Superhero tropes and cliches you're tired of

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by X Equestris, Feb 16, 2018.

  1. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Oh, I dunno. Some superheroes are religious. And some are based on religion.

    Daredevil is a committed Roman Catholic. Thor is an actual god.
     
  2. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Marvel did this. Twice, once with the X-Men, and again with the Inhumans. Fear, loathing, racism, for the most part.

    In Deadpool's words, the X-Men are an "outdated metaphor for racism in the Sixties".
     
  3. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not quite what I mean. Daredevil may be Roman Catholic, but Christianity as an active contextualized paradigm is missing, as are the rest of the world religions, hence my mention of the epistemological deployment as a whole.
     
  4. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    That's why I really enjoyed Netflix's Luke Cage. It's essemtially a black drama that just happens to have a bullet-proof hero with super strength. It's about the people of Harlem coping with drugs, gangs, murder and poverty with little help from the authorities, or facing racism from the authorities themselves.
     
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  5. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 Senior Member

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    Oh wow.

    I hereby recommend you a comic, named supreme power. And one single scene, truly, encapsulates it.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    And here's another thing.

    Superman was good.

    Real good.

    It was incredible.

    But.... i think fictional america is lucky. Very, very lucky. Like, superman is kind, good, and white.

    Think about it for a moment. It's Jim Crow America, and a riot has occurred, a black man is caught up, and lynched. The all-white jury acquits them. And there is outcry over this. But hey, its jim crow america. What are the niggers going to do? Riot again and be shot by police.

    The black man's name?

    Kent.

    There is a man out there. A man who cannot be harmed, outside of one substance in the universe. A man who can throw a punch into a mountain, and the mountain will move. A man whose stare alone can render you into ash and turn cities into nothing but rubble. And you just murdered his father.

    What will happen to you after this?

    It doesn't bear thinking about, because no matter what the Ku Klux Klan tries, no matter how guns the government brings to bear, no matter how many torches or tires or dogs they bring, no matter how many soldiers they bring in... superman can just kill them all. It won't even take any effort for him. This is a man who can bench press planets.

    That's what it can easily be. The rule of a terrified America, under the command of an angry, invicible god that can hear you halfway around the world. You can bring an entire army of soldiers, and he will come up to them, and leave them as screaming, blind, limbless invalids for the rest of their wretched existence.

    Because really now, the crux of the matter is that when you get powerful superheroes, things really fucking change. Imagine not just Jim Crow South, but any other place where genocides and oppression and other things occur. Imagine the Rwandan Genocide, only that one of superman's friends is a victim. Do you think he'll stop? Do you think he'll stand back? No, he'll stop them. He will make them stop. And the world will know it.

    In a world like ours? Dictators get to go to Sweden, island resorts, or just other neutral countries, living out the rest of their days sipping martinis and profiting off the misery they had inflicted. In a world with a superman? This is no longer true.

    Dictators only have power because of a shitload of infrastructure and support. Things that can be broken. They are rarely called to account for their actions. This is no longer true.

    They can be called to account. And by 'account', I mean their armies smashed, their cities razed, their families slaughtered, and they themselves crucified to the sides of the government building they ruled from as an example to the rest. All with the effort of getting up in the morning.
     
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  6. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Hey, Batman's dad was killed and he spent the rest of his life beating up people.
     
  7. shiba0000

    shiba0000 Member

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    I struggle to see why superman would care about the race conflicts of lesser lifeforms beyond mere curiosity. We're like bacteria compared to him. Don't mistaken superman's morphology for his humanity. He's not human. He's a global extinction event waiting to happen, sent from another planet to continue an alien race on the ashes of ours.

    But given the canon, superman can be heavily influenced by human upbringing. In that case, the feds would be running psychological operations 24/7 on this demigod. It doesn't matter how physically powerful superman is. If he cares about things we have control over (like the culture he consumes and the humans he falls in love with), we have partial control over him. It'd be a matter of manipulating a sentient force of nature.
     
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  8. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Conspicuously Conventional Contributor

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    Is that you, Lex?
     
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  9. shiba0000

    shiba0000 Member

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    Kal-El could easily have been a Zod.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    There's only one Zod.

     
  11. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I'm just gonna throw down my own thoughts on the superhero thing—this'll probably be a lot of disconnected stream of consciousness rambling.

    When superheros were created, they were an outgrowth from the pulp heroes. It was the 30's when both Superman and Batman appeared, and to a large extent both of them were based on the pulp hero Doc Savage. His name was Clark Savage Junior, he was intended to be a combination of Tarzan (physical beast) and Sherlock Homes (mental genius, crime-fighter, supreme detective). He had a dome in the Arctic called his Fortress of Solitude, where he stored the weapons he confiscated from bad guys that were too dangerous to fall into the wrong hands, and where he would go when he needed solitude. He also had a sort of fisherman's vest he wore under his clothes stocked with all kinds of ingeniously miniaturized weapons and devices (James Bond also used this idea later). This was the progenitor of Batman's utility belt, and Batman was also intended literally to combine elements of Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes (he's often called the World's Greatest Detective). His whole creature of the night, strike fear in the hearts of evildoers thing came from The Shadow.

