Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Problem with Superheroes

Written by  Jim Nakoneshny

I’d make a lousy superhero. Not just for the obvious reasons, such as a lack of super-strength, lightning-fast reflexes or the willingness to run into burning buildings (not to mention the fact that spandex and I shouldn’t be even in the same room). No, my reasons are much more practical. I operate in the world of facilities management, and my first two thoughts when I see a superhero in a movie crash through a glass building facade to stop a bad guy are:

  1. Where are they going to find someone to fix that in the middle of the night?   and
  2. Is that going to be covered by insurance?

So as a potential superhero in a hypothetical street fight, I’d most likely be considering more practical alternatives to the option of throwing a car at an escaping villain to stop him, while in turn he’d almost certainly have gotten away. Somehow, I don’t think the world’s really ready for my secret identity as: “Is-This-Really-Necessary Man”

I still enjoy watching action-adventure shows but whenever I see Supergirl landing in Central Plaza sending chunks of sidewalk flying, or Ironman ricocheting off of office buildings as he fine-tunes his latest suit, I find myself thinking (and occasionally shouting at the TV) “Hey, someone’s going to have to fix that!”

In an article I once read exploring the potential cost of superhero conflicts the author analyses “The Dark Knight” movie as Batman pursues the Joker. First, he blows up some cars that happened to be in his way, then takes a shortcut through a shopping mall, totaling some $83,000 in damage. Just to be clear, at this point Batman isn’t fighting the Joker. That $83,000 is the cost of Batman riding his bike.

 

A good night’s work of crimefighting can generate a lot of collateral damage. Maybe there’s a reason that superheroes have secret identities, or are billionaires, or are billionaires with secret identities. Perhaps in the alternate universe in which superheroes are common they’ve developed a remedy for this – such as zero-deductible insurance with a “greater good” clause. Luckily, this isn’t a problem I’m likely to have to face in the real world.

Out of curiosity I looked up the definition of “hero characteristics” and found words such as Courage, Selflessness, Humility, Patience, Caring. Now, a few more people with some of those attributes we can all use.

And as for the superheroes, to borrow a phrase from Fiddler on the Roof: May the Lord bless and keep them... far away from us.

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