To me, the core of that attraction is that she is a better reporter than he is. Think about being Superman for a second. The Olympic record for weightlifting is 1,038 lbs., but you could lift more than that as a child. The record for the 100 meter dash is 9.58 seconds, but you can travel over 51 miles in that time. Going to Vegas? You don’t need your X-Ray vision to win at Blackjack, because you can just count the cards while holding down a conversation about nuclear physics. Without really trying, you are better at just about everything than anyone else in the world.
However, (as Mark Waid once pointed out in a podcast with Marv Wolfman) none of that really translates to your chosen profession. Typing really fast does not help your prose. Being able to lift a tank does not help you convince a source to go on record. It is as near to competing straight up with normal people as Superman would ever be capable of. Even then, it comes easily enough to him that you get a pretty lofty perch at a great paper very early in your career. It is just in this one context, there is someone better than you are: Lois Lane.
As mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, you reach up for the first time in your life and she rejects you.
To me, it is an inversion of the Luthor story. Luthor sees someone above him and feels hate. Superman sees someone above him and feels love.
“Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences. (Roy Ascott’s phrase.) That solves a lot of problems: we don’t have to argue whether photographs are art, or whether performances are art, or whether Carl Andre’s bricks or Andrew Serranos’s piss or Little Richard’s ‘Long Tall Sally’ are art, because we say, ‘Art is something that happens, a process, not a quality, and all sorts of things can make it happen.’ … [W]hat makes a work of art ‘good’ for you is not something that is already ‘inside’ it, but something that happens inside you — so the value of the work lies in the degree to which it can help you have the kind of experience that you call art.”—Brian Eno (via anieastonbaker)