Off My Mind: Should Superheroes Get Corporate Sponsors?

Posted by G-Man (36772 posts) - - Show Bio

Recently I asked "Should superheroes get paid?" Comic book heroes devote their lives to protect the innocent. They may not ask for anything in return but don't they deserve compensation for their time? Come on, heroes are people too (unless they come from another planet or dimension). Most heroes have to eat and pay bills. Costumes often get ripped and need repair. Not all heroes can get Reed Richards to make them a new costume out of unstable molecules. Having corporate sponsors could solve some of the problems for the hero. 
 
At first, the idea of a hero being decked out in a company's logos might seem appalling. Booster Gold has received a lot of flack for doing so before. If your life were in danger, would it really matter what the hero saving you was wearing? Superheroes usually already have a logo or emblem of their own. Replacing it periodically shouldn't affect their superhuman abilities.  
 == TEASER ==

Looking at 'the real world,' we're already seeing our 'heroes' accepting payment from sponsors. Just about every time you see a television commercial or ad in a magazine, you see a sports figure or celebrity endorsing some product. They are getting paid for that and they are getting paid a lot. When they accept to do these endorsements, it doesn't hamper the number of games they'll be able to play or movies they can make. Why should it be any different if a superhero appeared in a commercial or had a company logo on their cape? 
 
While this sounds like it could be a good idea, there is a tiny concern the hero should be aware of. What would be the obligations the endorsing company would place on them? The hero would have to make sure to read all the legal documents to see if they'd be required to make any public appearances at certain times. Having a commitment like this could endanger lives if they had to cut out of a battle early or weren't available when the city was being attacked. 
 
A business looking to advertise with a hero would want to be careful when it came to setting up their next ad campaign. Heroes are noble and just but they can easily make mistakes. What would it mean for the company's image if a hero accidentally caused someone to get injured or even die? A successful campaign will make sure you do not forget who their spokesperson is. If the hero becomes unhinged the company will probably end up with consumer protests or boycotts. 

We won't be seeing heroes wearing corporate logos anytime soon but you have to wonder how long they can continue saving the world for free. That is part of who they are. It's what makes them a hero. There just may come a day when the hero isn't there because he's trying to figure out how to pay the rent.
#1 Edited by Mainline (1129 posts) - - Show Bio

For superheroes who don't have any moral qualms about it and who can handle the increased responsibilities and exposure, it's a good deal.  Most heroes have moral qualms, want to remain focused on their superheroics and personal lives, and need not risk any additional prying into their identities as a matter of exposure... so it's incompatible with a lot of heroes.  For most corporations, however, it's not a good deal.
 
A corporation sponsoring a superhero publicly in a world of crazy supervillains opens itself up to reprisal from said villains who only need the slimmest of pretense to begin attacking your employees, infrastructure, etc. in order to get at the hero who typically hides behind a secret identity.
 
A corporation sponsoring a superhero would represent deep pockets to be sued whenever the superhero does anything with liability attached (in The Incredibles, the heroes were essentially government sponsored so when the lawsuits started pouring it wasn't the heroes that went bankrupt, it was the government who covered the losses and then regulated superheroes out of existence because they couldn't afford the liability).  This gets particularly messy if the superhero starts acting in the corporations interests against rival corporations like Iron Man inevitably has to. 
 
Of course, it depends on the degree and success of the sponsorship.  If the hero is reaping such great profits (and behaves themselves to limit liability) such that insurance is good, security is paid for, and lawsuits can be handled, then a corporation might consider the risk worthy.  Alternatively, if the sponsorship is diffuse and minimal (rather than a single sponsor with control over a hero, merely one of many sponsors for the same hero, or rather trivial sponsorship like a toothpaste ad) then the risks are lower too.  Of course, that might not matter to a crazy supervillain either way. 
 
These risks tend to be greatly mitigated if superhero corporations sponsor other superheroes.  Iron Man is already subject to all the problems of corporate sponsorship so how does signing up Spider-Man really hurt?  Given the prevalence of mega-wealthy superheroes and their community spirit, I'm surprised there aren't more self-governed internal stipend / support systems in place. 
 
Thanksgiving is around the corner and no doubt we'll see pictures of costumed heroes sitting around a giant turkey as family... what's more family-like than borrowing money? :P

#2 Posted by Mighty Thorion (797 posts) - - Show Bio

Potential problem is what price would any such sponsor require from a hero that they were supporting financially. Public appearances perhaps? And just as a hero may not turn up to save the world because he is figuring out how to pay the rent, what about the day when a hero doesn't turn up because he is fulfilling his contractual obligations to his corporate sponsor?

