Poll Position: To kill and replace

We have a bit of a grim Poll Position question this week, but I think it could lead to some interesting discussion:


The choices are a bit more limited than usual on these, but I did that deliberately. Each of the choices is not just a costumed adventurer, but a living symbol to one large group or another. They represent something primal in the Marvel Universe that is more than just "Ooo, I want those powers!" That's why I didn't include Iron Man, for instance -- Tony Stark is basically just a guy flying a suit, there's nothing about him or his super-hero identity that represents a vital interest to society (or the mythos) at large. Anyone could be in the suit, although obviously some people would be a lot more heroic than others.

Anyway, here goes.

  • Captain America: Cap's a great hero because he represents more than just "strong guy". He's a leader of men, a living embodiment of that ever-changing, yet ever-constant "American Spirit" at its best. Like any group of humans, America has done some pretty reprehensible things in the past, but Cap is the pure distillation of only the best this country has to offer. Living up to that kind of legacy would be really, really hard. Yes, Marvel killed him off recently, but let's be honest -- that was just a stunt, we all knew he was coming back ASAP. And this question is about what you, personally, trying to replace him. Yes, you'd have the same serum and powers and the same basic training, but would you be able to replace his moral and symbolic presence as well? That's a damn tall order to fill.
  • Hulk: Killing off Banner and the Hulk is an attractive option on the one hand, because of the carnage the creature is capable of creating. But like Cap, The Hulk is about something both metaphysical and all-too-physical, that unreasoning, base, rageful part of who we as humans are. He's the will that cannot be subdued, the strength that cannot be denied, the urge to survive and win that exists far below and beyond the intellectual. That kind of wild independence is, I think, why the military and the government have mostly been his opponents, because in many ways he represents the opposite of ordered and civilized violence, an anathema to that kind of spirit. Taking on that kind of monster, having to constantly live in fear of your own anger, that's a heavy burden to carry. I don't know if I would be willing to sacrifice that. Would you?
  • Professor Xavier: Xavier is to the mutant community of the Marvel Universe what Cap is to the humans, a leader and a symbol and an active defender all at once. His loss would be monumental, far out of proportion to his power set. Replacing him would require tremendous courage, leadership, vision, and greatness of heart. Yes, you'd have his mutant abilities, but it's his fundamental goodness that made Xavier great.
  • Thor: To be a god ... that's quite a challenge. Thor has become the leader of an entire nation of gods, shouldering the responsibility for not only their lives but those of their mortal followers as well. Would you be able to overcome your human frailties and foibles to be a literal god?

Those are some big shoes to fill no matter which way you go. I honestly don't think I have the moral fiber to replace a Steve Rogers or Charles Xavier, they're just too big, too important to their followers, too vital to what it means to be a part of the Marvel Universe. I'd feel like I could never possibly fill their shoes, and would be constantly reprimanding myself.

Thor tempts me because I am not Asgardian, and don't feel the same responsibility to those people as I would to regular humans (or mutants). But, the prospect of having to battle other gods is daunting. And I don't think I have the ability to handle the responsibility that goes with being a deity. That's just too much for me to handle.

So I am left with Hulk. At least there, the sacrifice Banner would be making is equaled by the sacrifice I would be making by taking on the burden of the beast. I'd feel like I was actually doing something good, that I was paying a price for the "powers" I'd be given. Plus, the power to stop something from going out of control entirely in my hands. I might not be up to controlling my anger, but it's something at least I can understand. It's not entirely beyond my normal experience, so I can see myself being able to do it.

What about you, which would you choose?

