In this age of gaming platforms and countless satellite TV channels, it is surprising to some that comic books have managed to maintain their level of popularity. I think one reason for this is the hugely imaginative and diverse world the writers of these comics are able to create.
Not restrained by the traditional story concepts of film and TV, comic writers are given huge arenas to experiment and plug in storylines and characters where they see fit. A natural byproduct of this is that the superheroes who comprise the Marvel and DC universes are a conglomeration of dozens of different nationalities and cultures.
As such, I thought it would be very interesting to count down 15 Iconic Comic Book Characters Who Are From Different Countries. The only parameters for such a list is that the hero is fairly well known to the general public and that they are from a completely different country than the other heroes on this list. However, a higher ranking will obviously be given to those heroes who openly represent their home country or whose characters and storylines are closely tied to the unique circumstances of their respective nations.
I was surprised at how easy this list was to compile and I think it truly is a testament to how incredibly diverse the superhero universe it. I think many readers will be surprised to learn that some of their favorite heroes aren’t U.S. born. All facts related to characters and storylines are related from either the first-hand knowledge of the author or from the DC and Marvel Comics character pages.
15. Hercules: Greece
Some of you may not be familiar with the relatively obscure comic book version of the hero Hercules (though he was once a prominent member of the Avengers), but surely all of you are aware of his inspiration, the hero from Greek mythology. In fact, many of the characters and storylines used in the comics are taken directly from these ancient myths.
As such, you know that Herc is the son of the almighty Zeus, who rules from atop Mount Olympus in Greece. Therefore, the character of Hercules is undeniably Greek himself. He undoubtedly shows some Greek characteristics, especially ancient Greek characteristics, including a love of traditional wrestling and intoxicating wines. His storied Greek lineage makes the powerful Hercules the perfect choice to start off this list at #15.
14. Thor: (Technically Asgard) Scandinavian Mythology
In the introduction, I stated that the only parameters for such a list is that the hero is from a completely different country than the other heroes on this list.Thor would obviously fall into this category as he is technically from the alien world of Asgard. Despite this, the comic character of Thor is also representative of the real-life ancient culture of several Scandinavian nations (Norway, Sweden, Finland). As such, I feel like his inclusion would fit in with the overall theme of diversity that is going to comprise this list.
13. Aquaman: Atlantis
While compiling this list, I tried to think of heroes who were outside the mold of the typical U.S. born heroes. Then it hit me, Aquaman. Though the original Justice League member doesn’t have a particular nation that he calls home, his domain is any nation which borders on the ocean (sorry Czech Republic). More importantly than that, I really wanted to have a list where I could finally include Aquaman. The brunt of countless superhero jokes (thanks Family Guy), for years Aquaman just hasn’t been getting the respect he deserves from the general populace. Hopefully his listing here (combined with Jason Momoa‘s badass portrayal in the upcoming Justice League movie) will garner the hero of the oceans some long overdue respect.
12. Quake: China
A relatively obscure superhero, Quake has gained some notoriety lately with her inclusion in the successful Marvel’s Agents of Shield television series (prior to this she was featured in the Avengers comic). As her name suggests, Quake is able to create powerful vibrations which can, among other things, create earthquakes. Also interesting about Quake, and most importantly for this list, is that she is half ethnically Chinese and was born in China. In the storyline created for the Agents of Shield television show, Quake has to be shipped out of China to avoid being taken by Hydra after her mother’s (another super powered person) death. I’m glad that we were able to find a hero born in the far east to add some diversity to this list.
11. Ghost Rider: Mexico
I think perhaps the decision makers for Marvel’s movie empires biggest issue in the past was how they were going to use the Ghost Rider character. While the comic is hugely popular, the character and storyline is such that makes it hard to integrate into a superhero bonanza like the Avengers movies.
One way Marvel has sought to counteract this is to change the identity of the Ghost Rider, and for this article, that important character change occurred when Robbie Reyes became the newest Ghost Rider. Of Mexican-American descent, this incarnation of Ghost Rider is primarily concerned with curbing the violence of hispanic street gangs, the likes of which put his younger brother in a wheelchair. The Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider comics are filled with references to Mexican culture, making him the perfect representative of Mexico to make this list.
10. Judge Dredd: United Kingdom
So I had to go outside the typical superhero spectrum for this one. Many of you will remember Judge Dredd from the 1995 action movie starring Sylvester Stallone, however, prior to that, he was a very successful comic book character. What many people do not know about the Judge is that his futuristic storyline is supposed to take place not in the U.S., but in the United Kingdom. This makes sense, if you think about it, as the robotic law and order personality is very reminiscent of the British stereotype (think the Royal Guards of Buckingham Palace) As such, Judge Dredd is the perfect choice to represent the U.K. on this list, here at #10, though I do find it strange that if Judge Dredd is supposed to take place in England why do none of the characters have a British accent?
9. Dr. Doom: Latveria
So I’m admittedly breaking my own hero rule here with this one, but since Victor Von Doom, AKA Dr. Doom, is literally the ruler of the fictional kingdom of Latveria, I thought that he warranted an exception. One of the good things about the 2005 Fantastic 4 film was that it was littered with references to Doom’s Latverian heritage. For example, it was great for me to see at the end of the film when after he was made into the statue he was unceremoniously shipped off to Latveria in a crate. The Fantastic 4 comics have placed even more importance on Doom’s status as Latveria’s most infamous citizen, even going so far as to have several of them take place within the small European nation. Doom’s status as such a prominent Latvian allows him to escape our supervillain bias and find a spot for him on our list here at #9.
