There is, of course, no shortage of superheroes in our lives anymore (at least in the fictional worlds we look to for escapism). Not with the endless onslaught of Marvel movies and TV shows, and not with the new Justice League movie that opens today and features the Flash, Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg teaming up and fighting crime together. Not to mention all the fucking X-Men movies and spin-offs. Even in Lego form, superheroes are everywhere and all about becoming superfriends.
To properly honor this epic tag-teaming of superpowers, it seemed appropriate to ask the MEL staff about their favorite superheroes. Fair warning: There are multiple disturbing character revelations below.
Nick Leftley, Senior Editor: I feel like this entire story is just an excuse to out me as the colossal nerd I actually am. Because when it comes to this question, I HAVE OPINIONS. But equally, I want people in this office to still have some vague pretense of respect for me, so I’m going to pretend that I don’t have a deep abiding love for Batman; that I don’t think Kyle Rayner was the best Green Lantern ever (fuck Hal Jordan, fuck him right in the ear); and that I most certainly do not have an eight-inch action figure of obscure 1990s Marvel U.K. comics character Death’s Head II sitting in my desk drawer that I bought on a drunken Amazon binge.
Instead, I’m going to point out the obvious: Who the best superhero is depends entirely on who’s writing them at the time. Nick Fury is a silly macho spy serial — unless he’s being written by Garth Ennis, in which case, he’s a vehicle to examine America’s sickening culpability in engineering a constant state of highly profitable war, anywhere but in our own backyard. Superman is a dull, one-dimensional power fantasy — unless he’s being written by Grant Morrison, in which case he’s an icon of hope and a truly moving lesson in always, always using whatever power you have to help other people. Good writing is good writing, and it’s as true in comics as it is anywhere else.
Wait, shit, I got carried away. Er, uh, fuck it, I dunno, Spider-Man? Comics are like, for kids and stuff, LOL.
Serena Golden, Managing Editor: Obviously Wonder Woman. My mom had a huge book of the original comics, which I must have read dozens of times as a child. I was thrilled when the movie came out, though a little annoyed that they moved the setting from World War II to World War I. Of course, it was excellent anyway. Yes, women get short shrift when it comes to superheroes, but at least Wonder Woman is good as hell. Wonder Woman forever.
Andrew Fiouzi, Assistant Editor: I’m Batman.
Ian Lecklitner, Assistant Editor: Call me crazy, but I couldn’t care less about quintessential superheroes — you know, those promoted by Marvel and DC Comics. Instead, I was (and still am) a huge fan of Goku from the Japanese animated series, Dragon Ball Z. That’s because he doesn’t set out to save the universe; he sets out to be the best fighter he can be and just so happens to save the universe in doing so. Which is an awesome lesson: Everything will work out so long as you focus inward.
C. Brian Smith, Staff Writer: I’ve always found the Incredible Hulk to be very relatable, maybe because I have repressed emotions I’m yearning to let out by turning into a green monster and destroying shit. Hulk is powerful AF. The only way to kill the Hulk is to simultaneously kill every cell in his body. Throw him into the sun and he’ll get stronger because his power is based on radiation. Yes, he’s strong, and yes, he’s angry, but he also has the best regenerative ability of all the superheroes. If you rip his arm off, he’ll grow another one back. If you rip his eyes out, he’ll grow a pair back. Never seen Batman do that shit.
Josh Schollmeyer, Editor-in-Chief: Everything Brian writes above about the Hulk is correct, with a small clarification: Enough with this Bruce Banner bullshit in the Marvel movie versions and Avengers series. There is only one Hulk alter ego: David Banner. Or Benchley. Or Blake. Or Barnard. Or Bennett. Or Bellamy. Or whatever other alias he was using at the time to escape that tabloid hack reporter Jack McGee, who had clearly been warned:
All of which is to say no amount of Mark Ruffalo, Edward Norton, Eric Bana and CGI could ever replace the metamorphosis of Bill Bixby into a bewigged, completely green Lou Ferrigno for me.
I still worship at this altar — frequently, as you can probably tell, tracking down my favorite clips and/or episodes from the CBS series that ran from 1978 to 1982 on YouTube as well as dusting off the DVD sets I own of various seasons. I once even contemplated creating a U.S. map of all the towns Banner visited throughout the show’s lifetime while attempting to both lay-low and find a way to make the green giant trapped inside of him disappear.
It’s also why I will not accept Thor: Ragnarok as true Hulk/Avengers canon. Because real Hulk fans know they had it out long before, in a TV movie I watched on my grandmother’s couch in the late 1980s:
Tim Grierson, Contributing Editor: My dad and I used to argue about this. He likes Superman, who’s a solid, dependable superhero. I prefer Batman, who’s darker and more complex. I think my dad viewed Batman as more trouble than he’s worth — why can’t good guys just be upstanding and fight for truth, justice and the American way? For me, Superman was bland — sure, he’s basically invincible, but what’s the fun in that? There’s a simplicity to my dad’s view of heroism that I do admire, though. Superman won’t ever let you down. Superman is basically the father everybody would want. Batman is the brooding teen most fathers end up getting stuck with. Sorry, Dad.
Tierney Finster, Contributing Writer: Hello Kitty is my favorite superhero. The only time I care about Wonder Woman or other superheroes is when Hello Kitty, the true global hero of cute, dresses up as them.
I also think Batman is hot. As a 7-year-old, I would put on a leopard bathing suit and tell everyone I was Poison Ivy and play Batman, which I guess means I’ve been an Uma Thurman fan way longer than I ever realized.
Jeff Gross, Social Media: I don’t think it gets much better than Spider-Man. When you’re a kid enjoying comic books, you’re going to naturally gravitate toward people like yourself, but better. As cool as Batman was, as ridiculously powerful as Superman was, those guys were men who were either born smart and rich, or on the planet Krypton. A teenager from L.A. like myself has nothing in common with them. But Peter Parker was a dorky kid like me, just trying to navigate the landmines of puberty and popularity. Then one day he gets bit by a radioactive spider and develops the ability to zip around beating up bad guys (read: bullies) and dating hot redheads? Sign me up.