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Free Minds & Free Markets

The Politics of Superheroes

Want a map of the debates of the early 21st century? Watch a comic-book movie.

On April 28, 2005, Spider-Man, Captain America, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld flexed their muscles onstage at the Pentagon. The trio was promoting The New Avengers, a comic book being sent to soldiers around the world. The effort was part of America Supports You, a program that in time would be exposed for misspending its money on self-promotion rather than boosting morale, with at least $9.2 million "inappropriately transferred."

The stench of the scandal stuck to several former Pentagon employees, but the superheroes emerged unscathed. In the January issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, Spidey and Barack Obama teamed up to defeat a supervillain's Inauguration Day plot. At the end, the incoming president called the webslinger "partner" and gave him a friendly fist bump, with nary a reference to Peter Parker's previous work with the Bush administration.

Future historians can offer a more complete account of how costumed crusaders came to dominate Hollywood in the early 21st century. But one factor that has to be acknowledged is the superhero film's philosophical flexibility. As comic-book crimefighters found a mass audience at the multiplex, they displayed an almost unerring ability to invoke important issues without clearly coming down on one side or the other. There are many reasons why Peter Parker's alter ego can both strike poses with Rumsfeld and bump fists with Obama. But surely one of them is that Republicans and Democrats alike see their worldviews reflected onscreen when Spider-Man—and Batman, and Iron Man, and others—battle bad guys.

A decade ago, most of those Republicans and Democrats wouldn't have cared. In the 1990s, superhero films weren't just fewer. They were aimed, with only a handful of exceptions, at a cult audience. A movie like Mark Dippé's Spawn (1997) might do fairly well commercially, making nearly $55 million at home and over $87 million around the world, but it was easy for the average American not to notice it. Today, by contrast, it's hard to avoid contact with Batman or Spider-Man, or even with more obscure vigilantes, such as the hero of James McTeigue's V for Vendetta (2006).

In three of the last seven years, the most popular picture in America has centered around a superhero. In the other four years, at least one specimen of the genre made the box office top 10. Several of those movies, notably Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight (2008), have been critical as well as commercial successes, and even widely derided efforts such as Ang Lee's Hulk (2003) and Tim Story's Fantastic Four (2005) attracted some highbrow defenders. The trend is mature enough to have unleashed a new wave of hybrids and parodies, from the relationship comedy My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006) to the Airplane!-style farce Superhero Movie (2008). A popular 40-minute Internet video, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008), manages to combine the conventions of the superhero film, the romantic comedy, the classical tragedy, the musical, and the vlog.

Not all of these movies are ambivalent about their worldviews. V for Vendetta, for example, turned a politically charged comic with a deliberately enigmatic outlook into a straightforwardly sympathetic tale of a rebellion against a right-wing regime. More often, though, the opposite occurs: A film genre that critics frequently deride for seeing the world in black and white is actually ambiguous about war, privacy, empire, and state power. It took this form as Americans, often derided for the exact same reason, grew increasingly ambivalent about the very same subjects.

The boom arguably began with Bryan Singer's X-Men, a surprise hit in the summer of 2000. But it reached its present resonance with the first major superhero film to appear after 9/11, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man (2002). This was not, at first glance, a particularly political picture. The movie's most obvious metaphor involves masturbation, not the Middle East. (The adolescent Peter Parker finds his body changing in mysterious ways, including the ability to eject a gooey substance with his hands.) Still, Spider-Man's message, borrowed directly from the original comic and enunciated by Parker's doomed Uncle Ben, had ideological overtones: "With great power comes great responsibility." That was enough for several hawks to declare the webslinger a spiritual cousin. The conservative cultural critic Mark Steyn would eventually argue that Spidey's first film "makes a very good case for the Bush pre-emption doctrine" because "the men who killed his Uncle Ben were small-time crooks Peter could have stopped earlier but chose not to."

