Let’s look at the place that inspired this site’s name and one of my personal favourites, Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Think about it: Is the icy crystal palace really the Fortress of Solitude and the home of Superman? Where exactly is the Fortress of Solitude located? The North pole? The South pole? South Africa?
“But wait!” certain observant readers may be thinking. “There have been several versions of the Fortress of Solitude in the comic books, not to count TV shows and movies. And it isn’t even his home! He lives in Metropolis! The Fortress of Solitude is more like a base of operations where he can chill out!”
Before you get your capes in a bunch, I totally agree with you.
Well, maybe not totally… but quite a lot. There have been lots of Fortress of Solitude’s over the years, from the mountains near Metropolis to overlapping crystal pillars in the Arctic, from infinite interdimensional space in a sphere to the metaphor of it being his Clark Kent persona itself.
When it was first devised it didn’t really have a name (although the Secret Citadel was used) and was even called Fort Superman at one point, but the Fortress of Solitude (not to be confused with the semi-autobiographical novel by Jonathan Lethem about Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude or the refuge of Doc Savage) sounds right.
It’s all confusing and where possible I’ll try to separate them for those who care about such things, but while we’re splitting hairs… Superman’s home isn’t technically in Metropolis either because that’s Clark Kent’s name on his lease agreement, not Superman’s.
If we want to get even more technical, Superman isn’t even who he really is. It’s the role he plays as the protector. By birth, he’s Kal-El. By fate and personal choice, he’s Clark Kent and, to those who don’t know his real identities, he’s Superman.
So let’s get this straight: as Superman, his real home is Earth, as Clark it’s the Kent farm in Smallville or his Metropolis apartment and, as Kal-El, it’s the Fortress.
See, being specific can be a pain. Great for fanboy discussions, lousy for a regular article. Besides, this is really about his Fortress of Solitude, not him.
Or is it? An individual’s personality is reflected in where they stay, and every version of the Fortress of Solitude reflects that in some way.
In the Lois and Clark TV series it turned out that the Fortress of Solitude was Clark’s treehouse as a boy.
In the earlier seasons of Smallville, Clark’s loft space in the barn was dubbed with the same name. It’s a place for him to get away from it all as the name suggests. We’ve all felt like an outsider at times, and he’s felt more like that than almost anyone. He deserves it, even if in the animated series Professor Hamilton came up with the name as a bit of a snide joke.
Even in the earliest days, it was full of alien artefacts, items from Krypton’s past and trophies and mementoes from his personal triumphs. It’s a bit like a museum and completely reflects his alien heritage.
Throw in supercomputers, a giant statue of his parents, journals (his own, Silas Kent’s and even ones from Krypton) and a zoo and you’re looking at his own Smithsonian collection. It may not be party central, but it’s certainly fascinating to explore. Over the years, the collection grew, with the bottle city of Kandor, a Kryptonian war suit, the Phantom Zone projector and lots of other items being added.
Oh, and it’s got quite a cool television.
Unfortunately, despite it having state-of-the-art holographic imaging systems and being able to tap into any TV channel in the world, the most frequent use for it in the TV shows and movies seems to be getting lectures – uh, advice – from his long-dead Kryptonian dad. Remind me to invest in a TiVo system that can screen out the unwanted broadcasts.
They always say that location is the key, and I’ve always had a soft spot for the Fortress being in the Arctic. Let’s be honest, if you’re looking for some solitude it’s pretty far away from pesky door-to-door salesmen.
Something else that’s key is the key itself. Writer Grant Morrison may have opted for a small pocket-sized front door key that weighed half a million tons, I’m the sort of person who keeps losing my keys so I’m a fan of the more classic giant key. It may have been the length of a ship but you’d never lose it amongst the assorted nicknacks on your side-table.
The movie versions never showed any key at all, and just look at what happened. Despite it being off the beaten track, Lex Luthor broke in several times (liking the looks of the place and describing it as “Fantastic”) and General Zod and other Kryptonians gatecrashed (describing it as scruffy, morbid, a sentimental replica of a planet long since vanished and having “No style at all”).
The crystal version of the Fortress of Solitude looked beautiful, but the open-door policy was just a bit too open.
I’m not saying that the comics versions haven’t all proven invulnerable to unwanted houseguests. Lex, Mongul, Brainiac and others have all found a way in.
I always thought that one of the funniest was when a drunken Lobo trashed the place in an effort to kill Superman while an equally-drunk Bibbo complained about the lack of bathrooms and dancing girls at the Fortress of Solitude. Maybe it needs a key, a dress code, a cover charge and a bouncer?
