Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What is a superhero? - Part II

Two weeks ago, we came to the conclusion that costumes, a secret identity, and powers are not required elements of a superhero.

We also noted that while powers are not required, heroes without powers use fight training, gadgets, and technology as a replacement.  We concluded that while powers are not a necessity, some form of physical advantage is a necessity.  

But if that's all it takes, then there are many hero characters who could be defined as superheroes but aren't.  James Bond for example.

So, what is a superhero?

I have the answer, and it's shockingly simple:

A superhero is a person with some form of physical advantage against their enemies who publicly fights crime.  That's the key!  The part about fighting crime publicly.  Even superheroes who lurk in the shadows have a public reputation.

Secret identities, costumes, powers...  They're great additions to a character, but they don't define the hero.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Watching The Story Unfold

I have a whole blog entry that I should be writing this week...  A continuation of what I was talking about last week.

And I will be continuing.

But not today.

Mostly because I'm in the middle of editing the next episode of Mission Park Street Stories, and I'm in the zone.

The editing zone!

And when the scenes are working, and the story is coming together, it's hard to pause.

So, on that note, I'll be back next week with more interesting things to say.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What is a superhero? - Part I

What is a superhero?

For the longest time, a superhero was considered to be a costumed adventurer, fighting crime with a wide range of powers, often maintaining a secret identity to keep their hero life and private life separate.

But does a superhero need a costume?  Does a superhero need powers?  Does a superhero need a secret identity?

The surprising answer to all three questions is no.  A superhero needs none of these things.  But if that's the case, then I'm back to where I started.  What is a superhero?

Let's do a little deconstructing...

We'll start with the easy one first.  The secret identity.  Just like capes, many superheroes have them, but many of them don't. Without further explanation, a secret identity is most definitely not a requirement.

Now lets examine the costume.

In comic format, the costume helps to identify the leading character, and serves as a recognized symbol for branding, both in the real world, and in the fictional world where the hero lives.

In film, the costume works in much the same way, but with less need to distinguish the main character from the other characters on screen. Often, the costume is translated in as practical a way as possible, with varying levels of success. The costume is important, but a lack of a costume does not mean a lack of a superhero.

For a long time, costumes on film were heavily modified, or abandoned entirely, to create a more realistic adaptation of a character. I don't advocate dropping the costume, as I am very pro-costume, but it isn't an essential.

Now we'll look at the powers, and here is where I think it starts to get tricky. While most superheroes fight crime with some type of superpower, there are many superheroes who fight crime using gadgets, technology, or advanced intellect.

It would be great to end here, and say that powers are not a necessity, but that would be too easy.

If we examine this in more detail, gadgets and technology, while not technically superpowers, work in exactly the same way.

Gadgets and technology featured in comics are often scientifically far beyond what is possible in the real world. Even something low-tech, like Batman's grappling hook, wouldn't exactly work in a practical way.

For this reason, I'm going to include gadgets and technology as a form of superpower. Looking at it that way, I think it's fair to say that, no, having superpowers isn't a superhero requirement, but the gadgets and technology that powerless superheroes use essentially gives them the same advantage a person with superpowers would have.

As a result, we have to conclude that while powers are not specifically needed, a physical advantage beyond a hero's enemies is. And that's where we can start to define what what exactly a superhero is.

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There's so much more to talk about, but I have to stop here. Be sure to check back next week for "What is a superhero? Part II"