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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Do Superheroes Need to Have Superpowers?

I’m an argumentative sort of person, I always have been. It’s not something I particularly like about myself, and a lot of the time I wish I could keep my mouth shut, but I find words just tumble out no matter whether I want them to or not most of the time, and I get myself into trouble.

Mostly this is inconvenient for me, but sometimes… just sometimes… like if someone is being really sexist, or racist, or when I get asked who my favourite superhero is, and I say Batman, and then (sometimes) I get told that Batman isn’t a real superhero. These are the times when I’m glad that my mouth explodes and says things before my brain processes them.

It always annoys me so much when people say that Batman isn’t a real superhero. I know why they say it, and I can understand why they think it, but they simply have no idea how wrong they are when they say things like “Batman doesn’t count, he has no powers”. Then I just have to argue the case, because of course he does count, more than most in my opinion. I think the fact that Batman has no powers IS his superpower. He needs to be so brave, and strong, and committed, and these things don’t come easy. He has to train and work harder than anybody else, and he does this just so he can make the world a better place. Can any of you say that you would be able to do that? How can people say that doesn’t count?

When you compare heroes who don’t have power to someone like Superman – who has all the power you would need to fight against evil – or the X-Men, a huge team of people with superpowers who all back each other up, it becomes crystal clear who you should admire the most. The people who weren’t born with powers or fancy mutations, the people who didn’t accidentally poison themselves with gamma rays and turn into big green monsters, they’re the ones who really chose to be who they are, who purposely made themselves into the strong, brave heroes that the world looks to for help.

Of course it’s awesome that all these heroes who have great powers use them for the good of mankind. If they weren’t so selfless they could use their powers to do fun stuff. But they don’t, they do good things instead, to help the world, and this is very commendable.

What about the heroes who don’t have powers then? There are quite a lot of them I’m sure, but I’m not an encyclopedia so I’ll just name a few. As well as Batman there is Iron man, Hawkeye and Arrow. And if you haven’t seen a movie called Super, you should. Rainn Wilson plays Frank Darbo, who transforms himself into the Crimson Bolt to save his wife, even though she totally doesn’t deserve it. Sheer stupid blind bravery at its best. Crimson Bolt is up there with Batman in my estimation. In fact he’s probably even braver than him because even though he has no money for fancy weapons, no training, no clue what he’s doing and no idea how to do it, he still tries his damned hardest, even though he knows he’ll probably die.

Most of the more well known heroes who don’t possess great powers come from a very wealthy background. Money, mansions, money, cars, more money. Anybody in real life who was born with a silver spoon in their mouths are usually not people we look up to. Neither are Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark or Oliver Queen. They’re just spoiled millionaire playboys who have smug expressions and throw sexy parties with lots of girls. Except we know they’re not really like that, we know their secret. Although Tony Stark being Iron Man isn’t a secret… and he is quite smug and spoiled… so let’s leave him out of this for the moment.

Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen trained for years specifically so that they could use their skills to fight against evil. They pretend they only use their money for sexy parties, but in reality they are using it to make armoured cars, motorbikes, amazing weapons, advanced computer systems and so much more. Their goal in life is to clean up the cities in which they live, or to die trying. And they could very easily die, they know this.

Superman on the other hand doesn’t have to fear death. Until of course someone evil inexplicably gets their hands on some kryptonite somehow… But mostly, in his day to day crime-fighting, he doesn’t ever have to be afraid. He just catches criminals, picks them up, flies to the police station and gives them to the coppers. Simples.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Superman, he’s a good man, he was raised well by two lovely parents who taught him good from bad and wrong from right, but he never has to be brave, he doesn’t need to spend his days training, he didn’t have to learn ninja skills. He just needed to be sent to live on a different planet than the one he was born on. I’m also a huge fan of the X-Men and The Hulk, I’m not trying to put them down or say that they’re less important. They are just as good, just as important, they just haven’t had to work as hard for it.

If you were a superhero fan growing up, you probably spent some of your time aiming your wrist at walls, hoping spiderweb would come out. Or getting really mad and hoping you’d grow huge muscles and your clothes would all rip off. I know my cousin tried to fly and broke his arm, and I personally was always trying to move objects with my mind. Still do sometimes actually. But our powers never came, so we never got our chance to fix the world. For those of you whose powers did come, well done on keeping it secret. But for the rest of us who never developed our superpowers, why didn’t we fight crime anyway? Sure, some of us became soldiers or police officers, and that’s a good way of fighting crime as long as you’re not one of those ‘bent cops’ we see on TV. The rest of us just went on with our lives and let crime get on with its life too. Why didn’t we try to become Batman, or Arrow? Or even Zorro, or The Lone Ranger? They don’t have powers, we could have been like them. Vigilante crime-fighters who want to make the world a better place.

I think they’re super.   

Sarah Byrne
Sarah Byrne
I've begun to watch a lot of daytime television. I really need a job.

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