I’ve been thinking a lot about superheroes, what it would be like to be a superhero, what kind of problems superheroes face living in among us while the rest of us depend on them for our survival. I know it sounds silly to think about this stuff, especially during the winter when we’re all comfy and warm in our homes watching Jurassic World, or, for that matter, the first six episodes of Star Wars. The closest we can ever come with anyone saving us would be the cable going out, sparing us from previews of the latest reality show.
In all seriousness though, being a superhero must be a tough gig. Think about it. For instance, wouldn’t superheroes always have to wear their uniform under their normal clothes? What about capes? No one can tell me those fit under a shirt and unravel without a wrinkle. Who takes care of their dry cleaning? And in the case of Captain America, where does he put his shield when he’s not using it. A pocket isn’t large enough to stuff that thing.
Then there’s the family thing going on. Suppose you were a superhero and you also had a birthday to attend to but during the cake cutting ceremony, you have to scoot because you feel a great disturbance in the force. Wait a minute. I think I’m getting confused again with Star Wars. But, you know what I mean. What are you going to do? Do you change there at the party, or leave without mentioning it to anyone? What if you drove there with someone else? Does this mean you have to take the car, even though you can fly or run fast where you need to go. I’m sure you’ll get questions asking you about transportation. For me, it would be equally difficult since I live in a small town. How can I explain needing to go to the big city with our car?
Okay, let’s look at it from another angle. What if you live in the big city and you see a mugging. What will you do? Do you run to the victim’s aid, all the while revealing your identity to the perpetrators? What if you’re walking down the street with family and friends? Will you ignore them in order to fulfill your superhero duties? Again, you’ll have a lot of explaining to do if you were heading to see a movie.
As you can see, the logistics to superherodom is a nightmare. Oh, sure, I suppose you can look at the lives you save versus the inconvenience. But what if you didn’t ask for it? Let’s say you are merrily walking along and BAM! all of a sudden you’re a superhero? How would you feel about that? Even more so, how would you feel if everything you thought regarding of being a superhero is all wrong? I’m sure you’d feel pretty darn silly knowing you’d have to run around for the rest of your life in tights.
Well, I guess being a superhero isn’t all that thrilling after all. Maybe I should shoot for simply being me. My family already considers me a superhero anyway.
Have you ever wanted to be a superhero? Ever wonder what it’d be like?
20 thoughts on “Being a Superhero”
This is the kind of superhero story I’m way more interested in. At the beginning I loved the heroics but soon I preferred the impact on Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne and how they deal with both identities. It’s the modern take on superheroes. I think Spiderman offers the best idea of how almost impossible it is to juggle both lives with little impact.
I agree. The superhero identity debate still rages in the comics. I wonder how Hulk survived without anyone noticing him turning green.
hello jack flacco its dennis the vizsla dog hay yes it shoor is a tuff gig!!! i hav to put up with ninja hedjhogs and mad bomber bilders and botes wot smel like sardine tins and haff the time i cant eeven find my hat after the adventcher is finishd!!! ok bye
Yeah, I’d never want to be a ‘real’ superhero or even hero, although I have dreams about flying and being super-strong and heroic on a semi-regular basis (probably because I felt so powerless in an abusive relationship in the past). Anyway, the burdens on those heroic people, not to mention their families, must be mammoth. I’ve read enough of them, seen enough of their stories. They [first-responders, wartime doctors and photographers/journalists, for just a few examples] sacrifice so much; if not their lives, then their mental well-being (PTSD, depression, alcoholism, and so forth being some of the consequences, if you will) and the mental health of their families.. I knew a hero once, though, a bit of an everyday hero. I hope to get the chance to write about this wonderful man sometime soon.
Even worse: what if everyone says someone is a villain, and insisting that you stop them…but…they actually aren’t doing anything wrong. What do you do?
That falls in the category of casualty of war. I’m not so sure there would be anyone to blame other than the call at hand. Then again, who makes the call? Now, I’m confused…
The hero makes the call, right? The purpose of being a hero is to do the right thing, is it not?
A writer friend of mine (Rui Umezawa) and I discuss things like this fairly often, just for gits and shiggles.
Something we have both wondered about is, not every superhero has a second job, a secret identity, a family fortune, to live on. Do they get paid? because they can not live on gratitude alone. Donations maybe?
Something is sounding familiar here. Who else do we know that:
-Puts their life on the line for us.
-Gets paid a miniscule amount of money, nowhere near commensurate to their suffering.
-Has to live with their actions the rest of their life.
-Almost never receives the gratitude they so richly deserve
-Make one wrong step and the world looks askance at you and judges you without knowing the extent of the sacrifice you just made.
-Has the power of life over death in their hands?
Not all “super” heroes, have “super” powers, fancy capes :), or the backing of secret organizations (*S.H.I.E.L.D.*).
