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April 28, 2011

The Superman Renounces Citizenship Post

I see everyone's linking this. Okay, I'll play.

First of all, DC is careful to not tarnish the images of its core properties with politics. They're careful here too, looking for media hype, while not really damaging Superman as a liberal.

If you read his reasons for renouncing his citizenship, it doesn't cut any particular way politically. See if you can manage to find a consistent, standard politics here:

1. He was standing with, and in support of, Iranian protesters, who were, I guess, not being supported by the US government.

2. Iran, which we all know is bad, blamed the US government for Superman's appearance there, and construed it as an act of war.

3. Superman criticizes himself for not realizing that of course, as closely associated with America as he is, of course the Iranians would blame the US for that.

4. So to avoid complications for the US government, as well as for himself, he renounces his citizenship.

They played this game (smartly) with Iron Man, the movie, too, giving liberals a conclusion they might approve of while making the reasons for that conclusion muddled politically. Did Stark renounce weapons manufacture because weapons are bad, mmm'kay, or specifically because his own weapons were being secretly fed into the hands of terrorists by an unknown mole and being used against civilians and US troops, whom he loves?

Well, kind of the first one but circumstances suggest the second and the movie didn't clearly revolve whether this was a liberal ideological stance or a pragmatic non-ideological one.

It's a muddle. It probably should be a muddle, because when you're writing for a mass audience who doesn't really look to comic book stuff for their politics you probably just want to give the people what they want and not so much of what they don't want.

James Bond, sort of notoriously, went after SPECTRE in the movies because someone decided it must be too right-wing and jingoistic to go after SMERSH (the Soviets) as he had in most of the books.

Anyway, this seems to be a little attempt to grab some headlines, but they're cautious to not tarnish Superman with liberal politics any more than they already have (with the last failed reboot replacing "The American Way" with "and the other stuff" in the famous three-part code).

Is it an attempt to make Superman "politically relevant" in a way that is designed to appeal to liberal bien pensants? Yes, certainly.

But it's also contrived to the point of inauthenticity to not actually mean anything one way or another.

Meh.

The most interesting thing about Superman, Batman, and all the Disney characters, as far as politics, is how the government always extends copyright protection whenever these key corporate properties are going to lose IP protection.

Here's something else that's interesting. The creators of Superman have had a long, long legal argument with DC about who owns Superman, and if it was fair to pay Siegel and Shuster like $50 for Superman.

The Siegel family is still pressing an apparently neverending lawsuit against DC, and hopes to win the full rights to the character in 2013.

Now, if they get the character, they would presumably sell it for a huge pile of money, but to whom? Well, DC would obviously be interested in buying back their top (tied) property.

But then again, so would Disney, which now owns Marvel.

And Marvel could simply declare some kind of "reality shift" or "parallel universe collapse" and add Superman to the Marvel Universe, joining Spiderman and the rest as Marvel heroes.

Not sure what they'd do about Metropolis, since the Marvel Universe has avoided the Madeupopolis syndrome that was big at DC.

So, will Superman renounce DC? That's what I want to know.

Irony: DC famously sued Captain Marvel/Shazam! out of existence in like the 50s. And Captain Marvel was actually outselling his clear inspiration, Superman. Years later, DC bought the rights to the character whose career they had previously cut short via lawsuit and now he's in the DC stable. Sort of duplicating most of Superman's powers.

Anyway, DC (that last article I linked) is preparing for a possible departure of Superman, by creating fresh Kryptonian heroes who can fill in for Superman should he leave their stable.

But the oldest, best-known Superman-like character they have is Captain Marvel/Shazam!. He'd be the most obvious "new Superman."

So, if DC loses Superman to lawsuit, they'll replace him with a Superman knockoff they acquired via lawsuit.

Oh Wait: Captain Marvel is now non-infringing only because the same company owns the original character and the character a lawsuit found to be infringing.

If Superman and all rights thereto pass to the Siegel/Shuster families, that means... they could sue over Captain Marvel, alleging the same infringement DC once did. And DC would have to argue... Shazam was infringing when we had Superman but now that we don't he's not.

Eh. I am thinking way too much about this.


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posted by Ace at 02:59 PM

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