    It was WWII, and in times of war entertainment often shifts to become either propaganda or comfort food promising simple solutions to problems. Look kids, don't worry about the Nazis, Superman is here to save the day! He can leap over tall buildings (He didn't fly in the beginning) and punch all your problems into oblivion. Incidentally, in those early days, Batman used to use a tommygun and had no compunctions about killing.

    What an amazing fantasy for kids, the idea of being invulnerable and super-strong! In such times that can be very comforting. Or Batman—merely human but possessed of an amazing athletic ability and toughness, practically invincible but still human. And he's got a dark side, unlike the blue boy scout. So even if you're troubled by inner demons, there's a superhero for you too.

    I've heard several times that superheroes are the modern mythology. Well, yes and no. Mythology is the stories used to illustrate religious ideas. There's a lot more behind it than behind superheroes. Religion is the deepest wisdom, from a time before even written language, expressed through metaphor, and it's a lot more than just ego-trip power fantasies of strength and invulnerability and simple solutions to life's problems. I mean, I know the superhero genre has advanced beyond those early beginnings, but it's tried to tackle racism and drug abuse and child abuse etc many times, and it usually comes across as preachy and pedantic and propagandistic, because it's being shoehorned into something inimical to the whole genre.

    [​IMG]

    In order to be able to deal with serious complex issues like that, your story needs to be complex and include all the scary stuff reality does, not be a hedge against it. What it usually reminds me of—does anybody else remember the episode of Saved by the Bell where Jessie (the tall chick who went on to star in Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls) had a diet pill problem? Like the comics when they try to tackle these issues, it got all kinds of critical praise and acclaim, but the show was too flimsy to support anything serious on topics like that. It comes across as melodrama, not real drama (same as that series of panels just above). How strange it looks to have that level of realistic drawing (of the old black man) next to the very stylized superheroes. Almost as different as the cartoons and the real people in Roger Rabbit. But the real issue is, the same thing is happening at the story level—drag in serious and powerful topics into what's essentially a cartoon and it just collapses.

    I'm not saying across the board that superhero stories can't tackle these issues, I know they can. The best I've personally seen it done yet is in the Netflix series Jessica Jones. But note, she doesn't wear a costume, her powers are very minimal and not too far beyond what people can actually do, and she has deep issues stemming from childhood trauma that she tries to drink away. She also doesn't try to hide her identity, she's always Jessica Jones—her 2 worlds are combined into one (most of the superhero genre is built on the idea of a secret world where an ordinary person is a great hero, but you can't reveal this secret—could represent the world of imagination, like Walter Mitty, or the secrets we need to conceal in order to not be completely overruled by other people in our lives as I think was the idea behind Unbreakable).

    Ok, I guess that's all I can think of.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
  12. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Frank Miller took the superhero genre and re-cast it in a far grittier world. That world includes the horrors of real life, though he does have that unfortunate tendency toward brutality and extreme violence that I think detracts from the rest of what he did, which was pretty amazing (I guess he's a lot like Tarantino come to think of it). The Netflix Daredevil is based on Miller's run on the series, which I didn't see until recently when I bought a trade paperback of one section of it. I remember Daredevil being much more of an acrobat, flipping off roofs all the time and using flagpoles as diving boards. he does some of that, but back when I saw the comics in the 70's, he didn't wear body armor and didn't beat his opponents senseless until he was covered with gore. That's all Frank Miller. I think DD was already Roman Catholic, but Miller definitely took that farther and wove it interestingly into the fabric of the stories. He actually connected it at a thematic level, so it affects things deeply. I think in the earlier comics it was more of a throwaway trait, maybe they'd show him praying now and then or confessing, but now his faith is a core of the stories and of his character.

    As for Thor, yeah, the Marvel Thor is very (veeery) loosely based on the Norse god, but reduced to a simple cipher with everything removed except immense strength and a big hammer. And horns on his helmet—no, my bad, I mean wings. His evil half-brother has the horns. So I'd say anything even remotely religious has been pruned away.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
  13. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    Superheroes always being “heroes” or following some strict moral code, especially after they acquire their newfound world shattering abilities.

    I read a book not long ago, well a few years really. It was called Steelheart and instead of good guys all the super heroes were actually the bad guys. The more powerful ones were city/national leaders and so forth. It was a really nice take on the whole idea of people with great power having or sticking to some strict moral code. There was more to it than that for sure but, I really liked the idea of humanity being oppressed by (essentially) super powered forces of nature. I believe it was also stated that using their powers was addicting. They could also “gift” their powers, or aspects of them to regular humans too but, it had a tendency to drive regular people insane. It was a nice flip flop on the whole superhero idea, especially the “average dude gets superpowers” idea.
     