15 Responses to Poll Position: To kill and replace

  1. Dennis says:

    I chose Thor. I’m a good leader, and I’m of pure Viking descent. Fills the gap out pretty nicely I must say 😛

  2. Jose Inoa says:

    Dude, my foibles lead me to the conclusion that it would be *I* that kicks the bucket in the Marvel Universe. Wether the ubermenschen are in one room or it’s individually, I’m lookin’ right at Thanos and thinkin’ to myself, “Hah! Responsibility and power my Charles Atlas book! I’ll dive face-first into the death ray well before [superhero] takes a step.” That is, if I ain’t zip-tied to a building…

    HOWEVER, I choose Cap. Cuz after all these years, Rogers is still wrong, wrong, wrong. It would take a “What If…” to see him rally the so-brave-they’re-free to smash the NWO.

  3. JInkieZoinks says:

    I thought about this for quite a while before I made a descision. And finally I went with the hulk for one main reason, whilst he is all the things mentioned above of all of them he is still the most human. both Cap and Xavier are Exemplers for a particular group, but Hulk is ultimatly alone and that makes the downsides of his rage managable.

  4. Joshua says:

    Let me inform everyone now why the Hulk is a dangerous choice:
    Imagine it, 5:30 in the afternoon and you’ve had one doozy of a bad day. Your MP3/CD player is busted, not that you could hear it over the blaring of multiple car horns, and the AC is sputtering out a lukewarm breeze, threatening to give up the ghost in the middle of July. Traffic? Slowly progressing and tensions are high. Some ditz is texting her BFF, sharing a discourse on how to please a man, and her lane starts to move. You think, “Now’s my chance…”, but it’s too late. She spots the clearing and doesn’t bother to look up to see you changing lanes. That’s it! You swear you hear the crunching of metal, but something else is ringing in your ears: the sound of fabric ripping apart. The first effects of the Hulk transformation are coming to pass. You stare in the rear view mirror to see your skin go from jaundice to light green as it’s tearing and reforming. Your muscles and bones snap and break, only to grow back thicker and larger. And boy, does it hurt! You vomit in your lap now as your heart and internal organs metamorphosize too; it feels like a heart attack. Then finally whatever is left of your personality drifts away replaced by rage. The next day you’ll wake up wondering just how you got wherever it is the Hulk left you. Maybe you’ll wake up in the forest, miles from civilization, or in cave somewhere. And you will eventually hear of the mass destruction that took place by your alter-ego. Yeah, you think you can control the Hulk? Think again. You will spend the rest of your life wandering to and fro searching for a cure just like Dr. Banner did. Scared shitless if you happen to get angry, hurt, or outraged. And GOD help us if you’re an asshole, because that will translate to a much more violent Hulk. I love the Hulk, but I stayed away from him.

  5. Jose Inoa says:

    [cue “The Lonely Man”, annnd – credits]

    Yes, Josh, I can’t drive 55 either, but which Marvel superhero would you kill to replace, and why?

  6. Joshua says:

    I choose Xavier, Jose. Because, call me cocky, I do believe I could serve both mutantkind and mankind. First on the agenda? Offing Magneto; trust me…I do not share the same qualms as Xavier regarding Lensherr. I’d then join a Black Ops division and put the cuffs or a toe tag on the so-called Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Then– and here comes the angry cries of civil rights infractions– I would use the ol’ mind to “persuade” the United States government to give mutantkind a chance. I know fellas, it very ‘Bushian’, but the ends very well may justify the means.

  7. darkvatican says:

    Despite the fact that the Hulk’s strength allows him to cause devastation on a large scale, the internal conflict – the conflict that Banner has always dealt with pretty well, all things considered – is why I would go with Hulk. If this were simply a “you’re going to be the new (insert hero’s name here)” poll, then I’d be able to go with Thor or Cap, but it’s like Jeff said, this is about something bigger thanjust getting someone’s powers. The roles that the individuals play in their respective parts of the Marvel Universe, which would be MY/OUR universe in this scenario, are simply too great for me to try and fill. I know my own limitations better than most anyone and I know how tempting it would be to abuse the power and iconic status that was now at my disposal, in the roles of the other choices for this poll. One thing I know I can do is control my anger. Not the kind of control that would forever lock away the Hulk, preventing him from causing destruction ever again, but you’ve gotta start somewhere! 😉

  8. William A. Peterson says:

    I know I could never replace Cap…
    Hulk, on the other hand, is NOT someone I’d WANT to be!
    Plus, Banner’s a lot smarter than I, so that’s a no go…
    Thor’s a temptation, but, that’s the problem.
    I’m not good at resisting temptation!
    That leaves Xavier…
    With his powers, I could at least read the minds of those I was expected to lead, and figure out what they expected of me!

