Transformations: Are You Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent?

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Men


I’ve been contemplating this post for quite sometime. Mostly because of my fascination with male archetypes, a fellow bloggers post and some twitter conversations that I’ve been having lately. It began with a post called “Don’t Expect A Superman If You Won’t Be a Wonder Woman”  a really good read. I had talked with @WarrenLiao and @ImageGranted on the style and clothing choices of Mr. Wayne and Mr. Kent. The question was asked who you would like to be and why. Then I begin to think about personality, lifestyle and began to wonder which one would I prefer. My choice? Clark.

What’s Your Choice?

You may laugh, but I’ll explain my reasons about why I think he’s a better choice. It’s not because of his Kryptonian heritage. I’ll go into that a little later. @QuentinMcCall tweeted on the virtues of a good woman bringing out the “Superman” in her man by giving her his encouraging support.

He said:

“A good woman will help transform a man from Clark Kent into Superman.”

I responded:

“Most of us have Bruce Wayne tendencies and need to develop Clark Kent habits.”

I believe that for some or most of us we tend to gravitate toward Bruce Wayne, rather than Clark Kent. Why? Well, because he’s wealthy, successful, a ladies man, has impeccable taste in clothing, Heck, even Gorgio Armani advertised himself as being Bruce’s designer of choice.

Now I won’t knock the pull toward Mr. Wayne. There was a time when I really liked the enigmatic duality that he represents. I think that most guys would agree that he definitely has the swag, cool influence, power and sophistication that we’d like to attain. However, like most male archetypal heroes he comes with a slew of  emotional baggage. His motivations and methods are questionable and he’s never truly attains any real happiness. We all know his story: Young, rich trust fund baby who witnesses his parents murder, searing him severely psychologically, causing him to become a vigilante who continues to punish those who prey on the weak or innocent. He lives two lives…one of  luxury and one of guilt and anger that plays out each night he puts on that cowl. It’s a lonely existence. His relationships are filled with women that are either trophy’s for his arm, those who try to heal him, or a latex wearing, emotionally scarred sexpot with a penchant for stealing and men in bat suits. Not a good look. Ultimately, Bruce’s life to the outside looks perfect but, we know better.

Personally, I now gravitate toward Mr. Kent. Kal-El son of Jor-El but not because of his Sun induced, Kryptonian powers or his Christian origin overtones or even that perfect hair and cowlick that he’s famous for. It’s because of the unassuming power and meekness he posses as Clark Kent. I’ve always been fascinated with motive and intent. Bruce and Clark are perfect examples. Both are heroes, both had tragic pasts but each took a different route to their lives. Sure, Clark lives a life of duality but his reasons are completely different from Bruce’s and this plays out even when they interact with each other either as their caped or secret identities.

Clark’s a hero because he understands the proper use of Power, the balance view of Justice, he knows how to give and receive Love and is Wise enough to know when those qualities are out of sync. Bruce’s guilt and sense of powerlessness drives him to put on the cowl. Sure he has the cars, the parties, random women and cool gadgets, but his life is constantly filled with frustration, failed relationships and emptiness. In contrast, Clark lives a relatively simple life, with a good job and a stable relationship with a woman that sees something in him that drew her to in. Was it the hair? the chiseled pecs, arms and chest? Was it the physical power that he possesses? Possibly but not likely. If you are familiar with the timeline, you know that there was a time when Clark willingly gave up those powers to live a normal life with Lois. Turns out she loved him anyway. The powers were a bonus. Clark is by no means perfect, he struggles with his own issues. Yet, it doesn’t plague his life day-to-day like a millstone around his neck.

Now I’m not trying to get philosophical, but I  believe that there is a lesson to be learned:

  1.  We can’t run from our past, we can only make peace with it, learn from it and move on.
  2. . In everything there is choice. No matter what our background may be: wealthy or poor, disadvantaged or privileged, sordid or stable, we all can use that as a reason to justify our actions. If we have a tragic past will we squander that experience on destructive behavior or use it to help someone avoid making those same mistakes we may have made?
  3. Having money and wealth doesn’t make you happy, neither does having a regular 9 to 5. Having purpose does. Not just purpose centered around self, but purpose centered around helping others.
  4. Purpose needs to be motivated by pure intent. Purpose motivated by guilt, fear, greed, arrogance and self righteousness wont last and wont ultimately make a lasting impact on your life  or the lives of others.

