New York, Gotham City, Metropolis, and Atlantis-- as shining gems of society, these sprawling urban centers are replete with culture and art, stunning architecture, decades of world-shaping history, and tons of villainous mayhem. If there’s an amazing city out there, then there’s surely some evildoer trying to take it over.
There are some places that superheroes need to be. This is probably the only thing real estate and saving lives have in common: location. But what about everywhere else? Is it really fair that Manhattan has several dozen heroes, while Jersey City only has one? Yes, because there are also some places that superheroes really don’t need to be-- not that that’s going to stop them.
Superheroes come from all over. This article will focus specifically on heroes that choose to hang their capes in unnecessary or otherwise unexpected locations, or in farm towns that shouldn’t reasonably have anywhere near as large a criminal element as they do.
Whether it's a hometown that a hero keeps getting drawn back to, or a smaller city that is somehow inexplicably important, here are 13 Superheroes And 2 Supervillains Who Defend The Last Places You’d Expect.
15 The X-Men
Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, a mutant boarding school and the most well-known headquarters of the X-Men, is located in the town of North Salem, in Westchester County, New York. Westchester is one of the wealthiest, least crime-riddled areas in the state, and over an hour’s drive from the supervillain hotbed of New York City – assuming there’s no traffic.
North Salem isn't the only weird location in which the X-Men have set up shop. The time-traveling X-Men Blue have also called Madripoor home – a tiny island nation that is constantly under criminal control. While it would almost make sense for the X-folks to have lived there, as they cleaned up the country, they, like Wolverine before them, mostly just hung out and let the criminals do as they pleased.
More recently, the team has moved their digs to the much more reasonably situated Central Park-- apparently Kitty Pryde was the first X-Men who wanted a shorter commute.
14 Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Yes, Sunnydale was built over the Hellmouth, and, yes, it makes absolute sense that that’s where Buffy Summers would end up, but why is Sunnydale so aggressively boring?
According to Buffy's internal history, Mayor Richard Wilkins discovered the Hellmouth and built Sunnydale over it, specifically to give demons and vampires several humans to feed off of. So why’d he build a suburb?
Wouldn’t another Los Angeles have made the most sense? Wouldn’t a shadowy mega-city with dark alleys and mob bosses allow vamps the chance to eat more bodies without getting caught?
In the season three finale, Buffy basically rallies the entire high school behind her to help kill the mayor. Had this been Los Angeles, he’d have easily been triumphant. No one helps anyone in Los Angeles-- that’s why Angel moved there.
We’re not immortal evil masterminds, but this really seems like a misstep.
13 The Great Lakes Avengers
There’s no polite way to say this: it's hard to take the Great Lakes Avengers seriously. Sure, maybe they’ve got a little bit of credit now, thanks to Squirrel Girl, but they were created as a straight-up parody, and were never meant to go anywhere.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you hear “big city.” In fact, the city of Milwaukee isn’t even the first thing that comes up when you Google Search “Milwaukee.”
Additionally, Milwaukee is one of the poorest and most dangerous cities in America, so we’re definitely not saying the city doesn’t need help. It just doesn't need the help of superheroes - unless, of course, someone's mutant ability is advanced financial planning and urban development.
12 The Toxic Avenger
As “the first super-hero... from New Jersey,” the Toxic Avenger was a 98-pound weakling until he fell into a vat of chemicals and became a monstrous hero, armed with super-strength and a mop.
Tromaville, the “toxic chemical capital of the world,” meanwhile, has certainly seen its share of crazy events, but you’d be hard-pressed to say that it really needs a superhero.
The Toxic Avenger's second movie sends our hero to Tokyo, and, at one point in The Toxic Avenger III: The Last Temptation of Toxie, Toxie actually runs out of things to do, and is forced to try and find a real job.
Back in the real world, the movies were cheaply filmed in Jersey City, Boonton, Harrison, and Rutherford, New Jersey, all of which are either industrial or suburban, and sorely lacking in dangerous megalomaniacs.
11 Kid Flash
Blue Valley is a small fictional college town somewhere in the in the northwestern parts of Nebraska. Despite a population of roughly 40,000 and a location that could politely be referred to as the middle of nowhere, the town has birthed three separate superheroes, and been invaded by bad guys twice.
Wally West grew up in Blue Valley, but eventually decided to leave because there wasn’t enough action. This didn't stop S.T.R.I.P.E. and the second Star-Spangled Kid from test-driving their heroic abilities in the town.
