WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the Titans Season 2 episode "Conner," streaming now on DC Universe.
One of the biggest criticisms of Zack Snyder's Man of Steel came from Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) telling a young Clark that maybe, to protect his origin, he should have allowed kids to drown on a school bus that fell into a lake. Haters felt it was cold and not the virtuous and inspirational advice Pa Kent would give Clark as seen in so many cartoons and comics -- not to mention the Smallville series -- fuelling the fires of why Snyder's take on the mythos was just too grim.
Now, courtesy of Titans, we see Superboy (Joshua Orpin) receiving similar advice, but unlike Snyder's budding Clark, Conner ignores the advice given to him and pays a hefty price. What this illustrates is that had he stuck to the plan and hid himself away from the world, just like Pa Kent had suggested in the Snyder-Verse, the Boy of Steel on the DC Universe wouldn't be in such a precarious situation, literally fighting for his life.
To be clear, Pa Kent didn't want Clark to hide himself away because he enjoyed people dying. He knew the world needed a savior, but Clark wasn't ready to be it just yet. By risking exposure so early, the boy would have attracted the attention of the government and scientists, endangering himself, his family and the town on the whole. He knew Clark wasn't mature enough either, so that's why he told him "you have to keep this side of yourself a secret." It was about survival because he knew the world couldn't embrace the notion of a godlike alien existing.
In Titans, Eve Watson (Genevieve Angelson) offers Superboy/Conner the same words of wisdom after they run away following an assault on Lionel Luthor's home by CADMUS operatives. As Conner's "mom," she doesn't want him to be harmed, poked or prodded at anymore, not because he's a prized test subject, but because despite being created from the DNA of Superman, she sees his humanity. Not because he also has Lex's genes, of course, but through him desperately wanting to be a force for good. Still, Eve doesn't want him experimented upon anymore, warning him to avoid interjecting himself in situations which require his powers, witnessed when he wants to intervene in a domestic dispute outside a convenience store.
It blows their cover, pushing Conner one stop closer to being enslaved or dissected. Still, when they go back on the lam, Conner's ticked at her because he wants to stand on the side of justice, not realizing Eve's point. Eventually, he gets it, but there's a duality raging inside him and it's clear which way his moral compass is pointing. When CADMUS eventually tracks them and he flees, Conner has the chance on the outside to stop another squabble, but reluctantly chooses to run away with Krypto -- a decision that's clearly eating him up. But again, as per Eve's warnings -- a mantra which cost Pa Kent his life when he urged Henry Cavill's Clark to let him die in a tornado to protect his true identity -- Conner maintains the guise of secrecy. It's clear at this point the principle works: You have to stay in the shadows forever, you can come out as a beacon of hope and a symbol of light, but only when the time is right.
Sadly, Conner makes a big mistake and ignores that idea at the end of the episode when he saves Jason Todd, catching him as he falls a building as a result of a trap laid by Deathstroke. Mercy Graves fires a couple Kryptonite bullets into Conner, leaving him in Jason's arms dying as the rest of the Titans swarm to see what happened. And as Dick Grayson lays his eyes on the tragedy, it's apparent that by rushing to become a hero, all Superboy showed was that he wasn't prepared.
He didn't have training for such scenarios and, while his intentions were altruistic, his instincts led him astray. Sometimes you have to let some people fall (metaphorically and literally) for the greater good, and hopefully it's not too late for Superboy to fully grasp this in his journey. It'll be a tough pill to swallow but it's part of the learning curve in order for a unique case like him to survive.
Streaming now on DC Universe, Titans Season 2 stars Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson, Anna Diop as Kory Anders, Teagan Croft as Rachel Roth, Ryan Potter as Garfield Logan, Curran Walters as Jason Todd and Conor Leslie as Donna Troy, with Minka Kelly as Dawn Granger, Alan Ritchson as Hank Hall, Joshua Orpin as Superboy, Chelsea Zhang as Rose Wilson, Chella Man as Jericho, Drew Van Acker as Aqualad, Esai Morales as Deathstroke and Iain Glen as Bruce Wayne.