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I was just thinking about superheroes, the typical spandex superheroes, and how impractical they are in our current universe. Considering Marvel is just an alternate universe of our current world and DC is one giant world of clusterfuck, there really has to be a lot of thought that goes into writing superheroes in the current times.
For the past two years, I’ve been attempting to write both a novel series and an adapted teleplay about superheroes. Before I started writing, I knew hardly anything about superheroes or their comic origins, and just when I needed a little history lesson Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked happened to be airing on History Channel. CBSU is an interesting watch, I learned about a lot of things regarding not only the comic industry, but the superheroes as well (like the man behind Wonder Woman). I’ve loaded up on superhero movies like Kick-Ass, Watchmen, Spider-man trilogy, X-Men trilogy (+1), V for Vendetta, the Tim Burton Batmans, The Dark Knight films, Ironman, The Incredibles, Hancock, Hellboy, Blade, Zoom, Skyhigh, Ghost Rider, The Green Hornet, etc. I even started rewatching Justice League and the affiliated cartoons from my childhood. It was incredibly fun, but two things stuck out significantly:
- the lack of female presence in the comic book worlds and the comic industry
- the lack of Real World accuracy of humans regarding the revealing of supers
As far as superwomen go, they’re almost always scantily clad and have unbelievable amounts of bosom that would honestly just get in the way of fighting crime. Do you see Dolly Parton actually being successful in back flipping and flying through the air with ease? Come on. You want me to believe all of these superwomen want to have men looking at their ass or breasts, or want to be a walking sexual innuendo, or that they’re all hyper sexual and looking for a man? Which is why I have an issue with the DC reboot “The New 52.” Here is an article which is an accurate indicator as to why I feel this way*. I was an avid fan of CartoonNetwork’s Teen Titans when I was younger, and seeing this new Starfire makes me cry.
So, why is this an issue in the Real World? These superwomen aren’t tangible. I’m serious, imagine Dolly Parton fighting crime in the same manner as Black Canary. Imagine her as a 20-something with the same breasts she has now, in a skin tight catsuit or in tiny bikini. Sure, it might be appealing to a percentage of the population, but unless she’s really some sort of Fembot, Dolly’s going to have a hell of a time fighting the villain. What are the chances of her having the ability to fly, but never being able to fly straight because she’s incredibly top heavy? Most women do not have measurements anywhere near Dolly’s. Superwomen like her aren’t tangible. The women actually in our lives most likely don’t look like that, and perpetuating that sort of image is detrimental to young girls and off putting for older female readers, essentially diluting the customer pool.
There is an entire world, not just one city or nation. How is it so many heroes congregate in New York City? How are there so many heroes and villains, and so much shit being destroyed and people being killed, but the cities are still populated and intact a week later? In the Real World, these heroes would most likely not want anything to do with the police. Real Life Superheroes aren’t even liked by the real police, so what would make Superman or Spider-man any different? In a post-9/11 world, you want me to believe people would not be shitting bricks if a person could legitimately fly without a machine, or run around the globe in seconds flat, or stop bullets? A real super has the potential to be the equivalent of a nuclear weapon. What is not scary about that?
The fact is, supers would not be welcome with open arms. Comic readers, fantasy or sci-fi fans, they might be the only ones ecstatic at the revelation of supers. Normal people would not take it well. As paranoid of our governments as we already are, why would we encourage a flying man or woman to patrol us? And even assuming there was some sort of agreement on the pros of having supers, who’s to say what they think is right or wrong is proper? Who is going to keep them on the side of the law? Supers are essentially vigilantes. Vigilantes don’t exactly follow a protocol. Supers are Big Brother material and have about as much potential as Communism in the free world. Supers are very much iron fisted dictators; especially the classic Supermans and Captain Americas.
Could this possibly be why recent superhero shows have been cancelled, movies have received low boxoffice numbers, and more women are making their own comics online instead of buying them from established comic companies predominantly run and written by men?
Now, before I get completely off topic, I want to address the lack of cultural awareness that comes with superheroes today, (by “cultural awareness” a mean the general American culture of post-9/11 scare tactics, sex driven media, and social/moral/ethical differences, as well as the worldwide rape culture and objectification of both men and women for laughs and monetary gain) and that’s what this post is about. I would think, as a writer and as a woman, there would be more to gain in terms of breadth by exploring these topics within a comic. Instead of recycling the same old stories, why not try something fresh and relevant?
* This is the blog post that lead me to the article. The blog post is a good read, too, if you’re interested in female feels about comics and the gender specificity of childhood.