Let’s debate: Is the world better off with or without superheroes?

by Jeff Hilimire on November 13, 2011

One of my favorite comic scenes of all time ~ Secret Wars

My six-year old son announced to me on the way to church yesterday that when he grows up, he wants to “create superheroes”.

I said, “Like Stan Lee. Cool.” And he said, “You mean, Flat Stanley?”

I said, “No, his name is Stan Lee and he created a bunch of superheroes, like Spiderman.”

“No,” he said. “I want to actually take real people and turn them into superheroes. Then there would be awesome battles.”

Ah, now that’s ambition.

We kicked that idea around and debated whether or not the world would be better off with superheroes or without them.

My point was, if people have the ability to have super powers, the evil people would certainly become powerful as well. And, I pointed out, that could be very scary.

“Yeah, but the battles would be awesome!” he said. Indeed.

But it did get me thinking, would we want to have superheroes if we could? Would the good they could do outweigh the bad that the super villains would do?

It’s a debate I thought might be interesting to throw out to you guys because I happen to know a lot of you are superhero geeks like me.

So…where do you fall on this? Better off without superheroes or with them?

  • http://twitter.com/ratpack Chad Elkins

    Great quote from Stan ‘The Man’ Lee on what it means to be a superhero: “While no one is expected to leap tall buildings in a single bound, our aspiring heroes will be tested on their courage, integrity, self-sacrifice, compassion and resourcefulness – the stuff of all true superheroes.”

  • http://twitter.com/cubanx Ricardo Diaz

    So two things:
    That scene in Secret Wars is AWESOME. I loved that whole series, I have 2 copies of it in my parent’s basement, one to read, one to keep :)
    I loved how Iron Man manipulated Hulk to make him angry, therefore make him stronger so he could hold up the mountain.
    Later, when Caps pure will power could not be defeated by the Beyonder fueled, Dr. Doom…great stuff. 
    Second, world better with :) I am an optimist, and so are you! No matter the level of evil, good would always rise to defeat it. I think it’s true now in the real world, and I would believe it to be true in the superhero world.
    So I’m with your boy, BRING IT!! :)

  • http://www.jeffhilimire.com Jeff Hilimire

    A+ for the Secret Wars references! I forgot about Iron Man messing with Hulk to get him angry enough to keep the wall up, classic.

    I’m with you on being pro-superheros, but I’m waiting for a counter-point so we can get a debate going!

  • http://merchantstand.com Bob Williams

    Good post. I read this out-load to my carpool (good way to pass time on I-85 south in the not so HOT lane). The first comment was “Didn’t they already answer that in the Incredibles?”

  • http://twitter.com/The_FoW Fistful of Words

    While I agree with your son that the the battles would be awesome, I’ll offer up an argument for better off without. I am not a comics expert by a long stretch, but I am a fan of The Watchmen. To me it seems that superheroes always exist in a specific city, have a specific enemy or set of enemies, and a limited range of motives (altruism, revenge, personal demons). They never seem to exist in the full scope of Earth, as we know it.  Honestly, it would feel weird to see Spiderman exist in a world dealing with hunger, famine, and geopolitics. How does a spidey-sense fix those problems? I’m afraid that Alan Moore had it right as the superheroes would end up being controlled and manipulated like the potential elite soliders and marketable commodities they would undoubtably be. No, as cool as it would be to watch them fly, I think a world of superheroes wouldn’t sway the world’s equilibirium one way or the other (unless of course we’re talking about the Olympic Medal count) but rather give us a class of people with a special powers and special problems. – TS

  • http://www.jeffhilimire.com Jeff Hilimire

    FoW, interesting perspective. I kinda agree, the only real advantage to having superheroes is to fight the super villains, which I think we can all agree would be there if you had superheroes. Otherwise I doubt they could make much of a dent in the world’s “real” problems.

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