SUPERMAN EXCLUSIVE: Mark Waid, Marc Guggenheim and Al Gough Weigh in on the American Citizenship "Controversy"

The biggest story last week in the world of the Man of Steel was the character's denouncing of his American citizenship. Lots of points of view have been expressed, and we've got those of Marc Guggenheim, Al Gough and Mark Waid.

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By EdGross - 5/2/2011
Based purely on a character front, the fact that this story has generated the kind of "controversy" that it has does seem a little bit surprising as Superman has long seen himself as a servant to humanity rather than a tool of the U.S. government (Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns not withstanding). That's the important thing to bear in mind: in the Action Comics #900 story by David Goyer, Superman was NOT somehow denouncing this country as so many people have construed, but, instead, is emphasizing that his role as hero is global.

In some ways, the character said it best himself in the one highlight from Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, when he addressed the United Nations.



Rather than focus on what they're saying on various news organizations, we turned to a few people immersed in the world of superheroes and/or the Man of Steel to get their feeling about the announcement.

Mark Waid, whose comic credits are far too extensive to list here, but who does count among them the maxi-series Superman Birthright, muses, "I thought it was a well-intentioned but, through no one's fault, badly timed message. I see what the writer was going for, but our country is so angirly divided right now as it's been in my lifetime, and I fear that the message will get -- has gotten -- buried in all the rage."

Al Gough, the co-creator of Smallville, sees the move considerably more negatively. "This sounds like a callous marketing ploy by a large entertainment conglomerate to make a classic American character more appealing to a world wide audience," he opines. "The international box office on most superhero films is equal to, or below the domestic gross (see Spidey, Iron Man,even Dark Knight). Compare that to the grosses of other blockbusters (Harry Potter, Transformers) where the international BO is twice as big as domestic grosses. Btw, The international gross on the last Superman film was $50 million below the domestic. There is nothing 'creative' about this big announcement or additive to the cannon, its all about business."

Marc Guggenheim, who, besides his comics credits has co-written this summer's feature film version of Green Lantern, wryly notes, "It was news to me that he had American citizenship to announce. I doubt that Jonathan and Martha legally adopted him -- and even if they tried, it would be fraudulent since I doubt they disclosed his birthplace -- so Superman has always been an illegal alien --literally."

Let the debate continue!
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6 Comments
jazzman - 5/2/2011, 3:57 AM
sorry but F**K Off Al Gough, u guys at Smallville been hurting the character with your stupid ideas. Superman has and always been a international character. yes he lives in America but he fight for justice around the world.

the main reason why Superman Returns did not do well cause Bryan Singer did not do anything interesting with the character he was not a fan of the comics he was just a fan of Donner Superman. people want to see a superhero vs a supervillian not a superhero just lifting things throughout the movie and thats what Superman Returns did.
BlindLemonShemp - 5/2/2011, 4:00 AM
great article! especially the inclusion of the scene from Superman IV.. which was always for me Superman's defining big screen moment... to hell with the flying.. that speech was what made him larger than life
AC1 - 5/2/2011, 4:02 AM
Bad timing by DC, Superman doesn't get to boast about Osama's death like the rest of his friends! Batman would have a field day!
Mark Guggenheim summed up what I think of it, Superman's an alien, although he WAS granted honorary citizenship by the USA, he doesn't really need it, as long as he can go home at the end of the day as Clark Kent, who DOES have US citizenship, then whats the big deal? Times change, and people move on.
Amazo - 5/2/2011, 4:03 AM
@Jazzman
Well put bro :)
Facade - 5/2/2011, 4:04 AM
Bottom line, DC allowed his legal adoption because they acknowledged his citizenship and then renounced it. The real world particulars don't apply in those regards because it's a comicbook, but the real world fallout from an obvious marketing mistake will, though. Badly timed to say the least.
homer4858 - 5/2/2011, 4:07 AM