Dean Cain Talks “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” with Geeks + Gamers

While a new Superman prepares to take flight on the silver screen, the Superman of the 90s is still saving the day. Dean Cain, who played the Man of Steel and his alter ego, Clark Kent, on the TV series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, appeared on Geeks +Gamers Daily on the Geeks + Gamers YouTube channel today with comic book artist Gabe Eltaeb to discuss their new crowd-funded comic, Dean Cain: All-American Lawman. While on the show, Cain and Eltaeb discussed identity politics in superhero stories and the importance of Superman’s iconic promise to fight for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” You can see the clip below:

Dean Cain is right about “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” It’s something that, since its creation in the 1940s Superman radio serial, has become synonymous with Superman, declaring his mission statement as helping those in need and being a force for good in the world. It’s something that has, unsurprisingly, fallen out of fashion in the entertainment world, with the phrase either dropping “The American Way” or replacing it with, most recently, “A Better Tomorrow” (which is probably not a John Woo reference). But it – intentionally, of course – obfuscates that Superman is an American character, one who many see as a metaphor for the immigrant experience in the United States; how can you divorce that from patriotism? “The American Way” doesn’t mean Superman only cares for Americans; it means he wants to be a good American and care about his fellow man, wherever they’re from, be it another country or, like Superman, another planet. It’s also, as Cain explains, about “the rights of the individual over the state,” protecting people from those in power who would seek to rule them as they try to make a life for themself. That’s an American value, something that requires constant vigilance, and something it would be nice to have Superman defending in real life. His belief in the goodness of America is what informs that phrase, and the converse is the reason for its modern-day rejection by the entertainment powers that be. I love seeing Dean Cain fight for that phrase; his passion for his country is one of the reasons I’m grateful he was the Superman of my childhood.

Also, as true as Dean Cain’s other statements are, the most accurate thing he said in his Geeks + Gamers appearance is that Teri Hatcher is the greatest Lois Lane of all time. There have been some really good ones, but none half as good as she was.

Dean Cain, Teri Hatcher, Lois and Clark, Superman, Lois Lane

Ryan’s point about the clash in presenting racially or sexually diverse villains is right on, too. This is the problem with putting an agenda over the needs of a story and its characters. A diverse villain must not only be sympathetic but – in whatever roundabout way they can insinuate it – right, or at least less wrong than the forces that created him. The leader of the Flag-Smashers in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, for instance, is a woman, and Falcon seems to sympathize with her more than the innocent people she kills, defending her against the US politicians who call her a terrorist (which she is) and pointing the finger at the only ones trying to help disaffected people. This also becomes a problem for the stories themselves and the hero’s arc. Sticking with Ryan’s example of the MCU, look at Thor: Ragnarok. The villain, Hela, is a woman, and for the five minutes or so that she’s in the movie (that film is a mess), she’s an effective one. The problem is the notion that having a man defeat a woman in battle is “problematic,” so the logical climax of the movie – Thor using his newly discovered powers to defeat Hela – cannot be realized, and he effectively has no arc. (You can’t realize the power was in you all along when you don’t have the power to accomplish your goals.) And we’re supposed to scratch our heads and shout “COVID” when the movie business tanks.

Good luck to Dean Cain and Gabe Eltaeb, and you can pre-order Dean Cain: All-American Lawman right here at Big Man Comics.

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