A lot of heroes and villains have run for President of the United States in comic books. Some have even won. Below is a ranking of these characters from who would likely serve the nation best to the most dangerous person to put in power.
In the most recent version of Prez, DC’s comic about a teenager president, Beth Ross gets written in as a joke candidate when she achieves Internet celebrity. But once she becomes President, she works to depower gigantic corporations and make the world a better place. She’s great.
How can one of the most notorious supervillains be one of the best Presidents? Maybe it’s because he doesn’t see himself as a criminal or maybe it’s because it took place in the future-set comic Doom 2099. Doom as President worked to take down multinational corporations. He gave the mutant X-Men safe haven. He rebuilt S.H.I.E.L.D. He kinda did a great job!
Howard the Duck
Howard’s a pretty cool guy. I’m not sure how he was allowed to run for President since he’s from Duckworld but whatever. He ran on the platform of “Get Down, America!” He was doing really well until an opponent faked a photo of Howard in a compromising position. Too bad. Howard’s no-nonsense attitude wouldn’t have been too bad.
Why isn’t Cap the best? Because the Cap in the main Marvel Comics universe decided in issue #250 that he couldn’t run for President because the President’s job is to preserve the reality of America but as Captain America, his job is to preserve the American Dream and he found the two goals to be at odds. BUT Captain America in the Ultimate universe did become President and united the then-warring United States. Depressing. But he did unify them.
The original star of Prez, a short-lived 1970s DC comic, was Prez Rickard, a teen elected President. He fought vampires, right-wing militia, evil businessmen and evil chess players. A bit silly but he was a good guy with a good heart.
At the end of Watchmen, we hear that Redford, the actor, is running against Nixon to finally end his 5-term candidacy. He’s referred to as a cowboy candidate, satirizing how Ronald Reagan actually used that term for himself. But I think we could probably do worse than Redford. At least in the terrible world of Watchmen.
Colbert ran for President in Amazing Spider-Man #573, during the then-2008 election. He had a poor turnout to a rally that was then interrupted by Spidey battling the Grizzly. Ultimately, Colbert helped Spider-Man by pushing a statue onto Grizzly and knocking him out. Colbert won the popular election but Obama got more delegate votes. Of course, this was the Colbert from the Colbert Report, so it was a pretty meta narrative. He would’ve probably been pretty ultra-conservative.
Nighthawk is a superhero who successfully became President on a parallel world where the Squadron Supreme protected Earth (they were frequent allies and occasional enemies of the Avengers). Unfortunately, an alien intelligence then mind-controlled him and it was up to the Defenders to go over to his world and save him. After that, the rest of his old team, the Squadron Supreme, decided that they should use their powers to remake the world the best that it could be. Nighthawk spent the rest of his term battling them. He had good ideals, but he spent his entire Presidency either mind-controlled or fighting his superhero friends.
Etrigan the Demon
In Demon #27, by the late, great Dwayne McDuffie, Etrigan (who is sometimes an anti-hero and other times a villain) was recruited to run for president by the American Liberty Institute. As an actual demon, he becomes great at debating and political spin. He eventually agrees a Vice President slot with the plan to kill the President and take over but one of his assistants stops him.
Graydon Creed was the human son of two X-Men villains: Sabretooth and Mystique. They gave him up for adoption and he resented all mutants for it, forming the terrorist organization The Friends of Humanity and then running for President. But an assassin killed him at a political rally. Who was the killer? His mother, Mystique, who time traveled from the future after Graydon ultimately killed the grandson of Mystique’s lover, Destiny. X-Men comics are convoluted.
Wright ran for President but was secretly working for the Red Skull all along. Since Red Skull is a Nazi, I’d say that would’ve been pretty bad.
Superman’s greatest nemesis once legit became President because while some of the superheroes knew about his evil schemes there had never been any proof and Luthor used his company’s resources to rebuild a then-destroyed Gotham City, earning him a lot of goodwill. But as President, he tried to steal land, had Bruce Wayne’s lover murdered and Wayne framed, and manipulated a breakup of the Justice League. He ultimately went a little crazy when he got hopped up on the super steroid Venom, got into a battlesuit he traded Doomsday’s body to Darkseid for, and fought Superman in public. Batman got a filmed confession out of him and Luthor had to go on the run.
Gary Callahan “The Smiler”
In the cyberpunk future of Transmetropolitan, Gary Callahan is successfully elected President and journalist Spider Jerusalem doesn’t initially pick up on how dangerous Callahan is. He has a permanent rictus smile which earns him the nickname “The Smiler”. And he ran for President specifically to oppress everyone because he hates absolutely everyone. Anytime his poll numbers dip, he has someone close to him assassinated to gain sympathy for himself. Since he actually became President, he’s higher than some of the other terrible people on the list.