I admire Clark because of his meekness, his kindness and tenderness. He knows he can leap tall buildings in a single bound, fly faster than a speeding bullet, has unquestionable super human strength but his healthy self-esteem gives him the ability to not take it too seriously, to display those abilities only when absolutely necessary and to be ok with wearing those geeky glasses, play the awkward reporter and even be second fiddle to his alter ego so that he and Lois can have a life of purpose together. Can we do that? Do you have the strength not to be first, to display meekness, kindness and to put others before yourself?

 “A man’s power is in his mental, emotional, mental  & spiritual strength, the ability to refrain when necessary & act when called upon.” TSG

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About TheStyleGent

I blog about character, competency and clothing. Giving back, living well and looking sharp is how you live life with style. What good is a new suit if the man inside is rotten?

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22 Comments on “Transformations: Are You Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent?”

  1. Johnnie at GentlemanREDUX Says:

    I dig the post – but I’m admittedly torn. Sure I want the qualities you mention in Superman/Clark – but I’m not ashamed to admit that at this point in my life, I’m more Batman/Bruce.

    The thing I’ve always liked about Bruce is that he’s human. He has valid reasons to be fearful and even angry (I don’t know about a lifetime’s worth though), but he goes out and uses those things as fuel. He’s always represented a creative way of facing your troubles to me, and accepting the all to human fact that some issues are just too big to find peace with anytime soon. So you live with them. You own them. What he’s lacked in naturally given super-human abilities – he’s more than made up for in bravery, intelligence and a willingness to do what’s needed.

    He’s the definition of “I’m not perfect” in my eyes. Dude’s got issues – and that I can relate to.

    Clark has his good points as well… I mean – he is Superman – but he’s just not realistic to me. Never has been, that’s why I never really got all that into him as a character.

    I guess it just depends on the side of the tracks you land on from jump vs. where you hope to be. I’d like to get to Superman’s level – I really would – but knowing myself, I’ll probably be Bruce for a while.

    Sad but true. Thanks for the shout-out at the beginning btw & I totally agree with your takeaways that wrap your post. *Sorry for such a lengthy response*

    Reply

    • thestylegent Says:

      Thank you so much for the response Jonnie, I actually encourage these types of responses. It gets a healthy debate going. I’ve always been a big believer in motive and intent. Motive is, literally, something that moves a person; an inducement, something that leads a person on; an incentive, something that inspires a person. Motive is applied mainly to an inner urge that moves or prompts a person to action, though it may also apply to a contemplated result, the desire for which moves the person.

      With that in mind this is where we get to the heart of the matter in examining their personalities, they both have tragic pasts, both lost their parents in death, in fact not only did Clark lose his parents, but he’s called the “Last Son of Krypton” because he’s the last of his race, save his cousin Supergirl. Yet he surrounds himself with people who care for him, unlike Bruce who chooses to live a solitary life, devoid of love or connection. Now I’m not saying that Bruce’s life is all shadow and darkness, he has the finer things in life, travels and has great connections, but he really doesn’t enjoy them, they bring him no real solace. Bruce has become the mask and Batman has become his true identity, which is sad because he can never truly be happy. He’s resigned to Lurking around at night trying to find a criminal to beat the pain away.

      Just because Clark has Kryptonian powers doesn’t make him infallible. Imagine If Clark had the life of Bruce and lost his parents the same way? “Speeding Bullets” discusses this. Having super powers really doesn’t matter because both heroes get the job done. Clark has his own issues with identity, the difference is that he doesn’t let it rule him.

