The best of superhero pranks and hoaxes

The best of superhero pranks and hoaxes

Where are all the super pranksters?


The first of the month is behind us, which means April Fools is over and we all can go back to believing everything we see on the internet. But in all honesty, I’m a little disappointed. There were no big gags in the superhero world. Nobody even attempted to convince us a big game-changing change was on the way, only to pull the rug out from under us.

The closest we got was this:

The footage is quite clearly taken from multiple TV shows and movies we’ve already seen, and the concept is too unlikely, especially given the 2017 release date. I mean, come on, guys. At least try to make it plausible. The only reason this was worth mentioning at all is that Stan Lee shared it. And who doesn’t love Stan Lee? Excelsior!

There was also an attempt to convince us CW’s Flash would be appearing in season 2 of Gotham on FOX. Again, the effort put into the gag was minimal. Is it too much to ask for a prank that makes us actually question the validity, even of the first of April?

There were, thankfully, a couple of saving graces. One article announced the cancellation of Deadpool comics in the wake of the film’s success, parodying the cancellation of Fantastic Four after that disastrous movie outing.

The clear winner of the day has to be the Library and Archives Canada for declassifying journals and military records of Canadian supersoldier, James “Logan” Howlett. The internet loved it, and the website garnered a great deal of attention from social media for the stunt. There’s no faulting the effort involved in this one.

And that’s how it should be. But isn’t it a little sad that the best superhero April Fools joke came from a government organization? Where was DC’s big stunt. Where was Marvel’s? Maybe I just missed them.

Comics have always revolved around practical jokes. After all, they were called the funny pages. DC has a whole host of characters built on the premise; Joker, Prankster, and Trickster to name the most obvious.

Meanwhile, Marvel’s marketing techniques have been incredible over the years, from blaming leaks on Hydra to the creative advertising campaign for Antman. Yet they seem to have done nothing to capitalize on the date this year.

So where were the superhero pranks this year?

In fact, superheroes don’t seem to get in on the joke very often at all. But here’s a few times they did, and everybody was fooled!

  • Looking back to 1999, Marvel were doing things right. April 1st saw the release of promotional materials for “X Marks the Spider” where they convinced the world that our friendly neighbourhood Spiderman would be joining the X-men. Fans went wild, and it brought a whole lot of traffic to Marvel.com.
  • In 2003, local newspapers in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, reported sightings of a masked crusader helping people against gangs of unruly kids, as well as helping old ladies across the road and picking up litter. The story of ‘Monkeyman’ went international. While not an April Fool’s prank as such, it deserves to be mentioned.
  • In 2014, AXA Insurance offered cover for superheroes, because, as they said: “The superheroes we protect are the small businesses and start-ups that power the UK economy.” So true.
    As rumours of Batman vs Superman reached boiling point, Justin Bieber claimed to have been given the role of Robin. The uproar was inevitable and hilarious. No matter how bad you think Dawn of Justice was in the end, just be thankful this was only a hoax.
  • Despite everything, however, it seems truth is once again stranger than fiction. A 20 year old real life superhero, known as Knight Warrior, is campaigning to be the next mayor of Salford. Residents will vote on May 3rd. You couldn’t make it up.

Here’s hoping for some better April Fool’s next year. But maybe I just missed the good’uns this time around. Let me know if you saw any this year that I missed, or any classics I forgot.

Michael Delaney
Michael has a Master's in Mass Communication and a Degree in Creative Writing. The subject of his final dissertation was race-lifting in comic-based media. He spends his spare time writing comics.

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