#3 Posted by Decept-O (7279 posts) - - Show Bio

Wasn't there an issue, the number and title I've long since forgotten, involving Spider-Man where he had a gig but couldn't cash the check because it was made out to "Spider-Man" and not Peter Parker?   
 
This is all dependent on the superhero's role; is he clandestine, is he out in the public eye and people know his identity, including his civilian name?  
 
If someone were a superhero in real life, something tells me he or she would find ways to make ends meet, even if it involved using their powers.   
 
Some of the heroes have to pay the utility bill and cable, because I think they want to watch "The Walking Dead".   :)
#4 Posted by comicbikerscott (152 posts) - - Show Bio

true and amen bro
#5 Posted by FoxxFireArt (3559 posts) - - Show Bio

Really, do unstable molecules just grow on trees? You'd think his clothes would be even more expensive. Not to mention tailor made to each person's requirements.

There is also the issue of what products you use. There are some people who get in trouble with sponsors for using a rival product. Such as a headline spokesperson for Pepsi being photographied drinking a Coke. They are basically dictating what you can or can't use, and you are obligated to by contract.
 
Sometimes I wonder about a celebrity getting bad press hurting the product. Just look at Charlie Sheen and his latest actions. Has that hurt his TV show at all? If anything, ratings will probably go up.

I think this was an issue handled in that TV series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Some guy was using Superman's likeness to sell merchandise. Eventually they came to a sort of deal. This guy could continue to sell these items, but much the the money had to go to charity.

#6 Posted by longbowhunter (7291 posts) - - Show Bio

I think the biggest problem would be having a corporation with influence over a superhuman.
#7 Posted by G-Man (36772 posts) - - Show Bio
#8 Posted by Calvin (3479 posts) - - Show Bio

I know nothing that got Corporate Sponsors that hasn't turn to be the worst possible thing. 

#9 Posted by thedez (43 posts) - - Show Bio

A bigger problem to me is conflict of interest.  Like politicians, would superheroes be willing to turn a blind eye to the wrong doings of the corporations that sponsor them?
#10 Edited by Mainline (1129 posts) - - Show Bio

More tied to the "get paid" line of thinking... Spider-Man's money situation just should not exist. 
 
In the real world we provide fellowship and grants to allow people with special skills (medicine, law, academia, etc) to use those talents for society's good even if not profitable.  That's exactly the superhero's dilemma.  They have special skills- powers- and want to use them for society's good- heroism- but it's not profitable.  One could argue that Peter would be too proud to ask for money, but that's why fellowships and grants work... they overcome the stigma of a handout because they're given in recognition of the special talent and of the selfless good... they let the recipient do what's best for everyone rather than struggle with money troubles.  Peter has chased down academic scholarships before, so he's clearly not above this type of merit/need based grants. 
 
If the Marvel US government can put together an entire Initiative to sponsor and train heroes, I'm stunned that between the fortunes of Stark, Rand, Strange, Worthington, Xavier, and so on there isn't a prestigious Superhero Fellowship or Grant system.  What is pocket change to them would easily transform the lives of many Marvel heroes.  I mean Stark, Reed, Xavier, etc. can conspire to control the fate of the planet... they'll reshape reality for Peter Parker... but they won't spend the ten seconds to have someone draw up a Trust or Foundation to make sure worthy superheroes aren't having their lives and heroism compromised by money problems? 
 
People might argue as a matter of theme readers can't identify with that, but again, scholarships, grants, and fellowships are in the real world!  If you've never chased or got one, I'm sure that someone you know or someone they know has. 
 
EDIT: And, now that I think about it, Xavier does seem to do this for all his X-Men... I mean, how many of them have identifiable day jobs?  How many of them have money troubles like Peter?

#11 Posted by KNIGHT SAVIOR (824 posts) - - Show Bio

it would make them too corporate , they have to  follow corporate rules and regulations just  to save somebody 
#12 Posted by Billy Batson (58152 posts) - - Show Bio

If the Flash was sponsored then nobody would see the company logo/ the ads. :D

#13 Posted by Decept-O (7279 posts) - - Show Bio
@G-Man:
D'Oh!  Thanks.  I knew it was an early issue.     
 
Back to corporate sponsors for heroes:  Have a Coke and a smile.  And some greenbacks.....
#14 Posted by Theodore (3445 posts) - - Show Bio

hahaha I love the Superman one!
 
For 5000 dollars in advance!

