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Superman revamps his classic "Truth, justice, and the American way" motto for the 21st century

Superman mission statement
Superman mission statement (Image credit: DC)

"Truth, justice, and the American way."

That motto, long associated with Superman, was first uttered as part of the opening spiel of the Man of Steel's '40s radio show when nearly all media was getting in on the patriotic vibes of World War II. And now, after nearly 80 years of using the slogan off and on across multiple media, DC is giving Superman's catchphrase an official update.

From now on "with a nod to the past and an eye toward the future," Superman's mission statement will be "Truth, justice, and a better tomorrow," a phrase that has already appeared in several DC comics featuring Superman in 2021, but which is only now being adopted by the publisher as the official slogan for Superman's ideals.

Announced during DC Fandome 2021, DC chief creative officer and publisher Jim Lee issued a statement expounding on DC's motives for making the change.

"Superman’s new motto of 'Truth, Justice and a Better Tomorrow' will better reflect the global storylines that we are telling across DC and to honor the character's incredible legacy of over 80 years of building a better world," reads the statement. "Superman has long been a symbol of hope who inspires people from around the world, and it is that optimism and hope that powers him forward with this new mission statement."

According to DC, the new motor will be used in "main" continuity for Clark Kent's Superman and will be featured across all mediums including comic books, film, TV, video games, and more. 

(Image credit: DC)

Though some traditionally-minded fans may find the change controversial, the phrase "Truth, justice, and the American way" was actually a change in and of itself.

Initially, Superman's comic book philosophy was described as "a never-ending battle for truth and justice." It wasn't until the Superman radio show altered the slogan to "Truth, justice, and the American way" that it entered use in other media.

What's more, the slogan hasn't always stayed the same over the last eight decades.

Just a few years after the Superman radio show introduced the axiom "Truth, justice, and the American way," the same show reverted back to the "never-ending battle for truth and justice" terminology when the patriotic fervor of World War II died down. "The American way" version of the slogan was picked back up again by the '50s Adventures of Superman TV show, which tapped into the Cold War era panic around the spread of Communism from the USSR.

In comic books, the phrase has often come and gone from use, with many writers putting their own spin on the idea, or invoking the concepts it embodies for stories that tap into Superman's ideals in new ways. And now, after decades of a much more fluid interpretation of the slogan, DC is formally making a change, solidifying the ideals Superman stands for once again as an apparent stand-in for the publisher's own values.

That all said, expect DC making Superman's 'American Way'-less new mission statement official to kick up dust on social media.

The Man of Steel's noble heroism and selfless ideals are on display in almost all of the best Superman stories of all time.

I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.