Detroit has officially decided that, bowing to pressure from a campaign of residents and outsiders, they will build a statue of Robocop in their fair city, thus ruining all the credibility the city built up with that Chrysler ad with Eminem. The metallic savior of the city, which in the film is portrayed as crumbling ruins (any joke here would be too easy), will be remembered forever as a reminder of what happens when a big corporation has too much power and tries to destroy your entire city (metaphor!).
And thus, Detroit joins the pantheon of cities around the world that have honored fictional characters in immortal statue form. From high art to the lowest art, sometimes people get bored of generals and heads of state and just want a statue of Jack Sparrow or Captain Crunch. So here is my list of notable statues of fictional characters, so that you can go visit them and imagine what they might look like in the Louvre centuries from now, as art historians wonder about the aesthetic significance of Robocop’s gun-arms.
Ignatius J. Reilly — New Orleans
Reilly is the protagonist of John Kennedy Toole’s hilarious novel “A Confederacy of Dunces,” featuring a collection of bizarre and grotesques characters and set in New Orleans in the ’60s.
Reilly himself is overeducated and under-motivated, earning money by selling hotdogs on the street while trying to break up his mother’s relationship with a policeman who previously harassed him. Even with its absurdist bent, it has been called one of the best depictions of the city, so it may not be that absurd to place the character on Canal Street, trying to spot people so obviously inferior to him.
Ralph Kramden — New York
Outside of Port Authority you’ll find a statue to one of our culture’s finest wife-beaters, Ralph Kramden of “The Honeymooners.” Airing in a time when I assume threatening a loved one with physical violence was funny, Kramden’s famous phrase “One of these days, Pow! Right to the kisser!” is recognizable to even those who haven’t seen the show.
Sherlock Holmes — London
Everyone knows two things about Sherlock Holmes: He never actually said “Elementary, my dear Watson,” and he really loved opiates. But England’s most famous gumshoe has earned his place in London’s heart all the same, after starring in nine novels and another dozen works all penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
As one of the most famous characters from London outside of the Dickens canon, his stories shaped perceptions of the city as well as earned him a spot on Baker Street.
Samantha Stevens — Salem, Mass.
Salem, a town once known for burning innocent women as witches and is now known as the town where you can pay to see someone pretend to burn innocent women as witches, was a little miffed at the idea of building a statue of “Bewitched” character Samantha Stevens, likely because she was never properly burned on the show.
Townspeople felt that it trivialized history, and denounced the fact that it wouldn’t be made of wood.
Marge Gunderson — Fargo, N.D.
Though the film “Fargo” doesn’t actually have anything to do with the town, Fargo, N.D., erected the “Wood-Chip Marge” statue in their historical Fargo theatre.
For any hardcore fans of the Coen Brothers’ film looking for the famous site in the movie but can’t find their way to Brainerd, this is still a great consolation prize.
Peter Pan — Multiple countries
Something about Peter Pan crosses cultural boundaries, because statues of the green boy who never grows up can be found all over the world. He has statues in London; Perth, Australia; Brussels; Camden, N.J.; and other locations. Pan is originally a Scottish creation by novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie.
The Little Mermaid — Copenhagen
Though we all know the Little Mermaid from the Disney movie, the character is a creation of Hans Christian Andersen, the beloved children’s writer and Denmark’s greatest literary hero. The statue has survived for the last century in Copenhagen’s bay area, where it sits in the middle distance and serves as a major tourist attraction. Though the Andersen original has the titular character essentially committing suicide, it’s still exciting for kids who have only been exposed to the Disney-fied version.