One of the best things about "Iron Man 3" was the debut of Iron Patriot, which is basically a suit of Iron Man armor painted to look like the American flag. Seriously, just when you thought Iron Man couldn't get any cooler, this thing comes along, smashing evil ideologies with the fist of superhero righteousness. U-S-A! U-S-A!
Really, Rhodey's a one-man Fourth of July party in that get-up. Which got us thinking: who might be the ultimate Independence Day superhero?
With that in mind, we decided to invite some of cinema's biggest superheros to the barbecue and rank them from least patriotic to most patriotic — because while truth and justice are nice, you can't have the whole package without The American Way.
So, here's something you should know about Thor: He's not actually human. And technically he's not from our planet at all, hailing instead from the mythical realm of
Australia Asgard (sorry, Chris Hemsworth). Now, Thor is quite devoted to his home of Asgard, so in that sense he is patriotic to a degree. But when it comes to the nations of Earth, frankly, we're not sure he even knows his Asgard from his elbow. After all, the dude is an immortal god and has lived long enough to see every country in history rise and fall. Yeah, his sometimes-girlfriend Jane Foster is American, as are most of his buddies in the Avengers. But when Flag Day rolls around, well, we have a feeling Thor will be sitting that one out.
We know what you're thinking: What could be more quintessentially American than dressing up in a goofy costume and making a fool of yourself on YouTube, as Aaron Johnson did in "Kick-Ass"? But while there's no doubt that Kick-Ass is a red-blooded American boy through and through, there's little sign that he's overtly patriotic. Yes, this summer's "Kick-Ass 2" he does hang out with a guy named Colonel Stars and Stripes. But we're not sure Kick-Ass has really spent any time thinking about patriotism one way or another. For now, he's just too busy being a regular kid — who happens to fight crime in his long johns. Maybe once he gets to college and starts taking Civics 101 he'll change his tune.
The thing about Batman is that he's so darn focused on his beloved Gotham City that he doesn't really have much time left to worry about the rest of America. And for good reason. Seriously, have you seen Gotham? That place is a mess! But beyond that, Batman has got to be kind of ticked off at the rest of the country for just letting Gotham get taken over by terrorists in last summer's "The Dark Knight Rises." Plus, as we saw in "Batman Begins," Batman ditched the U.S.A. to get all of his training overseas. What, our home grown shadowy killers aren't good enough for you, Bruce? For Batman, the message seems to be clear: America is cool as long as it doesn't get in his way.
The man we now know as Wolverine began life as something even stranger and more bizarre than a mutant: he was born a Canadian. And on the surface of things, he doesn't necessarily seem like the most patriotic guy around as he spends his time wandering around in an emo stupor, drinking, smoking and threatening truck drivers with his built-in Swiss army knives. But as we saw in the flashbacks in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," Logan actually served his country in multiple wars before later becoming a government agent ... which just goes to show that somewhere underneath all that body hair, his heart still pumps out pure maple syrup.
4. Iron Man
When it comes to capitalism, no superhero embodies its ideals like Tony Stark. And we've seen how patriotic Tony can be when it comes to his work as an arms manufacturer. After all, when we first met him in the first scenes of "Iron Man," he was preparing to sell his latest inventions to the U.S. military. Of course, since then he's decided to go on this whole "philanthropist" jag, which has put him at odds with the American government more than once ... so there are some limits. But then again, we're sure Iron Man would tell you that being faithful to our nation's ideals is more important than being faithful to its government. Tony Stark is as American as apple pie, as long as he gets to decide which slice to eat.
3. Green Lantern
All-American test pilot Hal Jordan gets slapped with that "all-American" label for a good reason, and it's not because he was played by Canadian Ryan Reynolds in the 2011 big-screen misfire. With his wholesome brand of go-get-em courage and his devotion to the girl next door (in this case, Blake Lively, who is also his boss), Hal Jordan is a living embodiment of old-fashioned American ideals. Want proof? After being tasked with defending a large section of the galaxy, what does he do? Patrol space? No, he heads right back to America's heartland, presumably to take in a ball game. Sorry, galaxy, but for Hal Jordan, the U.S. of A. comes first.
Like Thor and Wolverine, Superman wasn't born in America. In fact, he wasn't even born on Earth. And yet over the past 75 years, perhaps no character in pop culture has been more closely associated with America than Superman. Adopted by a good-hearted midwestern family, Clark Kent learns the importance of truth, justice and the American way, a way of life he strives to protect as only Superman can. Superman's origin has been described as the ultimate immigrant story, and who are we to argue with that?
1. Captain America
Of course, there's no real question which superhero is the most patriotic. The guy's name is Captain America, after all, and he has a friggin' American Flag painted on his chest. And his shield. And probably tattooed on his butt. In fact, he's so associated with the United States that Marvel Studios was concerned that international audiences wouldn't even go to see "Captain America: The First Avenger" when it came out two years ago, which is one reason why it got that clumsy "First Avenger" subtitle in the first place. Luckily for everyone, even international audiences love them some Cap, guaranteeing that a sequel (next year's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier") would be made. All we can say is: Captain America, f**k yeah!
Originally published on Tuesday, April 30, 2013.