Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Guardians of Justice episode 1!
Netflix’s new show, The Guardians of Justice, serves as a satire of the superhero genre, even pointing out DC's dumbest Superman problem, which is that he always seems to favor the United States. Based on Alan Moore’s graphic novel, Watchmen, The Guardians of Justice was released on Netflix on March 1. The series blends live-action footage with different styles of animation to tell the story of a team of superheroes struggling to save the world after the untimely loss of their leader, Marvelous Man. As a parody of famous superheroes, The Guardians of Justice’s Marvelous Man mirrors Superman as an even better mirror than Bizarro.
Marvelous Man and Superman are both nearly omnipotent heroes from other planets, but their similarities go beyond their powers and origins and this is hinted at right in the opening montage of The Guardians of Justice season 1, episode 1, “It Was Murder, She Said!” Without any explanation, Marvelous Man arrives on Earth and saves the human race by ending World War III in one day, not supporting either side. Later, though, Marvelous Man prevents JFK’s assassination but fails to save Premier Khrushchev of the Soviet Union. This lead to a newspaper headline stating, “Marvelous Man Accused of Favoring U.S.A.” To show that he is trying to protect the whole world, Marvelous Man announces that he is going to avoid global politics in front of the United Nations.
Superman has faced similar criticism both in-universe and in real life. Both superheroes have been accused of showing a preference for the United States over the rest of the world. Although Superman is meant to protect the entire world, his motto for many years was “Truth, justice, and the American way.” More recently, DC Comics has explored Superman’s allegiances, and The Guardians of Justice did the same with Marvelous Man. By addressing the issue of powerful superheroes potentially preferring one country over others, The Guardians of Justice showed how views can change both within stories and throughout history.
However, if Superman or Marvelous Man sided with one particular country, this would be dangerous for everyone else in their worlds. Both Marvelous Man and Superman only have one real weakness, caltronite and kryptonite, respectively, so other nations can do little to oppose them. This causes outrage in both of their arcs, and the heroes have to take action to prove that they want to protect the whole world, not solely the United States. To do this, Marvelous Man promises to stay out of politics in The Guardians of Justice while Superman renounces his American citizenship in “The Incident,” a short story in Action Comics #900.
Similarly, Superman has been questioned in real life due to his old motto of “Truth, justice, and the American way,” which shows favoritism toward the United States. However, Superman's original motto initially focused only on truth and justice, but it was updated during World War II. This became Superman’s signature phrase as the Man of Steel until audiences began questioning what the “American way” truly was. In addition, some believed this contradicted Superman’s promise to protect all of Earth. Due to this, DC Comics recently changed Superman’s catchphrase to “Truth, justice, and a better tomorrow.”
Marvelous Man’s fictional history reflects how the public’s views toward a hero can change. While a savior during World War II, Marvelous Man later became a questionable figure to the point where companies created caltronite weapons as a precaution. Satirizing superhero stories, The Guardians of Justice directly addresses Superman’s key problem, forcing Marvelous Man to confront and disprove accusations about his favoritism toward the United States instead of the world as a whole.