I Can Be Your Hero, Baby: The 10 Best Music Superheroes


Editor’s Note: This list originally published in 2013, but with the new Avengers movie releasing tomorrow, it seemed like a great time to revisit the list.

In a concerted effort to make it seem we do not take ourselves too seriously, perhaps out of a fear of taking ourselves too seriously sometimes, we like to mix up our more scholarly lists with those that make us out to be a handful of nerdy jackasses.  This is one of those lists.  There has been a lot of hysteria surrounding superhero movies this summer.  I mean, damn, a Batman, Spiderman, and Avengers movies all in the same summer.  We are all extremely partial to Batman, especially those of the Nolan/Burton persuasion, and decided to save this dopey collection for around the time The Dark Knight Rises was released.  As comic-book/superhero movie fans,  we thought we could fantasize a little bit about which musicians would make the best superheroes, and speculate a little bit about their key attributes.  For awhile there, we considered doing a joint heroes/villains list, but ultimately decided to make two separate lists, with the heroes list today, and the villains list coming at you next Thursday.  Enjoy.

10. Daft Punk

Daft Punk Coachella Day 1

What screams superhero more than a masked duo that rarely is able to be photographed without a costume on.  For starters, the nine artists below on this list.  Despite that, these Frenchmen have crafted one of the more elaborate stage presences of our time.

Superhero Accomplishment:  Saving Tron: Legacy from being utterly terrible, and driving along the action with their soundtrack.

Superhero Flaw:  Taking a surprisingly lenient stance toward the drug-induced masses that flock to their concerts.

9.  Slash

Slash is kind of the Professor Xavier to Axl Rose’s Magneto…if Professor Xavier wielded an axe forged by the hammer of Thor himself.  Slash just wanted to play some nasty guitar and make the world a better place, while Axl wanted a complete collapse of the human race (or so his actions lead me to believe).

Superhero Accomplishment:  Adding enough edge to Guns N’ Roses songs to lift them out of the cheesiness of a lot of eighties rock.

Superhero Flaw:  The top hat.  No one in comics that I can think of who wore a top hat didn’t have a hidden sinister side to them.

8.  Elvis

elvis with cape

The cape by no means makes a superhero, but the superhero certainly legitimizes the cape.  Elvis was one of the original superheroes of music, and like many comic heroes made the masses uneasy, and sometimes resentful, while bringing his saving graces to the general public.

Superhero Accomplishment:  Having two very distinct high points in his career almost twenty years apart.  Also, being able to pull off “sexy fat”.

Superhero Flaw:  Making a posthumous enemy of rap legends Public Enemy on song “Fight the Power”.  I wouldn’t want to mess with those guys.

7.  Jack White

You think Jack White’s pallid appearance makes him more likely to be in the villain category?  Fair enough, but we disagree.  Just think of anti-hero types like The Crow.  White’s reserved and introspective personality unleashes itself on record and stage with precision timing, showing all true superheroes only present themselves when truly needed.

Superhero Accomplishment:  Vanquishing the doldrums of 90’s rock with only the help of his axe and wife-sister.

Superhero Flaw:  Allowing ambiguity about his wife-sister when first coming into the public eye.

6.  Tom Waits

Another anti-hero of sorts, Tom Waits is more Rorschach (The Watchmen) or Marv (Sin City) than Captain America.  A couple rough edges and a whole lot of mystery don’t rule out Tom Waits as a hero though.

Superhero Accomplishment:  Making most of the rest of the music industry look like huge wimps, a deterrent to threatening activity.

Superhero Flaw:  Smoking cigarettes.  Lots and lots of cigarettes.  He would probably get winded chasing down his first criminal.

5.  Bruce Springsteen

bruce springsteen superhero

Here’s your Captain America.  Bruce can vanquish the advances of one thousand communist insurgencies and reignite the auto industry, all while eating some of grandma’s homemade apple pie.  Springsteen isn’t the embodiment of America; America is the embodiment of Springsteen.

Superhero Accomplishment:  Never releasing an album that people feel comfortable openly hating.

Superhero Flaw:  From all accounts, it seems that Bruce Springsteen is the one who taught Toby Keith how to “stick a boot in your ass”.

4.  Wayne Coyne

wayne coyne giant hands

Wayne Coyne is one of the real wildcards on this list.  He is a bit of a smoke and mirrors specialist, getting himself into all sorts of crazy situations, but in the end his heart is pure and he is no villain.

Superhero Accomplishment:  Running over the crowd in a giant hamster ball and growing his hands to giant proportions at will (see above).

Superhero Flaw:  The crazy curly locks makes him seem a little more mad scientist than trustworthy hero at some points.

3.  Madonna

madonna super bowl 2012

While Madonna may have looked a little rickety at her recent Super Bowl performance, she has conquered the beast of remaining relevant as an aging pop star.  If only Guy Ritchie would have directed Madonna in a superhero while they were still together, the comparison would be complete.

Superhero Accomplishment:  Saving millions of Midwestern young people from sexual internalization.

Superhero Flaw:  Madonna has often fallen into the latest societal fads, making her a sure mark for a clever villain.

2.  Anthony Kiedis/Flea

Kiedis and Flea’s over-the-top stage performances lead us to believe they would be a superb crime-fighting duo.  Kiedis’ ninja moves show a clear mastery of every discipline of martial arts and if Flea can slap-a-da-bass like that he should be able to slap-a-da-criminal just as well.

Superhero Accomplishment:  Both RHCP members have shown the ability to defy age, touring and releasing music at an astonishing pace.

Superhero Flaw:  Failing to convince John Frusciante to be a steady member therefore turning their superhero duo into a trio.

1.  James Brown

james brown cape

The hardest working man in show business could just as easily transform into the hardest working man in fighting crime.  Black superheroes have had a hard time breaking through to the public at large, but we believe a young James Brown would become the most beloved of them all.

Superhero Accomplishment:  The wide array of onstage moves combined with the cape and garish outfits make James Brown a surefire hit.

Superhero Flaw:  Brown has often found himself on the wrong side of the law, making a relationship between him and other authorities less than harmonious.

Just Missed

Wes – Jim James

Jim James could pull off some sort of Wolverine-esque mountain man superhero to be sure.  From the above pic, James clearly has a penchant for make-up, and would be purely terrifying when “Highly Suspicious” of any individual.

Todd – Howlin’ Wolf


Howlin’ Wolf was a larger-than-life personality and while he may seem like he could be a bit of a sinister villain, the elder Bluesman strikes us as a more heroic daunting version of Samuel L.’s hero on Black Snake Moan.

Austin – Dolly Parton

While talking about this list, I mentioned that Dolly Parton would have been the original choice to play large-busted hero Barb Wire had it been made 10 years earlier, as opposed to Pamela Anderson.  This set off the revelation that both Todd and I always took extra notice of Barb Wire when wondering through our local video store, Showtime video, when we were adolescents.  We still haven’t seen Barb Wire, but believe Dolly Parton would make one hell of an action hero.

Barb Wire, Pamela Anderson
She had a really nice personality too.

So there is the list. Let us know what we unforgivably missed, or got right, but still feel free to just rip on us in general …

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