Superman would easily be easily the most recognized superhero in the world out of all the superhero’s. The name, abilities, logo and the look are all so intertwined in this iconic character that it seems impossible to think of Superman and not have any, or all, of these things come to mind. Referenced in jokes, movies, songs and books The Man of Steel is portrayed as the vanguard for all that is good in the world.
Which is certainly a good thing in a superhero as it gives us hope, but how does that impact the people who try bringing that legend to life?
“It’s been my experience that if you look the part people buy it.” Said Scott Smith, who portrays the man of Steel, “If you do not look the part the children will call you out!”. And Smith would know due to his extensive charity work as Superman.
Smith also portrays Spiderman, a Jedi and a Lord of the Rings style knight, but he is best known for his work as Superman. Why? Simply put it is because Smith looks the part. He also finds himself assuming the role of Superman in an extension of his own personality. “ Its good flow of both.” Smith said in reference to whether or not he assumes character while dressed as Superman “I do stand up straighter, I do speak slower and deeper and I always seem to end up strutting… but when the suit is on, and when children and parents are giving you the same wide-eyed look, its really easy to keep it up for several hours on end. “
Key to portraying Superman is getting the suit right, Smith’s current suit was created by Ricky of Custom-Costumes in Georgia, of which Smith says that ‘I am making my own adjustments to the suit over time.’ Over the course of Superman’s time the basic suit has stayed the same with adjustments and modifications to the look, so do any of these changes affect the look that Smith wants in his suit? “That’s a rather complicated answer… the short answer is yes, absolutely. Superman has a 76-year history, so almost ever person you meet has a different iconic image of Superman that they keep.” Smith said, “The “Big Three” (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) will always be different than any other super hero because they are pop-culture icons as well as, well-known comic book characters. A lot of people have shared their personal stories regarding this. For example, there are a number of people I have met who have a Superman Tattoo for inspiration, as opposed to simply being a big fan of the character. Therefore when I do Superman, based on the event, I will wear a classic or newer version – but the most popular has been a more customized/modern design of the “New 52” costume. I have found that folks have an easier time believing that you are in fact Superman if you have a costume that suits you personally. Most people will see ‘Superman in real life’ as opposed to a person in a costume. To be clear, my iconic version is the one and only Christopher Reeve”
But Superman is more than just his suit, he’s also an ideal that many people look up to; I asked Smith if this motivated him to get in character when he dons his suit?
“Its good flow of both. I would be lying if I said I did not play the theme song in my mind while suiting up. I do stand up straighter, I do speak slower and deeper and I always seem to end up strutting.” And let’s be honest, it would be hard not to strut a little if you too were able to look like the world’s most famous super hero. However, the world of CosPlay is very competitive which means that people can become down right nasty in the face of competition for attention. I asked Smith if he encounters this and how he handles it. “ I really go out of my way not to take any part of that type of behavior, nor associate myself with people who do.” Says Smith “Even when people act that way towards me, which does happen, I cannot stoop down to that level just because they do. At a point it’s about who I am, and if a person chooses to conduct themselves in such a way, than that is their problem. When I do Superman, I am really just being me but standing up a little straighter. I believe in the same ideals, manners, and values that Superman/Clark Kent does and I was raised by a Farmer and Cop…. so I always just, end up acting like Superman.”
Smith goes beyond portraying his favorite hero for fun in his spare time, he is a person who is very involved in charity work and works closely with others who share his passion for children’s charities “ I really just want to help people. I really just want to do good, by people and I use this dramatic example to bring public attention to important causes. I’m proud to say we recently had the Jeffrey Baldwin Memorial erected in Greenwood Park here in Toronto, which was an important thing to me and I’m very honored, and inspired to have worked with Mr. Todd Boyce to complete such a task. I would like to tackle more issues in the future and maybe a different cause each year. Currently there is something in the works with some other Super Friends to help end bullying.” But it doesn’t mean that Smith takes what he does so seriously that he doesn’t also enjoy what he does “I always enjoy each event I’m at. I never get tired of kids asking the same questions, or daring me to use my “powers”. It becomes a fun game that forces me to stay on my toes.” Currently Smith works with others who share his passion for charity with friends who have formed groups to make appearances such as ‘The Trinity’ and ‘The New Justice League’, details of both groups are found through Smith’s social media.
Sometimes terrible events motivate people to do great things for someone they have never met; for Smith it was the story of Jeffery Baldwin “Jeffrey Baldwin was a young boy who was murdered by his grandparents in 2002. The story garnered a ton of media attention, but the soft spot for me was that Superman was Jeffrey’s Hero. In all the filth, and grime, and abuse he lived in, he kept his Superman costume clean and wore it all the time. So I spent plenty of nights on the phone, sending emails, and using social media going back and forth to help raise funds to get this done. I was beyond honored and proud.”
Superman may be a fictional character, but the convictions and ideals for which he stands transcends the entertainment; and so long as people like Scott Smith bring those ideals and the character to life the world will always have true hero’s walking among them.
John Goodale is the author of ‘Johnny Gora’ (available through Amazon.com), and a number of articles here on TMRZoo.com. His monthly column ‘Indy Comics Spotlight’ appears here and through his blog Indy Comics Spotlight