Martha Kent is a rural farming wife from the small town of Smallville. She is the widow of Jonathan Kent and has an adoptive son, Clark Kent (more commonly known as the hero Superman), who lives in Metropolis.
Born Martha Clark, she later married local Kansas farmer Jonathan Kent and the pair lived together on his family farm.
In 1980, Martha and Johnathan discovered a small spacecraft crash on their farm. Opening it, they discovered a small child inside, whom they took upon themselves to adopt, naming the boy Clark and later hid the ship beneath their barn.
Raising a Kryptonian
They raised Clark as a human child, instilling strong morals to live by. However, Clark soon started to develop astonishing abilities as he aged. When he was 9 years old at school, he struggled to control his powers, which soon frightened Clark so much he hid in a maintenance closet at school, prompting his counselors to call his mother. Martha arrived at the school and, upon hearing of her son's struggles, talked Clark through focusing his abilities. Afterwards, Martha brought her son home for the rest of the day.
Four years later, a 13-year-old Clark was on a field trip, the bus his class was on swerved off a bridge, before Clark pushed the bus to the shore. Martha downplayed the “miracle” to other children’s parents. It was at then that she and Jonathan decided to disclose Clark's true origin to him.
4 years later, the family were out in their car when an enormous tornado was moving through the area. Jonathan led Martha and Clark to safety along with others underneath an overpass, as Jonathan helped other people to escape. Jonathan was injured and became stuck and Clark, wanting to help his father, Jonathan made him stay, in order to keep his gifts a secret. Jonathan died wanting to make sure Clark's secret weren't shown to anyone. Martha was devastated, and Jonathan was buried in Smallville cemetery alongside his brother Harry. Shortly after, Clark left Smallville following his adopted father’s wishes and searched to find the purpose he was sent to Earth.
Years later, Lois Lane of the Daily Planet turned up at Martha’s farm with questions about Clark. Martha was unenthusiastic to reply to her queries about him, and promptly asked her to leave. Not long afterwards, Clark returned home to his mother. He revealed to Martha that he discovered the answers to the questions he was searching for and that he learnt what his birth name is and what his true calling in life was, to provide the world with hope. Martha then told Clark about Lois inquiring about him.
After General Zod, the former military leader and war criminal of Krypton, broadcasted a communication across the planet looking for Clark, Clark gave himself up to spare Earth. General Zod and his forces arrived on her farm looking for Clark and the Growth Codex. Faora picked a non-cooperative Martha up, and the latter instinctively looked towards her barn. Faora promptly hurled Martha to the ground, and leaped into the the barn, finding Clark's infant starship. A desperate General Zod further threatened Martha, until Clark suddenly flew in and tackled him off of Martha, drawing the attention of his forces to downtown Smallville. After Zod's forces left to regroup, Clark returned to the farm to check on Martha, who had survived her ordeal unscathed. They were then approached by Lois Lane, who had a plan of defeating the Kryptonians.
Clark's future plans
Called by Clark
Martha is called by Clark when the latter is agitated by seeing so many on the news discussing him ("The Superman Question") as a figure of controversy. Not having it in him to tell her about his problems right away, Clark instead asks Martha why Jonathan had never left Kansas. A bit confused, Martha says that this was so because her late husband had felt that he was "already there", and he thus had no need to travel. Clark sighs, saying that he wished things were simple. Martha, however, gently disagrees, claiming that "nothing was ever simple."
Visited by Clark
While the rest of the world is debating whether Superman has been a positive or negative addition to planet Earth, Clark returns home to Smallville to visit Martha. There, she advises him that either way he shouldn't worry what others think of him.
Kidnapped by Lex Luthor
After Lex Luthor discovers Superman's identity, Martha is kidnapped by his men (lead by Knyazev), and stored in a warehouse near the port in Gotham. Lex likewise captures Lois Lane, less obliquely, in order to draw Superman to him. Then, Lex shows a distraught Superman photos of Martha in captivity, and uses the threat of her life to get Superman to kill Batman, giving him an hour.
Saved by Batman
Lex's plan fails, as Superman ultimately manages to forge an alliance with Batman to counter Lex Luthor. Batman then proceeds to rescue Martha, while Superman confronts first Luthor, then Doomsday. Martha is saved from being burned alive by Anatoli Knyazev, thanks to Batman. The vigilante makes sure she is found by Gotham's police, before flying back to the battle scene.
Ultimately, Superman is forced to sacrifice himself to kill Doomsday.
Martha then hosts a function at Clark's funeral in Smallville, attended by Lois, Perry, Jenny, Bruce, Diana, Pete Ross, Lana Lang, and Father Leone, with Martha revealing to Lois that Clark had intended to propose to her.
After Father Leone delivers the eulogy, Martha prepares to pay the funeral director, but to her surprise, Pete Ross tells her that all of the finances have already been taken care of by an anonymous donor (actually Bruce Wayne).
Martha is a very benevolent, kind, non-judgmental and honest person, who loved her adopted son Clark very much. Despite the many complications caused by his burgeoning superpowers, Martha was always very supportive of Clark, notably helping him swiftly overcome his sensory overload weakness. As Clark began to experience problems early into his career as "Superman", Martha remained supportive, trying to provide him with useful advice.
Indeed, the relationship between Superman and his mother was so strong, with him claiming that she was "his world", that in a possible future (as shown to Batman by that future's Flash), Martha getting killed induced a devastated Superman to become unhinged by his incredible grief, with it inducing him to become dark and malevolent, going so far as to take over the Earth as its tyrant ruler.
Martha is also remarkably brave, refusing to divulge any information concerning Clark when interrogated by the combined efforts of Faora and General Zod, despite her being visibly scared of the malevolent superpowered alien duo.
She is also somewhat insightful, showing little fear of Batman after the latter rescued her, claiming that his cape allowed her to tell that he was a friend of her son.
Behind the scenes
- In the DC Comics universe, originally both Jonathan and Martha died after contracting an ancient fever plague following Clark's high school graduation. In the post-Crisis continuity, she becomes a widow after Jonathan suffers a fatal heart attack. In the New 52 reboot, both he and Martha are deceased having been killed by a drunk driver.
- Lane was the first cast member hired for the film after Henry Cavill.
- Previously, Julianne Moore, Lisa Rinna, Jodie Foster, Amanda Seyfried, Sela Ward and Elisabeth Shue were all considered for the role of Martha Kent.
- Diane Lane said of her character; “She’s the antithesis of a superhero. She represents mother earth in every way. It’s another era now. Martha got a job. She’s still available as a parent is, forever.”
- Diane Lane who portrays Martha Kent is married to actor Josh Brolin, who starred in the critically, panned out of continuity DC Comics film Jonah Hex and turned down the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in Dawn of Justice.