Did Superman writers create President Donald Trump? NOT FAKE NEWS!
What becomes a super-villain most? Or: who becomes a supervillain most?
In the Oxford University Press anthology Our Superheroes, Ourselves (2013), edited by Robin S. Rosenberg and dealing with the social, political and psychological aspects of those brightly-coloured metaphors on legs, an essay by Robert J. Sternberg offers a handy guide to the common characteristics of super-villains like Lex Luthor, Dr Doom, The Green Goblin, Magneto and various James Bond bad guys.
Some of these characterics seemed eerily familiar, so I’m taking the liberty of quoting Dr Sternberg’s checklist in the hope of solving the mystery
- Massive egocentrism. They believe that they are the centre of the universe and literally try to place themselves at the centre of the human universe. They see others as tools to serve them.
- Lack of conscience. They really do not care what happens to others as long as their ego needs are met. If anything, they enjoy seeing others suffer [ …]
- Exploitativeness. They exploit people shamelessly to their own ends. They have no qualms about using other people for their self-glorification and in the service of executing their plans.
- False omniscience. They believe that they are either all-knowing or so hugely knowledgeable that there is little they can learn from anyone else. They often fail to learn from experience, which can further lead to their doom.
- False invulnerability. They think that they are all-powerful, failing to recognize their own weaknesses.
- False omnipotence. They believe that they are, or at least should be, all-powerful.
- Ethical disengagement. They leave ethics to others; they have little or no sense of ethics of their own.
Hmmmm … the mists are clearing … all this definitely reminds me of someone …
Phun Phact # 1: Back in the 1980s, when the illuminati of DC Comics decided to reboot their flagship character, Superman, writer/artist John Byrne, to whom the future of the Man Of Steel had been entrusted, also decided on a makeover for Supey’s nemesis, Lex Luthor. Formerly a genius-level mad scientist in and out of jail so often that sometimes he didn’t even bother changing out of his prison greys, he was now reinvented – in the wake of Gene Hackman version from the Christopher Reeve-era Superman movies – as a megalomaniac billionaire tycoon whose superpowers were unlimited amounts of money and malevolence.
He thus became DC’s incarnation of Bad Capitalism, as opposed to the Good Capitalism represented by billionaire philanthropist Bruce (Batman) Wayne; just as, over at Marvel, Norman (Green Goblin) Osbourn was the evil twin of Good Capitalist and reformed arms dealer Tony (Iron Man) Stark. Byrne later revealed that his model for the ‘new’ Luthor was New York property developer Donald J. Trump.
Phun Phact #2: In several early-2000s storylines, Luthor actually became President of the United States, ruthlessly exploiting the powers of his office to pursue his various and nefarious schemes and agendas before being driven from said office by the revelation of high crimes against not just the USA but Planet Earth and much of the galaxy. (Marvel’s Norman Osborn had to content himself with becoming Secretary Of Defence.) Well, fancy that …
So maybe there’s still hope. In the meantime, despite my fondness for the nickname ‘Mafia Don’, I may start referring to him as ‘Lex Looter’. Or, better still, ‘Lex Loser.’