Spider-Man was mostly made before 9/11, with the producers withdrawing a trailer right after the attacks because it featured the World Trade Center. If the narrative echoed our wartime debates, that was probably an accident. But when Spider-Man 2 appeared in 2004, its political elements were more deliberate and more conspicuous. They were also more complicated—or, if you prefer, more confused.

This time around, Parker attempts to retire from vigilantism. Crime jumps, the press that had been denouncing Spider-Man as a criminal starts wailing that he's nowhere to be found, and every hawk in the audience nods his head with recognition: Why, Spider-Man is just like America! Writing in The Spectator, Steyn called the movie an "antidote to the stunted paranoia of Fahrenheit 9/11," noting that "Peter recognizes that the bad stuff doesn't go away just because you refuse to acknowledge it." In National Review, David Frum pronounced the picture "the great pro-Bush movie of the summer."

And they were right, sort of, except that the story also included the tale of Doctor Octopus, a scientist whose well-intentioned mucking about nearly destroys New York. He can't face the fact that he has miscalculated, so he plunges back into the same destructive project. If you come to the cinema searching for symbols, it's hard to escape the idea that Doc Ock's dangerous fusion generator represents empire and the mechanical arms that come to control him are a stand-in for the military-industrial complex. Hard to escape it, that is, unless the movie's other allegories have transfixed you. (Steyn, for example, merely notes that Spidey's antagonist is "a peace-loving man of science." Viewers not obsessed with politics were probably still fixated on the semen symbolism: This time around, when Parker starts to feel impotent, he loses the ability to shoot webs.)

Spider-Man 3 (2007), also directed by Raimi, introduces two more villains to the series. One is Venom, an alien that initially appears as a crude black liquid. The other is a figure called the Sandman. Of all the characters the writers could recycle from the comics, they picked the embodiments of oil and sand.

For a while, the oil infects Parker, who consequently becomes arrogant, homicidal, and driven by revenge—a motive, his Aunt May sagely informs us, that can "turn us into something that we're not." To save himself, he has to shake the addiction and forgive his enemies. A more leftist fable can hardly be imagined, except that Spidey then goes to war against an oil-and-sand alliance, pausing briefly before an enormous American flag before swinging in to save the day. And then, just when you're hoping the politics would resolve themselves one way or the other, everything collapses in a heap of Christ imagery. Our metaphors have gotten muddled again.

Of all the superhero movies released since 9/11, Jon Favreau's Iron Man (2008) engages American foreign policy most directly. In its very first scene, soldiers ferry Tony Stark, an engineering genius and wealthy munitions manufacturer, through Afghanistan. Terrorists attack the convoy and kidnap Stark. The last thing he sees before he passes out is one of the weapons used in the assault. It has a Stark Industries logo on it.

After escaping, Stark announces that he cannot abide the thought that his output is being used against U.S. soldiers, and he pledges to shut down weapons production. As the company's stock plunges, Stark starts work on a secret new project built around a compact and powerful reactor. You might initially suspect he's working on a way to, say, bring cheap energy to the world. Nope: He's building an Iron Man costume, which he promptly uses on a secret rescue mission in Afghanistan. Eventually we learn that his father's old business partner, Obadiah Stane, has been selling Stark's weapons to the enemy, allowing Iron Man to take out the traitor and return to his previous partnership with the American government.

In Human Events, the conservative writer Martin Sieff certified the story as "a celebration of what's great about American capitalism" and suggested that the flick has "done more in two weeks for America's image around the world than seven and a half years of plodding, hapless bureaucratic bungling by the Bush administration." New York, on the other hand, presented the movie as "an action magnet for liberals," with critic David Edelstein describing a plot in which "the military-industrial complex ravages the Third World." The most perceptive comment on the picture's politics came from Sonny Bunch in The Weekly Standard, who called Favreau's feature "the film equivalent of a Rorschach test. If you go into Iron Man seeking right-wing imagery, you'll find it: Tony Stark is a patriot, pro-military, and likes unilateral intervention. If you go into Iron Man looking for left-wing imagery, you'll find that, too: The true villain here is Stane, representing an out-of-control military-industrial complex."