There was another way of doing it, though. In the animated series, they showed no front door at all. Instead, Superman had to access the place by diving into water, swimming underneath the structure and then surfacing at the opening inside.
I really liked that one, and throughout the series, it was good to see Superman slowly adding to the décor. One week he’d add a globe of Krypton’s knowledge he’d rescued from Brainiac’s ship and plug it in, another week it would be the endangered species alien menagerie from the Preserver. The Fortress of Solitude was well represented in that show as a constantly evolving place possibly more consistently than in any other medium.
Of course, it’s a big place and it can be a nightmare to clean. Especially if you’ve got a superdog like Krypto and he’s not housebroken.
Over the years, Superman has had robots (including one called Ned. I’m not kidding) keeping tabs on everything, but the most consistent has been Kelex, a duplicate of the one his dad Jor-El had. I don’t know how much my own Kelex would cost, but since it seems to only come in gold it could be pricey.
So, umm, again, where exactly is Superman’s Fortress of Solitude located?
Like I said, there have been lots of Fortress of Solitudes over the years. Superman even had one at the bottom of the ocean before it became the ultimate seafront property for the Atlanteans.
They’ve been created in ways from tossing discs and crystals left by Jor-El into the distance to just building it himself or getting his mate John Henry Irons to make it.
Another way would be to just take over one of Brainiac’s old ships. Rent is free, but just building it always seems to be a bit of a chore even if you don’t need building contractors.
There are lots of things to recommend about the Fortress of Solitude as a home, but if continuity has proven anything it’s that it never seems to quite stay the same. Personally, I like stability in my home life, so I’ll probably have to pass on most of it.
What Crystals Are In Superman’s Fortress of Solitude?
In the multiple versions of Superman that have popped up in media adaptations, there are some consistencies that have a tendency to be carried across the wide range of iterations of the character. His basic abilities such as super-strength, invulnerability, flight, speed, heat vision and freezing breath are now accepted and expected anytime Superman shows up in anything.
Similarly, the supporting cast of characters around him are usually consistent with classic figures like Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen at the forefront of Clark Kent and Superman’s lives. Still, there are some aspects of Superman that are a bit trickier to lend a definitive meaning in his lore. One of those things is the Fortress of Solitude.
Where is the Fortress of Solitude?
Traditionally, in Superman stories, the Fortress of Solitude has been located in the arctic region. It is situated in that sort of area due to the extremely low temperatures that will be difficult to navigate for a regular human. However, a Kryptonian like Superman has no problem staying in the region. Strategically, it’s a pretty solid defence mechanism, even if that might not have been the intention behind its location.
In more recent Superman comics though, the Fortress has been in other locations including the Antarctic, the Amazon rainforest and the Andes. One theme across all stories is the fact that the general public is unaware of the existence of such a Fortress. Its location is also kept secret from most of Superman’s allies, except from a select few such as Batman and Lois Lane.
What is the Fortress of Solitude?
In a nutshell, the Fortress of Solitude is Superman’s headquarters or base of operations. Before the Fortress, Superman used to reside in something called his “Secret Citadel”, but that has since been scrapped as it was a sort of goofy idea from the 1950s Action Comics era.
Today, the Fortress has many functions that vary as the plot demands it. One recurring thing is its role as an encyclopedia for all things Krypton and the House of El.
In most Superman stories, his growth into the role of everyone’s favourite blue Boy Scout isn’t complete until he visits this place. It’s essentially a form of pilgrimage Clark Kent must embark on before becoming Earth’s protector. He’s usually able to find it in his late teens or early adulthood, and he engages in some sort of trial or challenge before he’s able to fully figure out how to access the knowledge held within the fortress.
Contents of the Fortress
If we had to list everything that can be found in that giant arctic structure, we’ll be here all day. However, there are some key valuable that are worth mentioning. This includes Kal-El’s spaceship, Kryptonite, an advanced AI of Jor-El, new suits for Superman and a myriad of other cool alien technology. Most importantly though, is a collection of crystals that are extremely powerful and dangerous in the wrong hands.
So, what are these crystals?
Crystals in the Fortress of Solitude
In the original film series spanning from 1978-2006, Superman’s Fortress is created by a crystal that was enclosed by Jor-El in Kal-El’s ship. The crystal leads teenage Clark Kent to an ice field where he plants it, after which it melts into the ice and grows into a huge crystalline building, similar to the crystalline architecture shown on Krypton at the beginning of the film.
