude, so people don’t think he has an apartment in the city. Truthfully, Superman has little reason to keep a secret identity, so no one thinks he does. Along with that, he shows his face to the world. He doesn’t wear a mask, so people assume that he doesn’t hide from the world behind one, even a mask like Clark Kent.

Finally, the big one…

1. They’ve been seen in the same place at the same time.
Think about it. He’s got robot duplicates, shapeshifting friends, and more. Clark Kent and Superman (one of them really a robot, or a shapeshifter) have been seen in public together.

When I was a little kid, for some reason, I thought these two similar-looking kids I knew to be secretly the same person. But then I saw them together. Then I felt stupid for assuming they were the same person. So anyone who figures out the truth can quickly be “disproven” this way.

And there you have it. Clark Kent’s glasses, for many reasons, are a perfectly good disguise, but only for someone in his unique situation. But I know that won’t stop the people who think it’s stupid.

No comments:

Post a Comment