154: What Makes a Superhero?

What Makes a Superhero?

"From their comic book origins, superheroes have migrated to novels, movies, cartoons, toys, TV shows and especially videogames. Throughout the history of gaming, the number of characters we've been able to control with powers that far surpass the human norm is almost beyond counting. Yet only a fraction of these characters are considered superheroes. If Iron Man is a superhero, but Metroid's Samus Aran is not, it begs the question: What makes a superhero?"

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I don't usually comment the articles, but I must say this was a very good read.

I liked it as well...

I certainly enjoyed it. Props for the Guilty Gear reference, too.

Being a superhero is one part mind set, one part public opinion, on part ability, and one part actions. You have to have the mind set of a hero, a willingness to sacrifice yourself for the greater good (the greater good!), and to uphold justice above all else. You need the ability to actually do good, be it skill, power, or a bag of tricks at your disposal, that most people cannot duplicate in any fashion. You need to actually do good, it helps to not make any big mistakes your first time out. The public can then generate opinions of you, to classify you as a superhero, vigilante, or danger to the public. Generally this is based on the means as well as the ends to your trials and tribulations.

Interesting read. That point about comparing Samus to Iron Man is provoking.

The huge difference between a game hero and a comic book one is that people in comic books always seem to acknowledge the superhero. Not all of games are guilty of this, but the Devil May Cry reference jangled this thought in particular. When are one of these trash talking demons and legions of monsters going to acknowledge that I just slaughtered thousands of people without a scratch? Nobody makes jokes at Batman, except y'know that one guy.

Nor does a game character seem to even recognize their own super powers. Unlike a comic hero who is often affected by the violence their powers give them, game characters always seem to act oblivious of it. The plucky cute heroine will act concerned for an estranged friend right after she gets done slaughtering hundreds of wild animals with mind powers. She could be a supporting character in 'Blood Meridian' after half the people she's burned alive but instead I'm supposed to buy into this merry sociopathic attitude. Spiderman was always shaken up every time he killed even one guy, even though most of the time they had it coming. Not many game heroes ever seem to acknowledge their own supreme status in the universe.

I know I'm ranting about points beyond what was in the article but it got the wheels in my head churning.

L.B. Jeffries:
Interesting read. That point about comparing Samus to Iron Man is provoking.

The huge difference between a game hero and a comic book one is that people in comic books always seem to acknowledge the superhero. Not all of games are guilty of this, but the Devil May Cry reference jangled this thought in particular. When are one of these trash talking demons and legions of monsters going to acknowledge that I just slaughtered thousands of people without a scratch? Nobody makes jokes at Batman, except y'know that one guy.

Nor does a game character seem to even recognize their own super powers. Unlike a comic hero who is often affected by the violence their powers give them, game characters always seem to act oblivious of it. The plucky cute heroine will act concerned for an estranged friend right after she gets done slaughtering hundreds of wild animals with mind powers. She could be a supporting character in 'Blood Meridian' after half the people she's burned alive but instead I'm supposed to buy into this merry sociopathic attitude. Spiderman was always shaken up every time he killed even one guy, even though most of the time they had it coming. Not many game heroes ever seem to acknowledge their own supreme status in the universe.

I know I'm ranting about points beyond what was in the article but it got the wheels in my head churning.

image

@ Kovash86

"Still talking - keep talking, Clark... you've always known just what to say: yes. You always say yes, to anyone with a badge, or a flag. But what didn't hit you and me fed this suit, Clark. It's way past time you learned what it means to be a man."

- The Dark Knight Returns

I had that, and what you said earlier reminded me of it, Batman wins against Superman because they don't let Superman use his brains when they fight, or some of his powers, like super-hearing to hear Bat's location from the upper atmosphere. Mostly they won't let Superman kill or cripple his foes unless they are sending a statement to another company. Superman shouldn't have died against Doomsday, since Doomsday is a big unkillable monster without flight I'd have hurled him into the sun dusted my hands off and gone and had a latte. However I'm not the one who writes Superman, so I can't make him magically forget he can fly and watch him fall down a hole in the floor, and yes that has happened before.

Kovash86:
I had that, and what you said earlier reminded me of it, Batman wins against Superman because they don't let Superman use his brains when they fight, or some of his powers, like super-hearing to hear Bat's location from the upper atmosphere. Mostly they won't let Superman kill or cripple his foes unless they are sending a statement to another company.

