We’re sticking with the superhero theme here at Let There Be Movies, leading up to the release of Man of Steel. This week we are asking ourselves a question that has been debated and discussed for as long as superheroes have graced the pages of comics. What makes a superhero, Super?
We’ve had some great discussions among ourselves on this topic, but now we each want to make our case. The opinions are pretty split among all the writers here, so we’re interested to see what you have to say as well. Which side of this debate do you fall on?
Is Batman just a really clever, rich guy? Is it something you’re born with? Or, like Captain America and Spiderman, can you become a superhero through some alteration? Does ‘super’ describe the person or the actions of the person? Here’s how we see it.
Important Note: These are not debate-style post, we are here to discuss according to movie perspectives and people point of view.
What Makes a Superhero, Super?
So what makes a superhero “super”? Is it that they were randomly bitten or exposed to radiation or maybe they are an alien with the right genes. I think not. A superhero is someone who possesses extraordinary powers, abilities, or influence and uses them to help others.
Some would have you believe that you must have some type of supernatural power in order to be a superhero, which would disqualify the likes of Ironman and Batman. They would be wrong! Both are extremely intelligent and use a combination of brains/wealth in order to help others. The abilities they posses greatly exceed that of an average person, thus making them superheroes.
Superhero by Powers
A super hero is someone who has powers that are not held by a normal human being. The greatest example is Superman. He was born on the planet Krypton, so when he is on Earth our yellow sun gives him powers like flight. He shoots lasers out of his eyes, is bullet proof, etc. Other heroes like Batman or Iron Man are simply men with great skill, intelligence and bank accounts.
This allows them to make cool gadgets and gives them “powers” that a normal human doesn’t have, BUT could get with enough money or intelligence. I can buy a bulletproof vest, but Superman requires no vest, just simply IS bullet proof. One hero that is somewhat of an exception to the rule is Green Lantern.
He is a normal human with a ring that gives him super powers. He still qualifies as a super hero because his ring is of alien origin and contains power that any other human could not obtain.
By Fighting Against Evil
What makes a hero, super? For me, it’s the heart of the person and their willingness to fight for what is right until the bitter end. Powers are great, but they aren’t required for a superhero. Why? Because many villains have powers and they choose to be evil. Where as others are super villains, yet no powers: the Joker being at the top of the list.
Super Heroes will do what it takes and keep going until there’s nothing left. They often will give their life for the good of all. Bane broke Batman’s back in Knight saga as he sacrificed himself for Gotham; but he never gave up. Doomsday “killed” Superman in the Death story line as Superman willingly went up against a villain he couldn’t beat just to save Metropolis; but his spirit fought to come back.
Captain America sacrificed himself to destroy the Red Skull’s rocket heading for America. He was frozen and brought back decades later to a world where all of his friends are gone and he takes up his shield to fight on.
Because of the Word “Super”
So the keyword which has spurred this seemingly endless debate is the simple word “super”. There isn’t much debate on who qualifies simply as a ‘hero’. Generally speaking a hero is someone who fights for or protects the lives or freedoms of others.
No, the guy/gal that gave you the answers to your homework isn’t a hero. So, anyone could potentially be a hero, and that’s great! But how do we determine if someone is a superhero? Is it entirely subjective? Are all heroes super in their own special way? Or are there some basic standards we can apply?
Well, I think they have to have something about them that other people, other humans, don’t have. The ‘super’ in the word isn’t descriptive of what they do, it’s descriptive of what they are. That’s a very important distinction. They possess certain abilities, they are outside of the norm, they are ‘super’natural. In other words, they have abilities that they did not ascertain naturally, or that are outside of the natural and normal capabilities of human beings.
Therefore, on the occasion they use their supernatural abilities to fight for and protect the lives and freedoms of others, we call them superheroes. It’s really very simple, and it’s why Batman and Iron Man make terrific heroes, but don’t fit the billing of superhero.
Sure they go above and beyond what a normal person might do, but we already label them ‘heroes’ because that describes what they’re doing. The ‘super’ comes when what they’re doing is combined with an innate ability outside the natural human capabilities.
Breakdown of the Word “Superhero”
What makes a Superhero “super”? First, lets break the word “superhero” down. Super- meaning above, beyond, in addition, to an especially high degree. Hero – a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life.
So lets put them back together using the definitions we’ve just outlined. Superhero – A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life, going above and beyond what would be considered a ‘normal’ hero.
A lot of arguments and great debates have surrounded whether or not Superman is superior to Batman or Iron Man based on the fact that he has supernatural powers and the other two rely on gadgetry and technology for their “powers.” Debating this is a moot point when you look at my definition of a superhero. It is therefore, my opinion, that there lies a superhero within each of us just waiting for the opportunity to emerge.
What makes a superhero super? Well, Here is what makes a GOOD hero: First of all, they seek justice. They understand that there is an objective right and wrong, and they follow that. Their personal integrity and moral compass won’t allow them to waver.
They seek to protect the innocent and stop the oppressor. Secondly, they are selfless. Each time they stop a villain, they do so at great risk to their own person. They would gladly sacrifice themselves for the sake of others. Thirdly, they are not pretentious or ego-maniacal. They do these things humbly, not seeking their own celebrity status.
They hope that others will be inspired to act courageously because of their example. And lastly, they do not slack, but are always pursuing the above things and are on guard.
Finally, here is what makes a hero SUPER: superpowers. Duh!