Fandom is a powerful thing. When a group of people love a fictional character deeply enough, there comes an interest in creating a permanent tribute to their legacy and the ideals that they stand for. Whether it’s superheroes inspiring people to fight for what’s right, or characters that remind us of the joy of childhood, a statue is an often appreciated way to remember the importance of popular culture.
With Marvel unveiling a 13 foot bronze statue of Captain America at this summer's Comic Con in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the character’s debut (where it will make it's way across the country at various exhibits before reaching it's final destination in Brooklyn, NY), here are some other characters that have already been immortalized in statue form in public places across the globe.
An honorable mention goes to James T Kirk, whose future birthplace is marked by a plaque, but not a full statue.
Editor's Note: Unfortunately, we don't have the rights to publish images of many of these statues, but you can find clearly marked links to webpages featuring each of them within the text of the article.
16 Superman – Statue in Metropolis, Illinois
The upholder of Truth, Justice, and the American Way is an obvious choice for a statue – there are few comic book characters who stand as a symbol of what mankind can achieve in quite the same way as the Man of Steel, and it’s only right that he get a statue to celebrate the righteous heroism that he represents (when he isn’t murdering his enemies).
For a small town that shares only the connection of a namesake with a famous fictional DC comics city, Metropolis, Illinois leans into its claim to fame hard. The town’s statue of Superman is one of the major tourism points of Metropolis, and it’s been visited by plenty of celebrities, including Barack Obama.
Other DC city namesakes haven’t been quite as eager to play up their superhuman connection. Gotham in Nottinghamshire, England, rejects any connection to Batman – even though, in an interesting turn of fate, it’s only a few miles away from the filming location for Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises.
15 Robocop – Statue intended for display in Detroit, Michigan
Robocop is perhaps not the first character to come to mind when thinking of inspirational heroes. While most definitely the hero of the movie, the level of gore and violence in the original Robocop movie does make the franchise somewhat risqué when it comes to getting city planning permission. That said, considering the heavy levels of Christian imagery throughout the movie, it could be argued that Robocop is a perfect metaphor for heroic sacrifice.
Back in 2011, over 2,700 people backed a Kickstarter campaign to build a statue of Robocop to be placed on permanent display in the city of Detroit, raising over $67,000. Five years later, the project is still ongoing, and there’s no certain completion date for the statue, but earlier this year, the team behind the project posted an update detailing the progress they’ve been making recently. It seems that one day, eventually, Detroit will get a statue of its greatest protector.
14 Sherlock Holmes – Statue on Baker Street in London, England
If one thing can be said of Britain, it’s that they love their fictional characters with a fiery passion. It’s for this reason that, well over a century after the character of Sherlock Holmes debuted in Victorian periodicals, it’s hard to go anywhere on Baker Street in London without seeing a pipe or a deerstalker.
From a Sherlock Holmes-themed pattern on the walls of the Baker Street Underground station, to a wall of souvenirs in every shop up and down the street, the world’s most famous detective is everywhere. The focal point of this attention is a large bronze statue of the character which stands just outside the super sleuth’s address, paying tribute to Baker Street’s greatest export.
When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle first gave Sherlock Holmes the real-world address of 221b Baker Street, there’s no way he could have known just how much his decision would impede pedestrian traffic flow down the street for years and years to come.
13 Rocky Balboa – Statue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
It’s hard to find a more inspiring story than that found in the original Rocky movie. Sly Stallone’s classic boxing flick sent out the message to a generation that through hard work and perseverance, someone can push themselves to achieve their dreams – whether or not they succeed at winning a competition against an opponent. The only true battle worth fighting is the one that involves personal growth.
Philadelphia’s Rocky statue, along with the steps to its Art Museum, are among the most popular tourist destinations in the city. Fans of Rocky travel from miles around to see Balboa immortalized in bronze. The statue was originally created as a prop for Rocky III, but was donated by Sylvester Stallone to the city after filming wrapped. As such, it also stands as a testament to the story behind the filming of the Rocky movies: the real-world tale of a young filmmaker with no money who somehow managed to create a critically acclaimed movie against all odds.
12 Paddington Bear – Statue in Paddington Station in London, England
The British do love a good statue. Not far from Baker Street is Paddington station, the place for which the loveable Paddington Bear is named, and the place where his story begins after travelling to the UK from darkest Peru. Paddington Bear has been a favorite character around the world for years, and the station that inspired his name is a popular destination for tourists to London.
The statue of the famous bear, which can be seen in the station, is a tribute to the legacy of the character, and the generations of British children that have grown up reading about his exploits. At the same time, it stands as a monument to the cultural legacy of London, and the number of talented creators who have used the city as a backdrop for their stories.
