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.