Lunchbox Heroes are how I refer to, in general, characters that are basically commercially made available or presented as generally safe or ideal for children to enjoy. There are the ultra-marketable characters and those best and most used for stories told to children. They are also the kind of characters, icons, and properties stamped or molded onto/into the side of a lunchbox (depending on if it is a plastic or tin lunch box, of course), printed on the fronts of T-shirts or underwear briefs (and boxers, I suppose), and basically what sort of hero or super-hero that you would associate with children’s interests.

Characters that are lunchbox heroes include Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, and a host of others including guys from various westerns and science fiction programs and franchises.

This is why some consider it rather insidious to present Darth Vader as a dastardly, genocidal villain at one point and then at another place in the marketing scheme the same character is sold to impressionable, morally malleable and flexible children as either and both heroic and cuddly safe.

Essentially since Superman and Plastic Man are guys who connect with kids there are problems with placing your marketing icons in stories where adult themes like rape are heavily featured. Officially and overtly connecting a character like Superman to a rape story can be a dangerous thing. The inclusion of Superman can be considered as marketing to a certain age group, but not all stories are all-ages apropriate.

Essentially lunchbox heroes are great for marketing product for kids and that should not be forgotten.