Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van
Who Are They? Being an alien who was transported to Earth as a baby, Superman has two sets of parents: those who gave birth to him and those who raised him. Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van are the former. Unfortunately, this also means that their story is actually a fairly tragic one. Both were some of the smartest minds their world had to offer, but despite their assertion that the planet of Krypton was doomed nobody listened. With no time to leave themselves, they ultimately make the decision to save the life of their son, Kal-El, and die with the rest of their species on their home world. Marlon Brando famously played the role of Jor-El in Richard Donner’s 1978 film Superman: The Movie.
How Do They Fit? Lara, played by Ayelet Zurer, plays a fairly small role in Man of Steel, but Russell Crowe’s Jor-El is one of the most significant characters in the film. While his physical form is destroyed when Krypton collapses, part of him lives on in a command key that was put in young Kal-El’s ship before it was sent into the cosmos. The technology is used to help a confused Clark Kent both understand who he is and what he has the potential to become. Both parents saw their son’s potential to be a savoir for the people of Earth – a hero who could lead humanity into the light.
Jonathan and Martha Kent
Who Are They? Jonathan and Martha Kent were lovely people leading normal lives in the rural town of Smallville, Kansas when they one day discovered a crashed spaceship with a human-looking alien baby inside. Wanting to have a kid of their own and wishing no harm upon the child, they chose to adopt him and raise him as their son, keeping his real identity a secret until they believe that he is old enough to handle the truth.
How Do They Fit? One of the principal themes of Man of Steel is the idea of nature vs. nurture and the two different philosophies held by Kal-El/Clark’s two sets of parents. While Jor-El believed that his son’s powers would lead him to be an important figure in the future of humanity, Jonathan and Martha (portrayed by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) are scared about what it would mean for their boy to reveal to the world that he’s actually an alien with supernatural abilities. It’s certainly a conflict-filled moral dilemma, but it was also Clark’s Earth parents that taught him what it meant to be a good person, and helped built the emotional foundation for his future heroics.