Blood may be thicker than water, but these superhero duos are connected by something even thicker than blood. Whether it’s that typical biological bond, that mentor/mentee kind of relationship, or that adopted family dynamic, nothing warms our hearts more than father and son combos facing against the common evils of villains, concrete prisons and…puberty? We have vigilantism, anti-heorism, kleptomania, to god-like superpowers that level mountains and weathers. These characters with their colourful suits and immense strive for some sort of justice are indisputable heroes. This year’s Fathers’ Day we are presenting some of our favorite father and son superhero duos to you! Don’t be afraid to let us know who your picks would be!
6. Toshinori Yagi (All Might) and Izuku Midoriya (Deku) – My Hero Academia
The My Hero Academia bomb has been rolling down the hill in a snowball-like effect since 2013. It’s an obvious candidate for success. It has sound storytelling, beloved art and character design, and a protagonist whose smile can melt glaciers and steal hearts. All this and the trappings of the well-commoditized concept of superhero media makes for something quite legendary. Almost as legendary as the myth of All Might himself. But what endless amount of fan works will tell you is a different kind of fascination people have for it.
Quirkless in a world dominated by power achieved through human evolution, Izuku Midoriya impresses with his tenacity. Inspired by the number one hero All Might, Izuku dreams of making it into the hero business without a quirk. In this world, you always hear stories of how heroes got their start; Izuku is no different: his body moves before his mind can think. And this inspires an ailing All Might to go beyond his limit—plus ultra, they would say.
These series of events result in Izuku receiving All Might’s quirk and becoming his successor. This sparks ten months of training, lunch time and early morning meetings, and frequent trips together to the recovery room. From there, these two build a relationship, not quite far from that of a father and son. And this isn’t just something only fans have picked up on. Multiple scenes and panels from both the anime and manga showcase the growing familial bond between these two characters. All Might said it himself in the My Hero Academia: Two Heroes film; they are connected by something thicker than just blood.
5. Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto) and Peter Maximoff (Quicksilver) – X-Men Film Series
In contrast to My Hero Academia, the X-Men film series has always revolved around the fear of human evolution. The X-Men lore can be a metaphor for many types of marginalization and oppression, from race to sexuality. Mutants, as they’re called, are the next stage of human species. This small scientific revelation has built a world of conflict and clashes of ideologies between friends and families. Speaking of family, the X-Men comics have a long history of depicting Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver as Magneto’s children. This was, as comics usually do, retconned in 2015, right at the height of the Disney and Fox Marvel wars. This X-Men adaptation may well be the last to incorporate this relationship between Magneto and Quicksilver.
While the films do not heavily touch on their relationship, story beats from both X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse indicate that there were plans to take their story a little bit further. Peter Maximoff in Days of Future Past is a speedster kleptomaniac. He has the thrill for the escape and too much free time. He helps Wolverine, Xavier and Beast break Magneto out of his concrete prison at the Pentagon. In Apocalypse, he has mellowed down. He still lives in his mother’s basement, and leaves its comfort to tell Magneto about their familial connection. Considering the indefinite future of the X-Men under Fox back then, the storyline never got a chance to flourish.
Despite that, the small little scenes they do share together vibrate with unrequited tensions and unsaid words. Both Evan Peters and Michael Fassbender give their best performances in conveying the high emotions between their two characters. Peters in particular really encapsulates that “I want to but I can’t” characterization against Fassbender’s Magneto who is desperately searching for family after losing his own. We may never know if these two truly worked their issues out; X-Men: Dark Phoenix does not exactly spare any time to even touch on the topic. But we will always have that iconic Apocalypse line, “I’m here for family too.”
4. Yukichi Fukuzawa and Ranpo Edogawa – Bungou Stray Dogs
The Bungou Stray Dogs manga series started off slow and obscure. Since the anime’s first release in 2016, it has grown into a staple in the fast moving world of anime. I mean, who doesn’t love to see well-known classic authors, with ridiculous superpowers named after some of their greatest works, taking part in gang warfare?! It just hits all the right points for me! However, one of the under appreciated highlights of the series is the way it tackles the mentor/mentee relationship dynamic. There’s the contrast between Osamu Dazai’s relationship with Atsushi Nakajima and Ryuunosuke Akutagawa. There’s also the odd dynamic between Kyouka Izumi and Kouyou Ozaki. But the one we’re going to be focusing on today is between Yukichi Fukuzawa and Ranpo Edogawa.
At first glance, one would never be able to tell the rich history these two characters share. There are small moments in the series where we see how both of these characters value and respect the other; moments like when Ranpo happily does a job he at first refuses to do in exchange for praise from Yukichi, the president of the Armed Detective Agency. The third light novel details the creation of the agency and introduces further insight into their relationship.
The light novel outlines how Ranpo helped Yukichi investigate a series of events and murders. Throughout their time together, we come across multiple father and son moments between a very tired Yukichi and a very hyperactive then-fourteen-years-old Ranpo. There are lectures, worried dad moments, and even piggy back rides! At the end we see Yukichi first founding the Armed Detective Agency. With it, he hopes to create a team of strong and kind people who can protect Ranpo when he no longer can. Dotting dad much?
3. Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Jason Todd (Red Hood) – Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth
Bruce Wayne as Batman is as well-known and loved for his charismatic brooding, his ingenuity, his ability to stand amongst aliens and Amazons with just his money and smarts, as he is for his continuous stream of never-ending sidekicks and additions to the ‘Bat family’. One such addition is that of Jason Todd, the considerable black sheep of the Robins. Literally voted to death by fans, Jason arguably has the shortest end of the stick among Bruce’s adopted sons. From the constant digression of his origin story, the ever-changing color of his hair, the mess of his death, and even his position within Batman’s entourage; there never seems to be any sort of stability to the treatment of the character.
Then comes Scott Lobdell’s second try at the Red Hood and the Outlaws title. This is probably one of Jason’s few successes that resonate with fans. Re-establishing Jason’s origin story prior to New 52, Lobdell also mends a few broken bridges between Bruce and Jason. The Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth #1 one-shot acts as a prologue to the main title; it ends with a truce between Batman and Red Hood. This sets the tone of their relationship throughout the rest of the following issues. All of this then comes to a head in issues #24-#25.
The final bout between Batman and Red Hood leaves much to be desired. Still, we cannot deny the intricate detailing and build-up of their relationship throughout the series’ ongoing run. The long history of Bruce and Jason remains littered with violent bouts, constant screaming matches and unforgiving disagreements. All Lobdell did is highlight significant moments shared between the two prior to Jason’s death. In turn, we get to see that there is an understanding present; an understanding that is very rarely explored in any other titles that feature both characters. This brings forth nuance in their relationship; one which elucidates what they and we could have had, had Jason lived the first time around.
2. Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Peter Parker (Spider-Man) – Marvel Cinematic Universe
A Spider-Man origin story is never complete without the following things: the spider bite, a montage dedicated to Peter Parker’s amazing costume-making skills, a shot of Uncle Ben dying, and some form of iteration of the “With great power comes great responsibility” quote. Lucky for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, neither Captain America: Civil War nor Spider-Man: Homecoming present themselves as such. Still there remain outcries of “where’s Uncle Ben” and “we don’t want Stark Jr” from die-hard Spidey fans. But not nearly as much as the outpouring support for the mentor-mentee-bordering-on-father-son relationship between one Tony Stark and Peter Parker.
Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Holland’s chemistry is really good. It is probably one of the best we have seen so far in any of these Spider-Man films. We see this in RDJ’s improvised lines. It’s in the character mannerisms Holland applies to his Peter Parker’s interactions with Tony Stark. It’s how naturally these two adapt to the script that directs them towards a certain kind of dynamic. Many of the MCU fans are suckers for that kind of thing. This is evident in the fact that despite the very little on-screen interactions these two have actually had, it is still a relationship that a lot of people have taken to.
Tony Stark and Peter Parker as mentor and mentee make a lot of sense in-universe. There are a lot of parallels to their characters and a lot of material to work with. But what greatly stands out in terms of how the MCU has framed their relationship is that very organic build-up. And it works. Not just because of the actors’ chemistry, but because of the little things found in their small but significant interactions. The banter, Tony’s throwaway lines about his relationship with his father, the nicknames, and so on. There’s also the significance applied to when Peter finally calls “Mister Stark” by his first name. It’s all of these things combined. It is just such a shame that this incredible relationship comes at the sacrifice of any significant exploration of Peter’s relationship with Ben Parker.
1. Jeff Davis and Miles Morales (Spider-Man) – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
What the MCU epically failed at in all six films featuring Spider-Man (Iron Man 2 included) is how they balance the father/son, uncle/nephew and mentor/mentee dynamic Peter Parker has had with his long list of dead father figures. Lucky for us, this is something that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse effortlessly explores with the grace and intricacy it deserves. Into the Spider-Verse presents four very different relationships Miles has to navigate through, making it work in a non-convoluted manner. Who knew that one animated film could trump six films of build-up in terms of exploring multiple relationship dynamics?
My favorite relationships of course, is the story arc between Jefferson Davis and Miles. This is the second biological father/son relationship on this list, and it is perhaps the best of them all. The way Into the Spider-Verse pieces together the different parts of the story; Miles’ struggle with puberty, his artistry, Aaron Davis’ death, Jeff being in the police force, the conflict with Wilson Fisk. All these story beats come together to reinforce that bond that Jeff and Miles share.
It’s incredible to see how the strain between Jeff and Miles propels the events of the film forward. The use of composition and cinematography in the many scenes these two share together – from their police car ride to school, to Miles looking over his dead uncle’s body, to Jeff visiting Miles’ dorm room, to that last final phone call after the fallout – showcases that gradual drifting apart, to falling back together story arc. You see Miles go through the motions of different mentor figures. Yet still, his relationship with Jeff remains stronger than ever at the end of the film. This relationship marks just one of the many good things about Into the Spider-Verse itself.
What’s your favourite father/son duo? Let us know in the comments below or send us your thoughts on Twitter!