In all the years of his existence, of all the different takes on his origin, powers, and personality, what is the best interpretation or incarnation of the Man of Steel? What is the version that has made the most impact on the character and made him the legend we know today? I couldn't pick just one myself, so I have a list of three that I think best personify Superman and have left a lasting impact on his character.
#1: The Golden Age Kal-L. Let's be honest, without him we would have no Superman and is also my favorite version. I love the original idea of Superman as a social crusader and taking on crime and corruption where ever it was, while also helping the little guy. This Superman was a true symbol of truth and justice and has made these ideals a staple of the Man of Steel's character. This is why I think the New 52 Superman has went over so well because he started out exactly the same way.
#2: Christopher Reeve's Superman. This one hardly needs an introduction. This was the version I was first introduced to, Superman the Move being the very first superhero movie I ever saw. This version was not only portrayed by an excellent actor who's life was tragically cut short, but also gave a grander scale for Superman's presence on Earth. This version was not only sent to Earth because his planet was doomed, but also to be a beacon of hope to it. He was sent to light the way to the future, to make the human race into something greater. This idea made it's way into the comics and it's for this reason that Superman will always be relevant, no matter what. As long as we keep moving forward as a society, Superman will be here to stay even if all other comic book heroes fade away.
#3: Smallville's Clark Kent. Love Smallville or hate it, I personally love it, this show has shaped most peoples views on Superman whether they read the comics or not. It was the longest running Superman television series and as such garnered a large following of not only comic book readers, but also people who either don't read/like comics or just know Superman from the movies. This version showed a much more humanized Superman who hadn't become the Earth's greatest hero and was struggling with the concept. I know some people who claim this as their definitive version of Superman. Granted these are people who have NEVER picked up a Superman comic, but HAVE gotten into comics just from watching the show. Smallville ran for 10 years and we got to see Clark grow and change into the hero we know he would be. Granted even I can admit it shouldn't have lasted as long as it did, but that's neither here nor there.
With that I leave you with my personal tribute to the Last Son of Krypton