Is there a unifying mathematical theory to describe heroes and villains, a calculus of criminals and crime fighters that can be reduced to a handful of simple equations? What operations determine whether Harrison Ford is a globetrotting archeologist or an unwitting replicant? What additions or subtractions make one man a Dr. Manhattan and another a Dr. Evil? What is the mathematical difference between the Avengers and the JLA? Designer Matt Cowan
has been playing around with pop culture maths
, designing posters that outline the logic behind the characters we love.
Cowan posted the first of his "Pop-Culture Maths" series, titled "Superhero Mathematics,"
with the tagline: "Being a superhero is easy, if you know what to add or subtract." Since then, he's figured out the formulas for various folk: aliens, superheroes, zombie fighters and the actors who play them again and again.
Cowan also sells t-shirts
based on this and his other pop culture series.
Avengers Maths: Which suggests that the Hulk burst out of a purple dude's skin after a run-in with a rogue emoticon.
Bruce Willis Maths: Die Hard, Pulp Fiction, Sin City and The Sixth Sense. Love the bookending of the skull and crossbones, but I spent a good minute trying to figure out a movie in which Bruce Willis is immortal.
Harrison Ford Maths: Star Wars, Indiana Jones (poor Indy, defined by his greatest fear) and Blade Runner. It looks like Cowan has a distinct preference for whether Deckard is a replicant.
Doctor Maths: Featuring Doctors Doom, Manhattan (sans glowing blue dong), Who (well, actually just The Doctor) and Evil. The Doctor gets a Dalek instead of a TARDIS. I guess we should be grateful that Cowan opted for a Dalek and not a fez.
JLA Maths: It's all fun and games until you get down to Batman. Then it's just sad.
Fantastic Four Maths: In which four plus one equals super-four. Cowan's math might do well in a George Orwell novel.
Johnny Depp Maths: In which we contemplate the follicular similarities between Edward Scissorhands and Sweeney Todd. Also starring Willy Wonka and Captain Jack Sparrow.
Sir Maths: Explaining the intertwined cultural fates of Sirs Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart.
Zombie Maths: Featuring the undead-killing stylings of Shaun of the Dead, Resident Evil, Evil Dead and Planet Terror. Cherry's missing her leg, but why does Ash still have his hand? Tsk.