What's The Deal With Jerry Seinfeld and Superman?
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Ahh, Jerry Seinfeld, a man defined by his eponymous sitcom, his near-billionaire status, his firm stance as a “there is no bee-stiality in Bee Movie” truther, and for being the hero Gotham needs and deserves? Yep, in what is definitively the superhero crossover event of the year (sorry, Spider-Man: No Way Home!) Seinfeld has managed to go where no comedian in a car getting coffee has ever traveled before, landing himself a spot on an alternate, limited edition cover of Batman/Superman: World's Finest.
Illustrated by artist Dan Mora as an exclusive offering for comic stores that pre-ordered more than 100 copies of the series's first issue, the cover in question depicts Adam West, Clark Kent, and Seinfeld – a known Superman Super-Fan -- chillin' in a vintage Batmobile. Presumably filming an episode of the star's real-life talk show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, the trio toasts cups of joe as they speed off to save the day -- or, well, more realistically, to pay a visit to Netflix's studios, which seemingly now exist as a canonical part of the DCNCU (the DC Non-Cinematic Universe).
Yet amid the star's new cover boy status, one question remains – well, other than the broader implications of how, exactly, Seinfeld managed to talk West into letting him drive his old-school whip – What's the deal with Jerry's sitcom and Superman? Well, more so than nearly any of the 66 romantic partners introduced throughout the show's nine seasons, Jerry Seinfeld's fictional iteration seemingly had one love that put the rest to shame – no, not his love for himself, but rather, his undying adoration for Superman.
The terms “Bizarro," “Fortress of Solitude” and "Kryptonite" are swung around with reckless abandon, much like the intergalactic hero's roughly 13.8 billion-year-old sword. A statue and a magnet both depicting the man of steel are featured as some of the only decorations in Seinfeld's nearly-pristine apartment. Jerry's subdued wardrobe often prominently features the colors of blue, red, and yellow, which as our high school English teachers (and probably our high school English teachers alone) would argue serves as an allusion to the classic comic book hero. Season six's “The Race” – which Seinfeld has dubbed as one of his favorite episodes -- centers around Jerry ecstatically dating a woman named Lois mostly so he has an excuse to do his best impression of Superman interacting with love interest, Lois Lane. Hell, there's even an urban legend claiming that there's at least one Easter egg subtly referencing Krypton's finest hidden in every single episode, a rumor that has sparked a long-running, albeit inconclusive, scavenger hunt among superfans looking for something new to focus on during their 15th rewatch.
To put it plainly, Seinfeld as we know it would not exist without Superman's influence, a tidbit Peter Mehlman, who served as a writer for the sitcom throughout the majority of its nearly nine-year run, explained in a 2013 essay for Parade magazine.
“Much like the infant who fell from the sky into small-town America, Superman simply dropped into the orbit of Seinfeld,” Mehlman wrote. “Contrary to rumor, it was never planned to make the Man of Steel a recurring theme, and the writing staff, on which I worked for six seasons, never got an edict dictating regular mentions of him. He just magically appeared early in the series and evolved into a go-to guy for humor—another superpower for a being faster than a speeding bullet.”
Yet beyond existing as a nod to Seinfeld's real-life comic obsession, and later business partner in both the aforementioned comic as well as a series of ads for American Express in the mid-2000s, Superman's presence also serves as a fascinating juxtaposition, showing just how a-holey Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer could really be in their day-to-day interactions.
“Superman was devoted to ‘truth, justice, and the American way’”; the Seinfeld characters were devoted to lying, cheating, and getting their own way," Mehlman continued. “For his all-too-human problems, Jerry looked to someone from Krypton. In his puny narcissism, George sought inspiration from the paragon of selflessness.”
Yet with bizarro priorities comes bizarro consequences. As Mehlman alludes, this twisted interpretation of Superman can also help explain the brutal punishment of the show's finale. Throughout the series, the gang's idolization of Superman most notably manifests through their hubris – the delusion that they, like the man of steel, can get away with things no other human plausibly could. The roommate switch. Stealing a loaf of marble rye from an old lady. George accidentally killing his fiancee in attempting to save a few bucks on wedding invitations. In the moment, they always seemingly manage to move on from these gaffes unscathed, a skill that is pretty damn superhuman all things considered.
Towards the end of the show, however, they are suddenly faced with their humanity. As their countless enemies testify against them in court after breaking a good samaritan law, every consequence they managed to so sneakily evade smacks them right in the face like a bitch slap from Cyborg Superman's Cybernetic Arm. Despite their greatest efforts to emulate the a-hole version of their hero, they realize upon being thrown in jail that they too, are human after all.
In the final line of his essay, Mehlman argues that “it was those four neurotic characters who made him almost human.” However, it seems the opposite also stands true – Seinfeld and co's absolute douchebaggery and ultimate downfall prove just how super Superman actually is.
Top Image: American Express