By Alicia M. Cohn - 12/28/11 10:45 PM EST
A documentary filmmaker and his son hit the campaign trail this year to ask GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul: "If you could be any superhero in the world, who would you be and why?"
The question was posed on camera by 9-year-old Ari Garnick, the son of Emmy-nominated documentary producer and journalist Darren Garnick, who posted the short film, titled "The Superhero Primary," this week.
“I wanted to take Ari out on the New Hampshire primary campaign trail, which — like Iowa — is the greatest social studies classroom available, and I knew that having a superhero theme would make it more interesting for him," Garnick told The Washington Post.
The most popular choice was Superman, with Romney, Perry and Gingrich naming DC Comics's first flagship character.
Romney chose Superman because he "grew up with" him, while Perry said Superman "came to save the United States." Gingrich and Perry both said naming Superman showed their age, but Gingrich did not give any other reason for his choice.
Garnick also posed his question to Herman Cain, prior to the candidate's announcement that he would suspend his presidential bid. Cain named Superman "because we have a super mess in this country."
Santorum branched out, selecting the father figure on Disney/Pixar's "The Incredibles."
"He was a good dad, cared about his family, cared about his community and tried to do what the right thing was," Santorum said.
Huntsman picked Spider-Man, saying he used to watch him — likely a reference to the late 1960s animated series — and then named Batman as a runner-up choice.
According to Ari Garnick, Ron Paul "just walked away."
Darren Garnick assessed the various answers according to their attitude toward his son rather than their actual answer. Writing in The Atlantic, he called Perry's response self-"flattering," Cain genuine and Paul's refusal "charmless."
Garnick also told the Post that he would like to put the question to Michele Bachmann, who has not spent as much time in New Hampshire — where Garnick lives — as the other candidates.
Although the question wasn't put to President Obama, the president has appeared with two different superheroes: in a cameo on a Spider-Man comic and posing with a giant Superman statue in Metropolis, Ill.