Update: Did you get here by googling The Best Superhero? I posted this way way back when and didn't know the controversy it would generate -- but don't let that stop you from weighing in, as all the others have done. See the end of the post for more.
This is a real bone of contention in our house, I have to tell you. The Boy is a Batman fanatic. Nobody else will do. He's watched all the Batman movies, even the boring re-run with Christian Bale (and, seriously, Batman's origin is among the most boring of all of them. How often do we have to watch that again), he has a Batman poster on his wall, he just went to Six Flags Great America and came home with a Batman hat and a Batman shirt for Twin A, you see my point.
In a different corner is Sweetie, who loves Spiderman, and hopefully it is Spiderman she loves and not Tobey Maguire. (Because how could I compete?) Sweetie is not a superhero person, or a comics person, per se but Spiderman gets her, so much so that she threatened divorce if we were late for the premiere of Spiderman 2. I do not think she was joking.
Then there's me, and my encyclopedic knowledge of superheroes that people who limit themselves to movie and TV do not ever get. That's because I grew up reading comic books, and, boy, did I read them. And the more obscure the superheroes, the better I liked 'em. Blue Devil? Loved it. Firestorm? Thought he was great. Ambush Bug? Had the entire series. I collected volumes of the Legion of Superheroes, (and thank you, Wikipedians, for concentrating on comic book history.) I even knew some of the more obscure members of the Justice League of America after it was no longer the original Justice League. (Steel? Come on, he sucked.)
But I loved even the lame superheroes, like Aquaman, whose miniseries was underrated (James Cameron, take note!) And I liked the weird ones, like Wildfire (whose potential was never really explored.)
So I believe that I am uniquely qualified to weigh in on the Best Superhero. And I have to tell you, it's not Superman. What's so great about Superman? First of all, there's no suspense. He can't be hurt -- barring Kryptonite, which given that Superman is supposed to get his powers from the sun, makes no sense as his Achilles' heel, and which the other superheroes should have long ago rounded up and thrown into a star somewhere-- and his powers make no sense. Turn lakes to ice by blowing on them? X-ray vision? Heat vision? Okay, if I give you X-ray vision because his eyes are so strong they can see in different spectra, fine, but how can he shoot beams out of his eyes? And why not cold vision, then? (Oh, right, because his breath is super-cold but apparently not enough to freeze Lois Lane's face when he kisses her.) And does he have to eat? He's invulnerable and can fly in space without oxygen, so why eat? I don't like Superman.
And, sorry to The Boy and the Batgeeks, but Batman sucks. Yeah, mystery, yeah, haunted past, yeah, yeah, yeah, but he's just a rich guy with improbable gadgets. He's not a superhero, he's a well-equipped CIA agent. Hero, maybe, but SUPERhero? Not by a long shot. Plus, that boring origin story.
And we've come full circle, because despite my love of the obscure and weird and underrated superheroes out there, the correct answer was in front of our faces all along, and Sweetie got it right.
Spiderman is the best hero ever.
Superpowers that make sense? Yep. Weaknesses to add suspense? He got beat up by his own suit! Sympathetic background story that explains why he fights crime? He let his uncle's killer go while he counted his money. How sympathetic is that? You'd spend your nights brooding while hanging upside down from a web, too.
But Spidey's got more going for him. He was the first modern superhero, and by modern I mean: hates his job. He doesn't want to be a superhero anymore than you and I want to go into the office everyday. He doesn't get the benefits from it and has to try to make ends meet and get the girl anyway, and all he'd really like to do is spend his time making out with Mary Jane (I might be a little out-of-date on the comics that I haven't kept up with) and studying science and taking pictures. But he has to keep getting captured by the Beyonder, or fighting Doc Ock, or (once) meeting up with Superman to go into space to fight Lex Luthor (a great crossover!) and then, when that's all done, he comes home to find he's facing eviction.
Spidey has cool powers, a cool backstory, the best villains, and a real life outside of the webslinging. He's clearly the Best Superhero.
The Hulk, Juggernaut, Doomsday, Thor, Superman, Yoda.
Spider-Man. (That one was mine!)
Captain Carrot (Me, again!)
And, if you like Supervillains, you can check out these articles:
The Three Best Supervillains Who Deservedly Just Kept Coming Back And Should Keep Doing So.
The Best Worst Villain Ever, a five-part series:
When Saoirse died in the plane crash, she had no idea that her life was just beginning. Now, she's running around her afterlife trying to find a way home... or to keep William Howard Taft from finding his way home.
Read the After, a thrilling novel published online at 5 Pages.