No, superheroes are not fascists (#SFWApro)

invaders36So an article a couple of months ago on The Mary Sue discusses Batman vs. Superman in light of the author’s supposedly deep insight that super-heroes stories are “politically fascist” (no, I’m not linking to the tripe) Which is not an original thought (I’ve heard variations going back years), and it’s not accurate. Except, you know, Nazi super-heroes like the WW II retcon villain Iron Cross, who sees himself as a patriotic German hero (cover by Alan Kupperberg, all rights to current holder).

The post’s rationale is that super-heroes use violence with very little oversight or restraint on their actions. But that’s not actually fascist. Fascism is not a philosophy that might makes right (I’ve heard that one used when explaining that Conan is a fascist narrative, though “might makes right” isn’t really fair to the Cimmerian). It’s a political belief that includes:

  • A willingness to use violence.
  • Nationalism.
  • A belief that the nation must return to its fundamental principles (or alleged principles) to make it great again.
  • Every citizen must subordinate their rights to the needs and the greatness of the nation.

None of which fits your typical super-hero narrative. Not even specifically nationalist heroes such as Captain Britain or Captain America.

And of course, super-heroes are a lot more than people who use violence on those who break the law, or to protect property and wealth (the argument that all super-heroes really do is protect the propertied classes is not new either). Super-heroes do lots of things that don’t even remotely fit under a fascist rubric. Charity drives. Stopping national disasters. Feeding the hungry. Helping orphans find their parents. To look at just one Superman story, this tale of him answering letters for help shows him doing all kinds of good deeds, none of which actually involve punching.

Admittedly I don’t think super-vigilantes would be a good thing in the real world (we’d probably get super-powered versions of incidents like this). But labeling them fascist is just silly.

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Filed under Comics, Politics, Reading

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