The Battle of Good vs Corny Superhero

The other day I had a short debate with a writer friend who had a different view of a violent scene in my novel. He thought that the violence on the MC’s part made her character less sympathetic and would therefore be less likable to the reader. I felt that the MC’s actions were justified and that the other character deserved the MC’s actions.

This debate brought to mind a preference of mine that not everyone shares. When faced with the choice of Corny Superhero, or Battle-hardened Cynic my choice in favorite character will always be option two. I know there is merit and entertaining stories centered on the Corny Superhero type character. Just look at Superman, Spiderman, and the Fantastic 4. People love those comics and movies. But when ever I watched those movies I always felt some things were missing, reality and good dialog.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Stella, these are Superheroes with secret superhuman powers. It’s not meant to be realistic.”

You would be right, it’s not meant to be realistic, but the one place that these characters could be realistic is in the personality department. I know all the Superhero corny lines are the writers’ faults, but it seems that some people like the idea of Superheroes being these unrealistic pillars of wholesomeness. Some people think that that is the only true definition of a hero, to elevate these individuals to ethical superiority where we can no longer identify with them as people, but praise them as gods with our hero worship.

“ICK!” Stella fans the stench of Corny Superheroes away from her and swallows a breath of realism.

These goody-two-shoe personalities piss me off! All the villains these Superheroes face usually want to destroy the world. I say, “Hey, why not? Go big or go home, I guess.” They kill innocent people all the time, but when the Superheroes go out to stop them, they end up handing them over to the police to take care of them, because killing them would make them the same as the villains.

“Bleck!” Stella wretches into nearest trash receptacle.

Great! Now when the villain busts out of prison-like they always do-they’ll kill more people and we have to repeat it all over again. I think writers just don’t want to have to keep coming up with new villains.

I’m my opinion, the deaths of those innocent bystander’s are on the Superheroes hands, they should have put the villain out of their misery and saved tax payers millions of dollars from having to build expensive prison cells to contain these Supervillains. LOL!

This whole Corny Superhero mentality is great for kids. The naive sense of right and wrong attributed to the Corny Superhero would be more fitting to someone much younger who had not yet seen how gray-not black and white- the world is. So this is great for a younger audience or younger Superhero. But this isn’t how real world heroes work. Someone older would be jaded for they know how Uncle Sam works, and while things like government, Police officers, spies, and soldiers fight for the greater good, it is not always good. Good soldiers do not become lifers like Superman because it is moral and just, but because they think that if they are there, in the conflict that maybe, just maybe they can prevent a bad situation from getting worse, as it would if it were in the hands of someone else. Superman is portrayed as perfect. Corny Superheroes are perfect, real people are not. Real people have fears. The fear and guilt and pain associated with trying to do the right thing-when the right thing is so much more complicated than catching the bad guy-is what makes a character believable and loveable to me.

Situations Corny Superhero find themselves in always have a very clear right or wrong decision, there’s no thought process needed, there’s no internal struggle. Real heroes are never their own bosses, they take orders from someone else, and orders are not always easy to follow.

I love characters like Batman, Wolverine, V for Vendetta, Ms. Tree, The Crow, and the Watchmen. They are twisted, have emotional baggage, and struggle with who they were and are. But in the end they choose to fight for good, even if that good is a less polished and pleasant version of their Corny Superhero peers. That struggle to fight their own inner villain makes them more of a hero in my eyes, but beyond that it makes them interesting because as a reader we can identify with that struggle.

My MC-Mia-is a former Marine. She is not perfect, she does not claim to have all the answers, she is effed up in the emotion department, she has PTS, and depression issues, but that’s how I like her. She tries to do the right thing and even though she maybe violent at times, she is a product of her environment. To clean up bad things you have to be a little bad yourself. To clean a big mess in your kitchen, you have to dirty a few dishrags. You must sacrifice for the greater good.

In the real world people hate heroes. I once seriously considered becoming a Police officer. I went on a ride-along with two officers for a whole twelve-hour shift downtown one Saturday night. What I realized was that people hate cops. One of the officers told me that people always love firemen, because they always help. But cops always get the short end of the stick in popularity department because I think people expect them to be some kind of Corny Superhero, who is faced with decisions that have obvious right and wrong answers. I know different-everything is gray-there are always two or more sides to every story, and very few people are entirely innocent.

Real people are heroes, Corny Superheroes are the stuff kids dream the world is made of. But we all have to wake up and smell the roaches one day.

That’s all I have to say about that.

P.S.- Oh yeah, I also love Forest Gump, he’s a hero too! LOL!


Jean Davis said…
My favorite superhero was Wolverine. I prefer them a little messed up and maybe good.. maybe a little not so good. Gray makes them much more realistic and easier to relate to.

Mia's just fine the way she is. :)
Stella Telleria said…
Thanks, Jean. Glad to hear Mia's won you over. Woo-who!!
Botanist said…
Hi Stella, the inimitable Jean Davis tagged me recently, and I'm passing the baton on to you (amongst others). Hope you don't mind.

Please see my blog for details at
Anonymous said…
Well said Stella corny superheros have boring bland and just bla personalities My fsavorite comic is The Crow. Just so much passion for the woman he loves, so much emotion, anger, hatred. james O' Barr put his soul out there to read, and just Wow! The Crow is a master piece

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