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Creation Date: 2004-03-04
Surprise! Today I will talk a bit about superheros. Perhaps you aren't interested, but allow me to indulge myself. What classifies a superhero? Is any person who does something good a superhero? No. Are superheros just fictional? No. So what characteristics do superheros have that make them superheros instead of salarymen/women? Usually superheros save lives. How do they save lives? By conqueoring evil. Now we're getting somewhere interesting. So imagine a city without evil, could a superhero exist? Could a superhero save lives without evil putting lives in danger? Yes, many people die unnaturally without any evil force working. Or perhaps there is an force that isn't so much evil but misunderstood. Or maybe there's just a ticking timebomb inside of every person which is evil that the superhero must stop to save lives. Does a person who notices instability in a person and comforts them with soothing words become a superhero? Not likely. But if this person did this more than once, it wouldn't be a coincidence, but a planned action. Would that person be a superhero?

What about super powers? Most ficitonal superheros have special powers that they can use: strength, agility, intelligence, teamwork, control over elements. A person who helps people often with the super power of niceness might be arguably a superhero. But isn't the human body a super power? It has more features than most animals. Strength, intelligence, control over tools. But can't the villain have super powers? Certainly. Usually the villian has more super power than the superhero. An arch-nemesis must have something in order to create conflict in the story. So a superhero is not defined by super power so much as how s/he uses it.

Does frequency of use of super powers matter to the definition of a superhero? Must a superhero be Clark Kent by day and Superman after a change in a phone booth? Could a person decide that one day per month they would save a random person's life and be a superhero? How about if they decide as it is happening? Could a superhero decide to allow bad things to happen when s/he has the power to stop it? Must a superhero be driven for good? Could a superhero be interested in fame or even revenge instead of goodness? Would humanity allow a superhero to murder a random person if s/he saved a random person in the same action? What about murdering an innocent person completely seperate from saving a person? We usually don't characterize these things I'm talking about to a superhero, rather an anti-hero like from Frank Miller's Sin City. Many people dislike Sin City comics because of their graphic violence and very harsh plot.

Does giving the villian their medicine void all other actions? Gally from Gunnm (known as Battle Angel Alita in USA) explains many times in many different ways how means do not justify ends. Many people in real life glorify certain people as heros for their actions when really the ends are good, but the means are horrific. Does the saving of 10,000 people justify the murder of 15,000 people? Means, ends, each must justify itself. Heros need rules and I want to say that it is time for heros to face justice. Batman, you better get Johnny Cochran.

I won't call a murderer a superhero no matter what good s/he does. Murder disqualifies a person from being a superhero. Superheros should get these things out of the way before they use their superpower. But must we expect greater from superheros from non-superheros? Certainly! We cannot expect what they cannot deliver, but we can expect that they will not abuse their super powers or they are no more than a super villain.

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