Is Superman Making a Statement by Renouncing His U.S. Citizenship?

In issue #900 of DC's Action Comics, the Man Of Steel will renounce his U.S. citizenship, and of course it's hit the political infotainment media with lightning speed.

In this time of supercharged partisan politics and cunning political “strategery” – One can’t help but wonder if the folks at WARNER BROS. are tearing their hair out with this piece of news. In issue #900 of DC’s Action Comics, the Man Of Steel will renounce his U.S. citizenship, and of course it’s hit the political infotainment media with lightning speed.

A little background: Apparently, the issue revolves around Superman venturing to Iran to support the peaceful efforts of the protestors. However, Iran’s leader, President Ahmadinejad is convinced that Superman is being used as a tool of U.S. international interest – apparently a view held by much of the world. Ahmadinejad is persuaded that the visit is an act of war by the United States, and so Superman decides to renounce his U.S. citizenship.

What a statement! But the problem may be that the statement is so vague that anyone can interpret it anyway they want. I received the story from a conservative friend who first read about it on The Blaze (Glenn Beck’s news site) – nuff said. The right wing specializes in hunting ‘liberal propaganda’ and their ability to mobilize their media machinery makes this an automatic political issue and potential danger for the President, democrats and Hollywood (all very familiar targets for the right).

That said, you can’t help but wonder if the folks on the Warner Bros. lot are tearing their hair out with this news. After all, in this era of highly charged partisan politics, coupled with a plethora of 24 hour infotainment outlets, it’s absolutely possible to imagine a right-wing backlash that could culminate in a boycott of the SUPERMAN movie currently in development. But then again, it’s HOLLYWOOD and that kind of press might just boost ticket sales anyway, which leads me to wonder if this statement is political, artistic or simply economic.

Artistic? Maybe. Without having read the issue, we know that Superman has suffered from too much of a squeaky-clean image – something that’s a hinderance in this cynical post-modern world. And over the past 20 years DC’s been trying out different ways to add some edge to the Man of Steel; everything from changing his costume to killing him. Yet with all of that, there’s still something about Superman that’s a little boring… Something about him that’s not… well Batman. So in my mind this story line immediately reminded me of a couple of famous lines from the The Dark Knight movie:

“Batman stands for something more than the whim of a terrorist… Even if everyone hates him for it… That’s the sacrifice he’s making. He’s not being a hero, he’s being something more” – Alfred

And because I’m such a fan of this movie I’ll add one more:

“…he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight” – Lt. Gordon
Could it be that with this latest issue of Action Comics, the writers are taking another stab at making Superman as multidimensional and complex a character as Batman? I mean, surely the writers are aware of the political climate we live in, as well as the potential repercussions of appearing to lean too far left or right. So one can’t help but wonder if the feel that by renouncing his citizenship, Superman is being something more than a hero OR the hero America deserves – although not the one it needs right now.

Or maybe the statement is all of the above… Political commentary on our perceived role in the world; artistic license aimed at providing a plausible moral struggle for the kind of character Superman is AND economic because DC Comics wouldn’t have released this to the press unless they felt the publicity would result in a huge boost in sales for that issue and (hopefully) catapult Superman back into the mainstream consciousness that Marvel seems to dominate each summer with the release of a blockbuster or two.

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