It’s going to take a death and resurrection to make this son of two fathers a superhero to stand on his own. But if you’re a little unconvinced that Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel story has all been leading to this birth of the “true” Superman, allow us to explain. The story of Jonathan Kent comes to a head in his death, both literally and thematically.
The scene begins, fittingly, with Clark complaining that his family’s existence is too “safe,” and that he longs to do something “useful.” Jonathan keeps a cool head as he makes a stand for all of middle America, commanding his son to head for cover, and protect his mother above all else.
But that is not Jonathan Kent. That is not the man who raised Clark. And that is the exact kind of human heroism people tend to admire in the hardworking, farming, ‘salt of the earth’ America. After learning just how right his father was about humanity’s fear of someone different, Clark Kent – dubbed “Superman” by the world – sees his own hopes, ambitions, relationships, and even his intentions twisted by fear and suspicion. Cue Jonathan Kent.
Clark only realizes his father’s meaning moments before his death, but it anchors Clark Kent’s story as that of a man, having integrated the wisdom of his father. Jonathan met Martha, and the world became simple, and good. Clark looks at Lois, and realizes the same. And true to his Kent name, that’s all the goodness Clark needs to put his life in danger to protect her.