Apr 27, 2020
Superheroes, ranked (in order of Jewish-ness)
This Halloween, more children than ever dressed up as their favorite superheroes, according to a statistic I just made up. It makes sense for children to aspire to be powerful, respected bats and metal drunks. But my family is Jewish, meaning we’re members of a religion which is basically an entire lifetime of disappointment after one big party for your 13th birthday. Who can my children look up to?
The answer is “Almost nobody.” Unless, of course, you count this abomination:
There are no actual practicing Jewish superheroes onscreen. While Magneto is trying to kill everybody and Ben Grimm is literally incapable of being in a movie that doesn’t suck, little Jewish children like mine need to read a little closer: like studying the Talmud, but with slightly less spandex. And to save you the work, the Agony Booth has compiled this definitive breakdown of Jewish-ish superheroes.
A lot of people would write Matt Murdoch off almost instantly, because not only is he Catholic, he’s the type of Catholic that won’t shut up about it.
But Daredevil’s got a lot going for him. He’s from New York, which is so Woody Allen. He’s also a lawyer. The only statistics I could find on Jewish lawyers were really, really antisemitic, but I’m told we’re… overrepresented in the field. We’re 2.2% of the US population, but 33% of the Supreme Court.
Daredevil also tends to only fight villains who live within walking distance of his apartment, because really, who needs the schlep?
Final score: Five Foggy Nelsons
6. Barry Allen
There’s no cinematic or textual support for the idea that Barry Allen is Jewish. On TV, he came close to getting married in a church. Justice League gives almost no information about his background at all. Superman gets more backstory, and he spends most of the movie dead.
However, we can’t ignore two pieces of evidence: 1) Ezra Miller is actually Jewish, and 2) Barry Allen is the single most Jewish name I’ve ever heard outside of “Natalie Herschlag”.
Final verdict: Three Portmans
5. Kitty Pryde
There are, at last count, several thousand mutants in the X-Men universe. Kitty Pryde is exactly one of them. You may remember her for giving up her major role in the comic storyline Days of Future Past for the movie because she wasn’t Wolverine enough for the marketing executives. So, instead of her going back in time and saving the world, Hugh Jackman fist-claws her and she nearly bleeds to death.
There’s no evidence in any of the X-Men movies as to Kitty’s religion. There’s almost no evidence she exists at all, in that her main character trait is that she also appears onscreen.
However, according to canon, Shadowcat is Jewish. Still, she’s not Jewish-Jewish. She’s just Jewish.
Final score: Six sexy lamps
Batman isn’t Jewish.
Final score: Zero reboots
This is a tricky one. Superman doesn’t really say much about his views on the nature of religion. He doesn’t say much at all, really. He’s basically 100% superego. That “S” on his chest may or may not stand for hope, but it definitely doesn’t stand for “Shabbat”.
Clark Kent, however, is a character right out of the Torah. Just like Moses is sent off alone by desperate parents, Mr. and Mrs. El shoot baby Kal off right after his circumcision . Like Moses, he’s raised by well-meaning gentiles. As a young man, he ditches his adopted family to go search for his roots. He then becomes a legend. His origin story is basically Chapter 2 of Exodus.
Clark grows up looking like everybody else, but secretly being different the whole time, like a member of the cast of Reservoir Dogs.
If you ignore all of Zack Snyder’s Christ imagery, Clark has a lot in common with my grandfather. His native language looks about as wacky as Hebrew. His culture was held together by its own religion. He changed his name to sound more American. And family is really important to him.
It’s easy to dismiss the fact that Superman’s creators were Jewish. We’d have to include two pages worth of Stan Lee characters if we were counting that way. Unlike most of the Lee/Kirby creations, Jerry Siegel flat-out said he had the Jewish experience in mind when he created the character. As if that weren’t enough, Superman was denounced by no lesser authority than Joseph Damn Goebbels. There was even an article about it in Heinrich Himmler’s newspaper, Das Schwarze Korps:
The daring deeds of Superman are those of a Colorado beetle. He works in the dark, in incomprehensible ways… [H]e sows hate, suspicion, evil, laziness, and criminality in their young hearts. Jerry Siegellack stinks.
It doesn’t get much more Jewish than that.
Final verdict: Nine Kryptonite matzo balls
2. Captain America
I only know of one time when Captain America said anything about religion.
On the plus side, Captain America is from New York City. He joins the Army just to fight Nazis (probably having read their epic take-down of Superman). And I had a friend from youth group who was actually named Steve Rogers.
Also, Scarlett Johansson is half-Jewish, and I’m giving it to him because I’m not doing a separate Black Widow entry.
Final Verdict: Four Infinity Stones
1. Wonder Woman
Is Wonder Woman Jewish? By which I mean… is Wonder Woman Jewish? Hell yes, Wonder Woman is Jewish!
Final Verdict: I’ve already told my mother we’re engaged.
If you enjoyed this, be sure to look for my next article, “Ant-Man: Passover With Paul Rudd”.