Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Analsysis of a Romantic Superhero

When the November squalls start to blow in, it's time for me to curl up in my armchair with my annual dose of Smallville's latest season on DVD. I admit, I'm a fan, but what really got me thinking this series is what makes a hero and is Clark Kent alias Superman a hero as well as being a superhero. Are the two synonymous or can you have one without the other?

And no, I can't believe I'm actually doing a post on superman, but there you have it! And where am I going with this?

Clark has two well known *weaknesses*, Kryptonite and what is often bandied about as too much compassion for the evil humans/aliens he comes up again and his refusal to take a life. The Kryptonite weakness is great, because no superhero can really be a genuine hero if they're infallible, right? Part of being a hero comes from acting in spite of the risks to yourself.

But what about his no-kill rule? As a romantic, how do I feel when he refuses to avenge his family honour? All in the name of fantasy, of course, in real life I'd be horrified at the notion. But in our fantasy world, don't we want the hero to have enough darkness in his soul in order to avenge things like honour? I think maybe I do. I hate Zod, he's going to destroy the world, and yet in that moment when he bloodied his own hands avenging Clark's family honour, I was more drawn to him than the actual 'hero' of the story. I turned the telly off, disappointed in my fav superhero and feeling he was more coward than hero...

After stewing this over for a few days, though, I realised that Clark could not be the superhero he was if he murdered cold-bloodedly. He could not take vengeance, he could not be touched by that darkness. I relaxed, smiled, and turned the telly on again and went to my happy place.

But this does make me wonder if that's why we don't have many superheros in romance. With all the paranormal fads raging, the superhero hasn't found a place. Is it because a true superhero can never really be a true romantic hero?


  1. Hmmm. This is such an interesting debate Claire. I'm vegetarian & a pacifist in real life; so why do I love my romantic heros to jump on those horses/cars/transporters and avenge any dishonour to the h or his family? maybe some atavistic part of my brain is Old Testament (an eye for an eye) and the only place that part of me can get satisfaction (other than under the boardwalk!) is when my romantic very alpha heroes (my favourites hero) goes all macho. Does this make him a superhero a la SUperman? No, probably not, because in real life it takes a greater strength to be gentle and rise above vengeance.

    But as for my romances...the alpha warrior in full macho mode gives me a sheer thrill!

    Judy(South Africa)

  2. I'm with Judy on this. In real life, if a man is capable of violence he doesn't qualify as hero material. But in fiction ...

    I recently watched the paranormal romance movie 'Blood and Chocolate' and was actually worried that Hugh Dancy's hero was going to be a bit wimpish. When he started kicking butt I fell in love!

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