Originally Posted by John Locke
So what is the definitive version of the character because the one you describe doesn't describe any from the Reeve movies, the death of Superman, Returns, Lois and Clark, Smallville, Returns, and most definitely the Injustice version.
Writers began to develop a sense of morality in Superman as the modern age began...they rejected the idea of a Superman who would break a woman's wrist to get a confession. This took, and that more violent take was wiped out in the Crisis. The comics tried to remain true to this for the next few decades. While he DID kill in the Byrne run...it was after they developed his morality...and his mistake (yes, HE viewed it as a mistake) was a life altering decision that set the course for the book for most of my life.
Superman is very simple...he was raised by a kind, moral couple in Smallville and because of their influence, he became the Man of Tomorrow...a man who finds a way to win when there is no way to win...a man so self sacrificing, so good that it isn't out of the question to call him Christ-like. People are in awe of him and inspired by him. They try to be like him, but will stumble...but through his influence, perhaps humanity will one day walk with him. Then...after setting that up...what if a threat was SO BAD that there really wasn't an option? What if Superman WAS forced to kill? Well, the comics say that he would be overwhelmed with guilt and exile himself from earth...or in Alan Moore's non-canon story, he gave up his powers. He believes that while no one has the right to be executioner, that he above all others does not have that right.
None of this is my opinion...it is the definitive character in the comics...not that those things really matter.
I know that time after time after time movies, tv shows etc have to make a morally conflicted Clark that is not really any better than the average person (and more and more the comics are accepting this since it is easier to write)...but I put my money on the comics that defined him.