Superheroes are kind of messed up if you think about it at all. Cracked has a pretty good list of just why. Now, I like me a superhero story or ten but what I really love are the ones where the heroes are heroes because of sheer determination. Terry Pratchett’s Sam Vimes is my all time favorite character. He does the job that’s in front of him because that’s the kind of guy he is. He’s got skills but he’s not a super hero. And while the wish fullfilment aspects of super heroes are fabulous when you don’t think about it too hard, I for one would rather choose to be a Vimes than Wayne.
So let’s think about it a little too hard; what would it be like to be an ordinary citizen in a world where superheroes exist?
With superheroes come supervillains
There’s always some asshole out there willing to take things to the next level. Cops get bulletproof vests and gangs find armor-piercing bullets. Having a dude in tights going around doing things inevitably leads to other people finding ways to do bad things to that dude in thights. And pretty much everyone else anywhere near.
Your destruction is inevitable
So there you are, having some cocoa and watching TV, when suddenly some douche slams the aforementioned supervillain through your wall. And last month you were just in the middle of a career maker of a presentation when a pair of flying aliens rammed through the meeting room, forcing an evacuation and destroying the material you had spent months gathering. The thing that’s in common with every single superhero movie and most superhero comics is the staggering collateral damage that ensues whenever a superhero does anything. So on top of everything else here on Earth that could kill you, you should now add also being killed as collateral damage in a fight between two rogue, human shaped wrecking balls.
Get ready for some tabloids!
The fact is that with the tabloid press hounding every step of the people they use to sell their smut Bruce Wayne or Peter Parker wouldn’t stay hidden for long. Get a Batman sighting somewhere? There’s going to be paparazzi there probably even faster than the police. And they’re sticking to him until they get that all important cowl-shot. Either that or he needs to use some bat-tricks on them which will probably show up in the headlines of the next day. And with all the conspiracy theorists out there, it shouldn’t probably take long from the first sightings of Batman until someone notices that Batman and Bruce Wayne have an awfully similar jawline and they seem to get bruises and stitches in exactly the same places…
There are plenty of self-proclaimed prophets, cult leaders and what have you who manage to bring to them people hoping for something bigger into their life without any kind of supernatural powers. Can you imagine how much that would change if there were actual living demigods running around all over the place? Or how easy it would be for a supervillain to start religious wars should they be so inclined to? Someone who can change rocks into bread for the hungry is bound to be hailed as a savior. And what if they were to insist that they are a god and not only a god but The God?
So what is it that you think has been missing from superhero stories all along?