If anything, Bunch understates what an inkblot this picture is. When Tony Stark is captured by terrorists using his own weapons, it's a concise artistic depiction of blowback, the idea that American power exercised abroad boomerangs back against Americans. Even the Iron Man outfit, a smart weapon that allows Stark to target the enemy while leaving innocent bystanders standing, grows dangerous when it inspires Obadiah Stane to build a similar suit of his own. (Both Iron Man and Spider-Man 3 climax with the heroes battling villains who are, in effect, evil versions of themselves.) On the other hand, fixing the system seems to be a simple matter of eliminating one well-placed crook. Without Stane in the picture, the film gives us no reason to suspect that our power will ever backfire or that our weapons will end up in the wrong people's hands. It's an outlook that lends itself to either a liberal Obama fantasy, in which reform is a simple matter of changing the people in charge, or an equally dubious conservative narrative in which it is only treason on the home front that thwarts our victory abroad.

And if that's hard to parse, look at what Bruce Wayne's been up to.

Batman Begins (2005), directed and co-written by the ex-arthouse auteur Christopher Nolan, is an epic of ambiguity. The Spider-Man and Iron Man films sometimes feel like their creators were reaching for resonant images and ideas without pondering just how they fit together. Nolan's pictures, by contrast, never seem to escape their creator's control. They give every impression of making a coherent argument, just not one easily reducible to one side in a rerun of Crossfire.

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    What's the "Christ imagery" he's talking about at the end of spidey 3?

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    Most of the time the political leanings of the characters are not so obvious. Well, except for Adam Warlock, whose constant extreme, Pro-Constitution Party opinions and symbolism marred the otherwise excellent titles he appeared in.

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    Ok, what's the deal with all the comic book, Star Trek, fantasy crap around here?

    I wonder why most people don't take libertarians seriously. Yeah, I know it makes good entertainment and sometimes entertainment crosses over. Art reflects life. But dwelling too long in art makes one need to get a life.

  • ||

    "Ok, what's the deal with all the comic book, Star Trek, fantasy crap around here?"

    Comic books are a legitimate part of culture and Reason is not simply a magazine about politics, but about culture as well. Free minds and free markets engage in a wide range of things, commerce, spiritual activity, social interaction, politics, and, yes, art and culture.

  • ||

    omic books are a legitimate part of culture and Reason is not simply a magazine about politics, but about culture as well. Free minds and free markets engage in a wide range of things, commerce, spiritual activity, social interaction, politics, and, yes, art and culture.

    That and when your audience is more engaged and possibly slightly more cerebral than the rest of the chimps there might be a few "nerd" oriented discussions. You know sci-fi and comics, the places where moral issues are portrayed in removed situations often drawing commentary and comparison at a rudimentary level and free of the prejudice of current events. Or they just like the big boobs prevalent in such genres. Your call.

  • ||

    Ok, I hear ya...

    But the whole comic book Star Trek thing makes libertarians look cultish.

    I know there's a great appeal for these movies, but it's more because people like to see things go boom with a big budget. Not because nerds are exploring the deeper meanings.

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    There is nothing that will make libertarians not look cultish to ordinary people. Stop caring what other people think...

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    Cultish like abortion/antiabortion rights groups, entitlement programs groups (ACORN), parties that use symbols like donkeys and elephants or use names like the Grand Old Party? Cultish like that?

    Context and perspective are everything.

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    Realist: it's been pointed out here before, but it seems there may be a solid and perfectly rational explanation behind the correlation of nerdishness to libertarianism. If you spent your formative years getting picked on by the 'cool' kids (for playing D&D or watching Star Trek or listening to Dragonforce or whatever) you might get the idea that the majority's preferences and priorities are not always right, at least for you, and that maybe you'd prefer it if the majority just left you the hell alone.

