By Big Simon
I know what’s going through your head. That’s crazy talk. Silly talk. Foolish talk. Superheroes are the stuff of comic books, not reality. People can’t move faster than a speeding bullet, leap tall buildings in a single bound, teleport from place to place, or lift city buses over their heads. Capes, tights, boots, and gadgets can never make a human being what we see on the big screen or find flipping through graphic novels. Not only is it impossible, it takes a certain degree of childlike naivete to imagine it.
You’re right, of course. It does take a degree of certain childlike qualities. Maybe it’s naivete, but I’d rather like to imagine it’s something else entirely. Hope. Trust. Faith. The empowerment which comes not from outside, but from within. You see, despite the fact that super powers and enhanced abilities may not be available to those entrenched within the real world, there are those who believe being a superhero means more.
The dictionary claims a superhero is “a figure, especially in a comic book or cartoon, endowed with superhuman powers and usually portrayed as fighting evil or crime”, and this is a fair description for those who want to learn more about the comic book subculture. It’s a definition we can start with, because it’s familiar, it feels right. After all, who of us has not seen a larger than life character on the big screen, bullets bouncing off his chest, and wished we could be a hero, too? Real superheroes, the ones who walk the streets of our cities now, in this very real world, lack the powers and abilities, however, with which those in comics and movies are endowed. How, then, can we really call them “superheroes”?
The dictionary has more to say about the subject. A hero, for instance, is “a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities”. So we can see now, a more normal individual might be a hero, might be possessed of a certain degree of bravery uncommon in our world. Anyone might summon such courage, given the right circumstances, as courage is little more than standing up to act despite one’s fear.
Anyone might become a hero.
Can anyone be super? When discussiong the superheroes who have become our modern myths, super can be defined as “to an extreme or excessive degree”. Certainly the ability to rip trees from the ground to use as weapons, the power to fly around the Earth and even into space – and beyond! – or being able to shrink to the size of a molecule, these are all extreme and excessive. But super can mean more; it can mean “of the highest degree”, a definition that seems apt. The highest degree is what we should all expect of ourselves, after all.
‘Super’ and ‘hero’ are both suddenly accessible, and together mean something like, “a person of the highest degree of courage or ability admired for the highest degree of brave deeds and noble qualities”. Both words, and even the two words combined, fit, and we become not the classic tights-wearing two-fisted superheroes of the comics, but something else, something more real; paragons of nobility and dignity who represent a degree of goodness and rightness which might inspire the public. Masked and costumed, the real life superhero becomes a symbol, a beacon of promise offering something to those who experience the hero’s positive effect on the community: the knowledge that a single person can make a difference.
Never let anyone convince you otherwise: Superheroes are REAL. And if you’re part of this movement, working toward making the world a better place, you’re one of them.
By Big Simon