Clark Kent's introduction as Superman in 1941's Action Comics #1 has its roots based in America's culture. In the 40s, the American Dream was still achievable, and the red and blue Kryptonian stood for that. However, DC's iconic superhero has been a worldwide figure for decades now, and amid the issues of modern-day America, it’s clear that the hero stands for something much greater.
Finally, DC is recognising the larger scope of Superman. After fighting villains not just worldwide, but universes away, it's time to distance the hero from the U.S of A. In a new development, DC has done just that.
DC removes The American Way from Superman slogan
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, DC Chief Creative Officer and Publisher Jim Lee revealed Superman’s new motto. Instead of the decades-old “Truth, Justice and the American Way”, Superman fights for “Truth, Justice and a Better Tomorrow.”
Lee explained that the motto is evolving to “better reflect the storylines that we are telling across DC”. The hero is a “symbol of hope who inspires people, and it is that optimism”. In the modern day, that optimism reaches far more than just Americans.
Criticism of the classic motto
Superman’s adherence to “The American Way” has been criticised for as long as its been attached to the character. Clark Kent is an immigrant and a lot of his stories have revolved around his struggles fitting into Western society. Superman has been othered for decades, in positive and negative ways.
Superman's status as an American immigrant was tested in 2011’s Action Comics #900. In the commemorative issue, the Kryptonian renounced his American citizenship to distance himself from American politics.
Clark Kent’s small-boy-from-Kansas appeal is undoubtedly rural Americana. However, that doesn't mean he has to agree with America, and he often hasn't. Furthermore, Superman, a hero of acceptance, can't speak for a country that can't grow. In modern day America, there’s no dream, there's no “way”. So, Superman stands for a better tomorrow, one that America will hopefully one day reach.