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July 03, 2006

Truth, Justice, and the American Way II

I just read a great column. I'll give you some highlights, but you should read it yourself at the Chicago Tribune:

Is Superman in the new movie "Superman Returns" still an American?

And, if he's not an American--which he's not because in the new movie he's ashamed of the "American way"--what is he, Iranian? Has Hollywood turned the Man of Steel into some United Nations bureaucrat?

...what about Superman?

The American icon is no longer an American. He's not proud of the American way.


The real Superman, the pre-Kyoto, pre-Guantanamo Bay Superman, understood who he was. He fought for "truth, justice and the American way." That was his credo--even while threatening terrorists into giving up important information in time to save the day.

But in the new movie, the Man of Steel can't even bring himself to say it. Instead, a supporting character, played by Frank Langella, says Superman stands for "truth, justice and all that stuff."


Since Superman is so uncomfortable with the American way, expect the other superheroes to expel him from the Justice League of America just about the time the movie opens in Iran.


"We were hesitant to include the term `American way' because the meaning of that today is somewhat uncertain," the Hollywood Reporter quoted "Superman Returns" screenwriter Michael Dougherty as saying.

Excuse me? The meaning of `the American way' is somewhat uncertain? I think Hollywood is uncertain. They're ashamed, and prove it as often as they can, while wondering what happened to the box office.

"The world has changed," said Dougherty's writing partner, Dan Harris. "The world is a different place. The truth is, he's an alien. He was sent from another planet. He has landed on the planet Earth, and he is here for everybody. He's an international superhero."

I just want to stop here and point out what should be glaringly obvious: Superman has always stood for what's good and right. That's inherent in the statement: Truth, Justice, and the American Way. These people aren't saying that Superman has changed, they're saying - nearly quoting here - that the world has changed. So why should Superman's catch phrase change, then, if he hasn't? Clearly, they think that America has changed and is no longer worthy of Superman.

Which means he's not an American superhero. I'm sure Belgium and China are thrilled. But Superman protected our interests, once. Now, he's the world's muscle man so that Hollywood can make a few more bucks selling the movie in countries where they burn the American flag for breakfast, not in Belgium, but elsewhere.

How did this happen?

"So you play the movie in a foreign country, and you say, `What does he stand for--truth, justice and the American way.' I think a lot of people's opinions of what the American way means outside of this country are different from what the line actually means, because they are not the same any more," Harris said. "And using that line would taint the meaning of what he is saying."

I think what he really means is that he wants to sell tickets in Iran, North Korea and other places where they hate our guts.

The old Superman was an uncomplicated Midwesterner in tights and cape, made shy by Lois Lane's fetching beauty....

But now?

Look, up in the sky, it's a bird. It's a plane. Who cares? Whatever.

I have to be honest, here: I'm really disappointed at Hollywood. It doesn't make sense that I would be disappointed. After all, disappointment comes from unrealized expectations, does it not? And I clearly expected Hollywood to do exactly what they've done. I predicted it before I knew anything about it. Apparently, even when expectations are fulfilled, disappointment can come from unrealized hope as well.

Posted by Jeff at July 3, 2006 02:39 AM


I'm going to be honest with you... reading your little thing here, I'm not sure what it is you're thinking.

Don't get me wrong, you've got some great points, and then some.... not so great ones...

Personally, the reason I think they idn't put "American Way" into the movie right now, is because "The American Way" isn't the american way anymore, it's like: The human way or something.

I think that they didn't put that in, just because it's now become such a general thing that there really is no "American Way". It's just good or evil. You know what I mean?

I think that Superman still stands for the same ideals. I mean honestly, the whole "American Way" thing wasn't even started in the comics, itwas started in a radio show, and wasn't even started by the creators of Superman.

I am inclined to disagree with almost everything in your argument there, I loved Superman Returns. I can't wait for the next movie. It should be awesome.

Well, I'm going a little off topic here, so to stay in the line, to summarize:

I don't think that Superman is ashamed of America, I think that what "The American Way" was, and is, what it means and stands for, is what the entire world should value, not just America.

That is my argument. Thanks for reading.

Posted by: Jeffrey at October 3, 2007 08:13 AM

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