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Truth, Justice and the American Way: Searching for America’s Superman

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In 2012, there will be a new Superman film. Christopher Nolan, the visionary director of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, will produce a fresh take on the Man of Steel. Zach Snyder, director of 300 and Watchmen, will direct. This will be the first major introduction to the character in over thirty years. And I can’t help but wonder what will change.

Looking back at the Richard Donner Superman film of 1978, we remember an enjoyable, but also an almost cheesy, generally light-hearted Superman who claimed to stand for “truth, justice and the American way.” Ironically, much of the film was not shot in the United States.

It’s difficult to imagine how a character with such American-inspired patriotic zeal could resonate today. Although, the times weren’t terribly different in many ways. A Democrat named Jimmy Carter was president, the nation was in the middle of an energy crisis, gas prices were high. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Of course, two years after the release of Superman: The Movie, the nation elected Ronald Reagan and ushered in a period of economic prosperity.

But as much as I appreciate the enormous talent of Nolan and Snyder, I highly doubt that the new film will play on the traditionally patriotic aspect of the iconic comic book hero. Why is that? Is patriotism not cool? Has America become jaded and unaware of the positive impact it has had on the world since its inception?

The problem seems to be that America finds itself in a position where it is afraid to believe in heroes. And I’m not just talking about mythical comic book heroes with superhuman powers. Heroes like Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, or George Washington seem harder and harder to find. And even if we had that kind of a hero or leader, their most minor flaws or defects would be front page news, causing our hopes to sink even lower.

America needs a Superman in the worst of ways. No, not an alien sent from the planet Krypton who draws power from Earth’s yellow sun, but leaders who will stand up for “truth, justice, and the American way.” And as a nation, we need to get out of their way and support them. We need leaders who will restore optimism and real hope. These don’t have to be elected officials, but they must believe in America’s greatness, goodness and potential.

Maybe it’ll be a president. Maybe it’ll be a preacher who makes waves. It could be business owner who helps his or her community. In 2011, the 1978 version of Superman might seem a little cheesy. But if cheesy is what it takes to restore a positive reflection on the American dream, then I’m hoping that cheesy makes a comeback.

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About Braden

  • John Lake

    Who could ever forget Clark (Superman) Kent. He was a big, big part of my youth.
    How challenging to consider the potential for a rebirth, as you have in your article! I wish I could write a book. Perhaps a truly great play that would shake society to its core.
    When Barack makes a call to Saudi Arabia, with little fan-fare, and parties agree that the Saudi’s will increase their oil supply during the current emergency, we might be looking at some hero-ism.
    I really like that book idea!

  • Arch Conservative

    It sure as hell isn’t going to be Barack Obama. It also won’t be any of the GOP nominees in 2012 or any other mainstream politician.

    In the USA in 2011 a hero is someone who stands up and tells the truth, no matter how ugly it is.

    The only man I’ve see with any sort of national recognition who has done this and who truly cares about this nation is Ron Paul.

    But most Americans are become too stupid, lazy, niave, greedy, selfish, apathetic, jaded (take your pick) to stand up a make this a great nation once again.

    It’s more likely that the slide into the great dark abyss will only accelerate over time.

    There is no hope.

    There is only the unholiest of all unions, the marriage of business and the state, which will swallow all.

    My advice?

    Smoke’em if you got’em.

  • http://www.dorksandlosers.com Tan The Man

    Are things really that bad that we need to be looking for Superman? If people, especially elected officials, stopped looking out for themselves and truly thought about others for even a second, America would be so much better off. And that doesn’t apply to just USA.