      This is about Motive and Intent. It’s just as important to examine “why” and “how” you do something as it is important to examine that act itself. If you’re motivated by guilt, fear, shame, anger or anything negative it’s not sustainable. This is something I’m coming to grips with everyday. The goal is to have pure motive and intent based on a healthy view of our own mental, emotional, spiritual and physical power, our knowledge and our view of right and wrong.

      These two heroes represent a how we can do the right thing for the very different reasons. I’m not dissing Bruce, but his reasons and methods are questionable and often times it causes him not to be as effective. Clark’s not perfect, his power doesn’t make him infallible. He makes mistakes as well, probably even bigger one’s. He could allow his superhuman abilities to make him arrogant, selfish and even evil. But his meekness, and humility helps him to realize that he needs to use it in a way that helps and heals. That takes true strength, true mastery and a whole lot of self control, something that Bruce struggles with every night he puts on the suit; The latex one and the Armani.

      Reply

      • Johnnie at GentlemanREDUX Says:

        Dope – I never said that Clark was infallible – he’s made plenty of his own mistakes. He’s just not easy to relate to for me. I can relate to Bruce more is all.

        Motives being called into question, I’ve never thought that Bruce’s motivation rest in anything sinister or driven by dark forces. He just accepts who he is and chooses to protect. Superman on the other hand lives an alter ego so that he can fit in. Not out of a driven sense of modesty or humility – simply a desire to belong. I’ve never really had that, “I want to belong” mentality – so to your point about solitude, I’ve always been able to relate to Bruce more. I’m an introvert. I may not speak much, but I’ll write – think – plan – do – etc. while keeping a low profile. So my coin still lands on the side of Batman.

        Now when you get to which is healthier – I can’t really say. On one side you have a man never really being himself, always suppressing his own darker feelings (which we all have) and basically trying to live a life based on the ideals of others (my two cents) in Superman. On the other side you have a man who manages to live with his darkness for the sake of protecting his light (so-to-speak), he embraces both his (unasked for) wealth – but also uses it to the benefit of a city he feels needs protecting… that’s Batman. I personally would rather go with the latter if I had to choose the lesser of to fictional evils.

        I agree with Clark’s restraint – but I respect Bruce’s lack of apathy. Fact is he’s rich and could walk away and live whatever life he wants to, but he doesn’t. That says a lot to me. Sure Superman could literally fly away – but he’s superhuman… that’s the fictional aspect. Batman being a rich human who’s willing to stick it out in a grim place on the other hand – that’s unrealistic as well – but also a lot more likely.

      • thestylegent Says:

        I love these exchanges of ideas, I gets the brain humming along.

        I don’t think Bruce’s intent or motive is nefarious, it’s actually trauma induced. The whole reason he becomes Batman is out of guilt and a sense of helplessness with not being able to save his parents. This is neither good or bad. It is what it is. I think that where things go awry is when it becomes impossible for to live a life that brings you joy because the very thing that motivates you is based on your own internal pain and the inability to find resolution.
        We can assume that he involves himself in various philanthropic causes that he and his family is passionate about, I’m not knocking the fact he has wealth or how he he spends it. My point is that when you can no longer enjoy the things that you either earned or worked for the problem is internal. It’s all in the mind . I’m not an introvert, I’m more of an introspective person so I understand the need to be alone with your thoughts so that you can think, plan and execute. However, the day Bruce comes to terms with that traumatic event is the day he no longer needs to be Batman and maybe, just maybe he can have what all of us want…a life without complete solitude.

        Clark understands the need for solitude as well, which is why he has a place to reflect, regroup, and recharge and he emerges ready to fight the evils of the day. Sure, he’s fitting into a world in which he has become an alien. I’m not trying to pull you toward Clark, his duality issues are different from Bruce’s. Yes he adopted the persona to fit in, but remember he is an alien without a home, could he go to another planet? Yes. Could he just “fly away?” Yes. But his fitting into our society is not because he is uncomfortable with who he is. He does it to because he wants to gain the trust of the people he protects. Bruce/Batman doesn’t have that, his presence strikes fear in villains AND the innocents he protects.

