Wham! Kapow! Boom! There’s nothing quite as iconic as the world of comic books, where vibrant illustrations, onomatopoeic words, and legendary characters collide to bring entertainment to readers. With 38% of Americans regularly reading the thrilling adventures within comics, and Marvel and DC churning out more movies and TV shows, it’s clear that this artistic universe isn’t going anywhere.
National Comic Book Day is approaching on September 25th and we’re celebrating by unmasking America’s most cherished superhero and dastardly supervillains. We carried out a nationwide survey to reveal who is the country’s ultimate comic book character.
- Batman reigns as America’s #1 comic book character, according to 34 states.
- Spider-Man is America’s favorite Marvel comic book character.
- The nation’s best-loved villain is the Joker.
- 66.8% of Americans pledge their allegiance to Marvel, more than DC (33.2%).
America’s favorite comic book character goes to…
From prominent superheroes like Superman to the delightful, wicked supervillains like Harley Quinn, the world of comic books portrays an endless amount of characters, regardless of which league they came from. But here’s the burning question: who’s the super-ior character favorite nationwide?
It’s time to cast the bat-signal, because Batman lands at the top of the charts as America’s #1 comic book character, earning the approval of 34 states (23.1%). Gotham’s Dark Knight leaves an impressionable mark on our society, resonating with many because of his lack of superpowers and “regular guy” (well, as regular as billionaires go) status; yet brims with determination, imperfections and commitment to justice. Plus, what’s more iconic than the “I’m Batman” catchphrase? It’s a bat-tastic line!
Swinging into action and casting his web of popularity across the nation, Spider-Man is crowned the second favorite hero in America. Nine states (15.8%) pinned Spider-Man as their character of choice, due to the irony of his relatability. Underneath all the spider-like superpowers and bag of cool tricks, lies a bright high school teenager trying to navigate life. His character has spun a web of affection, as multiple blockbuster movies have been produced about him.
Lassoing in America’s truth, Wonder Woman stands in third place as America’s beloved comic character, according to 5.7% of respondents. She stands tall as Hawaii’s champion superhero and a beacon for many across the nation, with her commitment to equality, respect, compassion, and non-violence. Wonder Woman truly embodies the ideals of a hero: good, powerful and loving.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman soaring into fourth place in America’s comic character hierarchy (5.7%). This comes as no surprise as he was the first widely hailed superhero back in June 1938. With his iconic ‘S’ symbol, strength, and virtue, he is the fan favorite for those who reside in Vermont and West Virginia (and surprisingly, not Kansas). Up, up, and away he goes!
Howling in at fifth is none other than Wolverine, the mutant hero who captured the hearts of 5.7% of Americans and the state of New Mexico. With his animal-like senses, regenerative healing powers, and retractable claws, the immortal character is the most-loved anti-hero among the X-Men clan.
Rooting for the anti-heroes: America’s favorite villains
Flipping the comic pages to the darker side, we asked respondents who their favorite villains were – because in the comic universe, these sinister characters are just as vital as heroes. Here’s what they have to say.
Leading the villainous charge with his maniacal grin is the one and only, Joker. His wicked charm swept the nation according to 28.7% of the votes, labeling him as the ultimate anti-hero. Beyond the eminent makeup, many are fascinated by the character’s ego, chaotic schemes, and eerily charismatic personality. He treads the fine line between being quick-witted and chilling. It’s a performance that’s no joke!
Clawing her way up is Catwoman, securing her position as America’s second-favorite villain, as voted by 11.3% of comic enthusiasts. Also from the DC universe, Catwoman was originally crafted as a likable villain, rather than vile. Her crimes aren’t that evil to an extent, so some even consider her as an anti-hero, given her occasional assistance to Batman. It’s quite a purr-fectly intriguing spot to be in for a villain, right?
They say she’s crazy, but she has a good excuse because Harley Quinn comes in third place with the approval of 10.5% of Americans. Corrupted by the Joker’s influence, her madness and charm also captivated readers and viewers alike. People find her to be the perfect villainous character because her crime was never about hurting others, but doing what she impulsively wanted.
Representing the Marvel universe, Loki takes fourth with 8.3% of the vote. The nuanced villain continues to be a crowd favorite as he’s always on the cusp of redemption, revealing layers of complexity. One moment, we empathize with him, and the next, we witness his true (green) colors.
Finishing off the top five list of villains with 7.9% of the respondents’ votes, is X-Men’s antagonist, Magneto. With his compelling backstory, visually stunning powers, and mix of admirable qualities and flaws, he’s proven to be a magnetic draw for fans of the Marvel universe.
Honorable mention: Marvel or DC?
There’s no rivalry quite as legendary as the good ole’ Marvel vs. DC showdown, in the world of comics. Fans have been duking it out over the years, each with its own opinions of who has the best characters, iconic teams, and plotlines. But fear no more, because we’ve settled the score once again.
A whopping 66.8% of Americans proudly voted for Team Marvel, aligning themselves with the likes of Spider-Man, Iron Man, and basically the rest of the Avengers clan. Meanwhile, only 33.2% casted their votes for Team DC, representing Batman, Superman, and the Justice League.
Do you agree with our nationwide findings? In the end, whether you’re swinging with Spidey or fighting for justice with Batman, one thing remains clear: people’s love for comic books and their unforgettable characters.
In September 2023, we surveyed 2,000 U.S. residents across the country about their favorite comic book characters. The average age of respondents was 37.4 years old. The representative sample comprised of 52.2% male, 45.4% female, 2.1% non-binary, 0.2% transgender, and 0.2% other.
Feel free to use the data or visuals on this page for non-commercial purposes. Please be sure to include proper attribution linking back to this page to give credit to the authors.
For any press questions, please contact rhiannon.odonohoe[at]casino.org