Superheroes can’t fight crime and save lives around the clock. Sometimes they need a place to go to get away from it all, a place that is all their own, where they can relax and do the things they want to do. For Superman, this place is The Fortress of Solitude. Here, Superman has the seclusion he desires as well as plenty of space to be himself, a Kryptonian, rather than Clark Kent of the Daily Planet or Superman, the savior of humankind. Located at the North Pole, well away from the stresses of life in Metropolis, the Fortress of Solitude is the massive ice structure that Superman stays in when he needs time to himself.
Despite being one of the many iconic aspects to Superman’s identity, however, there may be a lot you don’t know about the Fortress. To learn more about the place Superman spends his days away from the world, read ahead for Screen Rant’s 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Fortress of Solitude!
In almost every incarnation of The Fortress of Solitude, Kal-El’s Kryptonian heritage is apparent. Perhaps the most obvious call-back to Kal-El’s past are the statues of his parents, Jor-El and Lara, holding a globe of Krypton. In most versions, his parents appear as statues, but in other iterations they are shown as holograms. Reminding Superman of his parentage and heritage helps Kal-El remember who he is and what he stands for. Seeing his parents acts as a reminder that he is on Earth to not just to make his adoptive parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent, proud, but to also adhere to the values and hopes that his Kryptonian parents had for him.
Visiting The Fortress of Solitude and having these visual reminders is similar for Superman as Clark Kent visiting Smallville and see Jon and Martha. Also, seeing his parents hold Krypton on their shoulders gives Kal-El the inspiration he needs to hold Earth on his shoulders and make sure it can be all it can be.
The first home away from home created by Superman in the early days of his comics was the Secret Citadel. Hand carved by Superman himself, the Secret Citadel was an Art Deco-style structure that was very different from The Fortress of Solitude to come. The Secret Citadel was shown as having a large entryway, and the the door featured the iconic “S” inside the classic Superman shield. While the Secret Citadel wasn’t quite useful or as packed to the brim with unique objects as the Fortress is, it did serve as a place for Superman to get away from his crime-fighting life in Metropolis.
However, unlike The Fortress of Solitude, the Secret Citadel was located in a mountain range on the outskirts of Metropolis. Even though Superman had already gained the ability to fly, he still chose to keep his hideout close enough to Metropolis in order to respond to emergencies.
They say that location is the most important thing when building a house, and Superman has had some of the most prime locations in the world for his Fortress of Solitude. Of course, the classic location for The Fortress of Solitude is the Arctic, where it's usually located on a large glacier or mountain. It is usually inaccessible without Superman’s abilities, though Superman has made it more visitor friendly throughout the years.
Other than the Arctic, the Fortress of Solitude has also been in space where it was an old, reprogrammed ship left behind by Brainiac. Perhaps less unique, the Fortress of Solitude has also been placed in the Antarctic, in an icy tundra like the Arctic. The Fortress of Solitude has even been underwater, which might seem more suitable for Aquaman than Supes. Eventually used as a base of operations of Supergirl, Superman created this underwater sanctuary to better protect the seven seas and remain up to date with current aquatic events. Repurposing an ancient temple, Superman also had a Fortress of Solitude based out of South America in the Cordillera Del Condor Mountain Range. This Fortress of Solitude was actually visually similar to Superman’s first sanctuary, the Secret Citadel.
In an episode of the widely successful Justice League Unlimited television series called “For The Man Who Has Everything,” we get one of our greatest looks inside The Fortress of Solitude. While Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman battle against the evil villain Mongul, they traverse a huge portion of The Fortress of Solitude. During this battle, we see things like the Kryptonian zoo, housing all sorts of unnamed exotic animals. We also see bits of the Kryptonian labs that Superman uses to further his research on the side.
In the comics, there are even more descriptions of what the huge Fortress of Solitude holds. We are told that there are personalized rooms for members of the League and Superman’s friends. There is even a workout room with specialized equipment that can challenge the Man of Steel. Several of the most interesting and oddest pieces of equipment said to be inside The Fortress of Solitude are the Superman robots. Having small portions of Superman’s powers, these robots not only acted as bodyguards and housekeepers for The Fortress of Solitude, but were sometimes used as stand-ins for Superman himself.
The Fortress of Solitude hasn’t always been comprised of the same material, and many substances have been said to have been used to create the structure. The most well known substance that forms The Fortress of Solitude is, of course, the classic crystals. These crystals are sometimes a reaction to Kryptonian technology, and are other times just a formation created within the Arctic. As mentioned before, other Fortresses of Solitude have been made from an old repurposed Brainiac ship and even an ancient temple.