        We all have dark tendencies, urges that threaten to overwhelm us and drive us to do things that could hurt others, or hurt ourselves but we become greater when we develop the mental and emotional strength to resist those urges. Not because of society’s standards, but because we know the harm it does to ourselves and innocents. I suppose Clark has those urges as well, but like I said he could easily enslave those who he protects. His empathy and compassion drives him to protect. True power knows restraint and balance. True power knows humility.
        Embracing darkness leads to more darkness. It’s cliched but is played out in many other common narratives.

        Ultimately, I wrote this to Illustrate the need to constantly examine our motive. Our motives are just as important as the actions that produces the results.

  2. Johnnie at GentlemanREDUX Says:

    I too am a fan of these kinds of exchanges.

    I see – and yes, Bruce does have trauma induced motives (no arguments there). I also agree with everything that’s been said about Clark (throughout the post and these responses). The rub I guess comes with their situation. I don’t read the books – so I can’t cite anything in particular, but I think Batman has come to terms with his past time and time again.

    His willingness (or desire) to stay Batman comes from the sense that he’s still needed in Gotham (a constantly plagued city) – hence the motivation being to protect in my eyes vs. just a sense of guilt about his parents (which I think he’s come to terms with in the past… in a sense, becoming Batman was his ‘coming to terms’ with it – the journey he went on to steady his mind was his therapy… it just left him kinda’ crabby). I don’t know how accurate the second movie with Harvey Dent was – but I do recall Bruce wanting to stop and move on had Dent NOT become corrupt (which he did by the film’s end).

    I get what you’re saying about Superman wanting to gain the trust of people and what not, but doesn’t he have that AS Superman? I always thought he wanted Clark so that he could just be left alone at times vs. gaining trust… Just making sure we’re not over-crediting his motives here. Bruce does alienate a lot of people as Batman, but not all. He has both his fans and friends as both persona – they just aren’t many.

    “We all have dark tendencies, urges that threaten to overwhelm us and drive us to do things that could hurt others, or hurt ourselves but we become greater when we develop the mental and emotional strength to resist those urges. Not because of society’s standards, but because we know the harm it does to ourselves and innocents.” I totally agree with this – however, back to the question of who I relate to the most at the moment – I still have to side w/ Bruce here because I still have issues I need to come to terms with. I aspire to be a Clark on this one, but I’m definitely more of a Bruce.

    “His empathy and compassion drives him to protect. True power knows restraint and balance. True power knows humility.” I’d argue that both men display this in their own way. Superman with his control of his superhuman abilities, Batman with his use of his wealth as Bruce and restraint (from killing crazies) as Batman (plus that point I mentioned about him not leaving although he could). Not to mention both men hide who they are from the public – in a sense, that could be seen as humility. Sure Clark could wow people by showing he’s Superman, but Bruce could probably just as easily intimidate the crap out of people by revealing himself as the caped crusader. Haha – I’d say he’s being humble in that regard anyway.

    “Ultimately, I wrote this to Illustrate the need to constantly examine our motive. Our motives are just as important as the actions that produces the results.” I think you did a good job examining this by looking at these two characters, and I agree with what you say about the importance of motives. Something I will add however, and I’ve had this discussion with friends a lot, is that you always have to take into consideration that everyone has their own way of doing things. Some dress differently, some write differently, some love differently… these two men fight crime differently and live out different lifestyles. I don’t think someone as brave as Batman could operate as long as he had simply on guilt and frustrations alone, no one could – it’s humanly impossible to a certain extent and never would’ve allowed the JLA to exist in the first place.

    I o’no – good post and points made thereafter. Haha – so you’d be Clark and I’d be the Bruce of this lifestyle we call Gentleman… seems dope to me all the same.

    Reply

    • thestylegent Says:

      Agreed. We all have different ways of doing things: Loving, Living, writing, etc. I think ultimately if you are living a life free of complete self centered purpose, you experience a more fulfilling life. Clark & Bruce have found their purpose. They may have different ways of handling life, but both are gentlemen in their own right. Yep, I think I’m content to be a Clark Kent Gent.

