Superman is officially moving on from, “Truth, Justice and the American Way.” The iconic motto is getting an official update for the first time in decades, according to an announcement from Jim Lee, Chief Creative Officer and Publisher at DC, during the DC FanDome event on Saturday, October 16th, 2021. The updated “mission statement” for the Man of Steel is now, “Truth, Justice and a Better Tomorrow.”
According to Lee, the iconic motto of Superman is “evolving” from the well-known mantra to represent changing values in an increasingly global society. In a press statement released to Variety, the company said the decision is meant:
“To better reflect the storylines that we are telling across DC and to honor Superman’s incredible legacy of over 80 years of building a better world, Superman’s motto is evolving. Superman has long been a symbol of hope who inspires people, and it is that optimism and hope that powers him forward with this new mission statement.”
Superman has followed several mantras since he was first introduced in 1938’s Action Comics #1 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, all of which include the words “truth” and “justice” as central to the iconic hero’s identity. But it wasn’t until the Adventures of Superman radio serial in the 1940s that the motto, “truth and justice,” was officially codified as the Man of Steel’s battle cry to support American military efforts in World War II. As comic book historians have noted, it wasn’t until Cold War paranoia in the 1950s that DC made the decision to also codify the phrase “and the American way” as part of the character’s official motto in the Adventures of Superman television series that ran from 1952 to 1958.
Although, in the 1960s, the motto shifted to, “truth, justice and freedom,” on the kids cartoon series, The New Adventures of Superman that ran from 1966 to 1970, soon afterwards, the “American Way” version of the motto was revived by the most well-known Superman adaptation to date starring the late Christopher Reeve starred as Clark Kent in 1978’s Superman, cementing the phrase a part of popular culture lexicon for decades. However, since then, the “American Way” part of the motto has fallen out of favor as American comic books have become a global commodity. Only eight months ago, DC Comics published Batman/Superman #16 by Gene Luen Yang and Ivan Reis, which presented a different version of Superman’s mantra, “Truth, Tolerance and Justice.” According to the creative team, the new mission statement was a homage to an earlier mission statement from Clark Kent’s father back in 1948.
Reflecting this shift, Superman’s newest motto, “A Better Tomorrow,” better supports the Man of Steel’s new role as a global hero, who fights for all people. The new mission statement comes only weeks after DC announced that Jon Kent – Superman’s son, who also wears the iconic “S” shield – is bisexual. The announcement has drawn negative reaction from both right-wing pundits and people unfamiliar with how comic book narrative works, and it’s hard to not read DC’s decision to have the head of its publishing company officially announce Superman’s new inclusive motto as a pointed statement that the Man of Steel titles will continue to explore new stories from the perspective of diverse characters that are more representative of the world’s melting pot.