Superhero Politicians: Ranking the Top 5

They Are Not A Crook! Well, Most Aren’t…

[The Penguin and Batman are running for mayor of Gotham City]
The Penguin:Whenever you’ve seen Batman, who’s he with? Criminals, that’s who! You look in the old newspapers, and every picture of Batman shows him with thugs, and with thieves, and hobnobbing with crooks. Whereas my pictures show me always surrounded by whom? By the police! I am an associate of the law!

Batman “Hizzonner The Penguin” Season 2, Episode 17)

Politics are an arena that makes superhero movies look realistic. Everyone looks to presidents, kings, and queens as rulers, but there are other important positions. Mayors and senators perform the often overlooked work of keeping a nation going while leaving the spotlight for higher offices. That makes these positions perfect for superheroes.

It’s hard for a superhero to be president. It’s too big an additional duty. Superhero kings like Black Panther fight on two fronts, leaving themselves and their country vulnerable. Lesser positions let them fulfill civic duties and still have time to fight crime. So who are the Top 5 Superhero Politicians? Let’s find out.

#5 J. Jonah Jameson

Played By: J.K. Simmons, Ed Asner
Position: Mayor

Reporter: “We’re pleased to announce New York’s newest mayor is… J. Jonah Jameson!”
Jameson: “‘Nuff said!”
Spider-Man:Gotta be a dream, a prank, a hoax, lalalala not happening!

Spider-Man #591

Superhero politicians walk a tightrope. They have a duty to their constituents, but also personal agendas and passions to pursue. This one struggles to find balance between them.

J. Jonah Jameson is the firebrand Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Bugle. He uses the newspaper to expose criminals and corrupt politicians. Jameson hates masked heroes because of childhood trauma, and hates Spider-Man most of all.

In 2009, Jameson ran for and won New York’s mayoral race. He established the Anti-Spider Squad and sent armed agents to hunt Spider-Man. Tax hikes funding the squad torpedoed Jameson’s popularity, but he remained in office for years. Jameson split his time between A.S.S. operations and helping the city until he resigned and returned to journalism.

We’ve got the scoop on Mayor Jameson in this exclusive Backstory.

#4 Superhero Politician: Sam Lane

Played By: Glenn Morshower, Joel de la Fuente
Position: Senator

[Deathstroke aims a laser at Superman, who is holding up a collapsing bridge]
Amanda Waller:Wilson, take the shot.”
General Lane:No. Stand down soldier.
Waller: General, we have an opportunity and we need to take it!
General Lane:Not if it endangers civilians. Remember why we’re doing this.”

My Adventures With Superman “You Will Believe a Man Can Lie” (Season 1, Episode 5)

Superheroes and politicians hold two different types of power. Politicians may not run faster than a speeding bullet or hurl cars with impunity, but passing the right bill can influence more people than most heroes could ever save. Both are a test of that person’s character. So did this superhero politician pass?

General Sam Lane was Lois Lane’s conservative father. He was cold and distant, training her in martial arts and survival techniques that he had wanted to teach a son. General Lane was racist against aliens, viewing them as a threat to America. His bigotry grew when a lost colony of Kryptonians created a sister planet to Earth called New Krypton.

General Lane’s bigotry drove him mad. He partnered with Lex Luthor and radioactive villain Reactron to eradicate the Kryptonian menace. They temporarily turned Earth’s sun red to weaken the New Kryptonians and upgraded Reactron with power-nullifying gold kryptonite to serve as a weapon of mass destruction. The blast destroyed New Krypton, killing almost every inhabitant.. General Lane killed himself to escape punishment and become an anti-alien martyr.

A new version of Sam Lane was introduced in DC’s New 52 series. The general was now a senator who specifically hated Superman, whom he considered a naïve coward. He financed several anti-Superman projects to kill the Man of Steel if needed. Despite his antagonism, Senator Lane and Superman know that they are very loosely on the same side.

#3 Robert Kelly

Played By: Bruce Davison, Dale Wilson
Position: Senator

Kelly:For Abraham Lincoln, the challenge was slavery. For us, on the cusp of the twenty-first century, it is Mutants!

X-Men: Dream’s End

Politics are more divisive than ever. Supporting one party can turn loved ones against each other. Politicians could once work together putting aside party loyalty and personal feelings. This Superhero Politician was a bridge between the X-Men and the U.S. Government.

Robert Kelly was a senator who saw an illusion of Cyclops attacking civilians. He became terrified of Mutants and backed several projects to contain them. His magnum opus was the Mutant Registration Act, a law requiring Mutants to register their identities and powers with the government.

