Post-American superheroes in an age of new nations

Exhibit A: Captain America, standing tall and unashamed of his name. (CC-Photo by yum9me, via flickr)

These days, when there is much talk about the new nation of Southern Sudan (its birthday is expected to be tomorrow!), a potential Palestinian state, and the re-introduction of border posts in Europe (not to mention our dear German chancellor who’s toying with national stereotypes), I find it increasingly difficult to get excited about the idea that we might be entering a truly  cosmopolitan, „post-nationalist“ era any time soon. The only ones who are still truly post-nationalist are American superheroes.

Well, at least that’s the impression I got reading in a New York Times blog that „Captain America“, once invented to defend the United States against nazism and now a star in a major Hollywood production, will be re-named for marketing purposes in Russia, Ukraine and South Korea. In these countries, „Captain America“ won’t be called „Captain America“ but rather „The First Avenger.“ Apparently, executives are afraid that these three countries‘ perceived anti-American sentiments could otherwise keep people from wanting to see the movie. According to the NYT blog post, it’s not the first time something like this happens:

In 2006, a nervous Warner Brothers changed the well-known Superman line “truth, justice and the American way” to “truth, justice and all that stuff” in “Superman Returns.” Paramount dropped the tagline “A Real American Hero” for its 2009 film about G.I. Joe, replacing it with “The Rise of Cobra“.

Also, we shouldn’t forget that just recently, Superman renounced his American citizenship (a scan of the comic panel can also be seen here). Which, in a way, was also part of a marketing plot, though one deeply embedded in the comic’s narrative, as Superman’s writers have him say:

I’m tired of having my actions construed as instruments of U.S. policy.

All of this seems a bit retro, though,  a bit Obama 2008 („I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as … a fellow citizen of the world“ — yeah, right). But maybe that’s perfectly fine, as today post-nationalist, cosmopolitan theorizing might be in utter need of some consolidation and support from post-American superheroes.

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