New Superman Movie will Film in Ohio

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Superman Film in Cincinnati!

The new superhero film from writer/director James Gunn, “Superman Legacy,” is set to film in Cincinnati and Cleveland this year. 

According to a press release, a film called “Genesis” was awarded an $11 million tax credit from the state. The Enquirer reported that “Genesis” has the same director and cast list as the upcoming film “Superman Legacy.”

Superman has deep connections to the Buckeye State. Superman was created in Cleveland by two Jewish teenagers, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Siegel created the character while writing for his school newspaper in 1933, and Shuster did the original illustrations. Cincinnati’s Union Terminal was the inspiration for the Hall of Justice in the 1970s cartoon show Super Friends. 

Is Superman Jewish?

Roy Schwartz’s book “Is Superman Circumcised?: The Complete Jewish History of the World’s Greatest Hero” explores Superman’s Jewishness in depth. The book won Diagram’s oddest named book award in 2021.

This is the first time a Jewish actor will play the title character. Jewish-American actor and Juilliard grad David Corenswet is donning the cape and tights for “Superman Legacy.” 

Superman is a quintessential example of the Jewish-American immigration narrative. The character’s backstory is filled with Jewish influences and parallels to the biblical story of Moses. Just as Moses is sent down the Nile River to escape certain doom, Superman is launched from the collapsing planet Krypton to Earth. 

The surname ‘El,’ shared by Superman’s family, is also one of the Hebrew names for g-d. Superman’s Kryptonian name, Kal El, means “the voice of g-d” in Hebrew — this interweaving of Jewish ideas positions Superman as a Space Moses. 

Even Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent, is often portrayed as a nebbish stereotype in many films: A mild-mannered, bespectacled, awkward, clumsy, quiet, and kind reporter. According to some, Superman is the ultimate immigrant fantasy, showing that beneath their awkward exterior lies a powerful being ready to fight for “truth, justice, and the American way.” Kent is a representation of the negative side of assimilation into American culture. He gave up core aspects of his identity for the promise of acceptance. 

One can interpret Superman’s story of immigration and assimilation differently. Superman is not the ultimate object of perfect assimilation but a tale about using your core cultural identity as a superpower. 

In most renderings of the Superman origin story, he crash lands in Kansas and is adopted by two stand-ins for average Americans, the Kents. After their son begins to display his remarkable abilities, fearing for his safety, they teach him to conceal his true self.

When he discovers he is from another planet and then discovers his Kryptonian heritage, he finally starts to feel at peace with himself. He dons his “traditional Kryptonian” garb that has the Kryptonian symbol for “hope” emblazoned on the front. (Or it is an S for Superman, but multiple films and comics have explained it as Kryptonian for hope, including Superman in 1978, Superman Return 2006, and Man of Steel 2013.)

Typically, after donning his new attire, the film depicts Superman integrating his identities, unleashing his powers, and soaring into the distance, often accompanied by a voiceover from his Kryptonian father.

Live as one of them, Kal-El, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. But always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage,” said Marlon Brando as Jor-El in the 1978 Superman film. 

Clark Kent is a mask Superman wears to be accepted, but he is the most powerful when he takes off that mask and embraces his true identity, Kal-El of Krypton, and uses all parts of his identity. His experiences growing up in Smallville, Kansas, combine with his celebrations and acceptance of his Kryptonian (Jewish) heritage. It’s an extra advantage that most of that heritage is being a nearly indestructible alien who can fly and shoot lasers out of his eyes. 

The Superman mythos is a parable about how to use our Jewish identity as a superpower. Truth and Justice are Jewish values. In this heightened time of danger for the Jewish community, we all could follow Superman’s example and wear our Jewish identity as a badge of pride rather than hide it away.