  • ||

    I can see where the correlation can exist and why. Good point. But I believe freedom IS desired by the majority. It's just that we have no way to access it. And from my perspective, I have a huge desire to join a cause for liberty, by very little desire to join a game of D&D. I'm not even going to ask what Dragonforce is.

  • ||

    "I believe freedom IS desired by the majority."
    Yet you call yourself a realist...
    Human biology is wired for the zero-sum jungle and direct cooperation. People don't understand, or care for, indirect systems out of their control.

  • mark||

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: reason has the best arts coverage for a political magazine. When writing about arts or sports, you can tell that Welch, Gillespie, Doherty, Mangu-Ward, et al have a genuine intertest in, and love for, all things outside the beltway. If I wanted bloodless policy wonks 24/7, I'd subscribe to the National Review or The Nation.

  • ||

    But I believe freedom IS desired by the majority. It's just that we have no way to access it.

    You always have access to freedom. It just depends on how far you are willing to go to protect it.

    (that sounded a little cliche and crazy)

    Why do you care if the people you affiliate with enjoy sci-fi or D&D? It's like saying you won't join a bowling league because they might discuss the last football game while bowling? If the ideas match yours and the cause is one you can identify with, especially this cause, a few discussions on spiderman should inconsequential.

    If the issue is being socially labeled then I'd have to question your desire to join a liberty based cause. If the issue is just you don't like the genres then don't read the articles and focus on what you are interested in. You are going to run into a wide variety of people when the basic rule is do what want as long as no one is harmed by your action.

    We'd be better off if the people running this train had watched more Scooby Doo, Star Trek, or read some fantasy novels.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    But I believe freedom IS desired by the majority. It's just that we have no way to access it.


    The majority wants comfort, and only cares about freedom to the extent it brings them more comfort. They'd be quite happy to live in a gilded cage though.

  • Jesse Walker||

    I don't mean to derail the speculation about why we're all nerds, but superhero movies have actually become immensely popular in the mainstream over the last decade -- arguably becoming the defining film genre of the Bush years. The point of the article is to explore one possible reason why that's so.

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    Doesn't a shitty economy, disappearing rights, wars, and a general shit sandwich usually create an increase in sci-fi and fantasy oriented art? Not exactly a hard thing to correlate or even understand. I turn the TV on or open the paper and almost immediately want to crawl into a hole with a white rabbit and a disappearing cat. Of course that might just be the desire to get high.

  • ||

    But I believe freedom IS desired by the majority.

    As evidenced by much of American history and much of politics, the majority wants freedom for themselves. However, most people want to severely limit the freedoms of others. It is often evidence by such statements as, "There outta be a law" and the classic "It's for the children."

  • ||

    You know, I always thought that being a superhero would be a crappy job, and it would only get crappier the more powerful you were. Imagine being Superman. You think people would let you have a moment's peace? "Superman, why didn't you save this person? Why did you save this one and not that one? Where were you when this bus accident, this fire, this flood", etc. etc. You would be hounded to death and criticized endlessly for every choice you made. It would be like what people say about government spending cuts times a thousand. And if you took the criticism to heart, it would kill you: every second you spent NOT racing around saving people is a second you're letting people die when you could have saved them. I'm sure some author has already explored this theme, but I am not enough of a comic book geek to know of it.

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    If I had Superman's powers I'd just get rich and declare myself a sovereign nation.

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    But the whole comic book Star Trek thing makes libertarians look cultish.

    Have you ever attended a
    - Stamp show?
    - drag race?
    - modern art exhibition?
    - tailgate party?

    You remind me of a very ggod friend who ten minutes after kidding me that comic books are childish asked "You want to go downstairs and play with the trains?"

    He was self aware aand humble enough to appreciate the irony after I pointed it out. Honestly search your own entertainment choices and report back.

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    For the board, name a libertarian super hero.

    I nominate Luke Cage, Hero for Hire.

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    Mr. A, the Question, Anarky.

