Superman's Patriotic Imagery

by Armand Vaquer

Superman's association with the U.S. flag and patriotism dates back to his beginnings in the late 1930s and 1940s.

In the 1940s, Superman was depicted in comic book covers as a morale booster for U.S. troops fighting in the European and Pacific theaters of World War II.

This association continued in the 1950s with the opening of the Adventures of Superman television show. The show's opening depicts a resolute Superman (George Reeves) standing in front of the American flag.

In 1953, Adventures of Superman's producers made a special episode, "Stamp Day For Superman" that was donated to the Department of The Treasury. In this episode, not shown on television, Superman tells elementary school children of the virtues of buying Savings Stamps to help their country.

The photo below from "Stamp Day For Superman" shows Superman with the U.S. flag and the word "citizenship" in the background. Would this Superman renounce his U.S. citizenship? Not likely!

Christopher Reeve's Superman also continued with this association. In Superman 2, the Man of Steel returns the White House's flag and pole to the Executive Mansion's roof after defeating three Kryptonian Phantom Zone criminals.

The comic books of the Modern Age also depicted Superman as an American patriot. The comic book cover at right of Superman unabashedly patriotic was produced after DC Comics re-booted the Superman character (along with other super-heroes in their stable) in the late 1980s. And the one below left is a more recent cover.

These images only scratch the surface. There are many more such depictions of Superman's patriotism. With all this ingrained imagery over the years, it is small wonder why the reports of Superman renouncing his U.S. citizenship in Action Comics #900 has some people upset. That's why it is tricky business to tamper with an iconic character.

One final point.

One of Superman's abilities is a super-intellect. Granted, even one with a superior intellect could get frustrated over some government policies. Rather than get angry and renounce his citizenship, he would shrug it off and logically figure that administrations come and go and policies change with each administrative change. He would also use his influence to get the ones he disagrees with changed. A person with his super-intellect would not act rashly and renounce his citizenship. It comes off as some politically correct internationalist bullplop. I wonder if DC's writers even considered this.

The storyline just rings hollow.


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