#15 Posted by Sydpart2 (1092 posts) - - Show Bio

Reminds me of this guy in the Mystery Men movie 
http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/image_film/MysteryMen_03.jpg

#16 Posted by G-Man (36772 posts) - - Show Bio
@Theodore: They don't make covers like that anymore. That was from Action Comics #176
#17 Posted by Brickabrack (112 posts) - - Show Bio

There is something slimy about using the status one gains through heroics to commercialize. For super heroes I think it's dangerous. Going down that route puts the world on notice that the hero is for sale just like any mercenary.
#18 Posted by dewboy01 (1876 posts) - - Show Bio

Heroes like to cheat themselfs for money and fame, that's not responsibility, but survival.
#19 Posted by SUPER-MAN 23 (2146 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't think so. Because Superheroes who are (well heroes) don't need to ask for money. Besides working like the heroes for hire team is like having a secret identity, but working a job like the Daily Bugle, and also receiving money for being a hero.

#20 Edited by Son_of_Magnus (15258 posts) - - Show Bio

Who cares? Booster Gold still put his ass on the line and saved the city, the universe, the multiverse, and time itself hundred of times. If you have a way to make money legally than God Bless, Also Booster uses high tech equipment he needs money to fund that 

#21 Posted by Lvenger (20755 posts) - - Show Bio

Absolutely not. Superheroes are role models, examples and certain heroes such as Superman, Batman and Spider-Man have an impact on our culture as well. To have them become a part of a corporation despite the fact I know some do (looking at you Booster Gold!) demeans them and their raison d'etre for becoming a hero in the first place to protect the innocent regardless of fame or fortune. They're like law enforcement officers only super powered so they shouldn't become a superhero for the money. Besides, that's what secret identities are for and several heroes get by without being a billionaire play boy or have access to advanced technology.

#22 Posted by Fantasgasmic (1071 posts) - - Show Bio

The problem with corporate sponsors for heroes is that it could create a conflict of interest. If Booseter is sponsored by Nike, what happens when he needs to shut down a Nike sweatshop using child labor? The sponsor might pull out, thus he is  disincentivized to stop crimes committed by his sponsors.

#23 Posted by blaakmawf (187 posts) - - Show Bio

Isn't Batman corporately sponsored?

#24 Posted by Silkcuts (5272 posts) - - Show Bio
@SUPER-MAN 23 said:
" I don't think so. Because Superheroes who are (well heroes) don't need to ask for money. Besides working like the heroes for hire team is like having a secret identity, but working a job like the Daily Bugle, and also receiving money for being a hero. "
:D
#25 Posted by satanmode (295 posts) - - Show Bio

 Captain Amazing from "Mystery Men"... got his face melted... and was a sell out.
#26 Posted by Demas (209 posts) - - Show Bio
@Billy Batson: Wally West actually was a professional superhero for a bit... he didn't wear advertising but he was on their advertising as a tourist attraction, their billboards, local TV, etc. would all feature him.  Also, since he had a public identity there was no payment issues.  Wally eventually grew tired of the exploitation and quit being a hero for hire.
#27 Posted by Billy Batson (58152 posts) - - Show Bio
@Demas: :P
#28 Posted by cbishop (8706 posts) - - Show Bio
@Lvenger said:
"Absolutely not. Superheroes are role models, examples and certain heroes such as Superman, Batman and Spider-Man have an impact on our culture as well. To have them become a part of a corporation despite the fact I know some do (looking at you Booster Gold!) demeans them and their raison d'etre for becoming a hero in the first place to protect the innocent regardless of fame or fortune. They're like law enforcement officers only super powered so they shouldn't become a superhero for the money. Besides, that's what secret identities are for and several heroes get by without being a billionaire play boy or have access to advanced technology."

Bad example.  Law enforcement officers get paid.   Yeah, we want our superheroes to be above all that common need, but it's just not realistic.
 
In the real world, superheroes would be another level of celebrity.  They would need to get paid, just like everyone else, and cashing in on their celebrity would be the easiest way to do that.  They would be sponsored out the wazoo, and every time one of 'em leveled a building while stopping the threat-of-the-week, it would be a media heyday and sponsor nightmare, just like that stupid Tiger Woods fiasco.  There would be all kinds of issues with it, but I think that would make for great stories. 
 
Peter Parker is a really good example.  In House of M, Spider-Man's identity was known to the public.  He was a movie star, and his web shooters were marketed to law enforcement as non lethal weaponry.  When they came ouf of HOM and went into Civil War, where Peter revealed his identity, they had the perfect chance to give him what he had in HOM, and passed it up for a deal-with-the-devil-oh-wait-that-was-doctor-strange retcon.
#29 Posted by spiderguylll (620 posts) - - Show Bio

Cyclops and the X-Men need a sponsor

#30 Posted by suicidejocky (30 posts) - - Show Bio

Sponsorship deals, no prob. I'm sure Lex Luthor would be more than glad to have some heroes on his payroll. Imagine heroes sponsered by A.I.M., COBRA or HYDRA, though never knowing it , as it would most likely be through dummy corporations.
 
