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Truth, Justice, and the Cowardly Way

In one fell swoop, writer David S. Goyer has unwritten and undermined 73 years of hardlined moral code from the Man of Steel in a move that is certainly making his creators roll in their graves. Read about it here.

These are my thoughts on the matter. Superheroes are no stranger to real world events, nor is it even unheard of that an American superhero turns his back on us for a while.  Hang around the world of comic books long enough, you see the same story points told time and again. This, however, is where the line is drawn in the eyes of this fanboy. I’ve been saying for years that Superman has been fighting for Truth and Justice without acknowledging the American Way, a slide from grace that began in the mid-90s after his death and resurrection.  Now that separation is seemingly complete. Is it final? It’s anyone’s guess at this point, but I’d almost be willing to bet it is as Warner Bros. and DC Comics try to churn out Superman’s adventures to a global audience. It’s a warm-up to next year’s big screen feature film. It’s the kind of sensational storytelling that sells comics, gets website hits, and generates buzz.

It’s the coward’s way out. It’s fundamentally wrong, as much as it is to put a gun in Batman’s hands. DC and WB have a lot to answer for.

Please forgive me while I do a bit of flag waving, regardless of how unpopular that may seem to some. Superman has always represented the best of what this country has to offer – the hopes and ideals that made this country great in the first place. Question the politics all you want, from either side of the political line you feel is appropriate. The message is clear: the global arena hasn’t trusted the United States in a very long time, arguably for good reason, and Superman has decided that what’s good for the world isn’t necessarily what’s in America’s best interests. To this end, he’s thrown down the gauntlet by renouncing his citizenship. Is he right? That’s a matter of opinion that I won’t debate here. Instead let me ask a harder question.

Is it the right story to tell?

I offer for consideration an alternate path, more in keeping with Superman’s mission statement and highly idealized moral code. Instead of renouncing his citizenship, he should own up to it. His actions speak loudly and carry enough weight to make the people of this country take notice, whether or not the people in power are pleased with him or not. If Goyer, DC Comics, WB, and the general population all believe that America’s interests are against the global betterment, why not make Superman do what he does best? Rally the people, fight the good fight, and set the example. “We the People” used to mean something. It used to have real power. In renouncing his citizenship, the Man of Steel is giving up his Constitutional rights and setting the larger example that citizenship means nothing. It’s those kinds of rights that the protesters overseas are fighting for! The kind of regimes the citizens of Iran and other Middle Eastern countries are protesting are precisely the kinds of regimes Superman was created to fight, regardless of what country they’re in. Superman has always been about helping the little guy where no one else could and overthrowing corruption wherever it’s found. If it’s the large belief that our government is part of the corruption, then Superman is a rallying point for the people to take charge again, just as he’s a rallying point for the protests half a world away. It’s not the policy of Superman or any of his fellow Justice Leaguers to fight a war for anyone. But it is in their mandate as heroes to STOP such a war from happening. If comic book Iran wants to fight, let Superman stop the fight. If the US government wants to fight him, let our people rally and defend Earth’s Greatest Hero – the one who never turned his back on his adopted homeland – in his hour of greatest need.  That’s the kind of storytelling that makes waves and draws lines in the sand in the real world that cause the Powers-That-Be to take notice.  And it draws audiences, generates buzz and website hits, and drives up sales, all for the right reasons.  Give us a hero we can believe in.  That’s all we’ve ever asked of Superman.  DC Comics apparently forgot how to do that.

My two cents, for whatever it’s worth. Here’s another nickel’s worth: perhaps I need to reconsider my earlier thoughts on the lawsuit. Perhaps the law needs to take Superman away from DC so that he can be restored to glory.  With press like this, Batman and Wonder Woman seriously need to reconsider their membership as part of the “Big 3.”  Maybe there’s still a chance they can put this travesty in its proper place and help with damage control.

EDIT:  A quick overnight nap didn’t do much to help my mood, but perhaps it helped me to better clarify my thoughts.  I keep thinking that the idiot writer that did this to Superman is the same moron that keeps churning out these substandard Batman movies that everyone’s going ga-ga over, as well as the next Superman film.  My personal code is as hardlined as ones represented by these characters.  I feel betrayed, to be quite honest.

In universe, Superman spent 2 years out of the public eye while he served New Krypton.  He came back to us.  Then he spent the past year on walkabout, trying to reconnect to the American people.  What was it for?  If this is the new direction, what was all that back there?  What does this do to the Justice League?  What does this do to Lois, to whom he’s legally married?  If he renounces citizenship as Superman, how does he keep it as Clark Kent and not be a hypocrite?  It makes zero sense.

Out of story, in our world, I get the message.  What Superman is doing to support the overseas protests is absolutely in character.  After all, what else is a superhero for, if not to set the absolute best example for personal freedom?  If our government, in story or out of it, can’t support that, then Superman is still in the right to support it, and the government and its citizens need to re-evaluate.  There should be no controversy when it comes to the Man of Steel.  He’s the hero other heroes look up to.  There’s a responsibility that must be taken seriously when writing for him.  Superman can and should fight for the protesters.  He should also make it clear that there is no separation between them and the average American.  ALL people have these rights innately.  Turning his back on us doesn’t make his case.  And that’s why I think DC Comics has taken the low road here.  I hope that makes better sense.