So what’s going on here? Our guess is that insisting on the cynical point mentioned above ruins this trope. The thing is, putting idealized symbols of good like superheroes in the same stories as presidents does indeed create a conflict that can’t age well unless you really accept the cost and go with it – like that of Frank Miller. Return of the Dark Knight having Reagan treat Superman like a fool who only follows orders, or Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Graphic novel without film by Zack Snyder unfold in a dystopian proto-corporate with Nixon as perpetual President of the United States. These works get it, man. But standard superhero fare can’t help but fall into the trap of treating presidents either as pure, honest civil servants or as narcissistic plutocrats who are necessarily placed in the position of subordinating the hope for change to the whims of the rich.
In this regard, there is a comic that brings us full circle; insofar as it is the most perfectly paradigmatic example of this whole problem, without even realizing it. In 2009, a week before Obama’s actual inauguration, Marvel released a short backup function in which Spidey saves the day during a fictionalized version of said event Before that, Biden helped a kidnapped Obama, McCain helped Peter Parker, all story moments promoting a healthy, politically mature bipartisanship, which is as realistic as radioactive spider powers. Yet the key point in all of this is the villain of the feature: chameleon. A shapeshifter. Yeah, we know you know where we’re going: it’s structural analysis time, baby!