Perry White is the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet newspaper.
Perry was a talented writer in his youth and matured to become a research journalist at the Daily Planet in Metropolis. Years later he was promoted to the position of Editor-in-Chief and ran the newspaper with truthfulness, uprightness and principle.
Conflict with Lois
Perry sent his best correspondent Lois Lane to investigate a top-secret military setup on Ellesmere Island, Canada. Upon her return to Metropolis, she had a story about a super powered extra-terrestrial and an alien ship taking off from under the tundra, he overlooked it, asserting that he cannot publish articles like that in his paper and argued Lois probably daydreamed half of it as a result of a wound she suffered.
Upon finding out that she disclosed her story to an underhanded internet blogger, Glen Woodburn, his publishers commanded for her to be litigated. He called her into his office and initially gave her a fortnight of unpaid leave, then giving her three weeks instead as her "penance". Perry, believing she did, in fact, see something out of the ordinary, knew Lois would confirm her story.
General Zod's Message
Lois returned to work at the Daily Planet just as a worldwide alien message from the maniacal General Zod seeking Kal-El, a member of his race, was spread to every technical device on Earth. Perry had everybody at the planet working on the story, however Lois, knowing who Zod was after, had already left to follow up her lead.
Black Zero Event
Shortly afterwards whilst Perry was in his office, General Zod's huge Black Zero starship descended on Metropolis. The ship began to launch a gigantic gravity beam straight into the city, starting to destroy a massive part of Metropolis, gradually bringing buildings down as the gravity field from the beam continued to expand.
Perry gave the order to evacuate his staff out of the building and then ran down outside the building into the chaos. Whilst trying to escape, Jenny Jurwich got caught under falling debris. He and Steve Lombard helped her by removing the concrete holding her, they escaped before seeing Lois caught in mid-air by Superman who he placed beside Perry and Jenny.
Perry operates the newspaper somewhat differently after Superman's arrival. The Daily Planet gives favorable mentions to Superman, unlike some of the other newspapers, most likely because Perry was grateful for having been saved by the alien hero during the Black Zero Event.
During the 2 years following the Black Zero Event, Perry quickly promotes Clark Kent from just a junior reporter, after the latter promptly displays exceptional insights and investigative skills, which leads to Perry assigning him bigger and bigger stories for the Planet. After only a year working as a reporter, Clark had already twice received the Elliot Prize for Investigative Journalism, being the first of any of the reporters on the Daily Planet staff to earn such prestige so quickly.
Perry sends Lois to Nairomi, Africa to interview the warlord leader of a faction in a civil war. Lois was accompanied by photographer Jimmy Olsen, who had a tracking device hidden in his camera. However, Jimmy was killed by the warlord, with Lois being held hostage, leading to her rescue by Superman.
"End of Love Affair With Man In the Sky?"
Several days later, Perry assigns Clark Kent to travel to Gotham City and cover the Metropolis vs Gotham football game, giving him the headline "Underdog Dreams Dashed - 10 Yards Between Gotham and Glory." At that moment, the news reports on Wallace Keefe vandalizing the Superman Statue in Heroes Park by spray-painting the words "False God" in red on the chest before he is arrested. Perry and Clark are both visibly saddened about this hate crime, with Perry referring to Keefe as a "poor son of a bitch", then giving his assistant Jenny the headline "End of Love Affair With Man In the Sky?"
Before Clark departs, Perry advises the former to watch himself in Gotham, due to the city's high crime rate.
Conflict with Clark
As Lois walks away, Perry promptly approaches Clark, stating that Lex Luthor had insisted that Clark be the reporter to attend and cover his Metropolis library fundraiser event.