This fortress was also used to start Kal-El’s 12-year training to become Superman. This Fortress contains numerous “memory crystals” that can be used to access Jor-El’s artificial intelligence and hologram, interactive holographic recordings of Lara, and other Kryptonians, and a chamber that uses red sun radiation to strip Kryptonians of their superpowers.
The memory crystals are extremely powerful, and although they are termed “crystals”, they’re actually the result of many years of technological advancement. These crystals have the power to create entire land masses as was demonstrated by Lex Luthor’s plan in Superman Returns. In that movie, Luthor decides to steal a memory crystal and use it to create a landmass the size of America.
Crystal of Knowledge
The Stones of Power, also known as the Stones of Knowledge, were three Kryptonian crystals that contained the knowledge of 28 galaxies within the Smallville TV show’s universe. Their power was something that was sought after on earth dating back to classic historical periods. They were sought after by many magic practitioners, not realizing that the crystals were of alien origin.
In order to create the crystal of knowledge, Clark Kent had to unite the three stones of power on the Kawatche Caves Altar, creating the Crystal of Knowledge. This crystal has the power to create the Fortress of Solitude along with a wide range of other abilities. These additional abilities are tied to the stones that come together and form the Crystal of Knowledge.
Crystal of Fire
The Crystal of Fire is one of the three Stones of Power introduced in Smallville. It is a clear stone that holds the Kryptonian symbol for “P”. It possesses the power to heal humans, restore the powers and abilities of Kryptonians, and even break spells. This crystal was originally hidden in Egypt on the planet earth by a Kryptonian centuries before Kal-El’s arrival.
Crystal of Water
The Crystal of Water was a black crystal fragment that held the Kryptonian symbol for water. Once activated or touched, the crystal also has its own ability. It can transpose the essence of two people touching the crystal at the same time. The Crystal of Water was originally hidden in a Mayan rain god statue in Honduras.
Crystal of Air
The Crystal of Air is a silver fragment that possesses the Kryptonian symbol for “Air” and also the symbol for the House of El. The Crystal of Air isn’t detailed enough in the show, so its own ability is shrouded in mystery. Still, it’s an extremely powerful artefact that was hidden in Shanghai, China centuries ago.
So, What Crystals Are In Superman’s Fortress of Solitude? Well, as you can see, there are many. Depending on the comic, movie or TV shows, they all differ.
Superman’s lore runs pretty deep, but there’s a lack of togetherness within his continuity. As fans, we can only hope that authors decide to expand more on the power that gave Krypton its repute across the galaxy.
Rooms in Superman’s Fortress of Solitude
Just about everyone and everything in Superman’s life has a dedicated room in the Fortress of Solitude, his secret base.
Vestibule: This is the foyer chamber that contains a giant statue of Superman’s birth parents, Jor-El and Lara. It’s also a Krypton Memorial area, a place in the Fortress of Solitude where Superman keeps crystals and other advanced alien tech from his true origins.
Armoury: Here Superman keeps weapons and guns he confiscated from various aliens and enemies over time.
Batman room: Yes, the Fortress of Solitude has a room dedicated to Superman’s best friend, Batman (Bruce Wayne). Aside from housing a giant statue of the iconic hero, it also has various souvenirs Kal-El has collected from their adventures together.
Clark Kent room: In honour of his secret identity, Superman has a very special room dedicated to his life as Clark Kent. If anyone were to gain access to the Fortress of Solitude, this room was meant to a red herring to convince them that the two are actually different beings.
Crime-lab: Like Batman’s own sanctuary, Superman maintains a highly advanced forensics laboratory. You might find his Regeneration Chamber or Eradicator here too.
Hangar: Believe it or not, Superman hides a spaceship and a Supermobile in the Fortress of Solitude too.
Hobby Room: Everyone needs a place to relax and unwind. Superman’s Hobby-room is exactly that place. Here you can find the Kryptonian playing chess against the Superman Robots or painting.
Jimmy Olsen room: Containing a life-size statue of Jimmy Olsen, this room is dedicated to one of Clark’s best friends from the Daily Planet.
Lois Lane room: This room is like a shrine to the love of his life.
Krypto’s chamber: When Krypto isn’t in his Doghouse of Solitude, he can be found in this room inside Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.
Supergirl quarters: A trophy room for Superman’s cousin.
Trophy room: One of the biggest rooms in the Fortress of Solitude, this is where Superman keeps all his trophies, souvenirs and special items, including things like the Duplicator Ray, the bottled city of Kandor, Phantom Zone Projector, Kryptonian Warsuit and more.
Zoo: Also like Batman, The Last Son of Krypton has a love for animals. In Superman’s Zoo, he keeps all sorts of interplanetary animals.
And that’s everything you need to know about Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.