COMIC LEGEND: The famous Superman phrase “truth, justice and the American way” did not originally contain the part about “the American Way.”
There was a little bit of controversy over the seemingly pointed omission of the term “the American Way” in the phrase “Truth, Justice and the American Way” in the recent Superman film, Superman Returns.
The phrase has become ingrained in the world of popular culture through its use in the popular Adventures of Superman television series which ran from 1952-1958, where it was part of the opening of every episode:
Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! (“Look! Up in the sky!” “It’s a bird!” “It’s a plane!” “It’s Superman!”)… Yes, it’s Superman … strange visitor from another planet, who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men! Superman … who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way! And now, another exciting episode, in The Adventures of Superman!
However, when the “never-ending battle for…” phrase originally appeared, it was in the popular Adventures of Superman radio series that ran from 1940-1951
And there, the introduction went:
Yes, it’s Superman–strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman–defender of law and order, champion of equal rights, valiant, courageous fighter against the forces of hate and prejudice, who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth and justice.
That basic opening (“a never-ending battle for truth and justice”) was later used in 1941 for the acclaimed Fleischer Studios Superman animated serials…
It was not until the middle of 1942, with the United States firmly entrenched in World War II that the term “the American Way” was added to the opening of the series. But later in the decade, by the time the war ended, it was dropped once again.
But the TV series picked it up, and that has become the way the phrase has been known ever since (Christopher Reeve even explicitly says it in the 1978 Superman film). Now you know, though, that omitting “the American Way” is only taking the phrase back to its origins!
Thanks to International Herald Tribune’s Erik Lundegaard and the great Mark Waid for the information!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
As you likely know by now, in April of last year my book came out!
Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…
If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…
See you all next week!
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