Just for Fun: Marketers Talk Comics
by Nick Riley and the Innovations team
Some of the most recognizable brands in pop culture today are ripped straight from the pages of comic books. Comic book properties dominate film and television, from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to The Walking Dead. Show anyone around the world the logo for Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man, and odds are, they can tell you who it belongs to in a heartbeat. That’s the kind of recognition brands dream of.
Since it’s National Comic Book Day – and a huge nerd is in charge of our social media – we polled the office for their favorite comic book characters.
This will date me, but my favorite comic book character is Terry McGinnis, Batman, from Batman Beyond. It came out my freshman year of high school, and I remember going to Wallace Newsstand (in Kingsport, Tennessee, my hometown) to get every issue. It was so much darker than the original Batman comics and I was obsessed with the artwork. They made a TV series out of it that I was never a fan of. I want Warner Brothers DC to cast Michael Keaton as old Bruce Wayne and have Tim Burton direct a new Batman Beyond series of films (this could save DC the humiliation of the Zack Snyder series). I mean, just look at the artwork. Amazing.
Batman. Always Batman.
I only briefly got into comics when I was a kid, but I’d have to say Superman since he was a pretty important part of my upbringing (being from Metropolis, that is).
Green Arrow. Why? Because Green Arrow is the underdog, the archetypal layman in the world of God-like monstrosities of men. Oh, so is Batman, you say? Nay friend. Nay. Batman perhaps once was the underdog of old, but through his own cunning guile and the deus ex machina of comic writers, Batman has overcome what it means to be human. He has achieved a Batman-branded form of enlightenment – always calm, always cool, always in the right. The writers have universally equated ‘peak human excellence’ to ‘perfect person inside and out,’ which drives Batman to be dull. It is his villains that keep you reading, not the character himself.
Green Arrow, though, has not become the ‘ideal,’ nor would it suit him. He barely has a functioning rogues’ gallery. He has the same human physical deficiencies as Batman, but since 1941 Green Arrow – or more importantly, his writers – have not taken away the uniquely human deficiencies that define Oliver Queen. He is a bad father. He is a failed mentor. His love life is generally in shambles. Through it all, he dives into being a superhero (and not even a superbly effective one relative to the world he lives in). He runs away from the mess of his own life by running toward saving the world. The mantle, Green Arrow, is his survival. It is his escape. Just like comics are for the ones reading it.
You’re welcome and good day.
Doctor Doom: the best part not only of the Fantastic Four’s mythology, but of the Marvel Universe itself. He speaks to me on a spiritual level as the ultimate jack-of-all-trades. A scientist to rival Reed Richards, a sorcerer to rival Doctor Strange, an engineer to rival Tony Stark, and a successful king and world leader to boot. He’s overpowered celestial beings through sheer willpower. He’s reshaped the universe in his own image. He’s literally been to Hell and back, and beaten the armies of the damned single-handedly.
And yet for all that, he’s still sympathetic. His motivations are understandable, even if we don’t agree with his methods. Who among us isn’t occasionally touched by envy? Who doesn’t want to save their loved ones? Who doesn’t think things would be better if we were just in charge, every now and then? Doom is both our worst and best selves writ large, in all our melodramatic glory. Deeply flawed and morally reprehensible, we can’t help but see some of ourselves in him.
And who else but Doom could drop this line: “I was a god… I found it… beneath me.”
I’m bad at comics, but I watched Deadpool this weekend.