Donald Trump claimed to be Batman while giving impressionable children helicopter rides at the Iowa State Fair. Now, Trump has made some pretty unbelievable claims in his time, and said some truly odious things, but this just about takes the cake. It’s entirely natural and fun to compare powerful people to superheroes, but there are a few rules that any nerd could tell you should be inviolate.
First and foremost: Nobody gets to be Batman.
Let’s put this to bed right now. Nobody is cool enough to be Batman (maybe some Special Forces guys, maybe). And comparing yourself to Batman? That only compounds the offense. Suffice it to say, Trump was not only wrong, but insulted everything that Batman stands for. Truly, he has an ego the size of Galactus.
It did get me thinking about who his superhero analogue would really be, though. There are so many better comparisons, including Ben Domenech’s take on him as the Sun Eater (obscure, although perhaps the most apt). Then, I thought, why limit this to Trump? The exercise should carry over to the entire field of GOP candidates.
With the help of my resolutely apolitical brother Rob (whose work has previously graced these online pages) I hope to stoke the barely-contained nerd-rage of our readers into a flame war the likes of which this most excellent online magazine of culture and opinion has never seen. I fully expect that you will disagree with many of my picks, and that you will register your disapproval loudly. We present: The 2016 All-Star Super Squad.
Jeb Bush: Cyclops
He’s a solid guy, with a record of fighting the good fight, but everyone hates him for some reason. It could be his reserved attitude, it could be that he’s not as cool as Wolverine. Bush has vast resources at his disposal, but may not be entirely in control of his message. It might be useless against the lingering aspect of his brother, whose actions as president could negate Jebclops’ power.
Carly Fiorina: The Invisible Woman
It was easy to dismiss Fiorina in the early days. While she is the only woman running on the Right, nobody was really paying attention to her. Then WHAP! During the second-string debate she dropped her invisible woman act and hit everyone upside the head with a force field. Her strong performance and articulate critiques of Hillary Clinton have raised her profile. Whether she can continue to stand out in a crowded field or will once again fade from sight is up to her.
Marco Rubio: Captain Marvel (Shazam!)
Young Billy Batson says a magic word and turns into a powerhouse who can go toe-to-toe with the strongest villains around (like Hillary Clinton). Rubio’s youth, eloquence, and conservatism make him a major force for good. He is unfortunately viewed as a bit of a square by some corners of the Right, who are slow to forgive his attempts at immigration reform. But they should chalk it up to youthful naiveté. Don’t disregard his abilities!
Rick Perry: Optimus Prime
After 2011, he transformed: new glasses and a new image to counter his debate malfunction. In 2015, he rolled out some of the most thoughtful conservative policy proposals, with some real Texas swagger. Yet he has struggled to get a foothold in the race, and his campaign has had financial difficulty. After heroically standing up to oppose the menace of Donald Trump, it looked like he was about to die (again) and traumatize a bunch of ’80s kids like me (again). It would be a travesty for him to fold up shop this early, when he could still get traction.
Scott Walker: Wolverine
By going up against some of the most powerful, vicious political players in the nation and winning again and again, Walker proved he, like Wolverine, is the best there is at what he does. Whatever wounds he suffered seemed to heal immediately and hardly even slow him down. Plus, Wisconsin is so far north that it’s basically Canada.
Then again, all that was Wisconsin. In the national spotlight, alongside more experienced and politically powerful players, he has stumbled. Some say he is overrated, much like Wolverine—a one-dimensional character who is little more than an outlet for adolescent fury. It might be that Walker’s record in his home state, while pretty badass, covers up the fact that he’s just not prepared to compete at this level.
Ben Carson: Doctor Strange
Much like the Sorcerer Supreme in a physical fight, Carson has an esoteric skillset that really doesn’t apply to the situation at hand. In fact, to the uninitiated, the doctor’s presence in this race ought to be downright mystifying. Although he has an inspiring life story, one doesn’t generally attain the presidency without having held some elective office before. I’m not sure whether Carson has his own Orb of Agamotto, but he appears to see something the rest of us can’t: a chance that he’ll be the nominee.
