Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Politics of Superheroes

So, I just discovered the Tor blog, and came across this piece on the politics of superheroes, inspired by a Newsday article that's too dumb to link. The article takes a bunch of well-known superfolk and attempts to divine their political leanings. I've got some issues with their choices.

First, with the exception of Green Arrow, we never see superheroes commenting on political economy. So, that means that any guess based on economic policy is guesswork at best, with the maybe-exception of Tony Stark (multibillionaire arms merchant) as a Republican.

Second, I dare you, I double dare you to fix Superman's politics in any one direction. There's no possible way. I always thought of him as apolitical and limited only by his conscience. Batman's got a similar problem, although I'd peg Bruce Wayne as a limousine liberal in his political views.

Third, anyone who pegs the Hal Jordan-type Green Lantern as a Republican is an ass. He's a New Frontier Dem. My first priority when I get to write GL is finding a way to put the Kennedy quote about "pay any price, bear any burden... in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty" in Hal's mouth.*

I've read, in the weeks since the latest Batman movie came out, left-liberals saying that Batman is the embodiment of the statist, right-wing impulse, and that the Joker stands for human freedom in its more absolute form. I disagree. The terrible choices, and the responses to those choices, feel real. Gordon's desire to protect his family, both physically and emotionally, Dent's desire for revenge, Batman's willingness to take power into his own hands and Fox's revulsion at the idea are all issues that we grapple with today.

In the end, discussing the politics of any given superhero is pointless. Comics give us another way to discuss and debate what's happening in our world. I'd glad they exist.

*Incidentally, if you haven't read Kennedy's Inaugural Address, or his acceptance speech before the NY Liberal Party, please do.

1 comment:

Emma said...

I remember reading about this one:
in Time a while ago, but I suppose the continuity issues make it beside the point since it's a "what-if".