The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Superman’s a Brit. Hear, Hear!

Written by: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer

I feel like I’m addressing a straw man before I even start, but here goes: I think it’s great that a Brit has been cast as Superman.

Let me explain why I think I’m addressing a straw man. In browsing a few online message boards, I saw some resistance to the idea of The Tudors’ Henry Cavill being cast as that most American of icons. Here’s one of the more cogent responses I ran across:



Superman is a tale of American Exceptionalism. Yes, I’m skeptical that a man from Britain can harass that attitude and be a force. Hugh Lurie wasn’t asked to pretend that he isn’t a right bastard. Christian Bale wasn’t asked to drap himself in the colors of the U.S.

Superman for all intents and purposes wears the American Flag as a costume. There’s a significance to that.

Now, despite that complaint – and many other, far more vulgar complaints – scores of fans have praised Zach Snyder’s choice, noting that a Brit already plays Batman, and Andrew Garfield (our new Peter Parker) is also British.

So while I don’t think the mandatory, obnoxious, kneejerk resistance to Cavill’s casting is a big deal, I want to underline how great I personally think it is that a Brit landed the role, and my feelings are embodied in one American ideal:

We are a nation of immigrants, and Superman is an immigrant.

In Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight returns, the eminent comic-book writer emphasizes Superman’s immigrant status in a memorable scene where Man of Steel stops a nuclear bomb and must absorb sun-energy from a flower:

After a lightning bolt smashes him to the ground as he tries to make it to the sun: Superman: “Though I was born a galaxy away…I have always served you. The same power…the sun’s power…fuels us both. You hold it…here…you store it…I beg you…for a suffering world…release it. Mother…Mother… (the jungle starts drying up and blowing away) You are…so generous. You give me…your beautiful jungle…I swear…Your adopted son will honor you.

The operative passage here is, “[Y]our adopted son will honor you.” In addition to his status as an immigrant to earth, the character’s roots extend deeply into the life of immigrants – Siegel and Schuster themselves being the children of Jewish immigrants.

That said, what about Cavill himself? He’s come close to landing the role before, and he also made it into the final rounds of casting to play Batman in Christopher Nolan’s reboots. He’s best known for his role on Showtime’s series The Tudors, and here he is in action:

Good scene, and I remain impressed that Snyder cast such an edgy-looking guy as Clark. I’m growing more and more excited about this project, and I’d love to hear some response in the comments.