She’s the girl next door. Spiderman’s Mary Jane. Charlie Brown’s Little Red-Haired Girl. And for Superman, it’s Lana Lang. Perhaps not unrequited, but at least unrealized, the Lana-Clark-ship has always been postponed. If it wasn’t Clark making out with another girl (as seen in Season 2’s “Red”), it was Clark’s fear that Lana would find out his secret identity. And that would endanger her. When it comes to why Clark and Lana never seemed to work out, the blame has always been placed squarely on the shoulders of the Last Son of Krypton. And we all know why. But what about Lana?
While Clark’s fears kept him from pursuing Lana any further than the “friends zone,” Lana herself had her own demons to deal with. And at first glance, it seems like Lana’s problem is Clark’s problem: the secret. Trying to sort things out in her head one day at the Talon, Lana ran into Helen Bryce, the soon-to-be-wife of Lex Luthor.
“If you knew that Lex was keeping secrets from you, but that he was being truthful about the important things like the way he feels about you, would that be enough?” Lana asked.
Helen turned the question back to Lana. “I guess you have to decide: is the part of themselves they’re willing to share with you better than not having them in your life at all?”
What it comes down to with Lana is fear. Fear that she won’t be able to handle a relationship full of secrets. Fear that the problems will become insurmountable. Fear that she’ll never really have all of Clark that she needs. It’s fear.
And, incidentally, that’s exactly what Clark’s problem is too. Fear. But fear and love dance together all the time—you don’t have to be an alien with a dark secret to struggle with this conundrum. Every act of love is a risk. The risk that the love you show might be rejected. We can put on a strong face and say that we don’t care what others think, but we’re just kidding ourselves. Love may be brave, but it would much rather be shared. That’s because when we love, we have to take off the mask of indifference towards others. Love is about the other person. It’s about how you feel about them. And it’s about putting them first.
So when you love, you’re saying, “I’m willing to be hurt.” That’s where the fear comes from. And it’s also where the love comes from. Because love is risk. Love is brave. Love may fear, but it is not swayed by fear. But if you don’t want to get hurt, then stay away from love. Stay inside your Kryptonian shell. Don’t open your eyes. Because once you do, you’ll see that the fears that alienate you are in every single human being. Even Lana Lang has a little Krypton in her heart.
So Superman, the man who can’t be hurt, pursues the one thing that can hurt him: love. What does that make him? Brave? Noble? A romantic? No, none of these things.
Just a dumbass like the rest of us.