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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Captain America, Superheroes and the rise of the Modern Supervillain

Fans of Marvel Comics know that Captain America: The First Avenger is due for release in a little over a week. That got me to thinking about the origin of Captain America in particular and super heroes in general.

A superhero is a fictional character that is usually dedicated to protecting the public. I always enjoyed superheroes as a kid. Outside of the comic books, this is the Captain America that I grew up with: Classic stuff.

What I didn’t know was that Captain America was an intentionally patriotic creation, he initially appeared in March 1941 an was often depicted fighting the Axis powers of World War II. From what I understand he was one of the most popular character during the wartime period. 

Captain America’s alter ego, Steve Rogers, was a sickly young man who was physically enhanced to the peak of human perfection by an experimental serum(steroids?, growth hormone?) in order to aid the U.S. war effort. In addition, Captain America is armed with an indestructible shield that can be thrown as a weapon.

Anyway, I started thinking, if we were to create a modern day superhero to save us from evil, what attributes would he/she possess? What weapons would they wield? Would they have a sidekick?  We don’t have Hitler, Mussolini or Hirohito to deal with but we do have more than enough evil doers to keep our modern day hero busy.

One of the most attractive things about superheroes is that they have no problem circumventing laws in order to kick some ass.  They have their limits of course, but they will get the job done. That’s what we love about them. Perhaps the role of  an unemployed newspaper reporter(or auto worker) can serve as our hero’s alter ego.  We’ll call him Hugh Jorgan.

Independent Wealth           
Many superheroes have great wealth(i.e. Tony Starks, Bruce Wayne) or an occupation that allows for minimal supervision (i.e. Clark Kent as a reporter).  Of course, being unemployed kind of covers this as well.  Since we’re in control here, part of this story will be that a distant relative died and left him half a billion dollars.

Special Powers and Abilities
Expert mixed martial artist and marksman
Master engineer and laboratory scientist
Superior intelligence (enhanced to the peak of human potential)
The Ability to redistribute wealth undetected. I think Madoff’s victims would sign off on this one.
Invisibility – So that he could travel undetected.  This would include the ability to avoid motion detectors.
The ability to neutralize the influence of lobbyists. I’m not sure how this would be accomplished but it needs to happen.

Arch enemies
Who needs the Red Skull, Lizard Man, or The Joker when you have the likes of Bernie Maddoff, Alan Greenspan, Larry Summers, Joseph Cossano, Angelo Mozilo, street gangs, Terrorist organizations(al-Qaeda,Taliban, etc.) and assorted Washington lobbyists to do battle with?

Weapons and equipment
Captain America has a shield,  Thor has his hammer, Batman has the Batmobile and other “bat tools”.  Our guy will have to have something comparable. How about a tricked out Prius? A super enabled iphone? James Bond type cufflinks? You know, the kind that can deflect bullets and/or secretly record a congressman accepting a bribe.

Moral Code
Practically all superheroes possess a strong moral code, including a willingness to risk their own safety in the service of a greater good without any expectation of a reward.  Boy, would that be a breath of fresh air.

Achilles Heel
He’ll have only two: Junk food and Reality TV.  One happy meal would render him useless for a prolonged period of time. One hour of the Kardashian’s would turn him into a babbling idiot.

If you could create a superhero for today what would yours look like? Who would their arch villains be? What special abilities and weaknesses would they have? What special weapons would they use in fighting crime and maintaining order?

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