Let me make the introductions
I'm sure you're wondering what I mean by the title. Comic books are great and have hundreds of characters ... but how many are British? Let me start by getting a few things out:
- I'm British.
- The views expressed in this article are my opinions.
- I'm a huge fan of comic books.
- I'm not an overly patriotic person.
- I'll mainly be focusing on Marvel and DC.
- I'll also be focusing on heroes and villains rather than supporting characters.
Shall we begin?
THE ORIGIN STORY
I grew up in the village of Lambourn in England. I used comic books and superheroes as a way to escape my boring life. I used superheroes as a form of protection. I read Spider-man and saw that my problems weren't so bad. I had similar issues to Peter Parker (minus the powers and dead uncle Ben). As I grew older I started to notice that the majority of comic book characters were from the United States and very few (respectable) characters came from Britain.
THE CONVERSATION THAT STARTED IT ALL
I was talking to a mate about superheroes and villains. This is how the conversation went.
- ME: DC is seriously lacking British characters.
- THEM: I wager, you can name just as many British characters as I can American.
- ME: John Constantine.
- THEM: Superman.
- ME: Etrigan the demon.
- THEM: Batman.
- ME: Knight.
- THEM: Robin.
- ME: Are we counting sidekicks?
- THEM: One per hero.
- ME: Squire.
- THEM: The Joker.
- ME: Dodger.
- THEM: Martian Manhunter.
- ME: Can we count him? He's an alien who can take on any form.
- THEM: He mainly uses an American accent.
- ME: Fair enough. Pied Piper.
- THEM: Aquaman.
- ME: Tempest.
- THEM: How can you count Tempest? He's Atlantean.
- ME: It makes more sense for him to have a British accent than an American one.
- THEM: Why does it?
- ME: He comes from an ancient civilisation that's under the sea. You expect him to have an American accent?
- THEM: Kinda. I'll let you have that one. Hal Jordan.
- ME: Alfred. He's awesome in his own right.
- THEM: Firestorm.
- ME: Manchester Black.
- THEM: Guy Gardner.
- ME: Hawk.
- THEM: Hank Hall was American.
- ME: The female Hawk.
- THEM: John Stewart.
- ME: Enough with the Green Lanterns. Tim Hunter.
- THEM: Beast Boy.
- ME: V.
- THEM: Midnighter.
- ME: Are we counting him because he didn't start out as a DC character?
- THEM: Yeah.
- ME: Jenny Sparks,
- THEM: Apollo.
- Me: I'm out.
- THEM: Supergirl. Blue Beetle. Booster Gold. Plastic Man. Elongated Man. Cyborg. The Flash. Raven. Starfire.
- ME: I don't think you can count Raven and Starfire. One's the child of a demon and the other one grew up on an alien planet.
- THEM: Fine. Should I keep going?
- ME: Please don't.
We had the same conversation about Marvel. Marvel had a few more British characters than DC but it also fell short.
SOME THINGS THAT ANNOY ME
I'm fine with more American characters than British characters. Most comic books come from America and are bound to feature more American characters. Here are a few things that really tick me off:
1) I'm not okay with British characters being portrayed as American. Examples of this are: Banshee (X-men: first class) / Blade (Wes Snipes in all three Blade films) / John Constantine (Keanu Reeves in Constantine) / Pied Piper and Dodger (Flash and Arrow). I'm sure I've missed some examples.
2) People assuming a character sounds American. It annoys me when people assume a character, from somewhere outside the mortal world, speaks with an American accent (space / other dimensions / Amazonian islands / under water cities). The four aliens from "The Guardians of The Galaxy" are great examples of this. Rocket is a space raccoon who was experimented on ... why do you assume he sounds American?
3) When good British characters are missed out. Can you name a comic book show or film lead by a British character? Agent Carter (renewed), Constantine (cancelled), V (V for Vendetta) and Lucifer (coming soon) are the four that come to mind. Am I the only person who thinks a Captain Britain film would be great? How about a Union Jack TV show? Am I on my own in wanting The Authority in its own film?
4) 'Other' comic books are being (mostly) ignored. I'm sure most of you have heard of Mark Miller. Miller wrote the comic books that Wanted, Kick Ass and Kingsman are based on. Miller also wrote a comic book called Saviour (check it out). Saviour is an insane story that deserves a film adaptation. It's been skipped ... guess why.
I've had my chance to rant about a topic that interests me. It's your turn to do the same. Comment what you thought of this article/post and what characters you think deserve to get a faithful live action outing.
What do you think of the state of British comic book characters?
Peace out. :)