In 2013's blockbuster Man of Steel, Superman proudly fights alongside the U.S. Army and Air Force against the marauding forces of General Zod.
But Superman has not always been so cozy with the military. The Last Son of Krypton started out demolishing slums in the name of social justice, avoided the draft in World War II due to his poor vision, spent Easter Sunday with orphans in the jungles of Vietnam and, a few years ago, even renounced his U.S. citizenship.
So why the big reversal?
It might have something to do with the potentially millions of dollars the National Guard poured into Warner Brothers' pockets. Man of Steel's paying sponsors, the Guard among them, together ponied up $160 million for brand placements — quite possibly the most ever for a film.
Not only does the National Guard's sponsorship stink of propaganda — it flies in the face of 70 years of character development.
Kal-El began his career on Earth as a radical reformer. He fought for social change — and he wasn't afraid to face down the military to serve what he felt was a greater good.
In Action Comics #1, after a brief origin story and clash with a corrupt mayor, Clark Kent's boss sends him to the South American country San Monte to cover an ongoing war. That's right, Kent's first news job is as … a war reporter.
Supes takes a detour to Washington first, where he roughs up a lobbyist trying to convince a senator to drag America into a war in Europe. Superman threatens the lobbyist, who quickly gives up his boss — a munitions magnate named Emil Norvell. The manufacturer wants as much war as possible. It's good for business.
Superman then forces Norvell to travel to San Morte and enlist in its army. Supes even joins himself to keep an eye on the war profiteer. On the front lines, Norvell personally experiences the horrors of wars. He promises he'll never again manufacture weapons.
The bullets taken out of the gun, so to speak, Superman ends the war by kidnapping the rival armies' commanders and forcing them to talk. When the two men realize they can't remember why the war started, they shake hands and swear to end the conflict.
Again, this is the first Superman story. It played out over the first two issues of Action Comics and set the tone of the book as socialist, anti-war and isolationist.
This very interesting article (which invokes the history of Superman in both Comic and Movie form) continues: