So, I've had this running through my head for a bit...really just a fun thing to ponder, but I actually think it would be a cool exercise to carry out at some point.
What if you took all of the superheroes out there, put them into a pot, and allowed the major comic book publishers to draft their rosters in the manner of American professional sports leagues? (I'm sure some leagues in other countries do it, too, but it's more of an American phenomenon, as far as I know...) To make it interesting, we'd let more than the Big Two in on it...maybe five or six entities...or hell, a hundred, since this is all hypothetical anyway...could choose their group of heroes to publish.
If you were in charge of choosing, how would you go about it? Do you just pick the most popular characters out of what's available? Your favorites? Do you go for synergy above all? Do you pick a theme and look for consistency?
There are a lot of fun wrinkles to consider. Once you pick a member of the X-Men, do you feel the need to lock in mutant prejudice as part of your world? If you first-pick Superman (one of the obvious top picks, I think), does his power level limit your choices the rest of the way?
And who would be the first character outside of Marvel and DC that's worth picking? Spawn? Hellboy? Faith? Popeye (sure, he's in there)?
There would have to be some specific ground rules that I haven't really ironed out...doesn't seem like it would make much sense to let someone have, say, Superman, but then let Supergirl go somewhere else. Green Lanterns and the Fantastic Four present issues that would have to be addressed. Those details are part of the fun of thinking about this, though.
From where I stand, there's really just one obvious first pick, no matter your overall strategy:
Probably the most popular superhero (and maybe the most popular fictional character) on the planet...extremely adaptable...doesn't have powers that warp the rest of the world...it's hard to see why anyone would choose anyone else. Even if no members of the Family come along, Bats is worth it.
In my mind, it gets a lot hairier after that, though. Based on my vision of an ideal superhero universe, with nods to both popularity and my own favorites, this is how I'd rank my top ten picks (at the moment, anyway)...
3. Wonder Woman
4. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan if I have to pick one)
5. Captain America
6. The Hulk
8. However many members of the Fantastic Four I could get with one pick
9. The Flash (Barry Allen if I have to pick one)
I'd love to know how some of y'all would go about this...!