IT’S A QUESTION NEARLY AS OLD AS superhero comics themselves: If you could be any crimefighting cartoon character, who would it be? Answering that question when you’re running for higher office, however, takes on loftier levels of would-be import. Because do you really want to be known to all of America as the candidate who longs to be Ant-Man?
Or Aquaman? (Not if you don’t identify as green and eco-friendly.)
Or Robin the Boy Wonder? (Say so and you seem destined to be No.-2 on the ticket, at best.)
Now that telltale question is being posed to Republican candidates who have been glad-handing the good folks of New Hampshire.
Freelance documentary producer and writer Darren Garnick tells Comic Riffs on Wednesday that he has made a video “for fun” in which his tween-aged son, Ari — whom Garnick calls a “superhero fiend” — poses that singular query to the contenders:
If you could be any superhero in the world, WHO would you be?
(Full disclosure: Garnick notes that during the 2008 campaign, he did a project for The Post’s sister outlet Slate, in which he “tried to photograph my daughter with all the candidates.”)
Garnick’s new video is titled: “Republicans in Tights: Behind the Scenes of the ‘Superhero Primary.’ “
The first thing you may notice is that among these human contenders, Superman wins a mortal majority. Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and the pre-suspended Herman Cain all pick the Man of Steel.
A second thing you may notice is that among the men who seek the highest office in D.C., the most popular superhero galaxy is DC. (Among the non-DC Comics candidates: Jon Huntsman likes Spider-Man; Rick Santorum goes Pixar with Mr. Incredible; and Ron Paul apparently doesn’t know who his favorite superhero is.)
Which, when purely playing the odds, means the 2012 general election will shape up as a DC vs. Marvel showdown.
During his 2008 run, President Obama made it known that he was a Spider-Man fan, eventually appearing on a top-selling Marvel issue alongside the webslinger even before he was inaugurated.
The real point, of course, is that naming your favorite superhero is a form of personality litmus test — voters can try to glean what attributes the candidate most identifies with, and what superpowers the contender would most wish for.
“I wanted to take Ari out on the New Hampshire primary campaign trail, which — like Iowa — is the greatest social studies classroom available,” Garnick tells Comic Riffs, “and I knew that having a superhero theme would make it more interesting for him.”
Garnick would also like to hear how one other candidate might answer the big question.
“I'm very curious to hear what Michele Bachmann will say if she makes it back to New Hampshire,” Garnick tells us, noting that he “will be shocked if she has a surprise pick besides Wonder Woman.”
“ There are not as many women heroes to choose from,” he says, “but there are much more than are on people's radar.”
Which superhero would you pick for different candidates? You can email your picks to firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter to @comicriffs.