For the longest time Superman has always been the defender of Truth, Justice and the American Way. Even for some people who only know of Supes from his origin story, those three phrases have been as staple to his character as “I am vengeance, I am the night, I am Batman!” is to the Caped Crusader.
Well as of Action Comics #900, Superman has dropped the “American Way” of his list of things to defend. In his words, “Truth, Justice and the American Way, it’s not enough anymore.”
In the storyline of this comic, Superman wants to get involved in the current revolutions in the Middle East, but he is stopped because it would cause an international incident. Because Superman more or less represents America, his involvement would overcomplicate the U.S. stance on the matter. Superman, who never turns his back on people in trouble, say this line, implying that he wants to do more for the people of Earth as a whole.
As comic book fan and a Superman fan, I am perfectly fine with this change. I have always found it strange that America claimed Superman as their own. It made sense in the 1940’s and 1950’s to some extent as Superman represented America the best in those decades. Idealistic, strong, always willing to do what’s right, always willing to help others, etc.
But times change. Americans have become more jaded, best shown in the embrace of Batman and other dark and gritty superheroes. Superman though as stayed the same, which is in no way a bad thing. He has just broadened his scope. In many comics recently, Superman shown fighting more intergalactic threats like Darkseid and Mongol. I really have not seen him do anything that really screams “American Way” Superman’s recent battles scream more “The way of Earth” or something like that.
I have always felt that Superman is citizen of Earth and that he stands for the good that lies in all of us, not just Americans. What Superman is cannot be claimed by just one country.
If you want a hero to represent America alone, look at Captain America.
Superman represents us all.