Everyone knows that Superman is a shining bastion of all that's good in the world, a perfect example of everything mankind strives to be, a message clear in the promotion for the soon-to-DVD/Blu-ray <i>Man of Steel</i>. Altruistic, kind, compassionate, and brave, Superman is the symbol of our greatest aspirations, never faltering or compromising his morals, his dignity, or his status as the universe's greatest hero. <p>Except for all those times he was a complete tool to everyone. <p>Just look at this upcoming cover of <b>Earth 2</b>, where writer Tom Taylor (more from him later) is apparently making Superman return after his early death in that world - but this time as a villain. <p>The number of covers and gags over the past 75 years depicting Superman in unlikely situations, denouncing Jimmy Olsen as a murderer, chastising Lois Lane for being such a good investigative reporter that she couldn't figure out that he's really Clark Kent (as pictured), or just plain conquering the world are well documented, but here are 10 examples of times that Superman was the world's biggest D-Bag, either because he was all too easily duped into it, or because, deep down, he's just a Grade A jerk.
Once upon a time, cub reporter Jimmy Olsen was dispatched to cover the launch of a submarine called the Mako. Little did Jimmy know that the Mako was the next target of a creepy ship collector known as Captain Bane. Bane triggered a trap that sunk the Mako. As Olsen was smartly exiting the only thing keeping him alive underwater, he signaled Superman with his watch. <p>When Aquaman arrived instead, Olsen was overjoyed, as anyone would be who had expected the Man of Steel and gotten the guy who talks to fish. Aquaman did the trick, however, cleverly using eels and pufferfish to save not only the crew, but the submarine. Of course this enraged Captain Bane, who sent a whale to swallow Olsen. Once inside the whale, Jimmy found a magic stone that caused the whale to spit him out and granted him all of Aquaman's powers. Who knew it was that easy to become the worst Super Friend? <p>So Jimmy does the noble thing and starts saving lives at sea, drawing the notice of not only Aquaman, but the erstwhile Superman — who finally clues in to Jimmy's plight, and arrives just in time to bully Aquaman into having a contest with Jimmy to test their powers by making fun of Aquaman's missing wife Mera. Pitting them against each other, Superman says whoever can survive the longest without water is the "winner." <p>Jimmy barely wins the contest by licking the moisture off of Superman's boot, which Superman kindly doesn't count as cheating because he is such a stand-up guy. In the end, it turns out Captain Bane is a shapeshifter who has organized the entire ruse just to kill Aquaman, and has been impersonating Superman the entire time. The real Superman shows up to save the day, proving that he's really a nice guy, but tell that to Jimmy and Aquaman who were forced to lick the sweat off their best friend's foot just to stay alive while Superman waited exactly as long as possible to save them.
When Superman heard that the stockholders of a new oil well were being scammed, he set out to see justice done against the con men who were stealing money from the poor stockholders. So rather than simply investigating the claims against the con men and contacting the proper authorities — for where would the challenge be in that for the Man of Steel? — Superman put in motion a complex and destructive plot to not only destroy the oil well, but to make sure nobody wound up happy. <p>Disguising himself as a businessman, Superman purchased the remaining stock from the con men, taking a controlling interest in the faulty well. He then drills until he actually strikes oil, using the now functioning well to nobly blackmail the con men into giving him a cool million dollars. Skipping the part of the plan where he makes restitution to the swindled shareholders, Superman simply kidnaps the con men and forces them to watch him destroy the now functioning well because nothing says truth and justice like denying both of those things to the original victims of a crime and then punishing not only the perpetrators, but anyone unfortunate enough to live anywhere near the burning oil well in the most destructive and unhelpful way possible.
In Bryan Singer's much-maligned film <i>Superman Returns</I>, Superman finally comes back to Earth after a sojourn in space (where he had been seeking the wreckage of Krypton) to find his beloved Lois Lane in the arms of a new man friend — and burdened with the care of her precocious young son, who was born just after Superman ditched out on pretty much everything worth caring about in his life. <p>Thankfully having matured since the days where he simply might have imprisoned Lois and taken over her boyfriend's identity or had a robot pull her hair or something, Superman does the mature thing and keeps his distance. Never mind that any <i>other</i> idiot could tell that there was some kind of connection between Superman, Lois, and the boy who was born just about nine months after Superman hit it and quit it with poor Lois. <p> When Superman is gravely injured while fighting a rock, Lois visits him in the hospital, finally revealing to him that yes, the young boy who has Kryptonian powers is in fact the son of the only other Kryptonian — Superman, in case you couldn't deduce that. Unable to pass up the opportunity to completely mishandle a complex social situation, Superman wakes up from his coma and finally beats that rock before silently flying into his son's window and hovering over his bed as he sleeps, only to once again fly off into space, waiting patiently for his next chance to thoroughly scar and abandon the family he has always craved.