Senator Kelly was nuanced. He fought against ethnic cleansing of mutants and protected their civil rights. Kelly privately acknowledged that the X-Men often protected him from assassins and believed that individual Mutants could be good people. It was supervillains, careless heroes, and the overall idea of Mutant superiority that scared him.

Mutant time traveler Cable was assigned as Kelly’s bodyguard. He helped the senator realize that Mutants weren’t the threat that Kelly had imagined. The Senator renounced his anti-Mutant views at a rally and planned to become an advocate for them, but was assassinated by one of his former followers.

#2 Superhero Politician: Green Arrow

Played By: Stephen Amell, Alan Tudyk
Position: Mayor

Green Arrow: “I’m the only guy in the room who doesn’t have superpowers, and let me tell you, you guys scare me. What if you do decide to march down there, taking care of whoever you think is guilty? Who could stop you, me?”
Supergirl: “So you want the government to have a bunch of superhuman weapons to keep us in check?!”
Green Arrow:No! I don’t know… yeah! Look, I’m an old Lefty. The government must do for people what people cannot do for themselves. The people sure can’t protect themselves from the likes of us.

Justice League :Unlimited “Flashpoint” (Season 2, Episode 10)

Oliver Queen was a rich kid who fell off of a boat and wound up on an island. He taught himself to hunt with a bow and arrow. After being rescued, he became a modern day Robin Hood called Green Arrow. Oliver fought for social justice in his civilian life and against crime as the Green Arrow.

Green Arrow was a provocateur happy to turn any chat to politics. He famously went on a road trip with Green Lantern to educate his conservative friend about pollution, drug abuse, and other societal ills in between fighting supervillains. 

Oliver was later elected the Mayor of Star City. He used government resources to help underprivileged people and led the city’s SWAT teams as Green Arrow. Mayor Queen learned that he had unwittingly been financing a team of anti-heroes. That revelation plus flagging faith from voters caused Mayor Queen to resign and return full-time to heroics.

Check out the Green Arrow Backstory and see if that hit the bullseye.

#1 The Joker

Played By: Alan Tudyk, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill
Position: Mayor

Reporter:What do you hope to accomplish as Mayor of Gotham?
Joker:Well, to start, education reform. […] I also want free universal healthcare. Do you think Arkham would have a three-year wait list if everyone had access to free mental health services? And the rich one-percenters are gonna pay for it all!
Reporter:You want the rich to pay for all this?! Are you, like, a Socialist?”
Joker: “I’m not like a Socialist. I am a Socialist. And together, we’re gonna fix this city!

Harley Quinn “Joker: The Killing Vote” (Season 3, Episode 6)

Superheroes are rarely elected. If they win, they get voted out as soon as they’re unmasked as vigilantes. Supervillains rarely run for office, but sometimes succeed. This supervillain politician made the political circus a reality.

The Joker retired from crime, married, and settled down with his new family. After learning that his son was bullied for being Hispanic, Joker tried to enroll him in a dual-immersion class. A racist bully on the PTA assigned the last spots to her children out of spite. She made a crack about the Mayor deciding school budgets, inspiring Joker to run for office.

Joker staged a bank robbery to announce his candidacy. He ran on a progressive, socialist platform that made him popular with the middle class. It helped that opponent Commissioner Gordon was a washed-up shell being used as a proxy by Two Face and Batgirl. Gordon eventually dropped out, allowing Joker to win uncontested.

The strangest part of Joker’s mayoral reign is that he was really good at it. He abolished Gotham’s police, improved educational and health services, and supported marginalized communities. Mayor Joker also defeated Batman by exposing Bruce Wayne’s embezzlement of Waynetech funds and tax evasion, sending Wayne to jail for an entire season.

The minutiae of politics wore on Joker until he murdered an annoying constituent. He realized there was no reason he couldn’t be the mayor and a criminal. Now joined by his equally bloodthirsty family, Mayor Joker is poised to paint Gotham City red.

Which Superhero Politician has your vote? Is there a better one running on an independent ticket? Tell us in the comments.

And now, a Public Service Announcement.

My friends, we all know the frustration of an election year. Both parties exalt themselves by demonizing the other, insistent that they are the only path to peace and happiness. It’s easy to tune them out and decide that politics don’t matter at all. But politicians only have as much power as voters like you and I give them. Make your voice heard by voting in elections, even the seemingly unimportant ones. If you don’t, then don’t whine later.

Image: Photograph by Courtesy of HBO Max

Related posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Get Netflix Dates emailed free to you every week