The Definition of a Superhero

This is usually the sort of thing I’d post on my personal blog, but since Floyd is a part of it, I figured I’d put up something mildly opinionated here for a change.

What defines a superhero? The most obvious definition would be that the person in question is both heroic, and possesses superpowers. Obvious examples of this type would be: Spiderman, Superman, and Captain America. How did they obtain these powers? Spiderman has Spidey powers from being bitten by a radioactive spider, Superman has a variety of powers that are never fully defined as a result of being from an alien planet, and Captain America was genetically altered as a result of a super-soldier program. What do they have in common? They both uphold order and justice and beat up bad guys that ordinary heroes would run from in fear.

But what about other so called “superheroes” such as Iron Man, and Batman? They have no superpowers. They’re just really rich and build cool tech and beat up bad guys. So what makes them “super” heroes? Well, for one, they qualify on the hero scale. They uphold order and justice. But they don’t just take out robbers and thugs, they also go up against supervillains. Despite having no superpowers of their own, their amazing tech enables them to face down monsters of an otherworldly type. So is one a superhero simply by job description?

Then you have completely off-track character like the Hulk. Is the Hulk really a superhero? His superpower really reminds one more of a supervillain, then a hero. Ultimately his inner nature wins out over his unfortunate condition, but one can hardly call his “condition” a superpower. At least, not one to be desired.

And then there’s Floyd. Well, no, because the whole premise of my series is that there are no superheroes! Just ordinary (and somewhat less ordinary) people struggling to co-exist with supervillains. But if you look at the criteria above… isn’t he? He upholds justice and order. He fights against villains of the super-variety. He has no superpowers of his own, but then neither do Batman or Iron Man. His tactics seem to resemble ninjas more then the do the Western superhero ideal, but could one argue that ninjas have their own special variety of superpower?

So…. what are superheroes? Is it an inherent quality, or is it simply a job description? If Floyd is a superhero then can I still write superhero parody? What other superheroes don’t fit the standard description?


The Definition of a Superhero — 1 Comment

  1. Iron-Man’s super-power is his genius intellect, and being insanely rich. Batman’s power is being a genius, a master of 127 or so different fighting styles and nearly all forms of weaponry- especially melee, a large number of gadgets, and being insanely rich. That’s why they’re superheroes.