Clark Kent: Can’t I just keep pretending I’m your son?
Jonathan Kent: You are my son. But somewhere out there you have another father too, who gave you another name. And he sent you here for a reason, Clark. And even if it takes you the rest of your life you owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is.
Jor-El: To see you standing there having grown into an adult… if only Lara could have witnessed this.
Clark Kent: Who are you?
Jor-El: I am your father, Kal, or at least a shadow of him. His consciousness. My name is Jor-El
Clark Kent: Kal? That’s my name?
Jor-El: Kal-El, it is.
Clark Kent: I have so many questions. Where do I come from? Why did you send me here?
Jor-El: You came from Krypton, a world with a much harsher environment than Earth’s. Long ago, in an era of expansion, our race spread out through the stars, seeking new worlds to settle upon. This scout ship was one of thousands launched into the void. We built outposts on other planets, using great machines to reshape environments to our needs. For 100 thousand years our civilization flourished, accomplishing wonders.
Clark Kent: What happened?
Jor-El: Artificial population control was established. The outposts and space exploration were abandoned. We exhausted our natural resources. As a result, our planet’s core became unstable. Eventually, our military leader, General Zod, attempted a coup, but by then it was too late. Your mother and I foresaw the coming calamity and we took certain steps to ensure your survival. This is a genesis chamber. All Kryptonians were conceived in chambers such as this. Every child was designed to perform a predetermined role in our society as a worker, a warrior, a leader, and so on. Your mother and I believed Krypton lost something precious, the element of choice, of chance. What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended? What if a child aspired to something greater? You were the embodiment of that belief Kal. Krypton’s first natural birth in centuries. That’s why we risked so much to save you.
Clark Kent: Why didn’t you come with me?
Jor-El: We couldn’t, Kal. No matter how much we wanted to. No matter how we loved you. Your mother, Lara, and I were a product of the failures of our world as much as Zod was. It’s hard to explain.
Clark Kent: So I’m alone?
Jor-El: No, you are as much a child of Earth now as you are of Krypton. You can embody the best of both worlds. The dream your mother and I dedicated our lives to preserve. The people of Earth are different from us, it’s true, but ultimately I believe that is a good thing. They won’t necessarily make the same mistakes we did, but if you guide them, Kal, if you give them hope, that’s what this symbol means. The symbol of the House of El means hope. Embodied within that hope is the fundamental belief the potential of every person to be a force for good. That’s what you can bring them.
– Man of Steel (2013), screenplay by David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan.
The Daily Dialogue theme for the week is parental advice, suggested by David Proenza. Today’s suggestion by Alejandro.
Trivia: The idea that Superman’s S-Shield means “hope” is taken from Mark Waid’s “Superman: Birthright” comic: the S-Shield is the Kryptonian symbol for “hope”, and Superman (1978) created the concept of the Shield being a Kryptonian herald for the house of El.
Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary from Alejandro:
And it’s interesting to compare similar scenes in other versions of Superman:
Directed by Richard Donner
Written by Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman, Robert Benton with uncredited contributions by Tom Mankiewicz
(Three pieces of dialogue from different scenes)
Jor-El: So, my son. Speak.
Young Clark Kent: Who am I?
Jor-El: Your name is Kal-El. You are the only survivor of the planet Krypton. Even though you’ve been raised as a human, you are not one of them. You have great powers, only some of which you have as yet discovered.
Jor-El: Live as one of them, Kal-El, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you… my only son.
Jor-El: You are revealed to the world. Very well, so be it. But you must still retain your secret identity.
Superman: But why?
Jor-El: The reasons are two. First, you cannot serve humanity twenty-eight hours a day.
Jor-El: Or twenty-four, as it is in Earth time. Your help would be called for endlessly, even for those problems which human beings could solve themselves. It is their habit to abuse their resources in such a way.
Superman: And, second?
Jor-El: Second, your enemies will discover that the only way to hurt you, will be by hurting the people you care for.
Superman: Thank you, Father.
Jor-El: Lastly… Do not punish yourself for your feelings of vanity. Simply learn to control them. It is an affliction common to all, even on Krypton. Our destruction could have been avoided had it not been for the vanity of some who considered us indestructible. Were it not for vanity, why… at this very moment…
Jor-El: I could embrace you in my arms. My son.
And Superman Returns (2006)
Directed by Bryan Singer
Written by Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, Bryan Singer (story)