The story of Superman, the immigrant from the stars, is one known almost universally. To quote All Star Superman, “Doomed planet. Desperate scientists. Last hope. Kindly couple. Superman.”
The story of Kal-El is one of the Chosen One. In fact, I’d go with the notion that Superman is the quincentennial Chosen One. The key to most Chosen One stories is a prophesy, a task, or a burden that only that character can handle. For Superman, the story lies closer to prophesy. This prophesy comes from Jor-El. Jor-El did not sent Kal to any random planet. He had spent months looking for a solution to save his people, with no avail. His research led him to discover Earth, and his scientific findings led him to realize how Earth’s sun and atmosphere would infinitely increase a Kryptonian’s body on a molecular level. By sending his son, the last son of Krypton, to earth, he is also setting his Destiny. In almost every comic book origin or film origin for Superman, Jor-El points out that Superman would be the savior of Earth, setting up his prophesy. While Lara, Kal’s mother, points out the burden that would have on his son. As soon as the rocket left the exploding planet, the tale of the Chosen One began.
As Superman, Kal displays all the mannerisms of a Chosen One. He saves his world countless times, he brings hope, security and happiness to his adopted world and in many ways fulfills the prophesy Jor-El set out for him. Over his many years of adventures, he has carried the weight of the word on his shoulders. Like many Chosen one, this means also making the ultimate sacrifice. On multiple occasions, Superman dies to protect his planet. Whether he goes toe to toe with Doomsday, or sacrifices himself to save the word in All Star Superman, Kal-El is ready to die to save his word.
The notion of the Chosen One was elevated in some variations of the character. While he has always been known as The Last Son of Krypton. This was made even more literal in Man of Steel. In a Kyrptonian civilization that has abandoned natural births in favor of role based controlled births, Kal-El was again, one of a kind. Being the first natural birth in centuries, Kal was not assigned to a role of scientist, warrior or leader. He was free to chose his own destiny. When Jor-El infused Kal’s body with the codex, the source of a billion Kryptonian cells, it gave Superman the best of what his home planet has to offer and naturally is carries the ability to be the best at everything. The idea of being one of a kind is part of the Chosen one trope and Man of Steel hones in on this aspect of Superman.
The burden of the Chosen One is another aspect that Superman faces. As mentioned above, he sacrificed himself on multiple occasions, has held the entire universe on his shoulders when needed and even held the burden of his own people. Superman, more than any superhero, has a universal target on his back. The universe, the good and the bad, knows that the Kryptonian Savior will protect earth and that makes him the target for endless confrontations from the greatest villains in his universe.
Superman was prophesied to be special. Jor-El sent Kal-El to earth specifically not just to be the continuation of Krypton’s legacy but to also be a savior for Earth. He envisioned Kal-El to be the ideal to strive for. He saw the people of earth joining him in the sun. He saw that the people of earth could be a great people if they wished to be, they only lacked the light to show the way. It is for this reason that Jor-El sent baby Kal-El to earth and it is for this reason Superman is the quintessential Chosen One.