Monday, May 25, 2009

Who Doesn't Want To Be A Superhero?

Not that I've ever seen the show, but I do know about Stan Lee's surreal reality series wherein people try their best to act like real-life superheroes and convince Stan that they've got the chops to save the world (or, at least, get their own comic book where they pretend to save the world.) But really, on thinking about it, is there a single superhero out there you'd actually want to be?

Sure, having the powers would be neat. I'd love to have Batman's martial arts skills, his deductive genius, his neat gadgets. But you know what I wouldn't love? Getting shot at every night, and never being able to get past the tragic deaths of my parents at an early age. Sure, it sounds awesome to be Superman, until you remember that his whole species was wiped out the day he was born (wow, that's got to be one downer of a birthday celebration. "Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday to the lone survivor of a cosmic genocide, happy birthday to me!") And let's not even start to get into what it might be like to be Spider-Man. Even Aquaman has a sucky life, and he doesn't even have the awesome powers to make up for it! (Although, to be brutally honest, it would be kind of sweet to be able to swim without needing to hold your breath, and talk to the dolphins and hang out with giant squids and stuff.)

On thinking about it, I'm actually hard-pressed to name a single superhero I'd actually want to be, and you'd think that'd be a no-brainer fanboy question. Being a superhero seems to come with a free, non-returnable gift of death, misery, pain, and suffering for you and your loved ones, with the added bonus of no actual financial gain out of the deal (pretty much all of the billionaire playboys started out as billionaires before becoming superheroes.) Even the guys who are living the good life are just one new creative team away from becoming the next Penance (so-named because...well, because just appending "Dark" to the front of a character's name to indicate how mature and bad-ass they are wouldn't come back into vogue for another couple of years.)

So remember, denizens of the Marvel and DC Universes. When you look up and see superheroes flying overhead, and dream of sharing that grand and glorious life...thank your lucky stars you're not actually doing it. Because the best-case scenario is that you only die once.


chiasaur11 said...

I dunno. The Richardses seem to have it okay. Sure, dead mom and disappeared pop for Reed, same deal for Sue, but they're over that, and now? Happily married, two swell, usually not dead at all kids, fantastic superhuman abilities, a usually reliable income from mad sciency inventions, and exploring all the frontiers of the universe.

Not perfect, but overall? Good deal.

John Seavey said...

Isn't Sue dead right now?

Lovecraft In Brooklyn said...

Given that my parents dragged me away from Connecticut five years ago and dumped me in Australia i'd prefer the life of poverty-stricken freelance photographer Peter Parker - who gets to live in the Greatest City In The World, go to NYU, and romance models - to the life of a poverty-stricken data entry guy in Sydney
Seriously. I want to be Peter Parker. screw being a superhero. Just give me an apartment in the Villiage and a good camera and i'll be happy

Nate said...

Sue does not die in "The Death of the Invisible Woman" arc. That statement isn't entirely accurate, but it's the best I can do without spoilers. But she's still running around in the issues that post-date that arc.

Anonymous said...

Iron Man, obviously.

I could put up with brief spurts of alcoholism and supervillainy if I got to be a super-intelligent billionaire with an all-powerful suit of metal that flies.

Anonymous said...

Your comment about heroism really applies to all heroes, not merely superheroes.

Would you really want to be Gilgamesh with his sorrow, Beowulf with his faithless followers, or King Arthur with his double betrayal by both his best friend and his wife?

Would you really want to be Odysseus with his decades long ordeal to return home, Theseus with the guilt of accidentally driving his father to suicide over his head, or Oedipus despite his early triumph over the Sphinx?

For that matter, who would really want to pay the prices of heroism paid by Doctor Who, James T. Kirk, James Bond, Harry Potter, Frodo, or Katnis?

And to be honest, if someone saw only the prices you yourself have paid for your moments of genuine heroism but the sublime and overt suchness that impelled you to heroism, would he or she really want to be you?

Heroes are the people who suffer horribly to bring us their tales and victories so that we can experience those tales and victories vicariously without having to suffer ourselves.

That is why we honor them.

And that is why the more heroic of us try to bring them the tales and victories for which we suffered horribly, so that they may benefit from them without suffering so themselves.