It’s also a good reason to get tourists to visit the station. Incidentally, the statue of Paddington Bear is located right next to a stall selling a variety of cuddly souvenirs.
11 Desperate Dan and Mini the Minx – Statue in Dundee, Scotland
High up in the north of the British Isles lies another set of statues, although the characters may not be as familiar as others created by British writers and artists. Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx are characters from longrunning British comic books The Dandy and The Beano, and are part of the cultural heritage of the country, even if their global impact is somewhat less than that of American comic book characters.
Dundee was the original location of the publisher D.C. Thomas (not to be confused with the American DC comics, which is unrelated), which initially produced The Dandy and The Beano – Desperate Dan first appeared in the debut issue of The Dandy in 1937, while Minnie appeared in The Beano for the first time in 1953. To pay tribute to D.C. Thomas, the statues were erected in 2001, and can be seen in the main high street for the town.
10 Nick Wilde – Lego Statue Temporarily in Ningbo, China
Not all statues are designed to last forever, and a statue made entirely out of Lego is hardly going to be as durable as a bronze alternative. Even so, the story behind a statue of the Zootopia fox, Nick Wilde, which debuted in Ningbo in China, is a fairly sad one.
The lifesize statue of Nick Wilde was created by a local artist, Mr Zhao, earlier this year. Zhao used Lego bricks which in total were worth 100,000 RMB (around $15,000 USD), building the statue over the course of three days. After its completion, the statue was placed on display in a local shopping mall – although it didn’t manage to stay there for long.
Less than an hour later, the statue was in ruins. It turns out that a young child had decided to play with the statue, and, unsupervised by parents or store staff, managed to knock down and destroy the entire piece within a few seconds, barely after it was initially debuted to the public.
To his credit, Zhao took the destruction of the statue in his stride, and hasn’t asked for compensation – although he has pointed the finger of blame on the neglectful store staff who allowed the destruction to take place.
9 Dick Tracy – Statue in Naperville, Illinois
Modern comic book fans can be forgiven for not being familiar with the legacy of the classic detective comic strip Dick Tracy. In the modern era of comic book adaptations, newspaper strips -- particularly serious affairs -- aren’t always in the public limelight in the way characters like Superman and Captain America are. Nevertheless, Dick Tracy has been a staple feature of many newspapers since 1931, and the longevity of the character speaks volumes about his enduring popularity and cult following.
A statue located in Naperville, Illinois was erected in 2010, and quickly became one of the town’s most famous landmarks, as fans of the comics flocked to the site to have their picture taken with it. Unfortunately, in 2015, construction work and heavy flooding meant that the statue had to be taken down for renovation and relocation, but now Dick Tracy resides in a drier and less potentially dangerous location, further from the flood risk of a nearby river.
8 Popeye – Statue in Chester, Illinois
One of the most enduring cartoon characters of the past century, Popeye teaches children everywhere the importance of eating green vegetables, and the moral lesson that the underdog can still win if he’s willing to put in hard work and dedication. Popeye’s legacy is incredible, and his effects have been far-reaching – considering that classic arcade game Donkey Kong was originally designed as a Popeye licensed title, the entire history of gaming might have been different were it not for the contributions of the Popeye the Sailor Man.
It seems that Illinois is as big a fan of statues as Britain is, as not far from Dick Tracy and Superman, the town of Chester boasts a bronze comic character statue of its own. Chester is the birthplace of Elzie Crisler Segar, the original creator of Popeye, and a statue of his most famous creation has sat in Segar Park on the bank of the Mississippi river for over thirty years. In fact, there are statues of Popeye characters all over Chester, in tribute to the town’s most popular export.
7 Robot Maria – Statue in Babelsberg Studio, Germany
One of the earliest science fiction movies, the 1927 film Metropolis, directed by German filmmaker Fritz Lang, paved the way for many of the conventions that have become commonplace in modern sci-fi stories in all mediums. With the introduction of the robotic copy of Maria, the film’s protagonist, the movie created an iconic character whose influences live on to this day – Robot Maria provided the original inspiration for Star Wars character C3PO, as well as characters across plenty of other science fiction stories.
Nearly ninety years after Metropolis was first released, the studio that filmed the movie, Babelsberg Studio, is still growing strong. Having provided a filming location for plenty of modern movies including V for Vendetta and Captain America: Civil War, the studio has helped to produce a long list of quality movies, in large part due to the success of Metropolis. It’s for this reason that a bronze statue of Robot Maria can be seen on the studio grounds, paying tribute to one of the first iconic characters to be brought to life on one of Babelsberg’s sets.
