I’ve been thinking a lot about the flow of Science Fiction. Over the last year, the genre has shifted several times from augmented humans to robots. Then we fought terrible plagues, which is pretty much happening in real life. Now the genre seems to have settled back into the beauty of outer space. We’re floating around in ships, colonizing planets and fighting aliens, just like the old days. Something occurred to me when I walked into the living-room and glanced at the TV. There stood Deadpool, squawking about his life and the X-Men in front of him. A question popped on the surface of my brain.
Are Superheroes Members of the Science Fiction Community?
We can make a pretty strong argument for Science Fiction. Humans fantasize about being something more, able to complete amazing feats, combat evil, and save the universe. I’d like to think most everyone wants to be the good-guy. Often the power of these better-than-us people comes from something in the realm of Science. A huge evolutionary discovery is made, technology advances to epic proportions, or the character is plain old other-worldly. Basically, the powers are not rooted in magic.
The X-Men and Other Mutants: Nature’s Hand-Picked Heroes
Mutations are caused by natural selection and outside influences on a body. There, I said it. Exposure to pollution or illness can force the body to react, producing some mechanism to fight a specific threat. If a mutation is advantageous to the survival of a creature, such as our thumbs or a polar bear’s white coat, it’s likely to be passed on to the offspring, and thus evolution continues. There, I said that, too.
Super heroes who’s powers are granted through mutation vary in a mind-boggling range. Everything from elemental-control to unassisted flight, super-speed to manipulation of the energy released after death. They all have something in common. Their power comes from their body’s attempt to survive. Whether they’re born with their mutations, develop them through extreme natural reactions and accidents, or gain them through experimentation, Mutant Super Heroes are Nature’s way of showing us what human’s could be. They continue to be attractive because what they manifest could really happen to anyone. Anyone at all.
Tony Stark: The Iron-Clad Genius
Smart, sexy, and just the right mix of reckless and loving, Tony Stark is by far a favorite in the eyes of superhero fans. His snarky remarks, wit, and quick thinking have propelled him through perilous wars with alien overlords, inter-dimensional beings, and gods. His technological genius has even allowed him advert imminent death with little more than scrap metal and a power source. Is Tony Stark a fantasy? Hells yes he is! But all of his powers, everything that makes him amazing, besides his brain, grows from the technology and science around him. No magic or fairy dust or prancing pony made him who he is. Ironman may be a rich playboy, but he’s a researcher first. Without a strong SF influence, there would be no Tony Stark as he is and thus no Ironman.
Superman: The Savior from the Stars
The start of it all, the Man of Steel. I’m a member of the Christopher Reeves Superman line of thinking. Old school but not too old. Yes, we could put in a whole commentary here about masculinity, cultural icons, treatment of the feminine person, religious manifestations… A whole deal of what’s and whatnots. But that’s not why we’re here. Superman is in this conversation because, on his very most basic level, he’s an alien. Yup, dropped right out of the sky to rescue humanity. In his world we were so weak, so frightened, that we were totally incapable of helping ourselves. An outsider had to step in and take over, removing the evil doers and saving the day. But he had to hide his true identity for fear of being removed from the community he loves so much, for fear of being alone… An outsider. Does this continue to draw parallels between modern American culture and the need for strong, fair, caring leadership? Yep. Do we still need to be saved? Probably, yeah we do. And that’s why Superman, even at his age, continues to possess a strong pull. He and others like him, those that step in from no where, from out there, and help with no thought of repayment, true generosity and self-sacrifice. If it really did happen, if aliens came to assist us, how would we treat them?
So much thought and so little time. To those that are wondering, my thesis is coming along just fine. Thanks for asking. The word count is only a partial excuse for my absence, though. Reviews and beta reading have filled much of my waking day.
Catch ya on the flip side!
Superman Image: screenrant.com/superman-new-52-comic-rebirth/, Ironman Image: http://www.comicbookrevolution.com/marvel-comics-june-2018-solicitations-analysis/, Spiderman Images: http://www.dualshockers.com/marvels-spider-man-ps4-comic-series-2019, X-men Image: nerdist.com/article/8-easy-steps-to-reboot-the-x-men-movie-franchise-the-right-way/