As some of you might know, I have this pet project of trying to figure out what puts the “super” in the superhero story by creating my own hero. I actually have the plot outline and a few scenes of his adventures lined up in a notebook somewhere (progress!), and I’m trying to decide whether I should post it on this blog or on Wattpad – because I really should post it somewhere.
Of course, the original point of this is to learn more about writing a story about a super-powered person trying to help other people. Over the course of trying to hammer out certain details, something became clear to me.
In many plots, fathers really are important.
I believe that I’ve complained about excessive use of “daddy issues” in various hero tales, and I do believe that, in most cases, it’s cheating (I’m glaring at you right now, 2011 Green Lantern movie). But I think writing Liberty – Lady Liberty in previous incarnations – has given me another perspective. I now feel that the use of father figures in many stories such as this reflect one important aspect of turning into a hero. I think the dads are there to teach the superheroes how to use their powers responsibly.
They’re there to show the heroes how to man up when needed.
Let’s face it: many superheroes – the popular ones – are male. As such, superhero stories can be seen as metaphors for being an adult in the context of manhood, for becoming and being a man. Peter Parker became a man when he became Spiderman – and he is the hero he is because of the man Uncle Ben was. Superman was also the hero he is because of who Jonathan Kent is.
In my own story, Liberty is a hero – but he won’t be the hero he is meant to be, the man he is meant to be, until he reconnects with his father.
The entire point here is to know how to step up – as men are expected to.
I think this is why many find it difficult to write stories about female superheroes – it’s because most of the sensibilities of superhero stories tend to deal with what we are told are essentially male aspirations. Being rescuers, protectors, defenders, and (to a certain extent, at least), avengers are things that boys are supposed to aspire to be.
A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Nobody really talks about what a woman’s gotta do (I’ll rant about this in a future post).
Nevertheless, a good superhero story seems to require the main character to man up. Call it morals or ethics or whatnot. But in the end, it’s recognizing a sense of right and wrong within one’s self and knowing how to apply one’s powers to it.
I could be wrong – but this is as good a start as any.