While Superman has added his own touches to each one, these other fortresses were mostly comprised of the material originally found in the base structure. While unique in their own right, each Fortress of Solitude varies in how is was created.
In order to be the “Fortress” of Solitude, Superman’s getaway must be a secure compound with limited access. As mentioned before, there have been times when The Fortress of Solitude was accessible to the public, but Superman still holds the keys to the true fortress. In fact, one of the earliest Fortresses of Solitude has one of the silliest doors. In these early versions, Superman would use a giant arrow-shaped key to unlock a massive door. He would hide this key nearby, but later hung it up on the door itself.
In more recent comics, Superman still has a key to the Fortress of Solitude, but the newer version of the key is much more portable than before, thought still difficult to use. Superman made this smaller key out of extremely dense dwarf star material. The key is so heavy that no regular human could hope to lift it. Luckily, Superman was able to get a much smaller door to accompany his new key.
Said to be the largest room in The Fortress of Solitude, Superman’s trophy room is full of a multitude of relics from all of his past adventures. Like a museum, Superman labels each artifact with a placard that describes the object, when it was acquired, and how it was used. Unlike Batman, Superman’s trophies aren’t just on display for himself, but also for the people that make their way through the fortress. Some of the relics on display range from weapons, artifacts, or broken pieces of technology. For example, Superman displays Lex Luthor’s duplication gun, the same one that helped him create the opposite Superman known as Bizarro. His collection even includes the gun that Brainiac once used to shrink entire cities.
Beyond the trophy room, Superman keeps person specific trophies and relics in their own individual rooms. For instance, there is a Batman room that contains trophies that Superman obtained during his missions with Batman. There are also rooms for Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and even Clark Kent (although this room is used as a cover to keep Superman’s disguise a secret).
The Fortress of Solitude holds many treasures, and many dangerous objects. Perhaps the two most interesting objects held within the walls of the fortress are the shrunken city of Kandor and the Phantom Zone Projector. The Phantom Zone Projector has been used to banish those too dangerous for this world. Extremely dangerous if controlled by someone else other Superman, the Phantom Zone Projector is an object guarded within the walls of Superman’s sanctuary. The miniaturized city of Kandor was once the capital of Krypton. However, Brainiac shrunk it to add to his collection. Superman liberated the city, but had to keep the city in a bottle. This bottle helps regulate a specific atmosphere for the Kandorians. Full of Kryptonians, Kandor is one of Superman’s most prized possessions. Between these two vastly different objects, Superman has a huge responsibility to maintain the security of both of Kandor and the Phantom Zone Projector.
While the Secret Citadel was the first version of The Fortress of Solitude, the concept was actually originated for Doc Savage, a popular comic book adventurer from the 30s and 40s. His Fortress of Solitude had many of the same rooms and designs that would later be explored in the pages of Superman’s comics. For instance, Doc Savage’s refuge had a laboratory, a plethora of mysterious objects and a medical bay.
Unlike Superman’s version, Doc Savage’s Fortress of Solitude was clouded in mystery. Not only were some of the objects he had been testing unknown, but some of the tests themselves were kept secret. Savage may not have had dozens of rooms for his friends, a zoo, or a tiny shrunken city, but his Fortress of Solitude was extraordinary nonetheless.
While some of The Fortresses of Solitude are repurposed objects, like temples and space ships, one of Superman's Fortresses had a much more interesting origin. The Eradicator was an ancient Kryptonian object designed to terraform any surface into Krypton. After Superman recovers the object and brings it back to Earth, the Eradicator begins to alter substances around it. Eventually, Superman throws the device into the ground, but this activates the Eradicator. It soon begins to form crystalline structures surrounding its location and develops a Phantom Zone Projector.
The Eradicator uses this to transfer other Kryptonian relics to the newly formed Fortress. Fortunately, Superman is able to stop the Eradicator from completing its prime directive. Learning that only members of the House of El can take control of the Eradicator, Superman alters the objective of the sentient device, but in this story, he later uses the structures and artifacts created by the Eradicator to create what is now known as The Fortress of Solitude.
There it is folks! Hopefully now you know a bit more about Superman’s famous Fortress of Solitude. What did you learn from this list? Were there any other interesting facts that we left off that we should have included? Be sure to let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!