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    yeah it can be bad, a few weeks ago I walked in to work with Skeptic magazine and a coworker said "oh you are one of those libertarian athiest nerds like the true nerd should be"

    JD that's why they have secret identities. It's true, people want to fall back and not do things for themselves if someone else will do it, even menial tasks. I remember Jor-El said those exact words to Kal-El when he first put on the blue suit in Superman: the Movie (the first Christopher Reeves one).

  • ||

    Is there still as deep a connection between "nerdiness" and a sympathy for libertarianism?

    If one were to take digg.com as a standard bearer for young nerds; do they exhibit the same degree of receptivity to your ideology than when you were younger?

  • ||

    "No one knows how the genre will adapt to the changes in Washington. But despite the comic-book Spidey's easy partnership with the president, you shouldn't expect Hollywood's superheroes simply to fall in behind the new guy. It didn't take long for public doubts about Bush to be reflected on screen, and there was a time when the 43rd president was more popular than Obama is now. Superhero stories may have begun as power fantasies, but it is our ambivalence about power that keeps the modern genre thriving."


    With all respect to Mr. Walker, I do seriously doubt that there will be any representation of the President in a "comic-book" movie in anything less than a positive portrayal.

    In fact I doubt that there will _ever_ be a downright negative portrayal of President Obama in any mainstream film.

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    For the board, name a libertarian super hero.

    Spider Jerusalem

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    superhero movies have actually become immensely popular in the mainstream over the last decade

    My dour take on that is to point out the constant barrage of "you are incapable of doing things for yourself; trust the experts" messages presented by the education system. It's a Savior Mythology.

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    My dour take on that is to point out the constant barrage of "you are incapable of doing things for yourself; trust the experts" messages presented by the education system. It's a Savior Mythology.

    No. I completely disagree(I think). Comic books, and then their epic-movie children, have invited us to imagine ourselves as the hero. We don't watch Spider-Man and think, damn, I'm sure glad he's saving the day! We think through him. We see the world through Peter Parker's eyes, and consider the heroic choices ourselves. Superheroes invite us to be great, and inspire in us a desire to do great things.


    Side: Ayn Rand would have loved Iron Man. Was there ever a more individual take on technology than the moment Stark wondered who truly owned the product of his own genius... and realized that he did, utterly?

  • ||

    plutosdad - I get you, but I don't really think that the secret identity thing will help. It's true that nobody is harassing Clark Kent, but that wouldn't stop people from harassing Superman. He can get away from the in-your-face complaints by being Clark Kent, but not from the general issue.

  • mark||

    @ solana

    Moving the ball forward, I'd go even further and argue that Iron Man is the "All American" hero, despite his second tier status: an entrepreneur who builds an "iSuit" with a combination of smarts and elbow grease. Spidey & Co. are nothing more than a bunch of parasitic aristocrats and central planners.I love the egalitarian vision of Iron Man and Batman.

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    Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.

    Batman, of course, does re-establish those boundaries, unlike the government, which never does.

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    It's sad to see an anti-establishment hero like Spiderman turned into some flag-waving neo-con like Captain America or Ironman, or into some naive do-gooder like Superman.

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    Here's an Austrian economist's view of how Superman should allocate his scarce resource, the time to do super deeds:

    Superman Needs an Agent

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    Libertarian superheroes?

    Ted (The Blue Beetle) Kord, The Question and Mr. A, all as written by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko, fit the bill. Ditko's heroes "inspired" most of the characters in Moore and Gibbons' Watchmen. Read Nite Owl for the Beetles, and a combination of Rex Graine and Vic Sage for Rorschach. Captain Atom, a typical Cold War superguy, was morphed into Dr. Manhattan, and the fetching Nightshade became The Silk Spectre.

    Besides the previously mentioned Power Man, Marvel had a mercenary known as Paladin.

