I got a strange invite last week--to be on CBC radio (rebroadcast on NPR apparently) to participate on a panel discussion about superheroes and who could be helpful in various world crises. Really! Here is the proof. The other panelist runs a comic book shop, so he was far more up to date on the various trends in the books, such as Tony Stark as futurist (I remember him as an alcoholic).
The choices were Superman, Wolverine, and Iron Man due to the particular movies coming out this summer, and the host set it up with Superman being UN-ish, Wolvie as black ops, and Iron Man as defense contractor. The three issues/crises that we discussed were North Korea, Syria, and Al Qaeda/Taliban.
Given that structure, it made sense to suggest Superman for NK. Why? Not because of his UN-ish-ness, as I reminded the host that Superman is from Kansas so he would not look all that diplomatic from a North Korean perspective. Instead, given the multiplicity of military threats (artillery, missiles, nukes) that NK presents, only someone who can move superfast and can fly and has multiple weapons (fists, laser eyes, super breath) could do with it.
For Taliban/AQ, well, that is a dark war, and Wolvie's favorite phrase is: "I am the best at what I do, but what I do is not very nice." Um, yeah.
For Syria, well, we had to use Iron Man since Superman was busy elsewhere plus Stark knows the weaknesses of the military technology. Plus if Superman is an agent of the UN these days (I have no idea, I don't read the books but he did apparently renounce his American citizenship), then he would be stymied by the Russian veto.
Who did both of us recommend if not these three? Wonder Woman. The comic book shop owner cited her ambassadorial qualities, but I focused on the general set of findings that empowering women is associated with all kinds of good stuff--less war, less civil war, more economic growth, more democracy, etc.
Anyhow, what I would really recommend for these big crises: either the X-Men or the Avengers or perhaps the Fantastic Four. Most of the big problems in the world are multidimensional, and teams are far better than individuals for handling such stuff. And I know where folks can go if they need to figure out how teams/alliances operate in 21st century conflicts.