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The Practicality Of Being A Superhero

Being a superhero is more than just saving the world from psychotic dudes in makeup who kill cats for fun; it’s also a fashion statement.

The mask. The tights. The cape. The color choices. The boots. Custom-made armor, perhaps. Possible makeup. Maybe a bracelet of some sort. You’ve got transportation considerations: flying, running fast, riding a dolphin, driving a car (and, if so, what type of cool, fast car should you drive). Do you live in a house, on a foreign planet, or inside some type of extravagant subterranean fortress?

This is complicated stuff.

Never before has the practical side of the superhero’s wardrobe decisions been revealed like the following paragraph in Watchmen:

Dollar Bill was one of the nicest and most straightforward men I have ever met, and the fact that he died so tragically young is something that still upsets me whenever I think about it. While attempting to stop a raid upon one of his employer’s banks, his cloak became entangled in the bank’s revolving door and he was shot dead at point-blank range before he could free it. Designers employed by the bank had designed his costume for maximum publicity appeal. If he’d designed it himself he might have left out that damned stupid cloak and still be alive today.

Blame the marketers.

How fitting is that excerpt of what a modern-day superhero would look like, even though this was written 25 years ago? Designers were thinking about marketing, publicity. Dollar Bill even had an employer, almost like a sponsor.

Imagine Batman sponsored by Target–the red Target bullseye on his shoulder and the Batman symbol on his chest. Superheroes could be just like NASCAR drivers, pro golfers, and crappy college bowl games. Aquaman…brought to you by Dasani.

Anyway, I thought that was a clever passage. Watchmen is definitely a different type of comic book. Other than Dr. Manhattan, it really is about real people with loads of baggage and problems , who become crimefighters, not superheroes.

And, to me, that’s just so much more enjoyable to read than some nonsense about a teenager getting bit by a spider and developing “spidey senses.” Really…spidey senses?

(Photo: BusyQuiltMom/Flickr)

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15 Comments Post a comment
  1. Some consider Tebow a superhero that is human, with human flaws.
    Some don’t, like this guy. -> http://tinyurl.com/c7wwmv8

    Like

    December 6, 2011
  2. Siuon #

    This scene is loosely parodied in the move “The Incredibles”, which, in my opinion, is an anti-superhero movie.

    Like

    December 6, 2011
    • Was just going to say, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find that this paragraph was the inspiration behind Edna Mode’s anti-cape rant in the Incredibles.

      Like

      December 6, 2011
      • I watched The Incredibles a while back, and it sounded vaguely familiar. Sounds like it was highly inspired by Watchmen, at least in some ways.

        Like

        December 6, 2011
    • I love The Incredibles, it’s actually one of my favorite superhero movies. We’re actually thinking of showing it at the monthly comic book film series my girlfriend and I run. And Siuon, I must respectfully disagree with you as to it being an “anti-superhero” film.

      Like

      December 8, 2011
  3. I loved this post! The Boy Wonder (Robin) could be sponsored by Red Robin (the restaurant). Aquaman by Dasani – very clever.

    Like

    December 6, 2011
  4. I knew you’d enjoy this one. There is so much screwed-upness in the stories of these people. And that’s the point. You’d have to be crazy to be a vigilante.

    Like

    December 6, 2011
    • It’s true. And then there’s Dr. Manhattan, who’s like, “Screw you guys. I’m out of here.”

      Like

      December 6, 2011
  5. One of my favorite suoerhero movies is the movie “Mystery Men”. If you haven’t seen it, you should. They have a corporate sponsored super hero who is so bored he actually wants his arch-nemesis back on the streets. It’s a hilarious movie.

    Like

    December 6, 2011
  6. You should definitely check out Booster Gold if the idea of a corporate-sponsored hero entertains you: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Booster_Gold. Especially around 5 years ago, his costume was very remeniscent of a Nascar getup, or maybe a soccer jersey.

    Like

    December 6, 2011
    • Ha. That’s funny. Truly there is nothing new under the sun. Brilliant idea to make a real superhero character like that.

      Like

      December 6, 2011
      • He also started out roughly at the same time as Watchmen was being printed. Must have been a Reagan-era zeitgeist sort of thing. The “infomercial” they had for his appearance on Smallville made me almost want to watch Smallville 🙂

        Like

        December 8, 2011
  7. Very intriguing.

    Like

    December 7, 2011

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