      Reply

  3. Joey Dee Says:

    While the case for clark kent is argued well, my vote is for mr wayne, not because of the accessible lifestyle, but because, as stated, by the gentleman earlier, mr wayne is a very human character, torn, scarred, somewhere emotionally, and as his relationship status, who can blame a modern, twenty-first century man to be more or less non committed?
    As his persona, the dark knight, he vents all of that, not relying on otherworldly powers, but skill and innovation. Mr Waynes alter ego, does not have the luxury of relying on physical strength, to get out of a tight siituation, his mind must be sharp and prepared for anything, prepared to act on a moments notice. Also being detached or not holding any emotional stock in anything, ie, love interest, has the advantage of not being blackmailed or having the life of a partner dependant on him. This is wise. As for setbacks, batman really doesnt have any, unlike mr kent, who has both personal liability and weakness; batman cannot afford to have either in his job to be effective.
    While mr kent punches a clock in his day today, mr wayne has the resources to utilize and prosecute an effective war on baddies, while on the same token, he is also free to set up much philanthropic work that would go on by contract long after mr wayne got terminated per se by his opponents. Unfortunately, there is not much charitable work mr kent can accomplish due to his meager existence, and we are all aware here that superman is not free from the possibility of death. What then would become of mr kents humility and ability to do good after such an event? The sum is clear, only mr wayne is capable of ridding metropolis of lex luthor because ultimately, they are on polar ends of same level, only mr wayne has the intelligence gathering ability of the dark knight.

    Reply

    • thestylegent Says:

      Thank you Joey for your comment, I appreciate this type of debate. While the issue of preferences are an individual thing, I came into this post knowing that most men would choose Bruce over Clark. Just like most guys would choose Logan over Scott (X-Men) Something about the loner tortured soul is appealing. That said,this particular post was not about cool tech or Kryptonian powers.The goal of this post was to examine Motive and Intent, the way each man deals with the trauma of their past, deals with issues of relationships and keeps balance and harmony in his life. Both men had to deal with the tragic loss of their parents at an early age, this effected them both in different ways. My point is that it’s important to resolve large emotional issues in our lives because it shapes your motivations and the way we go about making decisions. I used them both as a metaphor for how men react to the world around them. Apparently most men identify with Bruce.

      “Who can blame a modern, twenty-first century man to be more or less non committed?”

      This is a debate for another post but suffice it to say Bruce’s motives for remaining single could be masked by his obligations as Batman but we know he wants to be in a committed relationship (The Dark Knight) I would think that his life as batman although dangerous could survive a romantic life. Clark’s life is much more dangerous as his villains are much more powerful. But again, this isn’t about super tech or superpowers.

      These two heroes represent a how we can do the right thing for the very different reasons. I’m not dissing Bruce, but his reasons and methods are questionable and often times it causes him not to be as effective. Clark’s not perfect, his power doesn’t make him infallible. He makes mistakes as well, probably even bigger one’s. He could allow his superhuman abilities to make him arrogant, selfish and even evil. But his meekness, and humility helps him to realize that he needs to use it in a way that helps and heals. That takes true strength, true mastery and a whole lot of self control, something that Bruce struggles with every night he puts on the suit; The latex one and the Armani.

      “While mr kent punches a clock in his day, unfortunately, there is not much charitable work mr kent can accomplish due to his meager existence”

      Any effort that’s done for the right reasons has a powerful effect on the thing focused on. One drop in a pool of water creates a powerful force for change. Meager his salary may be but the fact that he may give and gives for the right reason is admirable. again it’s about motive and intent. We all have dark tendencies, urges that threaten to overwhelm us and drive us to do things that could hurt others, or hurt ourselves but we become greater when we develop the mental and emotional strength to resist those urges. Not because of society’s standards, but because we know the harm it does to ourselves and innocents. I suppose Clark has those urges as well, but like I said he could easily enslave those who he protects. His empathy and compassion drives him to protect. True power knows restraint and balance. True power knows humility.
      Embracing darkness leads to more darkness. It’s cliched but is played out in many other common narratives.

