ByTom Somerfield, writer at
A UK-based teen looking for the next good bad joke and an excuse to nerd out. This is me in my spare time.
Tom Somerfield

With the recent success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's safe to say that a whole new selection of teenagers are diving into the pages of their favorite superheroes' graphic novels (myself included...) Kids are attracted to attributes like Captain America's moral ground, Black Widow's cunning forethought, and Thor's mighty power.

Oh, and Iron Man.


Because he's Iron man.

"Boom" just got a whole lot cooler.
"Boom" just got a whole lot cooler.

In this article I'm going to be looking at the five superheroes which have the biggest impact on us teens. How they're influencing how our friends act, how our enemies act, and even how we act. If you're not into deep things, look away now!

I first read a graphic novel, what, maybe a year ago? Since then, I've been totally hooked. I didn't want to miss a single one of Spidey's one-liners or Dr Strange's weird and wonderful spells. Admittedly, I'm a Marvel boy (who isn't, deep down?) This doesn't mean I don't think DC is awesome, because they are, it's just... well, they did create a super-powered bunny rabbit called Captain Carrot.

Yeah, true story.

So it's safe to say that my main focus has always been Marvel, after a mix of friends' recommendations and watching Avengers, I wasn't going to go anywhere else. Looking back on a year of flicking through their publications, I've begun to question - how are these people affecting us, and the modern way of life? Well, here are the top five superheroes that really have changed the world.

1. Captain America

He's recovered from his time as a "Capsicle", then.
He's recovered from his time as a "Capsicle", then.

Yep, that's right. The stars-and-stripes-bearing super soldier is (obviously) a big idol for a lot of people. I mean, for those who don't really care about having real super-powers (sorry cap.)

In all of his paper-based adventures, he has always fought for what's seen to be right - even sometimes to the extent that he has torn the superhero community in half. He is seen as the figurehead of the Avengers, and even in the films a feeling of leadership seems to gravitate towards him.

His leadership is a truly admirable skill for us all, though, and in a lot of ways the fact he is "only human" is a large part of his fan base. As fans, we've learnt (or are still learning :'( ) that we'll never be a thunder god from a distant planet, or a giant green monster capable of lifting entire buildings. So in our good old patriot here we find a much more attainable goal - simply becoming a well-built man with outstanding morals.

I use that argument to persuade some that, often, comic readers aren't the recluses they're stereotyped to be - they're just trying to be more super than they already are. Maybe that's just by holding their hand out to an out-of-reach remote and praying it will float through air towards them, or maybe it's by saying thanks more often, and holding open doors around school. We all know those kids who are just simply nice people. I'm not saying they're all inspired by the hero out of time, but some of them, maybe just a few, are.

Way to go, Steve.

2. Spider-Man

With great power... comes great web-sponsibility.
With great power... comes great web-sponsibility.

I swear, there's a market for red, white and blue superheroes in this article (I'll try to make the next one a bit more adventurous.) It's true though, the wise-crackin' wall-crawler has changed a lot of people's viewpoints on a lot of things, actually, and is an aspiration, again, for a lot of people. Especially us teens.

In the comics, Spider Man is a humorous type. So humorous, in fact, that he took down two fifths of the Phoenix with a few knock-knock jokes, and that takes some doing. Not that I know from experience...

But the biggest thing about Spider-Man is the huge contrast between his very secret identity and his super-powered self. Mostly, he's a geeky teenage boy who's just trying to get by. He gets bossed around by his boss at work, he's been bullied, and I don't think I'm the only one who wishes I could hang bullies by their feet from my school balcony. But hey, that would only be on my bad days. I once read a pretty correct set of reasons of why guys can relate to the web-shooter I'm talking about:

  • He gets bullied
  • He dates a girl totally out of his league
  • He constantly shoots white, sticky fluid from his body
Ring any bells?
Ring any bells?

Jokes aside, I attribute Spider-Man to a lot of people I'm close to. People who are quiet by day, but when they're not being judged for their actions by people they don't like... they are absolutely crazy - and I mean crazy. In my opinion, the human spider has been a part of the construction of this kind of person since 1962.

Keep on swingin'.

3. Deadpool

"Boop." - Deadpool's last word to Thor.
"Boop." - Deadpool's last word to Thor.

C'mon. You knew it was coming. How could the famous merc-with-a-mouth ever not make this list? He's generally just awesome! And hey, he's not red, white and blue.

Personally, I'm not sure if it was despair or elation I felt when I found myself relating a group of society to this guy. Wade Wilson has never been the most stable of beings, to say the least. At one point, he killed Charles Xavier simply whilst having his mind read by him. *cough Deadpool's a psycho cough*

That aside, I think he's a lovable mound of rotting flesh if we ever saw one. His sense of humor spirals out of control twenty five hours a day, eight days a week. I can't think of an instance where he's got through a fight without teasing his opponent at some point or another, and in a way, I like him for it. He's an escape from the more serious story lines like Civil War and Avengers vs X-men.

