Superman Drops the American Way?

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012

That's the big question this week as the Man of Steel celebrates a major milestone. While Action Comics #900 carries many stories in it from different authors and artists, it's "The Incident" by The Dark Knight and the upcoming Man of Steel writer David Goyer that's got everyone talking, and rightfully so. In its pages, Superman faces a very real threat and then renounces his citizenship to the U.S.A.

Let's back up, though. If we only talk about the conclusion, we miss out on the "why," which, for my money, makes the scenario much more interesting. The story goes that Superman, having a nose for news after all, is following the story of protests in Tehran. Deciding that it's not enough to handle supervillains and apocalypses, Supes flies directly into the chaotic city and ... stands there. That's all. He stands in solidarity with the protestors for 24 hours. Then he leaves.

The Iranian government assumes that Superman is acting on behalf of the president of the U.S. and considers his actions and act of war. With that in mind, Superman makes the realization that, if he wants to be a hero in this way, stand up for the oppressed, the starving, and the dehumanized, he can't do so as a representative of any one nation. Hence, he renounces his U.S. citizenship.

But is he any less an American icon now? No doubt this alteration will be a temporary one, but, in addition, it feels like Superman is just changing to meet with the times. One could argue that with the multitude of global crises we've been dealing with in the last years that America has become more connected to the rest of the world than ever. What hurts us hurts everyone else, and vice versa.

Maybe the comic argues that what we need now is more than just an American hero. Maybe what we need is a global one, someone who will take the big risks in order to push the world forward, to try and make things better for everyone. At its most ideal, isn't that the very definition of "The American Way"?

What do you think?

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