      This isn’t about superiority or even effectiveness, its about examining the type of man you identify with and the reasons that you do. It’s ok to be scared and flawed, or even have a tragic past, it’s what makes us human. It’s how we deal with those scars is what matters.

      It’s very cool to talk about these types of male archetypes,thanks Joey again for your comment.

      Reply

  4. Cdn Stormlover Says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote:
    “Clark’s a hero because he understands the proper use of Power, the balance view of Justice, he knows how to give and receive Love and is Wise enough to know when those qualities are out of sync.”
    As a woman who is looking for the man you’ve described above, I’m not willing to settle for any man……..I want a SUPER man.
    Thanks for the continued hope that he does exist.

    Reply

    • thestylegent Says:

      Thank you for commenting on my blog. Sorry for the “Super” late response. I find that I identify with Clark’s unassuming strength and character when it comes to his lifestyle and relationships. Beyond the obvious physical appeal, I think if a man can tap into his inner mental and emotional reserves instead of solely the physical, he can elevate the state of his connections with those around him.

      Reply

      • Cdn Stormlover Says:

        Super late is better than no response. Thanks.

        It’s a huge “leap” for most men I would think. I don’t know many who can tap into themselves on such a deep level. It is my hope to meet more of them though.

      • thestylegent Says:

        I believe most of them can. The problem is the sharing of those emotions. There needs to be a paradigm shift toward men being comfortable with revealing who they really are with themselves, their friends, families and significant others. Only then can we truly connect with those who mean the most to us.

      • Cdn Stormlover Says:

        I believe many women (including myself in the past) are failing men. It’s up to us to create an environment where they CAN reveal who they are. It’s painful to think back to the men I’ve failed. Thankfully, by educating myself, I know I won’t have to learn that lesson again.

      • thestylegent Says:

        Maybe the real issue is how we feel about ourselves. I remember reading somewhere that we all need the four A’s to be able to have a healthy relationship: Acceptance, Affection, Attention and Approval. There may be some truth to that. When we don’t get that, whether male or female it always complicates our relationships. Healing has to begin with open and honest communication. Breaking down the walls that keep us emotionally cut off from each other is the first step to deeper connections. I guess both genders need not be afraid to take those first few steps.

      • Cdn Stormlover Says:

        Kudos! Well said. I’d like to add “Appreciation” to that list of A’s.

      • thestylegent Says:

        Absolutely!

  5. The Wandering Mind Says:

    I’m part Clark Kent & Peter Park.
    Got the bad luck, sense of humour & responsibility for protecting others like Spidey. I tend to downplay my “greatness”, like to keep things simple & see the positives in situations & people; like Supes.

    Bruce & Tony are cool, but their personality flaws ultimately hinder their own lives dispite all of the good they do for others.

    Great post!

    Reply

    • thestylegent Says:

      Thanks so much for commenting, I guess there’s a little bit of those hero’s in all men. I’ve fluctuated between Bruce and Hal when I was younger. I’m sure the debate will rage on on who’s the favorite…my choice is still Clark.

      Reply

  6. Air Cooled Underware Says:

    Good evening Sir. I was led here by a new concept of CDN Stormlover, and I like this article – AND the concept of this blog. Many kudos from me. After reading your about me I hope you contiue to heal and that you get to play that saxaphone again real soon. If we were close I would love to jam. I have several guitars and keyboards in my Office/Studio calling my name and I don’t seem to hardly drag them out. I understand the’hurt’ that come from not playing. Music helps us with our souls. God Bless My friend.
    ‘Nuff Said says Good day.

    Reply

    • thestylegent Says:

      Thank you so much for the encouraging words. I plan on picking it up one day and get back to playing again. I do more listening to jazz and some other genres that interest me. I hope you find time to play too. Thanks again for reading my blog.

      Best Wishes.

      Reply

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