Clark Kent’s glasses acting as pretty much his first and last line of defence when it comes to revealing his secret identity has always been one of the silliest facets of the Man of Steel. But, at least in the eyes of legendary Superman comic writer John Byrne, one incarnation of Supes did it right.
Christopher Reeve, master of disguise, in Superman: The Movie. Image: Warner Bros.
Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with Syfy Wire about his time writing Superman – and re-establishing the character in his groundbreaking post-Crisis on Infinite Earths run – Byrne touched upon why he sought to offer explanations about some of the sillier aspects of the silver age Superman.
In doing so, he explained how he found the way Christopher Reeve played Clark in the Superman movies did a much better job of showing the difference between the Kent and Superman personas than the comics of his childhood ever could:
When I was a kid, I used to say, “When was he so stupid that he told people that he had a secret identity?” Why would he do that? He’s walking around with his face hanging out. This isn’t like Batman wearing a mask and people are gonna go, “Somebody’s under there.” This is what Superman looks like all the time, right?
There is an amazing scene in the first Christopher Reeve movie where Lois has gone into the bedroom to change, Clark is standing there and he realises he’s got to tell her [that he’s Superman], and he takes off his glasses, and he stands up – and he stands up like another four inches! And then he puts his glasses back on before she comes in. Christopher Reeve convinced me that if you part your hair on the other side, and wear a pair of glasses and slouch, you can look like somebody else.
The whole interview is 20 minutes long, and filled with delightful anecdotes about Byrne’s relationship with Superman over the years.