Well, in the particular fight in Dark Knight, Superman takes a sub-nuclear EMP to the face and gets back up. I don't think Miller was claiming Superman is weak. 60 year old Batman is wearing power armor, tags him with a Kryptonite arrow, and even then Bruce still can't beat Superman. I always thought Miller just meant to show that in the contest between Batman, a crafty ultra-rich mortal, and a demi-god like Superman, nothing is certain. That even an absolute statement of fact, the undeniable reality of Superman being unbeatable (totally agree about Doomsday), you can still say "f*** you" to him. That you shouldn't just accept authority like its some blanket fact that can never be challenged. Batman sure as hell doesn't.

*spoiler*

After all, Bruce just fakes his death and is shown forming a new army at the end of the book.

I read that, I hated it, if you really want Superman dead hit him with enchanted kryponite since it will instantly bypass his defenses and then turn his powers off, heaven forbid Superman would piss of, oh say, Dr. Fate he would get owned faster than even he can react, since Dr. fate can smite his alien ass from anywhere in the solar system, or even while hidden in a pocket dimension, so that big blue can't physically hurt him. While Miller didn't claim Superman was weak, others have repeatedly forgotten all that he can do (the old justice friends cartoon being responsible for him forgetting he could fly and had x-ray vision in the same episode, and this is just an example.), all I'm really saying is that while you can talk trash to a loaded shotgun you probably shouldn't.

I personally like the Batman Beyond future best. Terry McGuinniss, not the brightest person to put on a mask but definitely one of the best fighters, he beat the crap out of the suit once.

I liked the short way you wrote this article, but you did not write about a subject, propaganda. Super heroes, heroes, doesn't matter what you call them, they will be always a way of ideological propaganda. Be the japanese super hero with "belive it" and "power of the friendship" or american hero with "I'm fithing for democracy". I remember wacthing spider man part 2 or 3, and Stan Lee appear in front of Peter Parker and says: "I belive one man can make the difference". That's debatable, but the way the movie presents to us is that this is a reality, an undeniable truth.

Act as a vigilant is against the law, but what about question the law, the system? Mainstream heroes don't do that cause they are oblivious. Looking at the history of comics books you will see prpaganda against Hitler (not that he doesn't deserve), Stalin, Comunism (the red's who eat kids, you know), to not join the social movements in the sixty and more recently to join the army to fight the terrorism.

Mainstream heroes exist for propaganda. Be it in video game, tv, comic book or Hollywood.

"Believe it" was an English dub mistake that someone thought was funny to inflict on us(well I call it a mistake.), "power of friendship" predates the modern Japanese culture. Some superheroes aren't about propaganda some just like beating ass, and beat ass they do (the example I can think of off-hand is Empowered by Adam Warren, read it because ti will kick the ass of any other mainstream comic title. Admittedly though the titular character doesn't kick much ass, yet.) if anything ALL comics are propaganda for upstanding morals, and that's propaganda everyone should partake of.

Yeah, but whose morals? America? Christian? Mom & Pop? I enjoy a good comic book too but I thought Alan Moore nailed it. You have a bunch of dudes fighting crime and beating up anyone committing some act they don't approve of, it's only a matter of time before I'm the one getting zapped by their laser fireball.

They gotta protect me from myself, right?

"Empowered by Adam Warren" I'm gonna look for it, if I don't find translated to portuguese, I'll have to import (hope it's good). Yes, L.B. Jeffries That's the problem with mainstream media, instead of showing plurality of the world. When you mean partake you mean like showcasing, not saying this one is the best and all the others are bad and wrong, am I understanding you?

Better writing than Mark Millar or Frank Miller can muster.

Better than most writers can hope to muster. When the supers start trying to protect you from yourself, then they are no longer heroes. A hero has to be willing to sacrifice himself for the public, not sacrifice the public for himself, since that is in essence what he is doing when he decides to start making new rules up.

EDIT: to be honest it is the morals of the writer. Which generally means it is random, for example Frank Miller considers women to be whores. While Adam Warren only considers a few women to be whores (there might be one in all of his comics, right now I think her supranym is Ocelotina) oh yeah, and some girl named Danielle, don't ask me I didn't write that page of his book. While both of the universes in which these two write characters into are brutal affairs (one being his own/marvel the other being his own/DC) they both portray people very differently, Adam Warren likes the plucky hero/heroine. Frank Miller likes them brutal. All of this means that the morals in a comic are based on a writer to writer basis.

