Being that it’s Father’s Day, I’ve been ruminating about the job of “Dad.”  In the annals of pop culture, there have been fathers who set themselves apart from the pack:  Reed Richards, fighting first Annihilus and then Doctor Octopus for the welfare of his soon-to-be born children.  Thomas Wayne, stepping forward to protect his family at the cost of his own life.  Even that weird round-headed dad from ‘Family Circus’ who lets his children run about the city unsupervised and let’s them get away with murder so long as there’s a good punchline at the end.  (Hey, nobody said that they were all GOOD examples.)  As someone who hopes to be as decent parent in the long run, it’s always good to have a bar to meet, and while I know that I may never reach the noble sacrifice of Jor-El, rocketing his only son away to safety in the only ship left, I at least know that I’m better at it than Plastic Man.  For that matter, as a comics nerd, I can take pride in doing SOMETHING better than Batman, so long as I can keep Widget clear of gunfire and warehouses full of clowns with crowbars.

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) wonders what kind of parent Peter Parker might have made, before Marvel editorial decided that it made him seem too old, asking: Whos’s the raddest, baddest,way-cool-daddiest father in all of pop culture?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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8 Comments

  1. June 16, 2013 at 11:52 am — Reply

    I am. My son told me this morning I was better, than Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and Aquaman.

  2. June 16, 2013 at 1:16 pm — Reply

    Red Forman of That 70s Show and Harold Weir from Freaks and Geeks are my favorite pop culture dads. They both remind me of my own dad and the dads of many of my friends. Hard assed, and fairly strict out of love and the desire for their kids to grow up right.

    Most superhero and fantasy fathers/father figures are terrible parents specializing in child endangerment, and drafting their wards to fight wars they themselves are/were unable to win.

  3. June 16, 2013 at 5:03 pm — Reply

    Eddard Stark for reasons that are very spoilery for the Song and Ice and Fire series. Honourable to a fault, raises his bastard as his own. In a world of terrible people and worse fathers (cough Tywin Lannnister cough) he stands apart as being a good dad.

    Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince is a good example following Bruce’s of the hard assed dad who is tough out of love.

    Modern Family has some good father figures, like Ty Burrell.

  4. litanyofthieves
    June 16, 2013 at 10:17 pm — Reply

    Can I count Captain Malcolm Reynolds, since he’s like a dad to his crew and ship? (Overprotective, often gruff and too harsh, but willing to do anything to protect them.)

    If not, then let’s go with someone who I don’t think gets enough credit as a dad: Benjamin Sisko from Deep Space Nine. I always remember growing up the relationship between Jake and Ben – it was such a grown-up relationship right from the start, what with Jake having lost his mother, but Ben always seemed to take it in stride, and always showed his love for Jake.

  5. Oldcomican
    June 17, 2013 at 7:55 am — Reply

    There is a cliche that’s a mainstay of video game characters – the Curse of Videogame Parenthood. Nearly every protagonist is an orphan or half orphan. And the same seems to hold true both in literature – Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn were both orphans – and aside from the Bobbsey Twins and the Hardy Boys it’s hard to find fictional families who have a full set of parents (and to be honest, Laura Hardy was hardly ever present in the books and so might as well not count in the end). Batman, Superman and Spiderman were all orphans, I could go on and on.

    It’s hard to find a good father in pop culture. I think that’s because having a protagonist being an orphan serves three purposes – first, it’s shorthand towards gaining the reader or viewer’s sympathy – second, it’s wish fulfillment for those cranky adolescents who wish their parents would go away and quit telling them to unplug the iPod (in my generation it was “turn down the stereo”, clean up their room, and get a job – and third, it releases the protagonist from parental control and lets them follow the plot line without parental interference.

    I just took a quick look through my shelves of books, racks of DVDs and stacks of comic books, and aside from David Weber’s Honor Harrington, I didn’t spot one single character who had a living father who served as a good example. One could argue that Darth Vader fills the role, but he could hardly be held up as a good example of a father, given that he didn’t play any role in raising his kids and he chopped off Luke’s hand and tried to subvert him to the Dark Side. That sort of thing would hardly earn him any parenthood awards. Well, Happy Father’s Day, all you dads out there. And if your kid decided he wants to become a fictional protagonist, you better take out LOTS of life insurance!

  6. Sombrero
    June 18, 2013 at 8:23 am — Reply

    I personally think Cliff Huxtable was a great father in the cosby show (that was the point of the whole show, i guess).

    • Bill the Ckir
      June 22, 2013 at 2:37 pm — Reply

      Technically the show was based on Cosby’s comedy which was based on his later experiences with his own children. Some scenes in the first season, if I recall correctly, were from his stand up..

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