Driving around today I heard one of my favorite songs, “Something Just Like This” by the Chainsmokers, and it got me thinking about a blog I wrote a few years ago on super heroes. If there’s ever been a time for super heroes, it’s been the past two years and the present and going forward. We need something super and something powerful, right? But who are superheroes? True superheroes? I thought we could revisit the topic today. Enjoy!
What is a superhero? Underdog certainly was when I was growing up. I loved him! “Have no fear; Underdog is here!” The word is generally defined as someone who possesses “super” powers considered abilities beyond those of ordinary people and who typically uses them to help the world become a better place and/or dedicates themselves to protecting the public and fighting crime.
Many consider Zorro, who first appeared in 1919, as the first super hero but if asked that question, Superman, Batman, Spiderman, or Wonder Woman would probably be named. Superman made his debut in 1938 and a year later Batman entered the scene. We all know their names and they are considered “Super Heroes” of screen and lore, but are they really super or heroes?
So back to the song “Something Just Like This” that got me started on this back then and back again today. Although an EDM-pop song, a genre known more for its DJ mixes then its lyrics, it’s got some pretty powerful and thought-proving words that caught my ears. Here’s just a sampling:
I’ve been reading books of old
The legends and the myths
Achilles and his gold
Hercules and his gifts
And Batman with his fists
And clearly I don’t see myself upon that list
But she said, where’d you wanna go?
How much you wanna risk?
I’m not looking for somebody
With some superhuman gifts
Some fairytale bliss
Just something I can turn to
Somebody I can kiss
That’s probably what we all look for in our super heroes: someone we can turn to, not some fairy tale bliss, right?
Las Vegas Raiders tackle (and former All-American at Oklahoma) Gerald McCoy addressed heroes in a post he wrote for “The Players’ Tribune” when he asked, “Is Batman a superhero?” The crowd roars, “Of course he is” and although McCoy agreed and noted Batman is his superhero of choice, it might not be for the reasons you’d think.
We all know that Superman can fly and has super-human strength and that Spiderman can scale walls and buildings, but McCoy appreciates the fact that Batman doesn’t really have any superpowers. What? Holy Batmobile Robin, this must be the work of the Joker.
But it’s not. And it’s why Batman is his favorite.
Unlike most superheroes, Batman doesn’t possess any “superpowers” but instead relies on his mind. As McCoy wrote, “His greatest attribute is that he’s highly intelligent. He’s just a regular dude who always finds a way to get the job done.” Those abilities are what McCoy respects and strives to emulate in play on the field and life off it and the type of superpower we should be instilling in our kids.
It got me thinking.
If Batman can qualify as a superhero without any true superpowers, what about the rest of us? What else can qualify as super human abilities? Who else can we consider superheroes?
Indeed they do. Amen and thank you.
Some heroes of mine are those who participate in and run the local “Hounds for Heroes” program with the Dog Alliance. Heroes come to us in need of service dogs and seeing first-hand how these four-legged friends change and improve their lives is truly amazing.
How about truckers and farmers? Boy have we recently seen how very much we need them and that their voices need to be heard.
Single moms. Nuff said.
In this time of crisis after crisis, police and first responders have also certainly worn their hero capes.
As have everyone in medicine, whether it be a doctor, nurse, surgeon, pharmacist, EMT, and everyone in between. They’ve had a year or two to say the least.
But what about flight attendants? Have they seen their share of heroic days of late? You bet.
It’s funny, but do we very think of our hair stylists as heroes? Could you cut your hair the way they do and color it just perfectly without turning it orange or green?
What about the bus driver who gets your kids to school safely every day?
And how about the engineers who finagle stop lights? Their handiwork sees to it that vehicles stop and go at the right times.
So well said by Spiderman back in 1962 as he echoed the words of Voltaire and that date back to the French Revolution. Yes it does Spiderman; yes it does. And yet, society tends to make superheroes out of famous but often undeserving athletes, movie stars, musicians, TV personalities, and even a host of those online “influencers.” And don’t even get me started about politicians, elected “leaders,” and even their families. Regardless of how much you might like someone famous or powerful, do they really qualify as superheroes? Probably not.
Kids love superheroes…real and fictional. And that’s okay. They need heroes to look up to and aspire to be like and they need imagination. But again, we as adults need to ensure who they look up to are those worth looking up to. For example, Wonder Woman, who’s been around since 1943, is a great inspiration for young girls. Yes, she is strong and powerful, but she’s also never afraid to speak of love.
I used to tell my little preschoolers to catch their sneezes and coughs in their elbows by bringing around their superhero capes. It works every time. Who doesn’t want to be a superhero and have a cape?
Someone I regularly turn to is God, and I would venture to say Jesus is indeed a superhero; perhaps the superest of super heroes. I also rely on my family and friends for support and inspiration and I consider all of them superheroes. None of them have superpowers; they are merely super people in my eyes.
Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes and vary from person to person. Someone I consider worth admiring someone else may detest and vice versa. But maybe it shouldn’t be so much who we consider heroic, but what we consider heroic.
Take for example Captain Marvel. I had no idea that his “Shazam” was actually an acronym and a call for the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury. How cool would that be, to merely shout something and you gain a truckload of formidable traits?
Depending on who you are or where you are in your life, you might give a shout out for intellect, health, wealth, will, strength, endurance, patience, acceptance, wisdom, or serenity. Society needs superpower science and technology, but don’t we also need love and peace and superheroes who promote them?
Yes peace. It’s a word being said and prayed for right now. I always long for peace of mind as mine is constantly reeling…it only sleeps when I sleep…so I greatly admire those who are centered and calm. Are you always racing and chasing? No one likes to be told “calm down” but maybe we should all strive to be heroically calm. At the same time, I also admire someone who appreciates a good laugh and has a great sense of humor. Laughter is heroic.
Go with your gut and think it out, right? It’s called intuition: quick and ready insight, reason, and true conviction. I definitely have conviction and reason things out, but I tend to overthink everything. Going with your gut is a trait I admire and consider slightly heroic.
“On my soul I swear until my dream of a world where dignity, honor, and justice become the reality we all share, I’ll never stop fighting. Ever.”
Dignity. Honor. A commitment to truth and justice. Thank you Superman. And in the end, what is anything super without faith and hope? We hope for the best and hope all goes well. We’re constantly hoping for a cure and holding out hope against hope.
It’s my hope that maybe we all take a cue from Batman and start using our brains in heroic ways to keep hope alive. I’m no Wonder Woman and am not looking for some fairy tale bliss, just something I can turn to and that might just make a powerful difference.