Why can Superman fly?

Now this question didn’t bother me until quite recently when I was talking comic books with a friend: why can Superman fly? More specifically, why can Superman fly vertically and hover? It doesn’t make any logical sense. But let me explain: For those of you who don’t know the mythology, Superman derives his power from our yellow sun. His home planet of Krypton played host to a red sun which is why Kryptonians didn’t have any superpowers on their home planet. When Kal-el (more commonly known as Clark Kent) ended up on Earth, the yellow sun eventually gave him powers: his skin became impenetrable, he obtained the ability to shoot heat from his eyes and he was granted super strength (which is why he can “leap tall buildings in a single bound”, he is able to generate enough force defy Earth’s gravity for a short amount of time.) The problem is that none of these powers would allow him to fly for any length of time nor would he be able to take off vertically. Yes, he could run fast enough that he would generate lift, but in that scenario he would have to be running to take off. Yet as we have seen time and time again, he can take off vertically, and even more surprising, he can hover, which really doesn’t make sense. Are we to believe that Superman’s powers include the ability to place a layer of electromagnetism beneath him at any given time?

Perhaps this is why when Superman was first created, he did not have the ability to fly. Yes, he could still leap tall buildings in a single bound, but there was no flight. This makes far more sense to me. But since they gave him a cape, and let’s face it, capes really only look great in flight (or opera), they had to have him fly. Ah well… I guess this mystery will never be solved.



About Q

A lover movies, television ,video games and life.
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5 Responses to Why can Superman fly?

  1. you are applying logic to mythology. In your very next post, you say how fun it is to not have to think 🙂 I say just go with it. Nobody asks why Zeus can throw lightning bolts. He just can. Superman is our modern day Zeus.


    • pathos48 says:

      Actually Zeus can throw lightning bolts because his son Hephaestus makes them for him…


      • oh, right…i forgot. His son MAKES them for him. where exactly does he do that? with what tools? mythology is logical for the first few steps, but eventually, if you really want to go with it, you have to say something like “well, we’re on the back of a turtle. and he’s on the back of a turtle…”


  2. actually, i think superman can fly for the same reason spiderman needs the hobgoblin. because otherwise, it’s just no fun walking through a corn field 😉


  3. You know, when I was reading the Superman comics way back in the day, I don’t recall anything about his powers coming from the yellow sun. Maybe that notion was developed later. I just assumed, in the naivete of youth, that Superman could fly because of a gravitational difference between the two planets, Krypton and Earth, and that his other powers — including a highly developed sense of truth and justice — were simply a matter of both physical and cultural evolution. Also, his Superman garb was created from the blanket that protected him on entry through Earth’s atmosphere, therefore making him impervious to attack. Although how Ma Kent was able to put a needle and thread to the material to do so is kind of mysterious. Your points are all well thought out and well taken. I guess this just another one of those cases where we have to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy the story.


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