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The Anatomy of a Superhero

William Trotman
Marketing Director, Big Data & Analytics EMEA

With the right analysis, meaning and insights can be derived from any data set, finding both correlations and anomalies on topics you might not have delved into before. In this series of blogs, we’ll be taking data sets from ‘less typical’ sources and analyzing them to show how powerful Oracle Data Visualization can be.

With the imminent release of Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel Studios’ latest offering, all eyes are on the world of comic heroes. We therefore wanted to start the series showing how visual analytics can bring what it is to be a superhero to life. Thanks to Oracle UK intern, Ismail Syed, we took data from both Marvel Comics and DC Comics to create visualizations helping us find the ‘ingredients’ behind the typical superhero – and the archetypal villain.     


So, what do comic book heroes look like? Across both Marvel and DC comics, we found the most common hair color to be black, while the most common eye color was blue – and that’s generally the same whether male or female, evil or a hero!

Marvel males deviated slightly from this norm in that they tend to have brown eyes, rather than blue – as you can see from the word graph below.

Overall eye colors

Eye color does range considerably across both comics – everything from more traditional palettes through to Violet Eyes, Red Eyes, Orange Eyes and even, when we look at the DC word cloud, Photocellular (robotic) Eyes. 

DC eye colors

Looking at the hair color of Marvel characters, more villainous men have black hair than their heroic counterparts (1,324 compared to 697). But good women are twice as likely to have black hair as evil ones (442 vs 284). If you’re blonde and male, meanwhile, it’s hard for us to tell your intentions - the number of good/bad blonde men is roughly the same – 296 against 292. 

Marvel Male hair colors

Marvel Female hair colors

Men vs women, good vs bad

When it came to gender breakdown, 72 percent of Marvel’s characters are men, compared to 23 percent women. The remaining 5 percent don’t have a listed gender. But what about good versus evil? Well, worryingly for those living in the Marvel comics, bad male characters out-number the good guys considerably (3,739 vs 2,378). Luckily there are far more good females (1,300) than bad females (726) to help counter the situation.

Keeping it secret

We also wanted to look at identity, to see who is more likely to keep their superpowers private. Interestingly, within both comics, it’s the baddies who are far more likely to have a secret identity. From Marvel, the difference is significant: 2,505 bad men have a secret identity, while 1,262 have a public identity. 574 bad women have a secret identity, while 139 have a public identity. The split for good men and women, however, is relatively equal – 535 women have a public identity, while 538 have a secret one. 1,039 good men have a secret identity, while 1,072 good men have a public one.

Is a death final?

And, finally, with the rumour mill rife that Captain America might die in the new film, we wanted to see the likelihood of that really being his end. Thankfully, all seems not lost. Marvel and DC fans buoyed by Superman’s return to life in Justice League can take heart from our data as well. It shows the Avengers don’t tend to let a little thing like dying stop them. In fact, nearly a third (27 percent) who have died have come back to life in some form at a later date.

Gain a people advantage

This is a topical example of how data from an unlikely source can be visualized for interest. But can this be applied to business? Well, yes, putting data visualization into the hands of employees can help them drive valuable insights. If HR had similar information on their workforce as we do on comic book characters pictured like this, then they could have a much clearer understanding of their talent and their key attributes and skills. Sounds interesting? Why not read our eBook on how to gain a people advantage with analytics.

Furthermore, consider our comparison of good characters against bad characters and apply that to resourcing – you could see where you need to source or develop different skill sets to better meet your business challenges. Hear more on how to harness your data to create a high-performance organization in our recent webcast.

Create your own data superheroes

Visual analytics doesn’t just benefit HR, but anyone working with data. If you want to enable insights for everyone in your business, you’ll have to consider a complete, connected and collaborative analytics platform like Oracle Analytics Cloud. Why not find out a bit more and get started for free.

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