Google Something Clever 2.0: How Do You Define a Superhero?

Jul 11, 2013

How Do You Define a Superhero?

My husband and I had a fun debate over a meal the other day. We were arguing what made a superhero. IT was a very interesting conversation, so I figured that I could type it up, and boom, there's a blog post.

Nope. I forgot most of it. We tried to recreate it, but we kept going back and forth trying to remember who said what, when. I offered to record us debating on the webcam and vlog it, but he declined.

So here's what you're left with: me debating myself, bringing up my own points and counterpoints, because I can't even keep track of who was on what side.


I remember how it all started. I was pointing out that most Avengers merchandise (like our son's new shirt) only featured the four "good" Avengers- you know, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America. I asserted that Black Widow and Hawkeye weren't true Avengers; they're just a spy and a guy with a bow. He disagreed.

He thought I might have jealousy issues with ScarJo. Whatever. Black Widow is not a superhero. She's just really good at spying and kicking ass. There are plenty of real people like that. The husband claimed that Hawkeye was a superhero because he could hit any target without even looking. I reminded him that there was a contestant on "America's Got Talent" last season who could do that. So there.

So does a superhero have to have super powers? Well, no, I guess not, because then Iron Man and Batman wouldn't technically be superheroes, now would they? They're both just rich guys with cool toys. Hmm. This is getting tricky. Maybe you can define what they do with their toys as super powers. I mean, flight is a super power. Iron Man can fly with his suit. Therefore, if he has his suit, he "has" a super power. Right?

So let's define a superhero as someone who has powers that go above and beyond humans. Is Superman a superhero? He's not a human; he's an alien. Alright then, you don't have to be born human. By that logic, is a shark a superhero? It's stronger than a human. It can breathe underwater. Shit. I have no idea anymore.

Is there one right answer to this? Here's the closest I can come up with:
su·per·hero noun \-ˌhir-(ˌ)ō, -ˌhē-(ˌ)rō\
a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; but also Iron Man and Batman because they're cool.
Do you agree? Let's fight in the comments!