A while ago a Channel 4 poll of the public was made into a documentary by Welsh production company Yeti Media. Britain’s Favourite Superhero involved several celebrities, such as Stan Lee and Katherine Ryan, talking about their favourite superheroes. The programme went through a brief history of some of film and comics’ most well-known and loved heroes. It culminated in the run down of the top five, as voted for by the British public.
Its synopsis describes it as “a look at the history of the screen superhero, from the 1970s, when Superman: The Movie rewrote the rulebook for special effects, to the CGI technology and syncopated storylines of the 21st century“, something which elitist comic fans obviously missed, as during its showing hordes of them took to twitter to complain how it focused on TV and cinema’s superheroes instead of those in comic books.
I’ll start by saying as a cinema student, I am obviously more interested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, X-men films, and the various superhero programmes than in the comics. I much prefer books and the sheer volume of comics is very off-putting, especially when you consider how fond comic fans are of gatekeeping. I have no interest in reading fifty years’ worth of comics in order to be “worthy” of calling myself a fan, and besides, I think there are more than enough problems (e.g. sexism, ableism etc.) in the comics to keep me away. Granted, the majority of that is because a lot of the comics were created in a time before people cared as much about various human rights, but still it makes for uncomfortable reading/canon knowledge.
Also, with the exception of Joss Whedon’s failure, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, I always enjoy superhero films. And TV programmes are great because they can go into the story more. What I’m trying to say is my list will not be heavily based, if at all, on any comics pertaining to or about any of the characters discussed.
The list in the programme went as follows:
5 – Wonder Woman
4 – Iron Man
3 – Spiderman
2 – Superman
1 – Batman
Unfortunately I just don’t agree with the list. I don’t have a problem with the makers of the programme, but perhaps just the public as a whole. I mean, come on, Batman?? How overrated and boring can you possibly get? There’s only so much dark and brooding manpain I can take. And Superman? He’s such a Mary Sue, if I could think of a non-sexist way to describe it (to be honest, so is Batman). And I’ve still not forgiven Iron Man for being such a dick. So here is my rewritten favourite superhero list.
Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff)
Arguably the best Avenger, Natasha Romanoff is one of the most underrated superheroes. She’s smart, loyal, incredibly awesome and tries to do the right thing (see: Sokovia Accords). She’s brilliant at her job. And she deserved so much more than she got under Joss Whedon’s control. My friend and I constantly talk about how her characterisation is so much better in the Captain America films than in the Avengers ones. Also consider how great the scene is where her and Steve are trying to get out of the shopping centre in The Winter Soldier. Steve is willing to sacrifice himself to let her get away but she uses her spy skills to get them both out. It highlights the difference between their characters and also how necessary they both are to the team (but also how skilled she actually is). I think I would say she is my favourite superhero. She’s a kick-arse amazing woman who should definitely get more screen time.
Oh yeah, do you know how hard it is to get decent Black Widow merch? Infinitely more difficult than it is to get Iron Man merch. I don’t particularly care for Iron Man, but it is ubiquitous. Definitely not going to spend my money on it. I hope Marvel knows they’re missing out. And, alright, so Black Widow and Hawkeye don’t have superpowers, but guess what? Neither do Iron Man or Batman.
Hawkeye (Clint Barton)
Much like Natasha, Clint gets better characterisation under the Captain America team. He keeps up with demigods and genetically enhanced people! And he’s an awesome spy. Who was sent to take the infamous Black Widow out but instead took her out….to dinner. Can’t tell me that’s not what happened. I will maintain this til I die 😉 He’s always there with a quip or an unimpressed look. He’s definitely #relatable. He’s funny, friendly, loyal and great at his job. And he seems as though he could give Fury a run for his money as Avengers recruiter. The way he works together with Natasha is just great. He’s just great, okay??
Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff)
For so long Black Widow was the only female Avenger. Then along came Wanda. She’s cool, and has an amazing aesthetic. Her and her brother are sweet, young, angry and lost, but are still doing their best as Avengers. Imagine if Wanda had had the Avengers (or even just Natasha/Steve/Clint, the dadvengers and kinda….older sister avenger?? Don’t @ me) sooner. That scene after Clint gives Wanda a pep talk in Age of Ultron, oh man. She’s powerful and awesome and she fits in so well with the team. Women being great amiright? I mean, they could have got a Jewish Romani actress to play her but oh well. Baby steps, Marvel (the next step better be a Black Widow film I swear to god). She’s a pure wee cinnamon roll and I love her character so much. Also, my friend and I went to a Halloween-themed disco as Natasha and Wanda, so….RT your goals.
