Superman is an alien.

And the new Superman movie Man of Steel never lets us forget it. In fact, the entire movie is about how Superman is an alien and an outsider. A large chunk of the intro is set on his alien home planet Krypton, and for the first half of the movie the hero is a mysterious bearded man traipsing around the country in flannel under an assumed name and disappearing after raising eyebrows or ire over some superhuman feat or other.

Frankly this first half of the film was the better half.  Intermixed with scenes from a bullied outcast childhood, the first half of the movie reinstates the memory of Superman’s origins as an alien, created by American outsiders.

It’s shockingly something that we often forget when we think of Superman. He’s too much the “American hero”, and decades of his morally upstanding heroics and that freaking perfect hair have created a pretty effective amnesia of his Kryptonian heritage in all but the most dedicated comics fans.

But, indeed, Superman is an alien, an alien created by two young, bullied Jewish kids, the sons of immigrants, growing up between two wars in the 1930s – Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. (Check out Jay Dietcher‘s  great series  “With Great Chutzpah Comes Great Responsibility” for more on the fascinating history of comics and the influence of Jewish creators).

As war sent young American boys overseas, Superman went on to become the iconic American hero…

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