Also, for some reason, Starro has attempted to take over the town twice, forcing the Justice League to intervene both times. Similarly, when Asmodel unleashes Hell during the Day of Judgment, Blue Valley once again falls victim to unwanted outsiders.
Maybe the Blue Valley Diner has really good pie or something...
10 Doom Patrol
For being one of the oldest super teams around, the Doom Patrol has a weird habit of settling down far away from the action.
Their first hometown was Midway City, Michigan, notable mainly for its history museum (curated by Carter Hall, aka the Golden Age Hawkman) and for not being Detroit. While the local police “put up” with Doom Patrol for a while, the city eventually evicted the team because they didn’t want a bunch of weirdos hanging around and lowering property values.
The Doom Patrol then moved to an uninhabited island, only to soon thereafter sacrifice themselves to save Codsville, a fishing village in Maine – with a population of 14 people. The second Doom Patrol, meanwhile, set up shop in Kansas City.
Midway City – despite not being a popular location since DC’s Golden Age comics – has been decimated twice, once during Final Crisis and again during last year's Suicide Squad movie. This is probably not going to do much to rekindle its viability.
Gateway is an incredibly powerful mutant, with the ability to jump through time and space, who nonetheless chooses to live in the Maynard Plains of the Australian Outback. This in and of itself isn’t so weird, as Gateway is Aboriginal and likes to keep to himself. What is weird is that all kinds of other heroes and villains keep showing up there uninvited.
The Reavers, a band of annoying cybernetics, somehow ended up in the Outback and set up a camp nearby, then kidnapped Gateway and forced him to teleport them around the world, so they could rob banks and murder people. Eventually, the X-Men managed to defeat the Reavers – and then totally stole their hidey-hole, despite having six other headquarters around the globe.
The X-Men end up leaving not long afterward, allowing a new group of Reavers to re-steal the desolate cave that everyone loves so much. They kept control of it for a good chunk of time this go-round - at least until Psylocke, now working for X-Force, showed up and murdered them all.
At least now Gateway can finally have a little peace and quiet.
8 Emma Frost and Generation X
The Massachusetts Academy in Snow Valley, Massachusetts has been home base for Emma Frost for a while, since her Hellfire Club days. It also later remained her base when she reformed, as the home and training ground for Generation X, the X-offshoot of cynical teenagers led by Frost and the criminally underappreciated Banshee.
The Academy was originally founded in the 1700s in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, which, for anyone not familiar with New England geography, puts the school about as far away from Boston as it can be, while still remaining in Massachusetts.
While it’s probably a pretty great place for a boarding school for wayward youths, it makes less sense as a secret meeting spot for evildoers. Additionally, it makes absolutely no sense for a superhero team – unless their sole mission is protecting the happy little trees in the area from renegade painters.
7 The High Evolutionary
The High Evolutionary is a mad scientist in the same vein as Dr. Moreau and Mister Sinister. He genetically experiments on animals and humans to create his abominable New Men (later called the Knights of Wundagore).
They all call Mount Wundagore, Transia, home, which actually makes sense for an evil laboratory – except that the area is plagued by werewolves, ghosts, and rampant uranium poisoning. Also, the Elder God Chthon is imprisoned within the mountain and has a tendency to get loose.
Despite all this, the mother of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver somehow ends up there, allowing the heroes to be birthed, cryogenically frozen, and then adopted from the High Evolutionary’s remote and super spooky doorstep.
The greater Transia, meanwhile, isn’t much better: the country’s the source of the "radioactive clay" used by the Puppet Master, and the people actively cultivate a negative image to chase away tourists, because, apparently, even the residents know no one is supposed to be living there.
6 Captain Marvel
DC’s Captain Marvel, the superheroic alter-ego of the teenage Billy Batson, lives in the cozy, idyllic Fawcett City, Wisconsin (or Indiana, or Minnesota, depending on the writer). The wizard Shazam cast a spell on the entire city, keeping it safe and clean, making it resemble something out of the 1930s.
Nonetheless, Shazam tricked the orphaned Billy into meeting him in an empty subway car, then gave him superpowers and made him the guardian of the city, because a fully matured mind was clearly not needed to protect Fawcett City.
No joke, Captain Marvel’s first villain was a guy trying to destroy the city’s radio waves, because a lack of rock-and-roll is the worst thing that could happen to Fawcett City. Also, the radio station was called WHIZ, proving once and for all that the city is too precious and good to be a part of the DC universe.