In a prime example of the bizarre and flighty moral code of Superman's early days, Superman becomes enraged when his good friend is killed in a car accident. Rather than striking at the root of the problem and ensuring stronger driving standards, rallying for better driver's education, or empowering the police to more strictly enforce traffic laws, Superman goes right off the deep end and appears on the radio, declaring that all dangerous and homicidal drivers are now in his purview, and subject to his unique and baffling brand of elaborate, overwrought justice. <p> To kick off his noble war, Superman visits an impound lot and begins demolishing all the cars in sight, irrespective of how or why they got there. With the taste of motor oil now hot on his fists, Superman goes embarks on an erratic escalation of his mission, bypassing the reckless and homicidal drivers he hates so much entirely and simply focusing on destroying car lots and car factories, crippling the local economy and probably killing at least as many people as the cars he so despises in the process. <p>With his hatred finally sated and his muscles twitching with righteous indignation, Superman finally does what he should have done in the first place, and rallies the mayor of Metropolis to crack down on traffic violations — by kidnapping him. Terrified, the mayor agrees to Superman's demands, and the story ends with Clark Kent receiving a parking ticket thanks to the policies Superman demanded. Mercifully, Clark decides that, for once, human laws apply to him and spares the ticketing officer's puny mortal life.
Bear in mind as you read this list that Superman has the power to do basically anything he wants. He can solve any problem, is immune to almost all forms of harm, has the power to stop any crime, and the credibility to appear in the right, regardless of his position. <p>So when he makes choices like deciding that the only way to stop some corrupt athletes from rigging a football game is to drug and kidnap a member of the opposing team and take his place, you kind of wonder whether some circuits got crossed during that trip from Krypton, or if he's really just that malicious and bored with actually solving problems instead of needlessly and almost effortlessly complicating them. <p> After stealing the identity of poor football player Tommy Burke and using some kind of unknown drugs to paralyze him while he has his fun, Superman makes his way to Burke's football practice, where he nearly kills a fellow teammate in the locker room, and proceeds to use his incredible powers to become the kind of reckless and destructive football player that the real Tommy Burke could only dream of being. With his position as star player secure, and the rest of his team nearly dead at his hand, Superman allows the thugs working to fix the game to kidnap the real Burke, deciding that since they're kind enough to "take him off my hands," he'll just leave well enough alone and win that big football game everyone's talking about. <p>Finally, after the game is over, Superman ditches Burke's identity and starts cooking up his next hair-brained scheme to ruin everyone's lives and save the day.
Superman and Big Barda were duped into filming some less than savory films by the evil New God Sleez, a former confidant of Darkseid who was kicked out of Apokolips for being too gross. <p> Considering that Darkseid is gross enough to have slaves who travel to Earth just to buy him all the new porno movies, that's pretty awful. It was on one of these missions that a servant of Darkseid retrieved Superman and Barda's debut film, at which point Darkseid did the noble thing and showed it Superman's friend — and Barda's husband — Mr. Miracle. <p> When Mr. Miracle showed up while Barda and Supes were in the throes of on-screen passion, the pair snapped out of their trance, and pursued Sleez, who decided that he didn't want to live if he couldn't force Superman to bang all of his friends' wives, and killed himself on the spot.
