In these exciting times when the only thing Americans love more than billion-dollar superhero movie franchises is petty intra-party political sniping, I thought it might be time to return to a favorite obsession of mind: the ideological leanings of various comic book characters. This has been explored in-universe a bit by the various publishers, but always in a shallow and inconsistent way, and never to a degree that I find satisfying. So I’m going to settle the issue once and for all by speculating, based on various aspects of their canonical origins and personalities, what political leanings a select group of superheroes are likely to possess.
BATMAN. Because of his financial status and his brutality towards street criminals, it has lately become fashionable to speculate that Bruce Wayne is either a crypto-fascist or some sort of libertarian tech-bro. This is close, but I don’t think it’s entirely accurate; Bruce, after all, gives generously to a number of charities, and many of them do what, for lack of a better term, we might call social justice work. I think it’s more likely that Bats is a sort of centrist liberal technocrat: he believes in expertise, using capital to fund privatized (or at least non-governmental) solutions to social problems, and, of course, making a big show out of punishing poor people who break the law.
SPIDER-MAN. Peter Parker is actually a little tougher than he might seem. He’s a working-class white kid from an unfashionable outer-borough home; he’s funny and clever, and kind of artsy, but with a nerdy personality and a tendency to gravitate towards STEM fields. He could be anywhere from a right-wing libertarian to a straight-up Bernie Bro. I think, though, given his personality, it’s probably likely he’s a left-leaning Democrat who’s slightly less woke than he thinks he is.
SUPERMAN. As the ultimate immigrant and the blueprint of what it means to be an American, Superman is essentially a litmus test for people to impress their own political values on. Frank Miller made him into a square, corny tool of the Reagan right, but this has never scanned well for me. This may be wishful thinking, but I will always see him as the Superman of the late ’30s and early ’40s — a pro-union lefty with a love of the common man, and a guy who wouldn’t have needed much of a push to become the Red Son for real. Supes is the John Reed of the Justice League.
IRON MAN. There’s just no way to spin Tony Stark as anything other than an obnoxious right-wing plutocrat. Even if you accept that he became a quasi-pacifist who wanted to move away from making billions off of murderous defense contracts, he still reaps a fortune selling the Pentagon ‘non-lethal’ tech that they’ll use against Black Lives Matter protestors. He drinks because it enhances the boner he gets from seeing his cluster bombs explode. Robert Downey Jr. can play Iron Man as charming as he wants, but he’ll never be anything but Dick Cheney in a metal tuxedo.
WONDER WOMAN. This is going to be controversial, but despite recent attempts to portray her as a feminist heroine of all-American liberty, I don’t see how Wonder Woman is anything but an aristocrat with fascist leanings. She was raised in an all-female society of warriors governed by a queen, who was her mother. Value to this isolationist, lesbian-separatist society is determined by prowess in sports and combat-related games. Wonder Woman would have had to have been painstakingly convinced why she shouldn’t be fighting on behalf of Hitler during the Second World War.
THE HULK. Bruce Banner is a semi-autistic mercenary engineer with no ideology whatsoever; he would work for any tinpot dictator who gave him enough cash to do his insane experiments (he only cared about Rick Jones because he thought vaporizing a white teenager would jeopardizing the funding for the gamma bomb). The Hulk, on the other hand, is a dumb, childlike oaf who would respond well to anyone who promised him some peace and quiet, or a nice fruit pie. He’d be a complete sucker for the likes of a Donald Trump; he’d probably wear a MAGA hat 24/7 and stomp through the roof of Planned Parenthood office.
GREEN LANTERN. Hal Jordan is a right-wing mope who has a poster of Chris Kyle in his garage and likes John McCain because he actually thinks he’s a “maverick”. John Stewart is a strongly anti-imperialist lefty who would just need a slightly more stable income to become a tankie. Guy Gardner pretends to be right-wing but he’s really just a 4chan troll; he doesn’t even care enough to pretend to really be into Anonymous. Kyle Rayner is 100% a Hillary stan who puts “I’m With Her” bumper stickers on the giant space laser cannons he makes with his ring.
THE FANTASTIC FOUR. Reed Richards is definitely some kind of libertarian, because he’s a brilliant tech wiz who thinks he’s smarter than anyone else and believes that scientific knowledge automatically translates to political acumen, but he really knows zilch about the issues in any way. Ben Grimm is an old-school labor Democrat who hasn’t found anyone worth voting for since Bruce Babbitt. Sue Storm was probably a young liberal Democrat at one point, maybe did a few Take Back the Night rallies, but being married to Reed Richards mostly beat it out of her. Johnny Storm’s political opinions are all ones that he got from South Park.
GREEN ARROW. Oliver Queen is every lefty’s dream: he’s a goddamn billionaire who is also a hardcore Marxist. He’s some weird stripe, too: not something relatable like a Trotskyite or a Spartacist but something really out there like a reformed Titoist or a New Age Posadist. He has a trick arrow that just buzzes around dispensing communist propaganda. Every other superhero absolutely hates him but he’s one of the only people in the cape-and-cowl set who genuinely cares about the working class. He will live to be 114 years old and his last words will be something about Stalin betraying the Revolution.