With Marvel Studios’ newest blockbuster, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, currently casting its sorcery upon box offices across the world, it begs the question: Is Dr. Strange a Gen Xer?
Those silver temples scream mid-40s. But there’s something about him that just doesn’t feel like he represents us. He’s so aloof and earnest, and it’s hard to imagine him at Lollapalooza in the mid-90s.
Millennials have greats like Scarlet Witch, Black Widow and Daredevil. Baby Boomers have Nick Fury and Captain Marvel. Even Gen Z has exciting new heroes like Kate Bishop, America Chavez and everyone's cinema darling, Tom Holland as Spider-Man.
But who do we have? Star-Lord? That guy slapped Thanos so ineffectively that half the universe snapped out of existence. Ant-Man? Hawkeye? Hulk? All Gen X in age, but at heart still built on the personality foundations of their comic book counterparts, who were created in the early 1960s.
As a Gen Xer and illustrator who’s actually drawn and written comics over the last 30 years, I know a little bit about comic book heroes. So, if I may, let me present to you these unsolicited suggestions that could help the Gen X audience feel better represented in the MCU.
His mind exposed to deadly levels of 1980s-era nuclear apocalypse fear-mongering as a child, Benji David went through radical changes in his body, developing a hysterical atomic mutation. Now, whenever he gets too anxious, Benji transforms into the rampaging embodiment of an existential panic attack … the Atomic Placebo! Not “Hulk” strong, but, man, he could totally uproot a small tree or something. Also, he can glow in the dark — so that’s handy.
Growing up a latchkey kid, Miko Kuki was overlooked at home and at school, and even in her career as a dedicated physicist. Feeling invisible, Miko accidentally learned to travel into the ever-present Nobody Space — a dimension overlapping our own, but invisible to parents, teachers and bosses.
Donning a suit of her own design, she became … The Forgetmenaut. Invisible to enemies and villains, she can do valuable reconnaissance and sneak up on bad guys! Unfortunately, she also finds herself invisible to millennials and teens. Bummer.
THE CLOCK WATCHER
Horace Cabeza always suspected that his massive cranium meant he was special. But he was still surprised to learn that he came from a long line of Watchers, ancient beings who observe and record all knowledge in the universe.
His cosmic awareness helped Horace land a job as a quality assurance analyst at a software company. But due to his strict work/life balance code, he soon became known as … The Clock Watcher! If there’s going to be earth-shattering superhero nonsense, it can really wait until Monday, OK? (Also, this could have been an email.)
One of the oldest Gen X heroes, the mysterious mutant known as Elder X has the psychic power to commune with older generations and sometimes even pass among them, accepted as one of the group. Years of walking between two generational worlds have wrecked his knees, so whether heading into battle or talking to older clients, he prefers to ride his trusty telekinetic scooter.
After his first punk show in 1984, Tad Torkleson dubbed himself “Punky Crewster” and spent years trying to “burn it all down” to prove his punk credentials. Now he has mellowed out a bit (mostly he’s just tired, man), but is still living that punk scene as hard as he can. Not a superhero, exactly, but he can still get everyone into cool parties and concerts.
Growing up, Dabney Nolan was repeatedly warned by his dad that “all those vid-yah games will rot your brain!” But Dad was wrong! After finding the secret 118th screen on his favorite Atari game, Dabney was infused with 8-bit radiation from the secret Realm of Video Games. Becoming “one” with his controllers, Dabney gained peak human gaming abilities. Now known as Sensational 8-Bit, he uses his special video game attacks and powers up to fight crime.