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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Where are all the British superheroes?

I’m not sure what made this question pop into my head the other day. I think it was probably that I was thinking about seeing Captain America again. It does seem strange to me: Why is there no Captain Britain? Why is there no English equivalent of Superman? Why is there no Scottish Batman? Is there something inherently American about the notion of a caped crusader or a vigilante crime fighter?

Maybe there is. Perhaps the modern superhero is a spiritual descendent of the Old West, where institutions were weak or nonexistent, and it was every man for himself. (Note that I’m not saying that the Old West was actually like that, though it may have been in some places at some times, but that that’s the myth of the Old West, and that it is a peculiarly American one.)
But the United Kingdom has had its share of social upheaval and moments when a supernatural helping hand might have been welcome. Yet… would a masked avenger who, say, roamed the streets of London during the Blitz run counter to the mythology of that time, which is that everyone pulled together and that it was England collectively that made it through?

(I stole that graphic above from a blog called Must… Use… Powers!, which notes, as many others have, that there does seem to be a preponderance of British actors playing American superheroes, but that’s not what I’m talking about.)

I did find myself thinking, last night as I watched riots range all over London, that no superhero could have done anything about that. Not even the Doctor… who may be the closest thing to a British superhero there is.

What do you think? Where are all the British superheroes?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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  • Almighty_spazz_monkey

    There is a Captain Britain, he’s just not as well known as Captain America.

  • The Doctor. That is all.

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