Second Conflict with Clark
Several days later, a furious Perry confronts Clark, outraged at the latter for having not covered the Gotham vs Metropolis football match or Lex Luthor's fundraiser for the Metropolis Library. Clark argues by saying that the press has the responsibility of showing integrity and exposing Batman, bringing up the fact that the Daily Planet had an upstanding reputation for displaying such character at its foundation. Perry responds by mocking Clark’s values, saying that “it’s not 1938” and life is no longer simple enough for someone like Clark to be admired for upstanding character alone; therefore, he is ordered to cease his pursuit of Batman, as no one will find such a thing interesting. Clark is agitated, but undeterred.
Warned by Lois Lane
Shortly before the hearing of Superman on Capitol Hill, Perry is called by Lois, with the latter revealing to him that Lex Luthor has engineered the incident in Nairomi to ambush and frame Superman, claiming that her anonymous source (actually Secretary of Defense Swanwick) can verify it all, and that the story must be run before the hearing. Perry, however, refuses to run the story, fearing that if Lois is wrong, Luthor could sue the Daily Planet "out of existence", so he insists that Lois first needs proof.
Emergence of Doomsday
Shortly after the Capitol bombing, Perry and his Daily Planet subordinates watch TV news coverage of the electrical disturbance coming from the US government-controlled Fortress of Solitude crash site near Heroes Park. He is then approached by Lois (who had just escaped from Lex Luthor's clutches), and she convinces Perry to authorize her to use the Daily Planet's helicopter, in order for her to aid Superman in his battle against Batman.
Approximately 30 minutes later, Metropolis experiences a temporary black-out, and then Perry and the others see footage of Doomsday, a monster that emerged from the Fortress while ferociously battling Superman.
When the United States government launches a nuclear missile at Superman and Doomsday (their battle having taken them into outer space), the resulting explosion is so gigantic, that it can be clearly seen at the ground level, as Perry, Jenny and others can be seen observing the carnage above from the window of the Daily Planet building.
Death of Superman and Clark Kent's Funeral
After Superman's apparent death (during the killing of Doomsday), Perry prints a special edition of the paper in honor of Superman and his efforts, headlining it "Superman Dead: Night of Terror, Morning of Loss". Clark Kent is also reported by Lois Lane to have died during the devastating battle, having chosen to carry out his duties as a reporter and cover it.
While mourning the tragic death of Superman (who had once saved him in the Black Zero Event), Perry doesn't attend his huge ceremonial funeral in Metropolis, and instead joins Jenny, Lois, and some other co-workers (along with Lana Lang, Pete Ross, and Daniel Leone, whom Perry is seen meeting) in attending Clark Kent's funeral in Smallville, honoring his fallen employee. Perry is last seen linked at the arms with Jenny, as they leave Clark Kent's grave, along with the other mourners, while Lois remains to stand over his grave a while longer alone before Clark is buried.
Perry is very prim and dedicated to his work, as the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet. He is also very thoughtful and insightful, since despite actually believing her, Perry was quick to reprimand Lois Lane for publishing a story about her superpowered alien savior, understanding that the world was not yet ready for the revelation of such a being actually existing. He was also unwilling to publish stories that he knew would not be popular, thus discouraging Clark Kent from exposing the vigilante Batman through the press.
In extreme situations, Perry is remarkably selfless, brave and heroic, notably trying to rescue Jenny Jurwich from under a pile of debris during the Black Zero Event, refusing to abandon her, endangering his own life in the process. Perry is also quite compassionate, since despite being angered by Wallace Keefe's hate crime against the Superman Statue, he was also visibly saddened by the man receiving such a harsh punishment for it.
Behind the Scenes
- In the DC Comics universe, Perry White has most often been depicted as Clark's high tempered boss at the Daily Planet.
- Lawrence Fishburne is the first African-American actor to play Perry White in a live-action film. He stated that he modeled his character after Ed Bradley, a personal friend of his.
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- Despite Lawrence Fishburne saying that he was requested to appear in Justice League but he was unable to do so due to scheduling conflicts, it has been reported that he actually had a cameo appearance near the end of the movie, where Lois Lane revealed to Perry that Clark Kent was actually Superman.