  14. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 Senior Member

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    Sorry bud. No blow. The superpowers had a mental component that drove them evil.

    All of them. No exceptions.
     
  15. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    I’m aware but, if they were used in limited amounts it wouldn’t completely drive them over the deep end and it wore off after awhile. Still when the bad guys weren’t using their power they remained on the dark side. Doc for example was an alright guy until he started using his powers and after a few hours, depending on how much he used them, he was more or less back to his old self. He was completely aware of this too, based on how he acted at the end and various other parts of the story. It’s pretty likely our supers would catch on pretty fast to the effects of using their powers and anyone with an above human moral code would limit their use to mitigate the effect.
     
  16. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 Senior Member

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    I got a thing. What about, say, a superhuman takes over a country.... and things get better.

    Hear me out first. Think about it. We've seen lots of shit. Let's say that in a certain war torn country, there's this guy with superpowers. Looking at the anarchy, war, and chaos around him, and decides, 'fuck it'. And then walks around, gets a following, and forces people to obey him.... because if they don't, they will die.

    This applies for many things. The leader of the army says that he's going to rebel unless you give him more cash and privileges? He loses his head, and the replacement bows his head down. Enemy comes in to try and topple you? You slaughter him. Racial or religious riot? Put them down.

    A hideous sort of equality, where everyone who defies him dies. And then, slowly, things get better. Because when everyone is too afraid to start firing a gun, they will learn to either die or work together. And when people aren't shooting at one another and instead work to rebuild things, you get things like roads, infrastructure, and stuff. A terrible, dictatorial style of power, based on the personal might of a single man.... but you can talk to the residents and have some say that its better than the old days.
     
  17. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Supporter Contributor

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    So might makes right? A schoolyard bully brings law and order, too, but what cost are you willing to pay? Maybe some chaos and shit isn't too high a price to pay to get out from under the bully's thumb.
     
  18. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 Senior Member

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    Yes.

    It's something I haven't seen before. Because some people can easily say 'fuck it, I don't care that he's horrible. But at least the fighting has stopped'.
     
  19. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    We've all seen it. It's called Hitler.
     
  20. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 Senior Member

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    Aw man.

    That sounds really cliche.
     
  21. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I should elaborate. My connection won't let me edit but this usually works, so I'll just make a new post.

    Many of the worst atrocities of the 20th century happened because in times of great crisis the country wanted to turn to somebody who was strong and seemed to have the answers. Hitler was one. In times like those people are desperate and strength and power and simple solutions seem like what's needed. And these leaders can be really charismatic, and of course they hide their agenda in the beginning. They promise a utopia if everyone will just get behind him and do as he says, though of course they're going to have make a few little 'sacrifices' first to get there. One of those sacrifices is freedom.

    It happens time and time again, even though history shows every attempt at a utopia results in absolute dystopia where the elite class lives like god-emperors while crushing the life out of the populace and taking everything from them. They live in castles and palaces, confiscate the art from all the museums and move it into their own personal palaces, have fleets of cars and other conveyances, while the average citizen stands in bread lines to be told when they finally reach the front that there's no more bread, try again next week.

    Usually the people who want great power are people you should be extremely suspicious of, and power needs to be kept limited. But the crazy thing it, in the beginning, when these dictators rise up they do make things better—way better! For a whiole. This gets the people completely omn their side and gives them hope. Until it's too late and the dictator has way too much power, suddenly his dark side comes out to p
     
  22. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    The real question if you end up in a big gang run by a brutal tyrant is this: will you be one of the guards in the prison camps where your friends and family are being tortured and killed, or will you be one of the inmates? Or you might manage to stay on the sidelines, in which case you might be unlucky enough to live in one of the districts he decides to starve because there isn't enough money to feed everybody, or because he wants to build another military base there.
     
  23. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Conspicuously Conventional Contributor

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    Part of the problem with superheroes taking on an issue like substance abuse is how to meaningfully incorporate their powers and abilities into the story. How does super strength, or adamantium claws, or an invisible jet help someone suffering from alcoholism? If a superhero's abilities can be perceived as more or less irrelevant to a story's central conflict, then the audience will likely feel the main character was wasted.
     
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  24. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 Senior Member

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    @Xoic you make much sense.

    Hmmm.....

    But maybe, this time we can actually make an exception. Let's be honest. Superman, captain America? Their moral standards and integrity are inhuman. I have no issue with seeing a superhero that took over to rule trying his best to make things better. And willing to, say, carry out a few beheading to keep the elite in line...
     
  25. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Ok, it does make sense that democracy needs to be suspended in a crisis situation. And I see where you're coming from—yeah, if the hero is really moral, he's probably the best person to be in charge. But does it have to be beheadings? Just that in itself makes him seem cruel and unjust.
     

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