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How does a Character Become a Superhero?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2016
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Perhaps you dreamed that one day you would become a superhero. For many, it’s a common fantasy since the 1930s — having special gifts that make you an instant savior is a desirable thing. If you’re already a comic book or superhero fan, you know the path to become a superhero is a difficult one, and obviously too dangerous for the average person to attempt.

Some superheroes are simply born that way. They may be humans from another planet with the ability to defy earth’s gravity, like Superman. Though Superman looks human, he is actually from the destroyed planet Krypton. His father was able to send him to Earth before the planet imploded. Wonder Woman doesn’t come from another planet but is instead of a secret Amazonian type race that happens to have exceptional strength and power. She also has access to advanced technology like invisible flying jets, magic lassos, and bracelets that can block bullets.

Another way to become a superhero is to have genetic mutations present at birth as is the case with the X-men. Some of these genetic mutations have allowed government officials to rather nastily perform experiments on X-men. For example, Wolverine has a gene mutation, which allows him to heal almost immediately after being injured. Because of this ability, his skeleton was replaced with adamantium in a secret government lab.

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Other characters in the X-men tradition are also born with genetic mutations giving them innate ability to become a superhero. They may be able to pass through walls, have advanced psychic abilities, or have wings. It should be noted that not every X-men chooses to become a superhero; instead some become super villains, like Magneto, who can manipulate all metal with mind power.

If a character isn’t "lucky" enough to become a superhero through genetic accident, or migration from a planet, there’s a few options left. Some characters become a superhero through genetic mutation usually occurring in later life. For example, Spiderman is bitten by a genetically engineered spider that alters his own DNA structure. Other superheroes are bitten by strangely mutated animals, or are exposed to radiation or toxic chemicals.

Sometimes a character can become a superhero by dying and coming back to life. At other times, magic or the favor of the gods can bestow superhero powers. A character with a lot of money or superior scientific knowledge can also become a superhero, like Batman. Ability to buy lots of nifty gadgets, build a secret lair and study martial arts may take a considerable amount of money in this workaday world.

After a character does become a superhero, he or she will of course need a costume, often a secret identity, and a steady conviction to fight evil. Many superhero origin myths focus on how a terrible childhood inspires numerous superheroes. The superhero may also be viewed as the ultimate co-dependent. He or she, when in superhero identity cannot ignore a cry for help, even when this interferes with his/her own goals. Inability to ignore requests for help mark most superheroes.

A more selfish character who has special skills due to some genetic, toxic, radiation, immigration or animal accident is the supervillain. Unlike the superhero, the supervillain is almost always self-serving and certainly couldn’t be accused of co-dependency. He or she can easily say no and ignore requests for help, though the supervillain may occasionally offer assistance when it serves his/her interests.

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