Superman, All-American Hero
Gary Engle describes Superman as the ultimate American, Superman is the greatest American hero (Engle, 677). After reading three comic books I notice an occurring theme of wanting to protect what is good, even though the comic books chosen span over eleven years. Several distinct things to Supermans personality are his cape, the respect he has for others, the respect others have for him, his intelligence, his protection of all life and what is right, his origin, and the sacrifices he makes. Superman is considered to be the greatest American hero of all time.
The Superman epic has gone on for years and years; yet the story line has always remained the same:
The core of American myth is Superman consists of a few basic facts that remain unchanged throughout the infinitely varied ways in which the myth is told facts with which everyone is familiar, however marginal their knowledge of the story. Superman is an orphan rocketed to Earth when his native planet Krypton explodes; he lands near Smallville and is adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who inculcate in him their American middle-class ethic; as an adult he migrates to Metropolis there he defends America no, the world! no, the universe from all evil and harm while playing a romantic game in which, as Clark Kent, he hopelessly pursues Superman, who remains aloof until such time as Lois proves worthy of him by falling in live with his feigned identity as a weakling. Thats it. (Engle, 678).
This is the same in any tale of Superman, the same occurring theme. This adds character to Superman, and explains why he is so all-American.
Firstly, Superman is an alien, to the United States and to the world. But is he really that different from you and me? We are all descended from people who were immigrants to America. Engle writes: All Americans have immediate sense of their origins elsewhere (Engle, 678). So doesnt it make sense that everyone that fights or works for our natural freedoms are aliens, the soldiers, the doctors, the teachers, and Superman himself? Like the peoples of the nation whose values he defends, Superman is an alien (Engle, 678). Like all aliens the reason for coming to this country is to make something better of ones self. Where one may run any kind of business they please and not worry about someone else intervening because they simply can. Superman fights for these inalienable rights to live and prosper.
Superman is a very respected and respectful person. He is the calmest person there is, even in the most extreme conditions. One example is in comic book Superman: Superman and the Spirit of America, 178, March 2002. Superman is confronted by another superhero named Uncle Sam. Superman is in Smallville for the opening of his adopted parents new business. As he is about to leave another superhero hits him in the face because of corrupted thoughts put into his mind by Supermans enemy Lex Luthor, who also happens to be president at the time. Instead of beating him to death with his vastly superior powers he uses what Uncle Sam is mad at him for and uses it against the conflict. Superman still refers to Uncle Sam as sir. After the conflict is resolved in a discussion they go off to talk more about important things that makes them want to be superheroes. Superman said When I heard you speak the words you chose. The phrases. Alien Codes of noninterference. That wasnt you. Worse, thats not American. (Loeb, 17). This is something Uncle Sam called him during the battle, and then they discussed how the strength of America comes from all cultures, even aliens. Then they talked about how by being a superhero one is obligated to do the right thing, no matter how difficult it may seem to be sometimes.
In an older issue Superman: Truth Justice and the American Way!, 53,March 1991, he is faced with a conflict more so with the United States military. The plot starts off how he has to transport a corrupt president of Quarac to justice in the American court for terrorist activities against the US. Superman has a personal grievance with this man because he has attacked Metropolis before and killed innocent lives; Superman basically wants to kill this person. But as the all-American who does what is right he takes the mission to transport this person putting his personal grievances aside. He puts aside his personal grievances because his priority lies in completing a mission for his country, which shows his acknowledgement of duty for his country. After he is transported to the US several attempts on their lives have been made because this person was wanted dead. One of the people involved was a government official. Because of Supermans intelligence he was able to see this before the journey and had a decoy set up so that the real prisoner was not being attacked. When they finally get to his destination another government official said that they have been tracking this person for a while. This made Superman mad because they have been tracking their activities for so long and made no attempt to do anything because they wanted evidence for a trial. In the mean time lives were lost. General: Youve done your patriotic duty to end this chapter! Your country owes you a dept of gratitude. Superman: I believe in everything this flag stands for but as Superman, I have to be a citizen of the world. (Janke). Its an inspirational thing when a general tells you the country owes you some thanks, Superman takes pride in helping the United States even though he technically works for everyone of the world. When he left the room everyone was saying to one another what a great guy he was and how he always does the right thing. So Superman doesnt let the government corrupt his ideals, of not killing innocent lives, even though he feels very strongly for the government. Although Superman feels this way to everyone he feels especially obligated to protect those citizens of the United States of America. Superman shows his concern when he says: How many acts of terrorism has Qurac launched in six months time, general? How many innocent people were killed with American money and weapons. Super believes in the nation he defends and believes that American should be a strongest nation and the least compliant with terrorist organizations.
In the issue Superman: The Death of Superman, 75, Jan. 1993, Superman and his importance is expressed in a way it never has been before. The cover alone is symbolic for the defeat of our nations greatest hero. Supermans cape was what made him the man. Superman was strictly beefcake in tights, looking more like a circus acrobat then the ultimate Man of Steel (Engle, 684). Engle even calls his cape angels wings (Engle, 684). Also many times you see Superman standing with a background of the American flag with his cape flapping around. You can say that his cape is a symbol of our American flag. The cover of this issue shows his cape on a stick, like a flag, torn to shreds in a large pile of rubble. This picture alone shows how important the fall of Superman, Americas hero, is.
Throughout the entire battle we know either him of the enemy, Doomsday, will have to fall. Superman was not going to give up because then one more life would be lost, and this to Superman was unspeakable. His opponent was stronger and faster then him; yet this did not stop him from battle because the stake of innocent lives was at risk. The hopelessness that people saw when they saw their hero being beaten left them in awe. During the battle a soldier says How can we handle this guy when Superman cant? (Breeding, 2). Superman is the strongest asset to the human race. Even though Superman himself is not human he stands for humanity. He is the protector of human life. Even though people know they would have no effect in stopping the beast they kept trying so that they can help Superman in the way he is helping them. When Superman falls Lois, a mere human, runs to his rescues risking her life without thought, because Superman would have done the same for her. In this comic they mention how He never kills anyone, its not his way. But in order to protect people he must kill this beast, or try to until his own demise. When he finally found Doomsdays weakness he exploited it to kill it. The final few blows where so earth shattering that the entire area was destroyed from just the shockwaves alone. Superman did not flee because he knew that if he did Doomsday could regenerate and roam the city with destruction at its fingertips. Superman refuses to quit and perseveres, like any other real American would have done, to stand up and fight for what he/she believes in.
Superman finally kills the creature but in the process end up dying himself. This is the sacrifice Superman makes for his people: he loses his life and his true love Lois. But it was all worth it in his eyes because he was protector of his nation. Superman had many things going for him, his invincibility against the humans, his strength, and most of all his love for Lois Lane. Superman could have easily fled and would have never been seen or herd from again. But to him America was worth his sacrifice of everything he has, including his life. Any true American is expected to sacrifice his life for his country.
Superman is an astonishing being. His self-sacrifice presents an ideal of what any soldier should do for his country. His politeness is an ideal for how every person should behave. His ability not to overreact is an example of what to be like in a dangerous situation. Superman is a glorified all-American and would do anything for the people. He goes beyond the call of duty to make life easier on at least one other person. Without a doubt everyone should know why Superman is considered the greatest American hero of all time.Words
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