8. Winter Soldier: U.S.S.R.
In order to avoid being bombarded by comments regarding two inductions of Russian characters, I chose to include the Winter Soldier as a representative of the U.S.S.R. as a distinct country from modern Russia. Without giving a full-fledged history lesson, the U.S.S.R., or Soviet Union was a communist collection of territory which included (and was largely composed of) modern Russia. One of the Soviets most well-known innovations was the secret police organization known as the KGB. The Winter Soldier was given his powers (in addition to being brainwashed) by the KGB. Therefore, while the actual person who is the Winter Soldier, Bucky, may be American, the Winter Soldier was very much a creation of the Soviets. Also I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to include him behind Cap (who appears below) on one of my lists.
7. Scarlet Witch: Transia
Wanda Maximoff, AKA Scarlet Witch, is another hero from our list to come from a fictional country (Transia) but we can somewhat figure out that it’s supposed to be located somewhere in eastern Europe. Scarlet Witch was initially a simple sorceress, capable of creating “hex-spheres” causing a molecular disturbance. This allowed her to do things such as create extreme heat out of seemingly nothing, or stop the movement of airborne objects (force fields). However, as she aged and her powers increased, she was able to do things to the magnitude of creating entire armies out of thin air. More importantly for this list, I think the Scarlet Witch character does a good job going through her storyline, while showing the incredible hardships eastern Europeans have faced (and continue to face) in their everyday lives. That is enough to place the powerful Scarlet Witch character here on our list at #7.
6. Wonder Woman: Themyscira
As I started writing this segment, it surprised me to realize that this was the first opportunity I have had to write about the dominant female of DC Comics. Wonder Woman has been a staple of DC since 1941 and is certainly in the Mount Rushmore of famous superheroes. As it pertains to this list, Wonder Woman is important because she was born and raised in the fictitious city of Paradise Island. Then, (with various discrepancies between the storylines) a great evil caused her to leave her homeland and become a defender of the human race. Her unique homeland combined with her immense legacy and importance to the DC universe allow Wonder Woman to grace our list here at #6.
5. Wolverine: Canada
Fans became familiar with the “tough as nails” anti-hero of the X-men in 2000 at the forefront of the superhero movie craze. Since then, the Wolverine character, played by Hugh Jackman, has become a staple of the X-men franchise. Jackman’s Wolverine has gotten so popular that the X-men movie producers have started writing in minor roles for him into the films just to placate his rabid fan base (see X-men Apocalypse). What most people likely don’t know about the clawed hero, however, is that he’s a Canuck. That’s right, the rough and tumble grandfather of the X-men is actually from Canada. In fact, when the Wolverine character made his comic debut, it was in the Incredible Hulk comic where he was recruited by his Canadian government to take down the indestructible beast. While Wolverine’s Canadian heritage isn’t well known, it does kind of make sense if you think about it. He’s basically a wild animal and a large part of Canada is wilderness, perfectly logical. Good for #5 on our list.
4. Magneto: Germany
Most people interested in comics or superheroes are familiar with the archenemy of Charles Xavier’s X-men, but many are not aware of his gripping back story. Born a jew in Nazi Germany, Eric Lehnsherr (Magneto) and his family are ravaged by the horrors of the Holocaust. Though both his parents are killed, Magneto is able to survive the cruel experiments of his Nazi captors and eventually take his revenge after the war’s end (see X-men: First Class). The X-men comic book writers have managed to artfully use this emotional backstory to define the modern Magneto character. It is easy to understand how someone who had been categorized and has seen his race targeted for extinction would be especially protective and paranoid seeing the current state of world affairs in regards to mutants.
3. Black Widow: Russia
Without knowing anything about Black Widow or the Marvel Universe, if someone told me there was a superhero who was a female Russian spy, Natasha Romanova is exactly the character I would picture. Essentially your typical super spy, Black Widow doesn’t have any actual superpowers but instead relies upon her knowledge of several languages, weapons experience, and martial arts expertise. The only detriment to Black Widow’s ranking on our list is that her comic storyline has developed where she is very against the practices of the Russian government, going so far as to fake her own death to escape them. However, with her close ties to KGB legends of the past, it is only fitting that Romanova be chosen to be the representative of Russia to make this list. As such, we have placed the ravishing Russian high on our list, here at #3.
2. Black Panther: Wakanda
A rising star in the Marvel universe, Black Panther is not only the protector but also the crown prince/king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. African pundits in the U.S. have praised Marvel for its portrayal of Black Panther as an admirable African hero, and the recent casting of Chadwick Boseman in Captain America: Civil War certainly lived up to this standard. This hero of Wakanda is imbued with super strength, super speed, animal-like agility, and a suit and claws made from Vibranium. All these abilities allow Black Panther to guard his small nation from such threats as evil soldiers, poachers, and even sometimes his own government. For this reason, he ranks high on our list of superheroes that represent their country.
1. Captain America: U.S.A.
I debated not even including an American representative on this list because there’s just so many heroes who call the U.S. home, but c’mon, we’re talking about superheroes representing their countries how could I not include Cap. Created as part of the super soldier program designed to combat the Nazis and the Red Skull, Captain America represents everything that the U.S. valued in the 40s (and still thinks that it does), and is probably the most representative that any hero on this list is of their respective nation. I mean seriously, the guy’s shield is decked out in the American flag. For that reason, I decided not only to include Cap on this list but to put him at the very top.