The only people I could see willing to sponsor heroes would be those people who would benefit in the control they would have over the heroes.
#31 Posted by soap on a rope (32 posts) - - Show Bio

absolutely not. let's not even discuss the fact that it would go against everything that a hero is supposed to stand for. what happens when the company or sister company of your sponsor commits the crime? what happens when the CEO of your sponsor starts lobbying and has influence over the hero community through you, to further their own business interests?  
 
this would be a huge conflict of interest waiting to happen

#32 Posted by batman_is_god (1185 posts) - - Show Bio

I love these silver age pics of Sperman being a total jerk
#33 Edited by CrimsonInuTears (465 posts) - - Show Bio

@satanmode:
Hahahahaha, ya beat me too it~ Totally my second fav sell out. ^_^ 
 
 
 
Also, seriously, if you are a hero, it's gotta be hard to hold down a real job an be able pay for your living expenses, a lil extra cash from sponsership could really keep the side things in check.

#34 Posted by Skaddix (3117 posts) - - Show Bio
@spiderguylll: Worthington Industries fits all their bills  including utilities and food plus Medical Care and Education.
#35 Posted by TheMess1428 (2176 posts) - - Show Bio

We can't all be paid by Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark, or Oliver Queen.

#36 Posted by Hazlenaut (1960 posts) - - Show Bio

Tough call, We have seen the case scenario like Robocop 2 but being a hero is expensive look at  S.P.A.C.E and  Legion of Super Heroes. Have you seen Spiderman? He has been in a lot trouble keeping up with money when he was holding secret identity and living. It matters the corporate sponsor.    
#37 Posted by Jnr6Lil (7714 posts) - - Show Bio

Lol Batman wouldnt care to be paid, the only reason having Bruce sponsor him is so to conceal his identity. i asusme the sponsoring is double wayed. such as the person who is sponsoring is getting piad by the sponsored while the sponsored is getting paid by  the customers the sponsor draqw in.
#38 Posted by TheFlash4740 (1263 posts) - - Show Bio

haha..He said booster gold..

#39 Posted by TheAntiVillain (74 posts) - - Show Bio

if popular enough heroes could get toy sponsorships to make toys of themselves
 
There probably kids in Metropolis with superman action figures

#40 Edited by MutieLover (102 posts) - - Show Bio

Actually, Reed Richards supports his family primarily by selling off patents for his inventions...in fact the FF have gone broke once or twice when that well dried up. I'm sure he sees money from all of the unstable molecule costumes in the MU...the X-Men alone must represent a small fortune.
 
Of course this isn't the same as being corporately sponsored and really the FF are really a team of science explorers who fight aliens way more than costumed villians. Though Ben or Johnny may fight crime individually, the team as a whole doesn't do street level crime.
 
Even though he quickly gave up being a celebrity, Peter Parker makes a living of his alter-ego by selling pics of himself in action to the Daily Bugle. And Luke Cage was the Hero For Hire, though he always seemed to not get paid for his heroics in the end.

#41 Posted by greenenvy (634 posts) - - Show Bio

Probably only mostly the all american boy scout types. 

#42 Posted by LP (675 posts) - - Show Bio

Wasn't this already covered during Kingdom Come? 
Superheroes don't need endorsements, just like corporations don't need private armies.

#43 Posted by goldenkey (2927 posts) - - Show Bio

Actually I strongly believe they should.  Hero's still have lives, and have to pay bills, but if the public wants a hero to be a hero 24hrs a day then they need to pay him somehow.  Not all hero's are Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark.  I always thought that Superman, most likely the most important hero any where should be a 24 hr hero.   He could Easily take something like a satellite and throw it where ever NASA wanted it.  By doing this, Superman saves NASA millions, maybe billions in rocket fuel, and engineering of ships that lose certain parts once they break orbit.  Superman could charge a quarter of what NASA usually loses and make millions.  Also he would only work for a few  hours.

#44 Posted by Eyz (3095 posts) - - Show Bio

I really think it all depends on the type of characters~
 
GOLD, like BOOSTER GOLD!!
 
But being "sponsored" and not "promoting" can be two separate things. Like some voluntary firemen are. (to buy their equipment and stuff)

#45 Edited by Comicjew (164 posts) - - Show Bio

These guys were all in the heroics for money or fame: 
Dollar Bill 
Luke Cage 
X-Statix 
Heroes for Hire 
Youngblood 
Wildguard 
Hero Hotline 
Should I go on?

#46 Posted by theundead (100 posts) - - Show Bio

hey in the fantastic four movie (rise of the silver surfer)
johnny introduce susan a costume full of adverts didnt he???

#47 Posted by Comicjew (164 posts) - - Show Bio

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