With Marvel Comics and DC both being American and being owned by the US super corporations Disney and Warner Bros respectively, it is perhaps no surprise that the vast number of superheroes are American – Superman (as American as they come), Captain America (okay maybe he’s even more American…), Batman, Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Hulk… all of them residents of the US of A.
But of course other countries need saving too, and as a vast continent you’d think that Europe would have developed a few heroes of its own. Here we will look at some heroes from the continent who probably fight for truth, justice and the… European way…
Captain Britain was conceived as Blighty’s answer to Captain America in 1976. While he never took on in quite the same way, he has nevertheless stuck around and the concept has made for some interesting political analogy. In the ‘Ultimate Marvel’ imprint he is one of a legion of national superheroes which include Captains Italy, France, Spain and others as part of a super soldier program.
Dredd is a character who is currently enjoying a return to the big screen and a resurgence in popularity as a result. While the stories are set in Mega-City One (which covers the United States), and though the character is very much based on the all-American Clint Eastwood, the actual comic strip began life in the British sci-fi anthology 2000AD and the stories have a very English flavour to them.
While he began life on the TV show Doctor Who rather than in the pages of comic books, The Doctor no doubt fits the definition of Superhero – going on time travelling adventures and using his quick wits, sonic screwdriver and alien biology to repeatedly save the known universe. He’s also an English institution in the same way that James Bond or Sherlock Holmes have become (both of whom along with other characters like Tin Tin could arguably make the list but for their lack of super powers…).
Despite writing for the London Planet ‘Le Chat’ (meaning the cat) is as French as they come, particularly with an alter-ego like ‘Jacques Bertrand’.
Gambit, AKA Remy Le Beau, is a charismatic and enigmatic French member of the X-Men who brings a European flavour to the superhero team.
The X-Men it seems are perhaps the most multi-cultural of superhero teams and the German Nightcrawler ensures that Europe gets a good showing. There are actually several other European X-Men (the Russian Colussus being another example), but Nightcrawler and Gambit are perhaps the best known and most popular owing to their roles in the films and 90s cartoons respectively.
Thor might spend most of his time in America, and his sometimes-alter ego Donald Blake, but he is still based entirely on Norse mythology which might arguably make him Scandinavian. Then again he’s also technically from Asgard… so perhaps he should consider applying for triple citizenship…