Wish you had superpowers? Do you want invisibility, so you can be introverted and extroverted at the same time? Flight, so you can travel the world for free? Or mind control, so you can, well, control minds? Maybe you should reconsider…
There’s a downside to having super abilities. As Uncle Ben is famous for saying- “with great power comes great responsibility.” But the massive burden of moral responsibility isn’t the only thing weighing superheroes down. Let me list a few of the drawbacks of Superhero status-
1.) Life goes on. Life isn’t easier just because you’re super. For example, Ben Grimm, The Thing, is super strong and made of rock. This presents some difficulties in his social life. Kids mock him. The Torch marries his girl. Life’s not perfect simply because you can lift cars with one hand. Uncle Ben still dies. And Aunt May needs you, even if your guilt is eating you up.
Some superheroes didn’t interview for the part; they had the role thrust upon them. Spiderman got bit by a radioactive spider. The Fantastic Four were exposed to cosmic rays while on a scientific mission. Bruce Banner shields a wayward teenager from a gamma ray blast. Becoming a superhero wasn’t in their plans. They were forced to rethink their whole existence, to face their fears and failures head on, to experience an existential crisis of epic proportions.
2.) Being a superhero requires amazing self-discipline. Superheroes still have personal demons to fight, just like the rest of us. Only, their demons are super, too. Remember Dr. Bruce Banner? He can’t have a “bad day.” He just can’t. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. And don’t forget, while righting wrongs in the world, it’s easy to let righteous anger turn into personal vengeance. Superheroes walk the line emotionally. It can make you grouchy, like Wolverine or Batman.
But anti-heroes are in. Give ’em a break.
3.) Superheroes are insecure. They hide under a mask, sometimes a tangible one. Secret identities are strictly enforced. Many have an alter ego, a mild-mannered-reporter-by-day and superhero-by-night deal. Ironman’s alter ego is his ego. He hides his true feelings behind snarky remarks. Captain America is a man out of time and the symbol of a true patriot. But the Cap is also Steve Rogers, an artistic, brave orphan from the Lower East Side who grew up during the Great Depression and suddenly wakes up a superhero in the internet age. Insecurity lies under the surface of every brave man.
Sometimes superheroes find a confidant, but it’s dangerous and lonely to be besties with a hero. Heroes have enemies. Guess who gets kidnapped? Yep, the BFF.
I feel sorry for Pepper Potts, Tony Stark’s girlfriend. Ironman is an insufferable egomaniac and dangerous to hang out with.
4.) Not everyone likes you. Superheroes are persecuted, even punished. J. Jonah Jameson constantly slanders Spiderman as a criminal in the press. If Thor becomes unworthy, he loses his power and Mjolnir. His godlike status is revoked until he has learned his lesson. Batman is a vigilante in a corrupt city that thrives on injustice. His good intentions are often unwelcome. And if you really want to understand persecution, ask the X-men about it. Not only are they persecuted for being mutants, they persecute other mutants over their opinions on how to deal with persecution.
Both non-mutants and mutants can be cruel.
Still wanna be a superhero? I don’t blame you. But, I bet if you think hard, you’ll realize that you’re already a superhero to someone. When you smile at the sad kid sitting at the curb, send a birthday card to your mother, or accompany your friend to her chemo treatment, you are a hero. Be yourself.
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