6 Godzilla – Statue in Tokyo, Japan
In a post-war, post-nuclear attack Japan, cinema was used to deal with the emotional and cultural fallout (as well as the literal fallout) from the advent of the atomic age. No story is a clearer metaphor for nuclear destruction than that of Godzilla, a movie about a dinosaur that becomes irradiated before mutating and rampaging across Japan, leaving destruction in its wake.
In the years since Godzilla’s initial conception, the character has been reinterpreted, becoming more than just a metaphor of the suffering of the Japanese people at the hands of atomic weaponry, but being adopted as an icon of Japan’s resilience as it embraced advanced modern technology and took the lessons of World War II in stride, transforming Godzilla into a hero just as Japan turned modern technology into its savior after the brutality of the war.
It’s fitting, then, that Japan’s Toho Walk of Fame in Hibiya, Tokyo, features a miniature statue of the legendary giant dinosaur monster, celebrating the rich cultural history of the country and its love of gigantic monster movies.
5 Darth Vader – Statue in Odessa, Ukraine
In one of the most inventive uses of a statue of a fictional character, an artist in Ukraine has created a statue of Star Wars villain Darth Vader which also serves as a commentary on communism and its leaders.
Following recent legislation in Ukraine which states that all public symbols of its communist past be removed, Alexander Milov has created a statue of Darth Vader by converting a statue of Vladimir Lenin which stands in a factory district in the town of Odessa.
The statue’s ideological message is simple, comparing the former Soviet regime to the evil empire in Star Wars, with an iconic but ultimately fallible leader at its head. The statue’s body remains almost the same, with only its head seeing major changes, as well as the addition of a cape and the inclusion of Darth Vader’s chestplate.
What’s more, the new statue contains a Wi-Fi hotspot within its head, meaning that as well as sending out a political message, Darth Vader’s statue provides a helpful gathering point for the community.
4 Peanuts Characters – Statues in Santa Rosa, California
One of the defining comic strips of the twentieth century, Charles Schultz’ Peanuts ran for almost fifty years and has provided inspiration for the format and storytelling of many, many comics since its inception. While younger comic fans may not have the highest opinion of the strip because of the commercialism that drove its later years, the early days of Peanuts provide some of the most insightful, poignant comic strips ever produced.
The legacy of Peanuts has been immortalized in a variety of statues throughout the entire town of Santa Rosa in California, the town in which Schultz lived for much of his professional career working on Peanuts. There's a bronze statue of Charlie Brown and Snoopy in a park in the town’s Railway Square, along with various statues dotted throughout the town, and in the surrounding area, including decorations at Sonama County airport and at the Children’s Museum of Sonama County.
3 Alice and the Mad Hatter – Statue in Central Park in New York City, New York
Lewis Carroll’s series of books starring the intrepid Alice and her adventures throughout Wonderland have captivated the imagination of children for decades, and as such, the most famous characters within these stories have been immortalized in bronze for children of all ages to enjoy.
One of the most famous statues of fictional characters can be found in Central Park in New York City, where Alice can be seen sitting atop a toadstool, alongside the White Rabbit, the dormouse, and the Mad Hatter. The statue is inscribed with lines from Jabberwocky, a nonsensical children’s poem.
The statue was originally a gift from philanthropist George T. Delacorte Jr., a wealthy magazine publisher in the 1960s, who commissioned the statue as a tribute to his late wife, who had often read Lewis Carroll’s stories to their children. In addition to this contribution, Delacorte also donated statues depicting scenes from Shakespearean plays The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet, as well as financing Delacorte Theater. There are worse ways to spend a fortune.
2 The Cat in the Hat – Statue at the University of California, San Diego, California
Dr. Seuss (real name Theodore Seuss Geisel) is remembered as one of the most beloved children’s storytellers of the past hundred years, having created countless classic characters that are among the first stories many young people ever read.
At Geisel Library at the University of California, San Diego, there’s a very special collection of Dr. Seuss artifacts. Original drawings, pencil sketches, and early proof copies of Dr. Seuss’ works can be seen within the collection, paying tribute to the legacy of the children’s author and the stories he told. The Geisel Library, incidentally, is itself named for Dr. Seuss, showing the extent to which UCSD values the storyteller’s works.
The capstone of UCSD’s tribute to Dr. Seuss, however, stands just outside the Geisel Library – a large, seven-foot bronze statue of the man himself, alongside his most famous creation, The Cat in the Hat. This is, without a doubt, a far better tribute than any movie starring Mike Myers.
Which of the statues on this list have you seen? Which famous statues of fictional characters are missing from the list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.