Can Superman run for president of the United States? Can the makers of the genetically modified spider that bit Peter Parker sue him for patent violations? Is the Superhuman Registration Act constitutional?
My wife works in the legal field (trained as a Paralegal), and she stumbled on this geeky but legal related book and just knew that other geeks like me would be interested.
In THE LAW OF SUPERHEROES, lawyers, co-bloggers (at Law and the Multiverse), and self-proclaimed comic book nerds James Daily and Ryan Davidson attempt to answer these questions – and many more. Wherever the law and comic book stories intersect (and the points are both numerous and varied!), Daily and Davidson are there, armed with a library’s worth of case law, a comprehensive knowledge of comic book lore, and an easy, engaging sense of humor. The result is an accessible, enjoyable look at US law as explained using examples culled from comic books.
This Amazon review has a great summary, click on through to The Law of Superheroes:
The book is split into thirteen chapters, each of which covers a different area of US law:
1 – Constitutional Law: e.g., Does the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment grant mutants civil rights? Could the state ever force a superhuman to relinquish his or her superpowers?
2 – Criminal Law: If you murder a superhero who’s later resurrected, is it still murder? Is the Joker legally insane?
3 – Evidence: Could the court ever allow testimony given by a masked superhero? Can the services of psychics be used to verify a witness’s testimony?
4 – Criminal Procedure: Would evidence gathered by Batman be admissible in criminal court? Could a superhero be held liable for false arrest?
5 – Tort Law and Insurance: Does the nonconsensual use of telepathy constitute a violation of privacy? Who’s legally responsible for the massive property damages sustained in the comic book universes?
6 – Contracts: Could Batman really contract the services of thugs to rescue civilians, as he does in No Man’s Land? Are contracts with the Devil enforceable?
7 – Business Law: Which business designation would best fit a superhero team, e.g., for tax and liability purposes? Does the Americans with Disabilities Act afford mutants any protection?
8 – Administrative Law: Would Superman owe taxes on pieces of coal that he crushed into diamonds? How would flying superheroes deal with the FAA?
9 – Intellectual Property: Does Peter Parker own the copyright to photos he takes for the Daily Bugle? Do the surviving members of The Beatles have a copyright claim on music created by their counterparts in an alternate universe?
10 – Travel and Immigration: Could Superman really renounce his US citizenship? Would international restriction on travel apply to superhumans who travel by teleportation devices (i.e., since they aren’t technically crossing borders)?
11 – International Law: What are the territorial markers of Atlantis? Do US courts have any jurisdiction over crimes committed on other planets?
12 – Immortality, Alter Egos, and Resurrection: Would the compound interest on their investments provide a living wage to immortals? Can immortal beings collect Social Security in perpetuity?
13 – Non-Human Intelligences: As a non-human, would Superman have any rights at all? Can the Endangered Species Act be used to protect intelligent super-nonhumans?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I found the early,”sexier” chapters on Constitutional and criminal law more entertaining than those on business and administrative law. That said, the authors still manage to make the tax code seem somewhat interesting.