The 1980s were a complicated time for comics. Not only were readers maturing, they expected the comics they were reading to mature right along with them. Further, an ever-expanding mythology and a web of separate but interconnected realities was making DC Comics more complicated than almost any of their competition. This heralded the need for a change to the structure and intent of DC's line, and Superman was one of the most complicated and thinly spread characters of all. <p> During the course of <i>Crisis on Infinite Earths</i>, the event that DC designed to streamline its continuity, myriad alternate realities were destroyed and collapsed to form one core continuity. Among those worlds was Earth Prime, a reality with the distinction of being one of the most unnecessary and impressively misguided alternate realities of all. Earth Prime was essentially the real, non-comic book, mundane world, where no one had powers and people read Superman comics. <p>When young Clark Kent, coincidentally named after his favorite hero, Superman, reaches maturity, he discovers that, woops, Earth Prime ain't so different after all, and that he <i>is</i> Superman. When Earth Prime is swept into the Crisis, Superboy Prime joins several other iterations of the Man of Steel in defeating the Anti-Monitor and saving the new reality, after which he and several of his friends, a job well done, are shunted off to a "Paradise Dimension" where loose threads never dangle, and there is no meta-plot. <p> Years later, after decades spent watching the universe he worked to save change and evolve time and time again, Superboy Prime gets so mad that he stars punching the walls of the Paradise Dimension, altering reality with his adolescent tantrums. Classic Superman stuff. When he and his companions finally break loose of the prison in which they willingly adjourned themselves, Superboy Prime goes on a rampage, joining the Anti-Monitor in un-altering reality, restoring the needlessly complex pre-Crisis status quo, and pretty much ruining everything for everyone. <p>In the process, Superboy Prime managed to kill a <i>whole</i> bunch of people, including Kon-El, the clone of his alternate reality self, effectively completely the craziest time-loop scenario outside of the whole Cable/Cyclops debacle, and solidifying his place as one of the most obnoxious villains of a whole era of DC Comics.
In the early days of his career, Superman was kind of a big picture guy. He was all about righting social ills, like crime and poverty. One day, while contemplating all of this as he dangled some young criminals high in the air over their low-income neighborhood, he had the sudden realization that most of the crime he had to deal with originated in these types of slums. <p> So, figuring out he could kill a whole bunch of birds with one really terrible stone, Superman decided to just have done with the whole thing and burn down the poorest neighborhoods of Metropolis. And that's pretty much exactly what he did. Charitably, he allowed the people to leave their homes before demolishing the area, but only just. Of course, the housing developments were replaced with "much nicer housing," which the poor residents of the area most likely couldn't afford.
After being told by a psychic that he would kill his own son, Superman came up with a really good plan to make sure that would never happen. Instead of going the obvious, non-super route, he decided that the best way to stop himself from killing his own son would be to adopt a son, and then alienate him from his life before killing him. <p> And what better son could a Superman have than Jimmy Olsen? Since simply being Superman's "pal" was no longer enough for young master Olsen, he decided to take their relationship to the next level and accepted Superman's offer to be his dad. <p> Since Jimmy was just totally thrilled with this arrangement, he set about doing all kind of cool stuff that a creepy adult son would do. Meanwhile, Superman set in motion his plan to be the biggest jerk possible — and if you're Superman, that's a pretty big jerk — criticizing and destroying every gift or kind deed that Jimmy showered on him until Jimmy had no choice but to divest himself from Superman via legal means, finally freeing himself of the tyranny of the world's most purposefully awful abusive father. <p> Of course Superman did explain that adopting, abusing, and disowning Jimmy was the <i>only</i> way to save the son that he didn't have and who didn't exist in the first place, but not before giving Jimmy the parting gift of crippling PTSD.
The comic book tie in for the video game <i>Injustice: Gods Among Us</i> is a spectacular example of Superman being duped into doing the worst imaginable misdeeds. <p> Superman is overjoyed to learn that his wife, Lois Lane, has become pregnant with his child. He's less overjoyed to learn that Lois Lane, a driven career woman with a prominent career in journalism, has no plans to slow down just because she's carrying Superman's child, despite his wishes that she remain safe. (As if Superman wouldn't be capable of protecting someone who is outside of his apartment.) <p> So Lois gets a tip that a corrupt senator is making a shady deal down at the docks, and since she is an ace reporter, she doesn't bother calling the cops or telling anyone where she's gonna be, bringing only Jimmy Olsen for back up. Since the whole deal is obviously a set up, Jimmy is promptly murdered by the Joker, who also kidnaps Lois, implanting the trigger to a nuclear device in her heart. Woops, guess Superman actually <i>can't</I> protect her. <p> When he finally, hours later, figures out that something's wrong, Superman enlists the JLA to help him track the Joker to his submarine, where the Joker doses Superman with gas just as Superman realizes that Doomsday is aboard the submarine. Grabbing Doomsday and setting him loose in orbit, Superman suddenly realizes that he's not fighting Doomsday at all, but instead has just flown Lois unprotected out of the Earth's atmosphere, only to discover that the cold vacuum of space is Lois's one weakness. <p> As Lois's heart stops in Superman's arms, the trigger to Joker's bomb activates, destroying Metropolis in a nuclear blast. And so, Superman does the worst thing he ever did, killing his own wife and unborn child and destroying his home city in the process.