I have quite an odd relationship with superheroes.
I find the notion of them a little bit odd.
Spider-man. Batman. Superman. Wonder Woman. For a start, I find their names a bit… dull. I guess they were cutting edge names when they were first created, but we’re decades down the line now, it’s all a bit cliché.
But I can forgive them that. (Especially as I’d admit to wanting my own version of that name. I’d probably end up being BiscuitMan – now there’s a superhero I can get on board with. Flying around the world in a never-ending battle against those 4pm munchies)
No, where I really take issue is the supposed goodness of these characters.
They are given great powers, and yes, we all know that with great power comes great responsibility.
But why should I admire these people because they do good things with these great powers. I mean, I guess I’m grateful they’re not doing bad things with it, but it sort of underwhelms me a bit.
Let’s take Buffy Summers as a case in point (another silly name but at least she’s not SlayerGirl) because she’s the superhero that I’m most qualified to comment on.
She’s a superhero for the modern day, and perhaps quite far away from the traditional type of superhero, however on the points I’m going to illustrate now, she’s quite similar.
Among other things which are not really elaborated on, but presumably include heightened senses, and a keen sense of strategy, she is gifted with super strength. Great.
She uses that strength to go around beating up bad guys. Fabulous. Even better.
But she’s also gifted with some great friends. I’m going to pick on Xander in particular.
He’s a bit whiny. I don’t find him particularly attractive, but the key thing is, he’s there with Buffy through seven years of fighting evil.
And he’s normal. He doesn’t have super strength. He’s generally a bit of an idiot. But he tries. And it’s harder for him than it is for Buffy, because he’s not gifted with the same in-born skills.
Sure, he might not achieve everything that Buffy does, he certainly doesn’t save the world as often as she does… but here’s the thing: He does save the world.
When a world-class writer wins the Booker Prize, we’re all pleased for him or her, and we probably all adore the book. But me? I reserve my admiration for the lifeguard that didn’t win, but DID make it to the shortlist.
Conversely – a lifeguard during a storm saving fifteen people from drowning. That’s amazing, I don’t want to do that down, but it IS their job.
It’s what they’re good at. In the same storm, a world-class writer puts down his pen, and without second thought dives in and saves just one person. That’s incredible, and that’s what gets my admiration.
Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes, but what makes a hero super, isn’t the good they achieve with their natural abilities. It’s the good they achieve without them.
Prompt: Which superhero do you identify with and why?