    As for Ayn Rand being bullish on Stark, we know she approved of Buck Rogers. {See "The Art of Moral Treason" in The Romantic Manifesto.}

    My only problem with Jesse's article is that judging superheroes in films without references to the strips they emerged from is like criticizing the latest outre staging of a classic play. A Richard III set in the 1930s, with SS-like military garb for costumes isn't giving you the pure Bard, but Shakespeare seen through the director's eyes. Not that such a staging can't be effective, but it isn't necessarily what the author intended. Many of the tropes, characters and plot points Jesse recounts above are straight from the comics, and the political and cultural background when they were written and drawn were often severely different from what was current when the screen versions debuted. Iron Man was the Marvel hero most connected to the Cold War and the military-industrial complex, frex, even moreso than Captain America.

    Kevin

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Pleaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaseee let this be the thread of the day!

    I think maybe it's already too late, but I say yes to Solana on all of the below:

    "No. I completely disagree(I think). Comic books, and then their epic-movie children, have invited us to imagine ourselves as the hero. We don't watch Spider-Man and think, damn, I'm sure glad he's saving the day! We think through him. We see the world through Peter Parker's eyes, and consider the heroic choices ourselves. Superheroes invite us to be great, and inspire in us a desire to do great things.


    Side: Ayn Rand would have loved Iron Man. Was there ever a more individual take on technology than the moment Stark wondered who truly owned the product of his own genius... and realized that he did, utterly?"




    Yes, yes, yes. Batman btw, I do love - and I do appreciate as a sort of dark counterpart to Iron Man (to an extent... I mean, Stark definitely has his "dark" moments in the comics - what with the alcoholism and all), but Batman ultimately has a seriously totalitarian side that comes out throughout the comics - especially in the Frank Miller years. Still... The billionaire entrepreneur like Stark or even savvy old-money businessman Wayne who uses the products of his mind & labor to fight "bad-guys" are simply examples of the fine libertarian principle of putting your money right there in you goddamn mouth and making a difference. PLUS... in most cases, we have heroes who also refuse to end lives, preferring almost always to make what might be considered citizens arrests and then allow for due process.

    It's all good I think.

  • ||

    yeah it can be bad, a few weeks ago I walked in to work with Skeptic magazine and a coworker said "oh you are one of those libertarian athiest nerds like the true nerd should be"

    This is why I carry an AR15 in my other hand. Or a 1911 under my arm. Or for the lighter days, and often more practical, a copy of the latest Guns & Ammo. Or ju

  • ||

    ...just tell him to fuck off and die.


    oops hit return early.

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    Besides the previously mentioned Power Man, Marvel had a mercenary known as Paladin.

    Dude I played a Paladin in WoW and EQ!! Does that make WoW or EQ libertarian?

    (channeled the inner nerd on that one)

  • ||

    Comic books, and then their epic-movie children, have invited us to imagine ourselves as the hero.

    You may be right; I only know how the world in *my* head works.

    But I would like to offer as Exhibit "A" our President. I don't know about you, but I don't hear very many people saying they will work harder, or offer better quality products and services, as part of their effort to make the world a better place. They sit around and moan about how they/we are the victims of circumstances beyond their control, and pin their hopes on Obama's virtuous plans to "save the country". Because that's what presidents do, apparently.

  • Jesse Walker||

    kevrob: That was a deliberate choice on my part. Nearly everything in these films was recycled from comic books, but Hollywood figures who didn't have anything to do with those comics decided what they were going to use and how they were going to fit it together; and audiences that largely did not read the comics decided what was going to be a hit. So I think you can write about how the films relate to the moment without reference to how earlier versions of the story engaged earlier parts of history. (I agree that it would have been a richer article if I had tried to do both. It also would have been too long for the magazine.)

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Mr. Brooks:

    "But I would like to offer as Exhibit "A" our President. I don't know about you, but I don't hear very many people saying they will work harder, or offer better quality products and services, as part of their effort to make the world a better place. They sit around and moan about how they/we are the victims of circumstances beyond their control, and pin their hopes on Obama's virtuous plans to "save the country". Because that's what presidents do, apparently."




