You know, I get as caught up in superhero stories as the next guy. I grew up reading the old four-color comics and loving them, especially Ghost Rider and Spider-Man. I used to have a Marvel Treasury Edition of their adaptation of Star Wars that I wish I still owned. The artwork wasn’t the best, but it was still cool to have a comic adaptation of a movie I loved so much. I was also into the more offbeat comics Marvel put out in the seventies, like Werewolf by Night and The Tomb of Dracula. And don’t get me started on Conan the Barbarian and The Hands of Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. I loved those two, and have the Dark Horse remastered reissues of Conan.
But of course, Conan and Shang-Chi weren’t superheroes, at least not the kind I’m talking about in this post. I want to focus on the ones who had true super powers, like Spider-Man, Superman, and their like.
As cool as these stories are, have you ever really considered what it would be like if we really had superheroes in our world? I mean, in a practical sense? The X-Men dealt with at least one aspect of that, the idea of mutants slowly replacing us normal humans. I just watched Days of Future Past, and one of the themes of the movie is just that: how mutants are the next evolutionary step, possibly destined to replace us mere humans, though I’d suggest that day is a long way away. The mutants, after all, only make up a small fraction of the total population and, since they tend to fight one another and kill each other off, they’re not going to totally replace us anytime soon. Besides, I imagine they’d be ruling over us long before they took our place.
But that’s just one aspect. What about the damage these people cause when they go after one another? Holy cow, man, just one fight between Superman and, oh, I don’t know, Captain Marvel (another one I wish I still had), metes out more destruction than Islamic terrorists could ever hope to achieve. And these are two good guys! This doesn’t take into account the wanton destruction the bad guys indulge in on a regular basis, apparently just because they can. I mean, why go in with a heist team and break into the bank vault when you can just punch a hole in the wall and walk out with the money?
And you know there have to be civilian fatalities to go along with all that damage. I mean, when the Hulk slams into a high-rise building and knocks it down, you know not everyone got out. It would be like having 9/11 every time some of these folks decided to have it out. The death tolls alone would turn the populace against these guys, no matter how much good they might be doing. Sure, Spider-Man is protecting us against the Green Goblin, but when they go at it they tear down or at least severely damage several buildings, not to mention all that torn up pavement. I’m sure construction contractors absolutely love these guys, but the rest of us? Not so much.
Look at the Avengers movies, and here I’m including the individual members’ movies as well. For instance, in The Winter Soldier, a big chunk of the city below the battle was destroyed when Captain America and the Winter Soldier faced one another. How many people died when that happened? And when the Hulk picks up vehicles and uses them like fly swats, how many die, and how many millions in damage occurs? Christ, I’m pretty sure a huge chunk of New York City was destroyed in The Avengers, and they’re all set to do it again this weekend with The Age of Ultron. Tony Stark is breaking out his Hulkbuster armor, so you know shit’s gonna get real. Real destructive, that is.
So, yeah, I’m thinkin that, as cool as these stories are, as neat as it is to read these larger-than-life exploits, I’m glad they’re restricted to the comic books and movies. I don’t think the real world can handle superheroes, and I don’t know if I’d want to live in a world with them striding around destroying everything every time one of them has a temper tantrum.