Storytime first, I promise it ties into the list. A few weeks ago I met with a friend of mine–a friend who’s going through a considerable personal struggle and had the courage to ask for help and support. More than anything I didn’t want them to feel like they were somehow “different” because of their hurt, and so when we hung out I did my best to just interact normally: not to press them about it, but not to mind the potential triggers too much and tiptoe, either. They’re still a human and a friend, after all. No need to treat them like a near-extinct species because they’re having a rough patch like we all do sometimes. And so we went bowling, bought ice-cream and discussed a favorite topic: superheros. And what surprised me was how much out definitions varied. Mine was definitely a lot more specific, that’s for sure. *cough* You could even say there was a list of requirements…
~ ~ ~ Cozybooks List of Superhero Requirements~ ~ ~
Superpowers. I was surprised when even this basic requirement didn’t match with my friend’s. I mean come on! They’re “super” “heros”, right? That means extra special abilities, yeah? His argument made sense too, however. Batman, Iron Man and a personal favorite Korean Superhero “Healer” don’t have powers. They’ve got tech and savvy. So I guess I have to amend this requirement: a superhero will have an ability significantly above that of other people. They can’t just be good at martial arts, they’ve got be one in a few billion good at it. These abilities are often of mystical or supernatural or alien origin, but they don’t necessarily have to be. My favorite heros for their powers: Spiderman, Thor, Raven (Teen Titans, old series!)
Secret Identity. This one’s a bit of a stickler. Superheros can’t just flaunt themselves in front of the public eye: not only does that endanger their loved ones, I think it also smacks of arrogance and that’s lame. So Iron Man? Yeah, I struggle seeing him as a superhero (I know he’s a fan favorite, eep!). If anyone’s gonna break the mold though, it’s him. Superheros hide their identity for a lot of reasons, but I think one is to give themselves a level of anonymity as citizens. It’s not just the bad guys that would track them down if their day-to-day life was known, after all. Don’t underestimate the power of a dedicated fan. This one didn’t actually come up with my friend, but that was really just a springboard so here it is. My favorite Superheros for their secret identity: Superman, Spiderman and The Hulk. And Hawkeye.
The Costume. Ok y’all, if you’ve seen the Incredibles you know that capes are a bad idea. They ought to be outlawed for superheros–these guys have gotta dress for success, right? I can forgive them the cape though if they concede to wear a costume at all. You’re not a superhero if you go around kicking butt in jeans and a T-shirt. That’s called mugging people. On this point Healer falls a bit short, I’ll admit… but his glasses and cap are recognizable enough you can get a T-shirt, so that’s something. Can you guess who my favorite Superheros for Costume are? Spiderman, Falcon.
Morality. Mmmkay, you all know I love Spiderman, right? Right. It’s not like I squeal his name whenever I see a Spidey-product at work. Psh. But why do I like him so much? Well a lot of reasons, but one of them is how well he fits this requirement. My favorite Superheros for morality: Captain America, Spiderman, Hawkeye.
An Active Sense of Justice. It’s not enough to just make judgements about what’s right and wrong, however. You can be as moral as anything with a super strong fist and flight abilities… and still not be a superhero if you have no drive to do anything about it. ANd it’s not just any sense of justice, either–they have to want to use the abilities they were given to fight the bad. It’s no wonder my two favorite Superheros for this point are also the two moral anchors of the Marvel Universe: Spiderman and Captain America.
I think that about wraps it up for me. As much as I’d like to say all stated superheros fulfill all the requirements, that’s simply not the case. Batman’s morals are a bit odd and The Hulk doesn’t like using his powers to fight. So I’ve amended my definition to say they only have to have four of the five. That’s enough to get people like Healer who develop their justice and morality as they go along (he turns into a superhero) and exclude people like Deadpool, who make for a great anti-hero and mercenary. What are you requirements for a superhero to stay super?
Thanks for Reading,
PS. Philosophical Note: It’s funny how life experiences prepare you for things to come, even when you don’t know they will–isn’t it? I actually think that’s not coincidence at all, especially for the big things. God places events in our path and prepares us for amazing things. I also think it applies to our sins and mistakes–every wrong done is merely an opportunity to learn and grow and make yourself better. It’s all a matter of perspective.