    The thing you have to realize about this though is that A. Superheroes are (typically) not agents of the government, and as such remain generally independent - and so probably would not push people to believe that it's government/collective that is the cause of all good and bad, but the individual - which is a much different message than Obama gives... and of course B. I've yet to see a superhero in a movie with a PR machine pushing people to believe that only that hero can solve problems.

    Superman & Batman in particular are fine examples of this, in virtually all public speaking opportunities for Superman, he encourages people to do more individually and Batman deliberately chose symbolism over a human identity in order not only to inspire "fear" in the hearts of criminals who are apparently a "superstitious and cowardly lot", but also to provide a symbol for other people to rally around in the hope that it would inspire other changes.

    Obviously neither Superman nor Batman would want anyone to put on a hockey mask a la Batman: The Dark Knight, as those saps will just get themselves killed... but I definitely think they're both inspiring in other ways.


    Annnnyway, I think my real point here is just that you can't compare Obama, who is the godlike public face of a political establishment trying to use coercive force aggressively to reshape the world, to any individual superhero using their powers defensively to help people in immediate danger voluntarily.

    Freedom vs. Control FTW again.

  • ||

    I'm not trying to debunk anybody. Maybe I'm just crabbier than usual, today, but the "savior myth" mentality jumped out at me. I just wanted to point out what I perceive to be a widespread and pernicious tendency in our society for people to abdicate personal responsibility to some magical higher power.

  • ||

    JD,

    . I'm sure some author has already explored this theme, but I am not enough of a comic book geek to know of it.

    not a comic, but Corey Doctorow got into this a bit with his short story "Superman and the Bug Out."

    Read it here: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/17030/17030.txt

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Yeah, I mean, I agree... I just think that there's a difference between being a nanny and intervening against bad people. Obama is out there also PR-ing as "savior", and in the process is aggressively intervening into the private affairs of millions of people in ever-bolder ways. I think people do eventually get beaten down by that mentality.

    I suspect that seeing individuals succeed more or less on their own merits a la Tony Stark especially, is just inspiring. The problem I see with the whole Obama/Messiah thing is the idea that good can be achieved through aggressive initiation of force from an all-powerful government, rather than through freedom and allowing individuals to make and be responsible for their own choices.

  • ||

    Libertarian Arch Nemesis

    Commie Dr. Doom from Doom 2099

    It's the only time i rooted for communism

    yo shit is nationalized so says Doom

  • ||

    Interestingly enough, the regular Dr. Doom in some ways seems to want to create a Paleo-Conservative world empire, with no wars, where no one would even contemplate stealing from or attacking another person. It's just that his ideas about how to achieve this are somewhat crazy, and usually involve robots and time travel. He's ruthless, but rather well intentioned compared to the humanitarians with guillotines.

  • ||

    Man, when Green Lantern comes out in the next year or two you can probably just write a whole page about that.

  • ||

    As a libertarian anarchist and a general Nietzschean I have a major problem with the politics of comic books, which stems from the politics of their creators. I won't use the worn-out and meaningless 'fascist' to describe it, but it is left-wing, technophobic and statist.

    Corporations are the 'bad guys', governments fund the superheroes, and a Space God for some stupid-ass reason feels bound by the 'laws' created by a gang of thugs calling themselves 'congress'.

    Anyone who tries to improve themselves with technology is almost inevitably an evil psychopath, yet some dumbass who stumbles into his powers and bumbles around misusing them to protect the status quo of a bunch of tools who hate him is a 'hero'.

    A real libertarian superhero would start with the big problems - like the income tax and the welfare/warfare state - before giving a look at two-bit bank robbers. And an honest-to-god divine being, like Superman, would either abandon Earth to its own stupidities or crush every government on the planet and usher in a technological utopia.

    Artists suck. They're the stupidest people on the planet.

  • lanadelrey||

    Even superheroes end up needing medical equipment and supplies. All that fighting can be pretty brutal. Especially for poor Spider-Man...that guy's always getting beat up.

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