The tale of Superman is a classic American story: a small town boy from Kansas saving the world with his amazing powers and incredible courage. Traditionally, it could be seen as the epitome of what the U.S. holds itself up to be; a collection of hardworking, caring, brave citizens who aspire to greatness.
What may not be as evident upon first glance is that it’s also an incredibly accurate narrative of where we are now as a country. With our cultural and political discourse saturated with fervent talking points and shrill sound bites about immigration, the upcoming March 25th release of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice could not be more timely. At his core, Superman is not only an immigrant, he’s an undocumented one who didn’t cross a border or overstay a visa, but came to the United States on a spaceship (and most certainly without authorized papers from the proper intergalactic immigration authorities), trying to build his home in a foreign world and living his life in fear of being found out for the “alien” he truly is.
His journey is similar to 11.7 million others in this country; undocumented immigrants who sacrifice their community and family to come to the U.S. in search of a better life, and who in turn make life better for U.S. citizens. Undocumented immigrants do back-breaking work, pay taxes they will never benefit from, all while being shunned for their attempt to bypass a broken immigration system and being forced to hide in the shadows of society.
Of course, Superman is only fiction. To help translate this metaphor into the real world, we researched the immigrant stories of those who brought the latest movie to life. As you can see, a shared immigrant history is a commonality shared from Kansas to Hollywood.
Jerry Siegel (Co-creator of Superman) was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and was the youngest of six children of Jewish immigrants from the Russian Empire, an area that later became Lithuania. Siegel, along with Superman co-creator Joseph Shuster, is believed to have fashioned the tale as a cultural-assimilation saga modeled after the plight of the American Jew.
Joseph Shuster (Co-creator
of Superman) was born in Toronto to a Jewish family. His father was an
immigrant from Rotterdam and his mother immigrated from Kiev in the
Ukraine. Shuster, along with Seigel, is believed to have fashioned the
tale of Superman as a cultural-assimilation saga modeled after the
plight of the American Jew.
Henry Cavill (Clark Kent) was born on the Bailiwick of Jersey, a British Crown dependency in the Channel Islands. His mother, Marianne Dalgliesh, was also born on Jersey, and is of Irish, Scottish and English ancestry. Henry’s father, Colin Richard Cavill, was born in Chester, England.
(Batman) was born Berkeley, California. The surname “Affleck” is of
Scottish origin; he also has English, Irish, German and Swiss ancestry.
His parents and grandparents were born in the U.S.
Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) was born and raised in Rosh HaAyin, Israel. Her parents were also born in Israel, and her grandparents were immigrants from Europe. She has described her family background as “¼ Polish, ¼ Austrian, ¼ German, and ¼ Czech. Gadot has stated that she was brought up in a "very Jewish, Israeli family environment” and served as an enlisted soldier in the Israel Defense Forces for two years as a combat instructor.
Jason Momoa (Aquaman) was born in Honolulu, Hawaii but was raised by his mother in Norwalk, Iowa. After graduating from high school, Momoa moved back to Hawaii and enrolled at the University of Hawaii. His father is of Native Hawaiian descent, while his mother is of German, Irish and Native American ancestry.
Ezra Miller (The Flash) was born and raised in Wyckoff, New Jersey. His father is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and his mother is of German and Dutch ancestry. Ezra considers himself Jewish. His paternal grandparents immigrated from Germany, Russia, and Austria. Ezra’s maternal grandfather was of German and Dutch ancestry, while Ezra’s maternal grandmother’s parents were German immigrants.
Jeremy Irons (Alfred Pennyworth) was born in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. Aside from his English ancestry, he uncovered that he had distant Irish ancestry while on a U.K. genealogy series.
Larry Fong (Cinematographer) was born in Los Angeles, CA. Both of his parents are of Chinese descent, but were born and raised in Hawaii. All of his ancestors are from Southern China. Fong describes his upbringing as “an odd blend of Chinese and Hawaiian culture and vocabulary.”