He's actually supposed to be a nice guy, deep down, apart from in his more violent continuities. He possesses a superb healing factor (similar to that of Wolverine's) and is your typical "hero for hire." He's never really seen out of costume, and doesn't care much about the 'secret identity' business. Who can blame him? The dude's practically immortal.

Not only that, his love interests are frequent and varied. If you ask me, he doesn't do too badly at all for a guy who is covered in boils & blisters.

I think a lot of people grab elements of their sense of humor from the kingpin of crazy's speech bubbles. He's actually one of the most popular superheroes among teenagers at the minute (I can't disagree, there's a huge chunk of my wall dedicated to the fella) and it shows quite a bit. We all know that smart ass who can't resist the worst joke you've ever heard - and those people are all on Deadpool.

Thanks for that, Wade.


Here is a picture of him fighting a power ranger.

Got the message yet???
Got the message yet???

4. Superman

I thought his underpants were on the outside...
I thought his underpants were on the outside...

Okay, okay, calm down. I am a Marvel fan, but c'mon - the most iconic superhero (quite possibly ever) can't be left off this list. Despite his totally overpowered set of skills and general lack of humour, the man of steel brings with him a set of influential points that have more than stood the test of time. Flippin' kryptonians.

In the DC world, Superman is seen to be a founding member of the JLA (Justice League of America.) If you're not up to date on the other side to Marvel, the Justice League is the DC equivalent of the Avengers (please please please make a film where they fight!) His leadership skills have made him a figurehead of his entire universe, and the very metaphor most people see him as hits home among a lot of people - adults and teens alike.

His origins especially are interesting, and many don't actually know what his coming to being symbolized. Originally, Superman was a metaphor for immigration. Born in dangerous lands and having to leave home in order to have a better life is an ordeal a lot of not-so-super-humans have had to go through. Upon arrival, he has to change his name, and hide who he truly is from society - this was particularly symbolic of the discrimination immigrants had to (and still have to, in fact) go through.

Deep thinking, bro.
Deep thinking, bro.

Since flying dramatically into the public eye, he's become symbolic of a lot more than immigration. His alter ego, his love interest and weakness are used throughout the world on a daily basis. The word "Kryptonite" is slowly becoming a substitute for the word "weakness"... even for those who don't read comics. Kryptonite to Superman robs him of his powers (in case you didn't know) and I sure as heck know I have a couple of Kryptonites myself. In truth, his powerful demeanor matched with his obvious weakness has become an infamous analogy for a lot of things worldwide.

Like Spider-Man, his love interest is also world-famous. His struggle to balance his relationship and super-powered job has been related to by many trying to control their own careers and love-lives. In fact, like Kryptonite, a "Lois Lane" is now a term used to describe a girl you've completely fallen for. Man, there's even a reference to the couple in one of my favorite songs.

But how is he affecting us teens? Personally, I don't think people take directly after the red-caped crusader, but his storylines have set benchmarks in comic book history that will never be forgotten. As far as I'm concerned, he is the perfect superhero equivalent for an average individual's daily life, and perhaps some kids feel a little more comfortable with themselves knowing their routines and situations aren't too far from the oddly-dressed Superman.

Mr Kent, we applaud you.

5. Iron Man

Wouldn't want to be on the receiving ends of this..
Wouldn't want to be on the receiving ends of this..

Yep, that's right. Our favourite can opener ever has definitely made this list. To me, this listing is pretty personal, actually, and I think a lot of kids similar to me have certainly taken at least some parts of their personality from Robert Downey Jr.'s (absolutely fantastic) embodiment of the iron warrior.

Known universally for his smart comebacks and simply infinite coolness, he does of pretty good job of making everybody want to be him for a guy with seemingly no powers. His troubled childhood has led him to make a series of mistakes throughout his life, one of which (not necessarily loyally to the comics) will be brought to the big screen in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Utron movie arriving on May 1st this year.

Speaking of big screens, it was Iron Man that actually set the ball rolling for the MCU - and look where that is now. His existence as a movie character has massively increased his fan base - thanks to the previously mentioned genius of Mr Downey Jr...

A lot of kids (I believe) have started acting a little like their favorite superheroes since their film debuts - and I think Iron Man is a lot of people's preferred Avenger.

His father never really loved him as a father should, and for a lot of teens going through family troubles, this is a heavy message. Teens like this can look to Mr Stark as a somewhat idol - and in this way Iron Man has a very large influence on teen society.

The premise of his latest solo film Iron Man 3 has become a moral favorite of many. I'm sure we can all pretty much agree that mistakes can catch up with us. A psycho ex, a boss who didn't like you... whatever it is, we can find sanctuary in knowing that the red-and-gold tin can has also slipped up, from time to time. One of his famous film quotes is "We create our own demons," and boy, do I agree.

My demons have never blown up my Iron Man suits, though.

That's about it! Thanks a bunch for reading to the end here, and I hope you've learnt a couple of somethings new. And hey, maybe next time you see a friend, you yourself will be able to pick out the superhero inside.

If you don't agree with me, take the poll and have your say in the comments!


Who has shaped teen society most?


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