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In many superhero works, the problem comes up of Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys? Superheroes have to pay the bills, after all, and superheroics isn't really that lucrative. So what's a superhero to do? Well, if you weren't lucky enough to inherit a large fortune and head a major corporation, you can either find a day job or seek out sponsorship for your heroics! While some might turn to the government, others might want to head to the private sector for financing.
Enter the Corporate-Sponsored Superhero! Captain Bland-Name Product is here to save the day, and tell you about all the great deals you can get on insurance to cover the damage incurred by your rescue!
Note that this applies only to heroes with explicit ties to their corporate sponsor. Characters who use funds from their corporation to secretly finance their heroism (Batman, for example) do not count. Expect to see corporate logos printed on tights, advertising appearances, and rampant toy marketing.
Anime And Manga:
- This is the premise of Tiger and Bunny. All superheroes are sponsored by corporations, who seem to serve more of an entertainment and advertising function than actual fighting crime. All of the heroes featured on HeroTV are genuinely heroic, however, and are in the business at least in part because they want to help people. As such, it's a more idealistic take on the concept than one might expect. Worth noting is that in this case the products aren't Bland Name Products but real Product Placement from the actual anime's sponsors like Pepsi, and Bandai.
- Revelations later on in the show suggest that the entertainment aspect was part of a plot to reduce anti-NEXT (superpowered individuals) bigotry, which worked admirably. Unfortunately, the guy masterminding it all jumped off the slippery slope, murdering people for technology and building up his own villain teams for the heroes to fight.
- Special Duty Combat Unit Shinesman features a corporate sentai team, complete with business-themed weapons like business card launchers and tie clip bombs.
- In Ratman, pretty much every member of the Hero Society. As that's the only way the heroes can often afford the treatments for their abilities.
- Watchmen: One of the side notes in the comic mentions a corporate-sponsored hero named Dollar Bill, who ends up getting shot during a heist.
- Booster Gold has been this at different stages in his career. His stint as leader of the Conglomerate is probably most emblematic; every member of that team wore a jacket emblazoned with dozens of corporate logos and were featured in magazine and television ads for various companies.
- In DC's Seven Soldiers, The Manhattan Guardian was sponsored by a newspaper. A notable case in that the heroism was the primary reason why he was hired, rather than for advertising or public relations purposes.
- A character named "Captain Copyright" was created by Canada's Access Copyright agency to "educate" children about copyright law. The campaign was wildly denounced as corporate propaganda, and was cancelled soon after.
- Iron Man, when Tony Stark isn't filling the role. Jim Rhodes wore the armor for a while under the employ of Stark and a few of Stark's other employees have worn variations of the armor briefly. Part of Iron Man's Secret Identity was that he was sponsored by Stark Enterprises as Tony's bodyguard.
- Speaking of which, The Avengers, in many incarnations, were sponsored by Tony Stark himself.
- The Wild CATS from Wildstorm were sponsored by different companies and entrepreneurs in the past.
- In Great Lakes Avengers, at least one of the ill-fated men to bear the superhero moniker of Grasshopper was sponsored by Roxxon Oil.
- The Blur in Supreme Power actually started as a corporate spokesman, seen in ads for everything from mp3 players to soda. After Nighthawk got him to start being heroic, he switched to a single sponsor -- Kyle Richmond/Nighthawk's own company.
- One of the major hooks behind X-Statix was the fact that the team of mutant media darlings were also inveterate corporate shills.
- Capes, Inc. from Invincible.
- Captain Amazing from Mystery Men (see page image) wears a costume emblazoned with sponsors' logos.
- Used partly on Hancock. Ray was a marketing executive, and in one of Hancock's visits to his house saw a logo Ray made as part of a charity campaign he was doing (with little success). At the end of the movie, he makes a replica of it ON THE MOON, so everybody could see it. It was a good deed between friends rather than actual bussiness but you know Ray would get a lot of business after that.
Live Action TV
- Commander Cash from the RoboCop TV show.
- Dinosaurs: Earl Sinclair once gained superpowers and named his alter ego "Captain Impressive". Once his boss found out, he invoked a clause in the work contract requiring him to use his powers in service of Wesayso Corporation. Earl became spokesperson for the company.
- Angel fell into this in season 5, even though Wolfram and Hart wasn't exactly thrilled by it.
- The Power Rangers Operation Overdrive were brought together and equipped by Andrew Hartford, head of Hartford Industries. Though the Rangers have little to do with his business ventures - Andrew's an Adventurer Archaeologist on the side and needs Rangers to help deal with a mess of trouble he stirred up on one of his treasure hunts.
- Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog has "Captain Hammer, corporate TOOL!"
- Powdered Toast Man from Ren and Stimpy.
- The Flash did this in an episode of Justice League, but Green Lantern scolded him upon hearing about it.
- After that episode it was made an official part of the Justice League charter that members do not do this.
- As we see here on the other Wiki, this is fairly common with Japanese "Local Heroes". Many of them are actually the mascot of a corporation.
- Corporate superhero mascots exist in many countries, but are usually limited to comics, if not just billboards.