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Is Superman an American Character?

Although Superman was created by Jewish immigrants Stiegel and Shuster, Superman represents an American character. During the early twentieth century, numerous immigrants traveled to America, which represented the story of Superman. He could have been seen as an immigrant because he was orphaned and sent to earth from the planet Krypton. One of the major themes of Superman that makes him an American character is the movement that strayed away from the frontier and more towards an urban lifestyle. The concept of the frontier became replaced by urbanization as industrialization during the Gilded Age changed American society. Superman represented this transformation when he moved out of the farm and into the city. He demonstrated what Americans were going through during this time period, making him an ideal American character.

Superman was also born during a time when superheroes became popular and American society started to look up to real life superheroes, such as sport stars. As entertainment and popular culture grew, Americans, especially the middle-class, desired and respected certain people that they deemed as ideal. Superman resembled that ideal American character that could overcome great obstacles, but still remain humble using a duo-identity. He remained a character that demonstrated how Americans saw themselves even though he was born during one of the most difficult periods in American history. He symbolized the American Dream, which also went along with values of Americans. Superman embodied the values that society valued during the thirties, fighting justice for everyone not matter how old or small. As society transformed throughout each decade, it was evident that Superman experienced similar transformations.

The first couple of Superman comics set the atmosphere of the American society during the thirties. It is evident that Hitler was seen as a threat, even before the U.S. entered the war. As society changed, the story of Superman also changed. It became hard to create stories since he was invincible therefore new attributes were added to Clark. Clark Kent became more relatable to people. He was humble, kind, and seen as the opposite of Superman. Even as superheroes began to die out in American culture, Superman remained a hero associated with America and embodied American values still admired today.

Superman remains the American archetype globally. I believe that he has remained one of the most important comic book characters, otherwise, people would have stopped talking about him and he would have disappeared like so many other superheroes. He has developed into a character that is more relatable to society and has globally become a symbol of the American culture.


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