Volunteer writer, Callum Jones, sheds light onto the news of the new Superman’s sexuality and what impact it will have.
Superman – an iconic staple of popular culture that has lasted for over 80 years. All around the world the ‘S’ symbol coloured by the red and blue of the US flag is instantly recognised. In the past, the character was synonymous with patriotism and strength, fighting for “truth, justice and the American Way!” However, with the recent change of the popular catchphrase, “Truth. Justice. And a Better Tomorrow”, it almost seems like a significant change for the Superman character should have been expected.
With the growing interest in inclusivity and representation, publishers DC Comics have flipped the script on one of their apex super-heroes by confirming he is bisexual, accompanied by an image of him kissing a man. The caveat is that this is not actually the traditional Superman. Instead of Clark Kent, this is his son, Jon Kent, who is replacing his father as the flagship Man of Steel.
This follows the announcements that existing character Tim Drake AKA Robin, as well as a new character taking over the identity of Captain America, also becoming a part of the LGBTQ community. Whilst we can see this as positive progress towards more diverse representation in mainstream popular culture, there are some that criticise the decisions.
Some argue the point of tokenism (DC trying to keep up with the times) and pandering to specific audiences; that these decisions are not made for the benefit of the characters, story or even audiences, but as a publicity stunt and method of increasing sales in a ‘woke’ culture. Actor Dean Cain (who portrayed Superman in the 1990s television show alongside Teri Hatcher) accused DC of “band-wagoning” and that the decision is not “bold or brave or some crazy new direction.”
Superman has long been considered the embodiment of stereotypical masculinity but, perhaps more positively, this stereotype will now be challenged and a broader, more culturally diverse message can be communicated to the wider audience. However, when evaluating its impact, the comic-book industry is hardly as influential as its film and TV counterparts, where most super-heroes or leading characters, still retain the traditional heterosexual, hyper-masculine archetype.
Nevertheless, the media attention and predominantly positive feedback on this revelation shows just how far society has come and demonstrates a significant step towards inclusivity. Superman can now be a hero to even more people and fulfil his new motto of a “Better Tomorrow.”
Edited by Uchenna Omo-Bamawo, Label Entertainment Editor
Header designed by Beatrice Fong, Assistant Head of Design