Per Comics Alliance:

Superman replies that it was foolish to think that his actions would not reflect politically on the American government, and that he therefore plans to renounce his American citizenship at the United Nations the next day — and to continue working as a superhero from a more global than national perspective. From a “realistic” standpoint it makes sense; it would indeed be impossible for a nigh-omnipotent being ideologically aligned with America to intercede against injustice beyond American borders without creating enormous political fallout for the U.S. government.

While this wouldn’t be this first time a profoundly American comic book icon disassociated himself from his national identity — remember when Captain America became Nomad? — this could be a very significant turning point for Superman if its implications carry over into other storylines. Indeed, simply saying that “truth, justice and the American way [is] not enough anymore” is a pretty startling statement from the one man who has always represented those values the most.

It doesn’t seem that he’s abandoning those values, however, only trying to implement them on a larger scale and divorce himself from the political complexities of nationalism. Superman also says that he believes he has been thinking “too small,” that the world is “too connected” for him to limit himself with a purely national identity. As an alien born on another planet, after all, he “can’t help but see the bigger picture.”

Superman has shifted around from being Metropolis’s guardian, America’s, the world’s, and the universe’s. The renunciation of his citizenship is new, however. From a corporate standpoint, it does seem likely that this is related to a desire to make the character more appealing to international audiences, not unlike GI Joe’s shift from Real American Heroes to International Heroes. If it’s a change that sticks, though. It does point to the differences in the way DC does things compared to Marvel, though. With DC, it’s a globalist perspective. With Marvel, it would have happened several years ago and been attributed to how terrible George W. Bush was – or alternately, a repudiation of people that harbor “mean” attitudes towards illegal immigrants. In DC’s way of doing things, it’s simply a matter of Superman being too big for his country. From an external standpoint (the international popularity of the character), this is actually somewhat true. From an internal standpoint, doubly. Having one of the most powerful men in the world limiting his activities to a single country (much less a single city) doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

On the other hand, it’s actually a somewhat questionable decision from an internal-logistical standpoint. Superman, unlike Batman and others, derives a lot of his influence from the legitimacy granted to him by his local and federal government. He is given access to information and personnel that a world hero wouldn’t get. In part because it is expected that his loyalty will be, primarily if not solely, to the United States. Stepping out of his country jeopardizes this. It makes his ability to work in the world’s (for now) premier economy more difficult. It’s one thing for the US to overlook the fact that Hawkman (one of them) was a native Thanagarian. They can sort of grand him a visa or even citizenship informally (it’s sitting at the social security office, if he cares to pick it up!). It’s different to do so with someone that has specifically and publicly renounced their citizenship. And even if they were willing to overlook this, and they might because he’s Superman, the more deference they give him, the more of an “American” he is likely to be considered to be. Not wrongly, he would be seen as an agent of the American government, as he is now. It’s not just his citizenship which would lead Iran (and others) to believe he is an agent of the US feds. It’s his relationship. He’ll have to do more than surrender his citizenship. He’ll have to surrender his relationship.

By not having anyone to report to, he does more than free himself up from constraints. He makes himself an outsider.

There have been times, in Superman’s past, where he has dabbled with this role. Things have generally not turned out particularly well. When trying to deliver food to third world countries, he essentially had the option of either giving the food to dictators to be distributed among their people (or, more likely, not distributed) or essentially going to war against said dictators. What does Superman really hope to accomplish in Tehran? As powerful as he is, what can he do that the combined forces of the United States military cannot? I’m sure the answer to that is that he can stand as a symbol for truth, justice, and a third quality to be named later (freedom, probably). But he would be doing so, if not as an American, as an outsider. A westerner. A non-Muslim. Success in that arena is far from assured – and the attempt comes at a pretty steep price.

The relationship between nations and their superheroes was explored in Wildstorm’s The Authority series. Told from the superheroes’ point of view (and Wildstorm’s treatment of the government, dating back to the Clinton administration, is that it is essentially a criminal enterprise), the results were somewhat harrowing from the perspective of the average citizen. With the collection of superheroes being more powerful than the federal government, neither had much leverage over the other. And they dug in their heels. And eventually, The Authority formed its own government. As flawed as our government might be (in that world, and our own), there is at least a modicum of accountability that does not exist when the world must bend to what superpowered beings think is right.

No doubt Superman knows this and does not have imperial ambitions. But it does go back to the notion that he will be dealing with the same diplomatic constraints that the US government has. Even if we were to grant that the United States government deals internationally in a charitable fashion without its own interests primarily in mind, it’s unclear as to what we would be able to do. Just as it is unclear – even in a world where green rings grant you the ability to fly and a chemical bath makes you run real fast – what Superman would be able to do. Even if, and this is a big if, the powers that be abroad choose not to simply view Superman as an American anyway.

-{This comment is an extrapolation of a comment made on OTB}-


Category: Theater

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3 Responses to Superman Goes Global, Renounces Citizenship

  1. Abel says:

    Demand for comics is not what it what was. This is simply a marketing move to get more people interested in the series — nothing more, nothing less.

  2. trumwill says:

    Though I do think that’s a motive, I think that there’s more to it than that. Otherwise, there are other things that they could have done.

  3. Maria says:

    It’s an example of how multiculturalism and globalism are eroding traditional American culture, and it pisses me off to read this very much.

    I won’t watch any of these movies, anymore than I’d watch a movie depicting Abraham Lincoln as a “global superstar.” It’s bullshit with a capital B. The rest of the world can design their own comic book superheroes; they don’t need to leech off of ours. What’s the problem with the rest of the world that they can’t creat their own freakin’ pop culture anyways?

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