on vagueness of superheroes

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Thread: on vagueness of superheroes

  1. #1

    on vagueness of superheroes

    I was discussing with someone what the definition of super hero was. the discussion arose because this guy thinks that goku was a superhero. I pointed out that his definition would reclassify anything in the fantasy genre{like the cw show charmed} into a super hero show... that is ludicrous. I looked around and the most definitions seem to just say hero with super powers. which is the vaguest of all possible interpretations. so what's your thoughts on what makes a character a super hero because I see it now, according to current definition, the super hero genre gets defined out of existence due to it being everything.

    P>.s. according to this definition gadolph the grey is a super hero.
    Last edited by kunox; June 12th, 2019 at 02:38 AM.
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  2. #2
    If they have super powers (super-human) and they use them for good, then they are a superhero.
    If they use those powers for evil then they are an archvillain, or just plain old arch.
    So any power that is defined as superhuman would put them on the map.

    But not these guys.
    They were only super-funny.

  3. #3
    But then doesn't that make gadolf from lotr a super hero.

  4. #4
    Hey nice to see you still around here. To answer your question this is subjective. But gandalf isn't one of the protagonists, and fantasy seems to be a genre label .For movies probably. It's rare to see it in fiction. It does exist in fiction and sometimes authors like to label their work for marketing purposes a certain way, and for criticism. They refuse to label their work science fiction in some cases. One of them for instance is margaret atwood. When ursula le guin released her novel, she had no idea what she started.

    Super hero can have its definition in literature too, but notice the influences. A lot of comics are considered super hero, and I have no idea what a good definition would be to give a good answer.

    So therefore, super hero is probably a character that has super powers. And doesn't rely on myth to tell its story. Magic is used in all sorts of myth.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
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  5. #5
    That's a good point.

  6. #6
    Seems like the hang-up is about superpowers and if magic is classified as a superpower. I don't think that's where the superhero divide actually sits. What makes a superhero has far less to do with the powers and far more to do with the character itself.

    Best example I can think of is actually from One Punch Man. OPM is a superhero in the sense that he has superpowers. Mumen Rider is a hero with a suit and no real powers. Is Mumen Rider a superhero? Maybe not, but he's certainly a hero.

    The definition of "hero" in superhero is a person who goes out of their way to better society for people they don't know at all. If they know all the people they save, they're not superheroes. "Hero" is more an occupation, a state of being, for this genre. They all have slightly different motivations, paths to get to this point, but they all risk everything to save people they don't know and people they don't even necessarily have a reason to care about. It's their default action.

    Gandalf may have magic, but he's not a superhero. Gandalf is a wizard: a magic old dude. Magic isn't (generally) a superpower any more than science is a superpower--because magic and science are extrinsic tools to the person. He's also not a hero. He's a magic old Deus Ex Machina who pops in and out of a narrative as convenient for him/the author. He's not exactly risking life and limb fighting crime incognito to save people he doesn't know. He's not heroic by default either. Heroism is a very active line of work, and it's marked by sacrifice. But there's no indication really that Gandalf even has much of a life--certainly not the sort of passion intrinsic in heroism.
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  7. #7
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  8. #8
    Goku is a superhero, in fact, he's a specific type of superhero, a Shonen, an action-based hero marketed toward young boys, differentiated from a Shojo, or action-based superhero marketed toward young girls. He's essentially a "magical girl" but marketed toward boys. Like many western superheroes, he gets his powers from his alien heritage, prompting many people to compare him to Clark Kent. He'd be right at home on the Justice League.

    A superhero is just a benevolent character with superhuman powers.

    These people's location has a lot to do with whether or not they're "super". Goku wouldn't be a superhero on Vegeta, and Clark wouldn't be a superhero on Krypton, because, among other sayians and Kryptonians, they WOULDN'T have superhuman abilities. There are even people on Earth who are superheroes only because they refuse to make their tech public, which would raise the standard. If Bruce Wayne released all his bat-technology, he would no longer be a superhero. Same with Tony Stark. So the reason Gandalf is NOT a superhero is because his powers aren't superhuman. The magic he uses is studied, practiced, and applied by other humans who study wizardry. He might be particularly good at it, but that skillset is generalized enough that it is open to the public, and we do see a good number of non-Galdalf folks practicing it. Like you can just go to wizard school and learn how to do that. You can't go to batman school to learn how to batman, you have to go to Bruce, specifically, so there are very few people who have access to that technology; basically just his kids.

    Tony Stark actually mentions this, specifically, in the comics, a bunch of times. That he keeps his tech secret and closely guards his patents because he wants to be Iron Man. There's nothing about that aging alcoholic that makes him a superhero, and he knows that. He has an anxiety disorder, and his percieved worthlessness as a superhero walking among people like actual aliens with actual powers (like Thor for example) weighs heavily on him. He tackles this very topic kind of a lot. His reputation as Iron Man hinges on his ability to have better tech than anyone else, and a big flaw of his is that he doesn't see his innate worth, because he KNOWS that if that ever goes public, he's no longer a superhero, he's just a guy in a cool suit. This isn't a good mindset to have, that's why it's a character flaw, but it's also not untrue, so he does have to think about that, in his everyday life. He wasn't imbued with super-soldier serum. He wasn't bitten by a spider. He was not gifted superpowers by the panther god Bast. He didn't have some kind of horrible lab accident. He is, at his core, just a guy in a suit, so the suit has to become part and parcel to his identity for him to HAVE a superhero identity. And what happened when he shared that technology? Commander Rhodes, with his military training, was considered a much more effective superhero as War Machine, sending Tony into a spiral of self-doubt about his own worth and reinforcing the idea that if he shares that tech he'll be nothing; he won't be a superhero, he'll just be a man with a heart condition, anxiety disorder, and alcoholoism, in a fancy suit. It gave him pretty bad imposter syndrome.

    My point is, I think the Iron Man comics are a really good place to go to answer this question, because it's one of the fundamental reoccurring plot threads in that series- that question of "What makes someone a superhero" and "Am I superhero? Do I even belong here?"

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by candicame View Post
    So the reason Gandalf is NOT a superhero is because his powers aren't superhuman. The magic he uses is studied, practiced, and applied by other humans who study wizardry. He might be particularly good at it, but that skillset is generalized enough that it is open to the public, and we do see a good number of non-Galdalf folks practicing it. Like you can just go to wizard school and learn how to do that.
    Not to get into a lore battle here, but Gandalf isn't human at all. He's a totally different race of critter but just looks human. Wizards aren't human in LOTR, so he's superhuman. He's closer to an angel than human.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  10. #10
    Is a superhero just more of a hero than a hero regardless of having any superpowers? In fact is someone acting the hero by using their superpower less of a hero than a real hero who acts despite having no superpower? I don't see the term "superhero" as just being a shortened form of "superpowered hero" but if it is then they are in my estimation lower in rank than conventional heroes whereas I would expect a superhero to be higher. If a person who runs five miles to get help is considered to be a hero then one who does it in a wheelchair is surely a superhero.

    Bear in mind the poignant words of the 93 year old D-day veteran Harry Billinge who recently said on TV "I'm no hero, I was lucky. I'm here. All the heroes are dead." What's heroic about being invulnerable (and probably smug about it too) then?
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