Political Superheroes

I saw this on a forum, someone was trying to argue that the difference between Superman and Batman was the same as the difference between conservatism and liberalism, with Superman being conservative and Batman being liberal.  Now while I can kind of see what he’s trying to get at, I really don’t think you can make those distinctions, especially since I disagree with a lot of what he’s said so I’m going to go through his list and see what makes sense and what doesn’t.

We’ll do this one at a time and by all means, if you have other opinions, let me know below in the comments.

Batman

Was orphaned as a child but rich
Believes in helping the poor and underprivileged of Gotham
Is unlike many of the rich people in the city not a snob
Will not kill people sometimes since its against his ethics(Against death penalty)
Sends all criminals to the insane Asylum instead of jail
(Even though its been proven some of them are not criminally insane)
Is a bit of a player

Okay, being orphaned has nothing to do with your political ideology, it isn’t exactly something that you have any control over and there are plenty of people on both the left and the right who have been orphaned.  Likewise, while being rich is more often thought of as a conservative trait, it’s important to realize that Bruce Wayne is not a self-made millionaire, he was left Wayne Enterprises and all of his millions. so I can see that as a possible liberal trait.  However, where he says that Batman believes in helping the poor and underprivileged, that depends on the writer.  It certainly hasn’t been true in all cases, in fact, I’d argue that most of the time, catering to the poor is just part of his business strategy, he never loses money on any of these ventures and he’s shown living a life of excess pretty consistently.  Big cars, huge mansions, flashy suits, Bruce Wayne is the Tony Stark of the DC universe.  That doesn’t strike me as someone really giving his money to the poor.  He’s also a snob plenty of times, the Nolan Batman movies portray him as a reclusive rich guy that doesn’t want to bother with the little people (or any people).  And being a “player” doesn’t make him liberal, he’s only done those things when he’s been single, when Bruce Wayne has been in a relationship, he’s been very monogamous.  Not seeing the case to be made here, sorry.

Further, his code against killing comes from the death of his parents, but it really makes no sense whatsoever. See, there is a fundamental difference between Batman and Superman that I want to explore here. Superman is essentially indestructible and so are his family.  Supergirl, Krypto the Superdog and all the rest of the menagerie, they are impervious to harm. None of his human friends, Lois, Lana, Jimmy Olson, Perry White, they have been kidnapped plenty of times, but they have never been seriously injured by villains.  Superman’s parents, again depending on what writer you’re reading, are still alive.  So Superman really has no reason whatsoever to kill anyone, yet he has killed.   Batman on the other hand, his parents were killed by a criminal. Batgirl was shot and crippled by the Joker, who also murdered one version of Robin.  Yet Batman continues to fight and arrest the same group of villains, put them in Arkham Asylum, where he knows they will repeatedly escape and murder members of the public as well as going after his own family and friends, yet he still never kills.  He has a reason.  He just refuses.  That makes Batman crazy, which I guess is the same as liberal in a lot of situations.

Superman

Country boy born in Kansas
Very reserved and actually kind of shy
Has very traditional upbringing
Believes in sometimes killing people who are a danger to the world(Believes in the death penalty)
Gets a job in an office and probably doesn’t make very great pay
Is this very wholesome image
Trys to be the good guy, and not confident enough to ask out a girl without his superman persona(Similar to Peter Parker in that)

On the other side, there’s Superman.  While he was raised in Kansas, he certainly wasn’t born there, I can’t really take anyone who doesn’t know that seriously.  He is reserved and shy, at least in his Clark Kent persona, but not so much as Superman because he really doesn’t have to be.  His upbringing certainly was traditional, but so to are most people’s, so that really doesn’t say anything about his political ideology.  He has killed to protect others, although let’s be honest, this is a comic book and nobody ever stays dead so I’m not sure how much that means.  He is wholesome and does work for a living, as opposed to Batman, who just lives off his inheritance.  The one thing I disagree with is that he’s not confident enough to ask out a girl, I’m assuming he means Lois Lane here.  The problem is, Lois only had eyes for Superman, but couldn’t see Clark if he was standing right in front of her.  The real point wasn’t that he couldn’t ask her out, it was how to separate the two halves of himself, one of which she loved and the other that she didn’t.  What is important to remember here is that when Lois and Clark eventually did get married, she knew both sides of him and loved both sides of him, unlike with Batman, where he keeps the bat-side of himself a completely separate entity, rarely coming clean with whoever he is with and being honest about who he really is.  The same is really true of Peter Parker, when he and Mary Jane got married, it wasn’t Spider-Man she was interested in, it was Peter, although she knew about both and accepted both.  So if the point is that Superman is more honest than Batman, I’ll agree with that.  Is dishonesty something that marks liberals?  You tell me.

What any of this means, I don’t know.  You can make a case for things like personal responsibility for both characters, both of them give up their own comfort and happiness because they are convinced the world needs them.  They are both selfless individuals.  They are both hard-working.  Neither of them are on the public dole.  All of those seem to be conservative characteristics to me.  Take it as you will, I guess, but let me know what you think below.  Can you make a case that these, or any other comic book superheroes, display the conservative or liberal political ideology?  I’d like to know.

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