Anyway, this "kid gloves" treatment is probably because Fawcett City is named after Fawcett Comics, the original Golden Age publisher of Captain Marvel (the same publisher DC sued, claiming that Captain Marvel was a rip-off of Superman-- there are probably worse ways to say “we’re sorry”).
5 Crimson Fox and Green Fury
Powerless was an NBC sitcom starring Vanessa Hudgens, Danny Pudi, and Alan Tudyk, about non-superpowered people working for the Wayne Enterprises offshoot Wayne Security, in a city that wasn't cool enough to get its own “real” superhero-- or a WNBA team, and they’d asked a lot of times.
Charm City (filmed on the WB backlot with B-roll of Cleveland, Ohio, when needed) is the butt of repeated jokes, often referenced as a lesser city than Metropolis or Gotham, or even Star City. Pretty much everyone’s goal is to get the heck out of there – even the superheroes.
The city was originally protected by DC Comics' Crimson Fox, but she decides to move to a suburb of Metropolis, so Green Fury (better known as Fire) steps in. The show was then cancelled, which is a bummer, because it seemed to finally find its footing towards the end of its run.
4 Swamp Thing and Man-Thing
Both Swamp Thing and Man-Thing are, not surprisingly, massive, monstrous swamp creatures, protecting the Louisiana swamps and the Everglades of Florida, respectively. Both have made it their often violent mission to protect the environment from developers and polluters and general vagabonds, as well as monsters and the occasional racist police officer. Thus far, only Swamp Thing has managed to hook up with Heather Locklear, though.
We’re all for conservation, but maybe these guys could try to focus their efforts on something better than the swamps, like the rainforests or the drought-stricken stretches of southern California? Do people even live in the swamps?
Also, if “whatever knows fear burns at the Man-Thing’s touch,” then he should probably stop living somewhere so flammable. Yes, marshes are wet, but they’re also full of methane.
3 Doctor Doom
Latveria is a tiny, agrarian nation run like a feudal monarchy by its supreme (and only occasionally benevolent) overlord, Doctor Doom-- except for the time when it was run by Mister Fantastic after Doom was sent to Hell.
For some reason, Latveria is a global superpower in the Marvel universe, and is not allowed to be left to its own devices. There’s a lot of reasons this doesn’t make any sense, none of which is due to the fact that the country is only the size of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Latveria is desperately poor, with no economy to speak of. Unlike Wakanda, or even Transia, there’s no resources to be exported. Additionally, all of the country’s technological advances are centered around Doctor Doom. The entire country is basically a glorified evil lair, but Marvel treats it like a competitor to China or the United States.
Even after Reed Richards went in and destroyed all the death rays and booby-traps, S.H.I.E.L.D. and the U.S. government, still tried to take control of it for some reason.
2 Ms. Marvel
Ms. Marvel is the superheroic identity of Kamala Khan, an Inhuman teenager from Jersey City with the ability to embiggen and heal herself. After being granted the title from Carol Danvers and joining up with the Avengers, Ms. Marvel has done her best to protect Jersey City from... the Inventor and one other monster.
You see, Jersey City, New Jersey, is famous for not being New York City. It is considered to be a “second string city.” J.C. is where people go to live when they want to be one train away from Manhattan, but not pay Manhattan prices, or deal with tourists.
Even though Jersey City’s rapidly going from seedy to swanky, it’s almost always ignored by supervillains in favor of the Big Apple. However, this hasn’t stopped Ms. Marvel from planting her flag in the city anyway, even if she does have to cross the Hudson or teleport somewhere else to stop actual evildoers.
The pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Kal-El spent most of his youth fighting evil villains and alien invaders in Smallville, Kansas, both in the many Superboy books and in the Smallville television show. He even had the Legion of Super-Heroes show up and help out for a while.
How much crime could their actually be in Smallville? Smallville is, in all versions, a small, isolated farming community in Kansas, one of the least populous states in the union. Everyone knows everyone and they all get along. The town’s got a single high school and a general store. There’s a very real chance that cows outnumber humans.
It’s since been retconned that a bunch of kryptonite exploded into the town, and turned a bunch of folks into crazy people, but even that doesn’t explain why all the bad guys stayed there. Superboy himself had the good sense to skip town for Metropolis later on.
Can you think of any other heroes or villains who protect strange places? Let us know in the comments.