April 28, 2011 4:12pm PT by Tim Appelo
Superman Renounces U.S. Citizenship as Warners, DC Comics Bids for Global Audiences
The Internet is abuzz over this week's 900th issue of Action Comics, in which Superman says, "I am renouncing my US citizenship." After officials criticize him for joining a million protesters in a peaceful anti-Ahmadinejad vigil in Iran, he reflects, "I'm tired of having my actions construed as instruments of US policy. 'Truth, Justice and the American Way' -- it's not enough anymore. The world's too small. Too connected."
"This is absolutely sickening," commented one reader on Foxnews.com. "We are now down to destroying all American Icons. How are we going to survive as a Nation?" Swamp Fox Press blogged, "Bleep Superman. I urge a boycott of Warner Brothers, all DC franchises, and particularly Superman." The conservative Weekly Standard called Superman's citizenship renunciation "about the dumbest thing DC Comics could do."
Not necessarily. It's part of a thoughtful plan to rebrand Superman in an entertainment universe that is indeed smaller than it was 899 issues ago. When Superman Returns changed his famous slogan to "Truth, justice, and all that other stuff" in 2006, coscreenwriter Dan Harris told THR, "He's an international superhero." It's even more important to be international these days, when the market is so global that some tentpole movies (most recently Thor) open abroad before they do in the US. GI Joe went from a "Real American Hero" to an acronym for "Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity."
What's next? Will Superman change his name to Stalin -- which also means "man of steel?" Probably not. But this summer's Captain America: The First Avenger will drop Captain America from the title in Russia, Ukraine, and South Korea. And it's no accident that both Superman's renunciation episode in Action #900 and the forthcoming film Man of Steel, set to shoot this summer, are written by David S. Goyer. "They intended this to be a political statement, but it is really a slap in the face of the American identity," claims Swamp Fox Press. "Show me any one country that has done more for the world than America."
Actually, it's more about what the world can do for an American movie company. "I've been thinking too small," Superman says in the comic. His business plan, however, has gone global.