Can Superheroes be Political?

The series, video games, popular movies, and of course comics that features superheroes are usually considered to be marketed for adolescents and children.

However, if you are one of them, then know that their content and the whole idea of superheroes are more serious than their perceived reputation.

Superheroes and comics are political; always have been!

In 2006, in the presidential election between George W. Bush and John Kerry, buttons that had a picture of Spider-man were distributed illegally. It said, ‘Spider-man for John Kerry.’

Obama as superman
Source: LA Progressive

Comics and superheroes sometimes take a stand on issues like the environment, gay rights, abortion, and the death penalty. Of course, you won’t see Spiderman in a protest rally, but they make their stand clear.

Sometimes the superheroes become pacifistic during some war, sometimes they become the voice of the minority, and sometimes they subtly advocate going to war!

A good example would be when Captain America punched Hitler in 1941. Interestingly, the comic book was written by a Jewish writer.

captain america punches hitler
Source: The Mary Sue

That was enough to depict Hitler as the supervillain to the kids all over reading comics. Some kids probably had no idea who Hitler was before they got the copy.

In 1963, Tony Stark was introduced. Tony Stark builds a battle suit and escapes from the Communist prison in South Vietnam. (The key word here is “Communist”)

In 1992, Hulk conquered a country single-handedly. The name of the country was Trans-Sabal, and the dictator who ruled the country was Farnoq Dahn. Is it a coincidence that both the country and dictator name sounds middle-eastern?

Comics were always used to mold the youth’s thought process. They had a significant influence on the pop-culture, even today.

A superhero will be either a supporter of the establishment, anti-establishment or colonization.

Marvel’s comic series Civil War is a great example.

We see the clash of ideologies between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers.

Marvel Civil War Comics

Tony Stark supported the government, and Steve Rogers was supporting individual rights.

Ultimately, we see the government having the upper hand and Steve Rogers becoming a rebel.

Another great example is DC’s comic series of Injustice and Injustice 2.

It’s another setup where ideologies clashed.

Then again, comic book writers never announce their political preferences. On the other hand, they don’t know how the readers will interpret the story.

Therefore, while you may never think why Tony Stark never learns Kung-Fu or why isn’t he attacked while roaming anywhere without security? You may never realize that it could be intentional.

It could be to prove a point that Ironman is under the world’s greatest country’s protection and nobody can even touch his hair!

Superheroes have influenced people for a long time.

It’s just their role in shaping the pop culture is often unnoticed.

Superheroes are even used in election campaigns.

In 2006, in the presidential election between George W. Bush and John Kerry, buttons that had a picture of Spider-man were distributed illegally. It said, ‘Spider-man for John Kerry.’

While liberals chose Spider-man, conservatives chose Batman!

The slogan for their site campaign was ‘no welfare, no mercy, Batman 2008.’

Batman slogan
Source: Batman for President

The renowned British editorial cartoonist, Gerald Scarfe drew former President Barrack Obama as a miserable and appalled character in a Superman costume.

The superheroes were used over and over again for propaganda, promotion, and ideologies.

The DC movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is again an example of superhero political movie.

Superman, being all-powerful made powerful people like Lex Luthor uncomfortable. Again it somehow threatened Batman’s ideologies.

People were reacting differently to the character of Superman. For some, he was a messiah, and for some, he was a potential threat.

The U.S. government was also seen struggling to find a diplomatic answer to that.

Then came the Suicide Squad movie, where a group of criminals were secretly controlled by the government and did their dirty work. In a way, it was DC’s Avengers! (I know you think DC’s answer to the Avengers is the Justice League)

In an interview in the year 2008 (Superhero Hype), Jon Favreau (Director, Ironman and Ironman 2) said that the 9/11 incident set the stage for the superhero era.

Jon Favreau
Source: Consequence of Sound

According to Favreau, people were craving an escape from the terrifying reality, and the superheroes gave them that cushion.

In The Journey of superheroes they are fearless, struggle with their personal problems, yet always ready to stand for justice and common people. And that’s how people relate to them.

So, next time someone says that superheroes are just for kids; please don’t say anything. 😛

What do you think?

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