Last year, in April 2011, America lost one of its greatest heroes. In a heated meeting at the United Nations, Superman (aka Clark Kent) stood before the world and renounced his U.S. citizenship. "The world's too small. Too connected," he argued.
And so it was that the orphaned Kryptonian stopped fighting for the American Way.
This is the story told in Action Comics #900. But why must fighting for the American Way symbolize a limited worldview?
Real American heroes and American audiences understand why we fight for freedom. They understand that our country’s fundamental liberties are human rights that must be protected at home and abroad.
Superman was wrong to assume that fighting for American ideals limited his destiny as a hero.
Although Superman’s signature phrase has been edited down to "Truth and Justice," it doesn’t mean that America is without heroes. So why don’t more stories of patriotism and civic duty, like what Superman used to stand for, exist – even when we have proof that American heroism succeeds at the box office?
February’s "Act of Valor" is already one of the more successful action films in recent years; with a production budget of only $12 million, it has grossed $60 million. This film tells a true story of how real life servicemen protect our citizens.
It is heartening that a film about real red-blooded Americans fighting for real freedoms succeeds with today’s audiences.
The now-removed part of Superman’s slogan, “The American Way,” is what the movie "Act of Valor" is all about; it’s about the civic faith that supports the very ideals our country was founded on: freedom and liberty for all.
Superman’s dismissal of this principled brand of heroism parallels how many stories today dismiss the American part of American hero. In doing so, they neglect the very fact that it is this civic faith, and those patriotic principles, which inspire heroism in the first place.
Without American ideals, heroes would not exist. And without these brave heroes, our country would not survive.
The quality of entertainment coming out of Hollywood is the highest it’s ever been. The visual effects, the storylines and the use of new technologies all enhance storytelling to levels never before imagined. Going to the movies to see animated films, 3D adventures or crisp, well composed dramas has never been as satisfying. For every great film about a super-human "Captain America," it would be inspiring to American citizens, our troops and our children, to see another film like "Act of Valor."
Next month, as we mourn the anniversary of losing the American Superman, perhaps we can be reminded of the super men and women who defend our country. They are still out there, fighting for Truth, Justice and, yes, the American Way.
Daniel Kessler is the co-founder and President of Cherry Tree -- an American values children’s entertainment company.