The Winter Soldier (James “Bucky” Barnes)
Don’t anyone dare try to tell me Bucky is a villain. In Civil War you can see how genuinely devastated he was at that one thing that happened (no spoilers, just in case). He was used as a tool and is not responsible for what he did during his time as the Winter Soldier. He just wants to buy his plums and live in peace, for goodness’ sake! Bucky is a good person at heart and I am so glad he has Steve to help him readjust. That after-credits scene, you know the one I mean. Gosh. He really is a good man and a superhero. And I really want his boots. Damn, the man can stride.
Captain America (Steve Rogers)
Of course I had to mention Steve. The morally upstanding soldier with a blind spot for Bucky Barnes. He’s just so Good. Admittedly he’s been very stubborn of late, but he does stick to his morals and what’s right. America as a country should probably take notes. There’s so many things about him that make him one of my favourites. The way he tries to look after his team, especially the younger ones (in age, not years in cryo) is so sweet. I absolutely love how he shares his shield with the others in battle. But I’m sure no one has the time to listen to me ramble about every single little thing I like about these superheroes.
The Flash (Barry Allen)
The Flash is a nice, decent superhero. He’s awkward, he tries to do too much too fast (ayyy) all at once and he does get ahead of himself, but he is good at heart. It gets a little bit iffy with relationships in the programme, but if you ignore that it’s pretty engaging. Barry is smart (sometimes) and kind and he just really wants the baddies to be stopped. He’s a sweet and wholesome superhero I guess. The Flash is very likeable.
Daredevil (Matt Murdock)
As well as being a brilliant lawyer, this vigilante is also a great person! *Magic mirror from Shrek voice* Matt is adorable. He just wants to make the world a better place! And he tries to balance his day job with saving the city but when it doesn’t work, he pushes them away. Truly a staple of heroism. *eye roll* The whole “Catholic guilt” thing was a bit too overworked for me, and I definitely was not into the direction they went relationship-wise, but other than that and a few other issues, I absolutely loved it. The crossover with Claire (who is probably the best character) between the TV programmes is fab but I think she definitely deserves her own. It could be called Sick Of Superheroes, or I’m A Nurse! Get Me Out Of Here. Joking aside, I really do love Daredevil. It’s a great wee show and I’d love to see more of it.
P.S. Beth, hurry up and finish the damn thing!!
Supergirl (Kara Danvers)
Kara is another relatable superhero. She’s a sweet person trying to balance her double life with debatable success. The programme itself is delightful. It makes me happy, I don’t know what else I can say. It’s feminist and funny, and Kara is the kind of role model I would have loved when I was little. I love how determined she is to save people and do good. I think she’s the kind of person who would go out and rescue kittens on her lunch break. She’s so cute and lovely and heroic.
Jewel/Jessica Jones (Jessica Jones)
Jessica Jones is a great superhero because even though she’s suffering and struggling, she still tries to make Hell’s Kitchen better and safer. PTSD is addressed as well as the issue of consent, something not often seen on TV. Krysten Ritter puts on a wonderful performance (as does the rest of the cast) and I felt so many emotions while watching. Jessica’s trying so hard to put herself back together and make a living, all while trying to deal with the return of Kilgrave. I genuinely love her. She’s such a real human, by which I mean she’s not as disconnected from ordinary life as, for example, the Avengers. That isn’t a criticism, but it does make her more relatable. I guess that comes with being a vigilante though. Either way, I can’t wait to watch the new series.
P.S. Beth!!!! Ditto!!!
This ended up being very Marvel-dominated. Special mention to Falcon (Sam Wilson) and Thor – the MCU version, the two I couldn’t decide between to make it an even number. There are many other characters I could have picked out, but for some I don’t feel as if one film (especially with an ensemble cast) really gives me as much to work with. Others I haven’t watched yet (e.g. Luke Cage). Only a couple of years and more films will be out and this list will probably change!
So who’s your favourite superhero? What would your list look like? Feel free to tweet @meanmoreblog or comment below.