Rand Paul: Spawn
Spawn was created by the Malebolgia (in this case, his dad, Ron), who is both the source of his power and something he must fight to overcome. In the few months before the race began in earnest, it appeared that a “libertarian moment” might be approaching, based on concerns about domestic spying. However, renewed fears over national security, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, and the horror of ISIS in the Middle East have done much to squelch that burgeoning moment. Rand may have to go back to Rat City with the bums and bide his time.
Bobby Jindal: Mr. Fantastic
Jindal is quite brilliant, and very thin and rubbery-looking. You can often see him trying to slow down the wheels while talking to people. Just like Mr. Fantastic, because of his somewhat awkward genius he is probably most effective as part of a team—perhaps Cabinet-level. Secretary of Health and Human Services would be a natural fit for him to oversee the dismantling of Obamacare.
Mike Huckabee: Captain America
This one is going to be controversial, but think about it. Captain America is a man out of step with the times; Huckabee can’t seem to stop talking about his socially conservative beliefs that polite society has deemed antiquated. You have to respect him for sticking to his guns. That’s not all, though. While not super-powered, Captain America possesses keen fighting skills and is the peak of human physical condition. Huck shares…one of those traits. As folksy political charm on the campaign trail goes, Huckabee is among the best in the world.
Chris Christie: Guy Gardner (Green Lantern)
A strong-willed loudmouth who refuses to back down from a fight and “has a reputation…as an obnoxious butthead.” Pretty much says it all.
George Pataki: Aquaman
It’s like…okay. You’re here. That’s great! But you basically talk to fish, so…maybe sit this one out?
Ted Cruz: Booster Gold
“The character is initially depicted as a glory-seeking showboat from the future.” If that’s not an apt description of Ted Cruz, I don’t know what is. Here is a guy with a keen mind and a history as a champion of debate. He could use those talents in service of meaningful conservative opposition to the Obama administration, yet time and again he has let his transparent personal ambition dictate his actions. Promising gullible supporters that the GOP could repeal Obamacare (despite a total lack of political feasibility) if only they would try harder this time? That’s Booster Gold-level douchebaggery.
“I want to be president” should be tattooed on his forehead. It would be more subtle. But Booster Gold and “subtlety” don’t really go together.
John Kasich: Namor, the Sub-Mariner
Arrogant? Yep. Self-serving? Oh, definitely. Willing to make common cause with bad guys when the mood strikes? That’d be Namor/Kasich. This guy is the Democrat’s choice for GOP nominee. I know, I took a poll on Twitter. Sadly for them, his accommodation with Obamacare and dismissal of pro-life concerns make him radioactive to the GOP electorate. Just like Namor and water, he’s strongest in his native Ohio and weakens when outside of it.
Lindsey Graham: The Punisher
Graham is driven by an overriding impulse to see that America is kept safe, and that goal can only be served by bombing absolutely everyone who even looks at America cross-eyed. Everyone.
It’s worth pointing out that, sometimes, the Punisher does have the most effective solution to stopping bad guys.
Jim Gilmore: Jimmy Olsen
What the devil is that lad doing hanging around a battle between super-powered beings? He’s going to get hurt! But I guess he wants to make some news and get his pictures in the paper. Really, though, he ought to just get on home.
Rick Santorum: Ant-Man
Santorum has a tendency to be very small and petty. He can also be fairly sarcastic. And he…bugs people. It is noteworthy that after he was the last non-Romney standing in 2012, he has shrunk to the point of irrelevance this time around. I don’t blame him for being bitter about it.
Last, and Least, Donald Trump: M.O.D.O.K.
Megalomania? Check. Boundless arrogance? Check. Ability to exert some sort of mind-control over otherwise-sensible people? Check. Giant head with really bad hair? Check. The only way Donald Trump is not like M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing… more qualified candidates) is that Trump’s genius extends only to self-promotion and lending encouragement to white nationalists. Seriously, how dare this bratty billionaire compare himself to Batman? How dare he?
I’m sure it’s difficult to disagree with my assessments, but on the off chance that you do, please feel free to post your own list in the comments section.