I would imagine though, that life would be hell being under the kind of scrutiny they would be under. Help us, but don’t hurt anyone. Stop the bad guy, but don’t damage my building or anything like that. Beat up that villain, but don’t look like you enjoy it.
Oy, you are right Jack. I’d rather be me any day.
I’d rather be me, too, any day of the week. Beats the worry lines that accumulate from the fear of others finding out who I am!
Superheroes are a dime a dozen but the problem is no one can find the right dime. Looking forward to the book.
One thing that always baffled me was how Clark Kent could put on a pair of glasses and suddenly he’s unrecognisable as Superman. And superhero women have to run around in four inch heels, so one twisted ankle in casualty and their cover is blown.
I could go on, but then you might start to guess my own true identity and that would spell catastrophe, not just for me but for the rest of my vampire fraternity. Oops. Ignore that last sentence.
If Lois were a superhero it would take more than glasses to hide her identity. Just sayin’.
Vampire fraternity? Should I be worried?
Probably not. I’ll put a good word in for you, Jack.
Yeah, I have always wondered about the secret identity part of being a superhero. If I were a superhero, there’s no way in Hell I’d be able to keep that secret from my family members. My mom would definitely find out and she has a bg mouth. She’s tell everybody and soon my whole neighborhood would know. I’d constantly be asked to do stuff, save people or lift things, or interfere in people’s lives in ways I’d find uncomfortable. it would lkely be a hassle. I’ pretty sure snce eveybody would know who I was the bad guys could probably coerce me into doing evil stuff by holding my loudmouth family members hostage or something.
At any rate I haven’t read of many such scenarios in comic books, about how the world would actually react to such a thing.
One thing for sure, I definitely would not be wearing spandex or bikinis of any kind because I’d look pretty awful and it gets pretty cold in the Midwest.
I think we’re in the same boat when it comes to identities. A close family member is that way and I wouldn’t do well being a superhero if they knew about it. It would be the talk of the town.
Spandex? Okay, I pass.
Think this is why many heroes, at least in Marvel, no longer have secret identities. Captain American can have the shield out without fear of being discovered. I don’t think there’s a big use of capes right now either. Superman, Batman, and Martian Manhunter have them. Though I think Superman might have ditched his cape and I believe the world found out he’s Clark Kent. MM’s is part of his shape-shifting body and Batman is Batman, which seems to be why he can do anything. Still, you don’t see many capes these days.
Speaking of Superman, I read about a comic scene that answers your mugging question. Not sure I remember it verbatim though. Clark and Lois are walking down the street when a guy runs out of a store with a stolen loaf of bread. Lois asks Clark if he’s going to catch the guy, but is told that the man might have a family. Clark goes on to say that basically say that with so much power, he has to pick and choose what he reacts too. It hints that he’s worried about people becoming too dependent on him and himself being seen as too intrusive. So it does reveal that there is more to the superhero mentality than one would expect. At least if it’s written well.
Whenever I think of the arguments pro and anti-cape I think of The Incredibles. Can anyone deny the power of the scene where one of the supers gets caught up in an airplane engine, all because of a cape?
Yes, that sounds like Superman II where Clark doesn’t want to be Superman anymore. That film brings an element of Clark I still admire today–a man willing to give himself up for the good of humanity.
Nope. It explained it perfectly. Makes me wonder how Batman hasn’t run into that problem. I’d say Superman too, but I can’t see a missile winning that tug-of-war. I heard that the comics currently have Clark and Lois broken up. Need to look that up. Curious to see how the Clark persona works in the new movie too.
I’m hoping the producers don’t mess it up. We need a good DC Comics superhero rendition of Superman much like Chris Nolan’s Batman. Keeping my fingers crossed!
Fascinating to see your dialogue, Jack & Charles. Someone (if they haven’t already) could go really sociologically or psychologically deep on these ideas: you think the golden age of comics, 1930s-1950s [I’m not an expert, so my apologies if I’m misremembering dates and such] corresponds to the era of ‘normalcy’ at least in the states. It was better to conform. To be a “commie” or a “red” or (later) a hippie, somehow not in sync with one’s society (supposedly), seemed to be a fate worse than death, stripping a man (usually) of his integrity, or so they thought. So these superheroes had to have a ‘normal’ face to present to society: newspaper reporter, rich patron with butler, Peter Parker’s photographer aspect, Diana Prince’s Army nurse (which evolved, for Wonder Woman), and so on. So the cape versus no cape/secret identity versus out in the open seems really, to me, to fit with societal mores. Now, in general, people are applauded for being “weird,” unique, or geeks or nerds or “flying the freak flag,” and of course tropes like mutants and the X-Men play with this idea (or Swamp Thing or TMNT or a bunch of others). Then again, there’s the everyday hero trope, which I also enjoy (think Bruce Campbell, Ash vs. Evil Dead, etc.). In short, multiculturalism and inclusivity have flowed into comics and the geek culture (of which I consider myself part), of which I personally am glad.