Yes that's truth, but it doens't mean that both Marver and DC are not guilty of restraining good writes in their mainstream comics books to be more appealing to the general audience. Alan Moore and Frank Miller both did very well when they work underground style, nvertheless I compare comics books, mainstream off course, to the golden era of western movies. Looking then now... Well you know.

Restraining? A more accurate statement would be pissing on them.

Personally my favorite super hero books are written by Kurt Busiek, who has a lot of respect for superheroes and never makes them dark or gritty without good reason. I like my heroes heroic, not psychologically broken where the line between them and the villains they fight is so blurred it almost isn't there.

Plenty of comic writers I like out there, but usually on a comic to comic basis. Adam Warren would be the exception to this, Dirty Pair was funny, I liked Gen 13 and Livewires, and I still like Empowered. The Empowered universe is dark and creepy as hell but it has some of the best pitch-black humor I've ever experienced. Emp herself would be a horrifyingly powerful creature were it not for her psychological disadvantages, imagine a hot girl version of Hal Jordan placed into a universe where the most powerful guy is physically inferior to Spiderman, admittedly being inferior to Spidey is no big deal it is a big deal when you are the strongest dude on the planet, which is heavy on supers.

I'm the opposite of you Pedro, I prefer characters like Punisher. The more dark and gritty the more the character is interesting. Not like realism-naturalism, more like modernism.

brazuca:
I'm the opposite of you Pedro, I prefer characters like Punisher. The more dark and gritty the more the character is interesting. Not like realism-naturalism, more like modernism.

I disagree, I find the Punisher, especially at his best/worst is darker than he needs to be, and is a litte too much a focus for Garth Ennis's love of gore-porn and his heavy handed commentary on American culture rather than being a 'deep character'. I really enjoyed his Marvel Knights take on the Punisher, but it still suffers from these same flaws.

Though The Punisher is still better than anything produced by Mark Millar, since that tone fits The Punisher well and he would be odd without it.

Mark Millar is responsible for what I consider the worst travesty every inflicted on the Marvel universe, he ruined Marvel for me with Civil War. I personally would probably try to cause him and Joe Q physical harm were I to see them in person, it would be a knee-jerk response too, I dropped all of my Marvel titles except Ultimate Spider-man and Spider Girl (because Ultimate Spidey is written incredible well despite it being Bendis behind the wheel, and Speder-girl is fairly well written as well, although some of the recent stories I'm finding hard to read) mostly because they murdered my characters, Spidey would never reveal his identity to the world, nor would he make a deal with Mephisto, I mean he has spoken directly to god before why would he bother? Rhetorical question. They crapped all over him.

After Civil War (who just finished this month here, published by Panini) I stopped with Knights. Only Max Editions, right now I'm read Born and some books and mangas.

Yes you are right about the Punisher, still for whoever wants to start reading about darker "heroes" need to get at least one punisher issue.

Boondock Saints was an exception. they certainly didn't think they were damning themselves. that exception to the formula made the movie exceptional.

L.B. Jeffries:
Interesting read. That point about comparing Samus to Iron Man is provoking.

The huge difference between a game hero and a comic book one is that people in comic books always seem to acknowledge the superhero. Not all of games are guilty of this, but the Devil May Cry reference jangled this thought in particular. When are one of these trash talking demons and legions of monsters going to acknowledge that I just slaughtered thousands of people without a scratch? Nobody makes jokes at Batman, except y'know that one guy.

Nor does a game character seem to even recognize their own super powers. Unlike a comic hero who is often affected by the violence their powers give them, game characters always seem to act oblivious of it. The plucky cute heroine will act concerned for an estranged friend right after she gets done slaughtering hundreds of wild animals with mind powers. She could be a supporting character in 'Blood Meridian' after half the people she's burned alive but instead I'm supposed to buy into this merry sociopathic attitude. Spiderman was always shaken up every time he killed even one guy, even though most of the time they had it coming. Not many game heroes ever seem to acknowledge their own supreme status in the universe.

I know I'm ranting about points beyond what was in the article but it got the wheels in my head churning.

Gane characters aren't affected by the violence they create,huh? Say that to Cole Magrath of the Infamous games.

 

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