  9. Darth_Neko says:

    I choose Captain America, because I feel as a registered American citizen I would be doing my duty to my country and good ol’ Steve himself. Here is the weird thing though, I’m Mexican and I was born In Canada, plus I don’t like the country I live in… But just to fill into the shoes of Steve Rogers and for my love of Patriotic heroes, I would make him proud…

    My first goal would be finding The Red Skull and then beating the living shit out of him cause I know he’s still somewhere out there.. Then I would turn him over to good ol’ Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D and let Fury do his work on him.

    My next goal would be helping the lesser people in the country more, I mean I’m ‘Captain America’ not ‘Captain European’. I should Fight more problems close to home, then me having to go over to Europe and find Doctor Doom (Although I won’t deny beating his Latverian ass for the sake of saving the world, no matter if he’s got Diplomatic Immunity or not…. It will be Revoked!)

    My final goal, is to try and hook up with some of the Marvel superheroines. 🙂

    I mean I get that Cap is the all-american good guy with a will of steel and a heart of gold. But I would give my all to be what Capt was and will forever be… A real hero, all in the name of justice and lady liberty….

  10. J says:

    Jeff I’d have to say there is one thing you didnt consider in your choice. You would be taking the place of one of the world’s greatest scientific minds. That shoe you could not fill. I chose Thor. I would not choose Xavier because I’d probably be too tempted to use his powers for my own gain. I’m not a good enough guy to replace Cap.

  11. Bael says:

    I’d go with Professor X. The man’s a walking martyr complex looking for a cross in 44 long. And as far as abusing his powers? Well, I’ve been around long enough to remember when the good professor would mindwipe entire towns to keep the X-Men off the map. One could argue that when he stopped doing that sort of thing was when the Z-Men started dying off on a large scale.
    Huh. I just realized that the spell check in my browser recognizes “X-Men”, but not “Obama”. Insert your own joke here.

  12. Bael says:

    My spell check also likes “Z-Men”. Maybe the Irish O’Bama? Nope. That is getting really weird.

  13. I’m with Joshua on the “no Hulk” stance. I can just picture in that scenario the waking up in the park with blood on the mouth like in “Altered States”. Imagine that hangover, baby. That’s like a Sam’s club package of Alka-Seltzer.

    No, I go with Thor b/c I’ve always wanted to drive a chariot pulled by two goats. And besides, Sif is one beautiful goddess.

  14. Frankie says:

    Although Banner would agree to sacrifice himself so that the world would be rid of his version of the Hulk to replaced by a potentionally more anger-managed Hulk, the Hulk himself would never agree to this. What you said about his will and urge to survive, it’s all true. Bruce has tried to commit suicide several times, only to be thwarted by the Hulk at the last second.(Nowadays the Hulk can “come out” when he feels like it. And he’s been known to hold Banner inside for extended periods of time.) There’s a story that I’ve read….HULK: THE END, the last tale of the Hulk. But it turns out it’s Bruce’s last story. Doctor Banner dies at the very end and the Hulk lives on-the only soul left on the planet. The Hulk is finally alone which is what he has always wanted, but at the same time he feels lonely for the first time.

  15. PhoenixTalion says:

    I picked Cap, knowing I’d cry like a baby if he Died For Real. I doubt I could fill the scientific britches of Bruce Banner or Dr. X’s brains. Being a god is far more than I could handle, so that leaves Cap.

    Also, I can totally see a statue of liberty-themed costume for a female Cap.