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Top 10 Alternate Reality Versions of Superman

VO: Adrian Sousa
Written by Michael Wynands In the multiverse… there’s more than one Man of Steel. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 Alternate Reality Versions of Superman. For this list, we’ll be looking at the most inspired and compelling alternate versions of Superman ever put to the comic book page. Have an idea you want to see made into a WatchMojo video? Check out our suggest page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and submit your idea.
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In the multiverse… there’s more than one Man of Steel. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 Alternate Reality Versions of Superman.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most inspired and compelling alternate versions of Superman ever put to the comic book page.

#10: Flashpoint Superman


When Barry Allen goes back in time to save his mother, he succeeds, but with dire consequences. He creates an alternate timeline, the Flashpoint universe, in which things are very different. Among the most notable changes is the absence of Superman. As it turns out, this version of Kal-El crash landed in Metropolis rather than a field in Kansas and was taken into the custody of the U.S. government rather than Ma and Pa Kent. As a result. He was raised in confinement and secrecy. His powers are largely the same as his counterpart from the primary continuity, but he’s far less familiar with them, subjected to tests by people see him used as a weapon. He’s also emaciated and rather isolated. Flashpoint Superman is one possible answer to the question: what if Superman hadn’t gotten that loving, human upbringing?

#9: Superman: The Dark Side


The debate of nature versus nurture is something we’ll be seeing a lot of today. Kal-El’s small town (or rather... Smallville) upbringing seemingly played an important role in defining the man became. In this Elseworlds mini-series, upbringing still plays a big role, but Kal also seems to have an inherent goodness to him - which makes him easily swayed towards the light. Taking the concept of a “Dark Superman” to the extreme, this 1998 title saw baby Kal-El land on Apokolips, and subsequently be raised as a willing servant of Darkseid, only to find allegiances tested when introduced to humanity by Lois Lane. It’s an initially bleak take on the character, but one worth getting to know.

#8: High Chancellor Superman


Speaking of Lois Lane… maybe she plays a greater role in shaping Superman’s morality than both his surrogate parents and individual nature combined. Based on Clark’s dark turn following her tragic death in the Injustice universe, that would certainly seem to be the case. In this timeline, Superman is devastated when a plot by the Joker not only destroys Metropolis but tricks our hero into killing a pregnant Lois by dragging her into outer space. The lesson? Never underestimate the Joker, fear toxin, or the importance of Lois Lane to Superman’s sanity. He kills the Joker and soon becomes a global dictator dedicated to eradicating crime. He’s broken… but he’s also relatable.

#7: Overman


Though perhaps not quite as Dark as Superman: The Dark Side, the Kal-El of Earth 10, aka Overman, certainly makes for a tragic tale in his own right. Given that this version of the character was transposed into one of the bleakest chapters in human history, it could be argued that he actually makes an even greater impact than his Apokolips-raised counterpart - given that his story hits closer to home. On Earth-10, Kal was found by the Nazis. The tech from his rocket won them the war, and he became the Führer’s super-powered golden boy. Overman is a tortured soul, one racked with guilt over the atrocities to which he was complicit.

#6: Earth-23 Kalel


Step aside Clark Kent, the mild-mannered reporter, this version of Superman is committed to making a big impact both when he’s wearing tights and when he’s in his civilian disguise. Created by comic book icon Grant Morrison, Kalel of Earth-23 is a dark-skinned savior from the islands of Krypton, who, in addition to becoming Superman, also ascended to the office of the President of the United States as Calvin Ellis. Like the mainstream continuity Superman, he is the heart of the Justice League and inspires hope the world over, but he does so full-time, given that both of his titles come with great power and responsibility.

#5: Superman Prime One Million


Ellis might have a lot of weight to throw around as both a Kryptonian superhero and the U.S. President, but he still can’t hold a candle to Grant Morrison’s futuristic Man of Steel. Having outlived everyone important to him, he passed on the responsibility of protecting earth to another, and took to the cosmos, vastly increasing his power and knowledge over the next 679 centuries. Only in the 700th century did he return, at which point he took up residence in his Fortress of Solitude, now situated in the sun, where he absorbed unimaginable power. Suffice it to say, Superman Prime of DC One Million is the most powerful Supermen on our list.

#4: Ultraman


Another earth… another misguided Superman. In this case, however, surrogate parents had nothing to do with it. Earth-3 Kal-Il was sent to our planet with malicious intent and a head full of violent, elitist ideals. He was raised by Ma and Pa Kent, but they only posed as his parents out of fear and were killed by him when the power-hungry Kryptonian was just 7 years old. From there, he would go on to form the Crime Syndicate (a sort of evil justice League) and conquer earth. As a result of his attempts to conquer the earth found in the mainstream DC continuity, he’s made quite the name for himself with heroes and readers alike.

#3: Kingdom Come Superman


Though overtly evil versions of Superman are always interesting, there’s something oh so compelling about a morally complex and conflicted Superman, like the one found in the Elseworlds series “Kingdom Come,” by Mark Waid and Alex Ross. We could go on about the artwork of this miniseries all day, but we’re here to talk about alternate Supermen, so we’ll try to stay focused. Set in an alternate future of the DC universe you know and love, Kingdom Come sees a world-weary Superman, who retired after the murder of Lois Lane, return to challenge a new generation of egotistical, self-interested heroes. Time has taken its toll on this Superman, complicating his sense of right and wrong.

#2: Bizarro


A number of characters have gone under the name Bizarro, including a failed clone of Superman created by Lex Luthor. The current version was brought into the main DC continuity by Emperor Joker using his newly acquired 5th-dimensional powers. This Bizarro would go on to create Bizarro World, a strange planet filled with Bizzaro version of Superman's friends, including Lois Lane and members of the Justice League. He’s definitely the strangest character on our list, and by extension, the most unique.

#1: "Red Son" Superman


Of the many “what if Kal-El’s rocket had landed somewhere else” storylines, this one is not the first, but it’s undeniably the most effective and memorable. This version of Superman is raised within the Soviet Union and ultimately becomes Stalin’s successor. He’s a complex, thoughtful and conflicted character, one that has a moral compass and who struggles with the implications of his own power. Is it his responsibility to give the world peace via force, or is a flawed but free world better? Expertly written by Mark Millar, Superman: Red Son is a take on the character that every fan needs to read.
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