In real life, loving and supportive fathers run the gamut from fun-loving and goofy to serious and insightful, stay-at-home to daily commuters, biological to chosen, cis to trans, happy-go-lucky to dour and moody.
But in superhero stories, dads tend to fall into one of three categories: emotionally distant, actually evil, or dead. Thor’s father Odin and Iron Man’s father Howard Stark both hide their emotions from their children. Batgirl’s father Commissioner Gordon is too busy cleaning up Gotham to notice that his daughter is Batgirl. The respective fathers of Invincible Mark Grayson, all of the Runaways, and Gamora and Nebula either reveal their evil plans in an unwelcome surprise or taunt their kids with their twisted philosophies. The fathers of the three most iconic superheroes, Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man? They’re all dead.
So it’s pretty exciting when a superhero story not only gives us dads who are alive and not evil but are actually pretty good at being dads. Bucking the trend, some superdads are present for their kids, supportive, and emotionally available.
With that in mind, I’ve assembled a list of the best superhero dads from movies and TV (a comics-based list would be much longer and very different). I’ve limited this list to those who fit the definition of good dad described above, and to those whose who aren’t mainly defined in the story by their absence/tragic death. So while film and television have given us some great moments with both of Superman’s dads Jonathan Kent and Jor-El, and I love Linus Roache’s performance as Thomas Wayne in Batman Begins, neither of those guys make the list. I’ve also left off folks who have some loving traits, but ultimately make destructive choices for their children—sorry, Big Daddy from Kick-Ass. Finally, I’ve left off those who are presented as bit players in the background of the larger story.