How Superman Influenced Doctor Who's Christmas Special

"Doctor Who" fans that assembled Friday at the BBC America panel for Peter Capaldi's firstappearance New York Comic Con were treated to an array of insights into the timey-wimey series. But the most surprising reveal from showrunner Steven Moffat and company was that a superhero would swoop in for the Christmas special, "The Return of Doctor Mysterio."

Check out the first look of "Orphan Black's" Justin Chatwin as this intriguing new character:

While Capaldi and Moffat avoided dropping direct details about the mysterious hero, they did speak intensely about the character's apparent inspiration: Superman.

"In Christmas day in Britain, [TV stations] show a special movie," Capaldi said. "My most favorite was the Christopher Reeve 'Superman' movies. They had such a great feel, great irony, clever, funny, witty, tongue-in-cheek. And I think that's sort of what we've made here, is a new ironic, goodhearted superhero movie, which hopefully the BBC will want to repeat every year -- as long as I get a cut out of it."

Moffat declared, "I was obsessed with superheroes when I was a kid. Mainly, what I liked was Superman, and mainly what I loved about Superman was Clark Kent. Clark Kent was awesome. He's amazing! He goes around pretending he's not a god, and not revealing to the woman he loves that he is the man she's in love with, for her own protection. It's the best love story ever told. I love that it's a love triangle with two people in it! I've always wanted to write that story; I've always loved Clark Kent. Clark Kent is the best superhero ever.

"Every hero since then has been expendable -- apart from Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes," he added, as if suddenly remembering. The rest of the sentence was lost to the raucous laughter of the crowd. But Moffat wasn't done. He also shared the story of the time when he gave being a superhero a try.

"It is a little known part of my history," Moffat continued, "But I was a superhero for most of an afternoon. I became so obsessed with superheroes -- and Clark Kent, in particular -- that I realized was mild-mannered and useless. And therefore my alter ego must be awesome! So I became Red Rat! I made my own costume, which all superheroes have to do. But they always cut past that bit because it doesn't look so magic. I had a sort of rat mask and cowboy hat and I turned by Batman cape the other way round, because I didn't want to be wrongly branded at an early stage. But at the age of six, I walked around Paisley looking for crime. I never really had much of a plan -- as I realized as I walked around -- of what I would do if I encountered crime. I started to realize that criminals confronted by me might think I was just a strangely dressed small boy and might not fall aside and asunder in terror at my appearance. So I thought, ‘I think I’m going to give this up. I've patrolled Paisley for an hour. That's enough. The battle is over.'" But the story was not!

"I walked back to my house, and my friends were all there," Moffat recalled with mock horror. "And I thought, 'Well, that's OK. At least I'm in disguise, they won't know it's me.' And from the other end of the street they looked over and said, 'Oh, hello, Steven.' And I thought, 'Oh, this does not happen to Bruce Wayne!' So I had to walk over and pretend that I wasn't Steven, which didn't work strangely enough. 'It's you. It's your cowboy hat, and your face and that's you're voice. And you're about to walk back to your house.' Which revealed to me the main problem of superheroes that's yet to be revealed: How do they get home? How do they do that? But anyway, that was my career as Red Rat, which I may resume at any time."

It's unclear whether we'll see Moffat's latest superhero creation struggle to get back home and slip snugly into his everyday alias. But we'll find out when "Doctor Who" returns to BBC America this Christmas with "The Return of Doctor Mysterio."

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