Posted by: daveed | August 13, 2008

Superhero politics

From, a sci-fi blog, via Reason: on the politics of superheroes.

The author at Tor—countering the originator of the topic point by point—maintains that the political leanings of a character reflect who the creator is at the time. Makes sense to me. Superman, first an interwar isolationist, becomes, in Frank Miller’s mind, a Reagan Republican. Spiderman is “as pure a distillation of Great-Society/New-Frontier liberalism as you’ll find.” (I found movie Spidey to be an annoyingly over-earnest Gen-Y turd. The kind of kid who starts a recycling club and organizes park clean-up days.)

Not being that well-versed in superhero lore, I defer to others as to the plausibility of these assertions.

Of course, we can’t forget scourge of Krypton and presidential hopeful General Zod


  1. In defense of Spidey,hes supposed to be kind of a loser,basically Archie with superpowers,but not even as cool as Archie and this was arguably the most unique thing about the character back in the 60s.
    But Id say this contrast has given the rare but memorable darker Spidey stories more of an impact such as when Gwen Stacy (the Betty of Peters Betty and Veronica) died,and the drug problems of his freind Harry which the comic actually ran into some censorship problems over.For the time these stories were much darker then what was going on in Batman or other stories,and the fact that they were happening to this nerdy idealistic goofy teen rather than to some Super rich billionaire arguably made it seem more realistic .Later there were also darker stories like the introduction of the Punisher,Kravens last Hunt and later on the Black Suit/Venom saga where you see the dark side of Peters personality emerge,(Check out Spiderman 3).

  2. Speaking of the Punisher there is actually an issue of the Punisher War Journal in the 90s when he was still super popular where he protects a rightwing radio host seemingly based on Rush Limbaugh from a leftwing extremist group trying to assasinate him.

  3. Funny you mention General Zod, because I watched Superman 2 again recently. It really sucked. The main thing that disturbed me was the laziness of the writing. Superman decides to irrevocably become a mortal so he can be with Lois. Then, he is able to somehow reverse that process and simultaneously make Zod and his two cohorts into mortals. Weak, man.

  4. Tom: did you feel that something a little more in-depth in Peter Parker’s character was missing in the movies? Certainly in Spidey 2.

    Kartik: I remember thinking “how lame” when I saw the film in the theater back in the day. I loved the idea of the three antagonists exacting revenge on Jor-El through his son. And certainly it raised the stakes for Superman/Clark Kent, but like you said, that plot hole about him losing and regaining his powers was lazy. The whole film actually felt “dialed in”, frankly. Not like the first one, which is a masterpiece of superhero cinema. (Of course, they—like just about every franchise, except Dark Knight—got worse as the series progressed.)

  5. One thing that movies never really got with Spiderman/PPs personality is his wiseass sense of humor in the comics i read from the 80s, another aspect of his personality besides the occasional dark ones i mentioned that partially offset what a whiner/wimp he could be.

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