Ever since I was a kid, super heroes have been a huge part of my life growing up. It all started when my father clumsily searched for old musty boxes in the attic full to the brim of—yep, you called it!—comic books. Titles like "Detective Comics" and "Amazing Fantasy" were on the covers, and they were always written by these strange writers named "Marvel" and "DC". I would stay up late reading by lantern light (in brightest day and blackest night right?) for hours on end. Comics... Comics that took the underdog and transformed them into someone that people depended on. People like dorky high high school photographers, or young kids who just lost his or her parents. The importance of having heroes in anyone's life is to give hope. A particular hope for doing what's right despite adversity. For me, the purpose for the supers is to create a relatable role model that encourages people to help society. The key point that I focused on when choosing my 5 favorite heroes is centered around the relatability of each super. I will be ranking them from least (5) to the most relatable (1).
# 5.) Iron Man
Iron Man's (Anthony "Tony" Stark's) origins focus on him using his own ingenuity to create a way to extend his life after receiving an almost fatal injury from the shrapnel of a land mine being lodged close to his heart. What's ironic ( IRON-IC? GET IT?) is that he received his injury while attending a military weapons demo that front-lined and displayed Stark's own creations.
*I am just going to assume the majority of the readers/audience that will be reading this article will already have a little back ground information/knowledge on these heroes, so I am not going to focus on so much WHO they are, but rather WHY I chose them.*
Now, I know what you may be thinking, how could I, a relatively poor college student/military soldier relate to a billionaire hero that has saved New York on more than one occasion? Well, sure I may not have the taste of the luxurious life like Stark, nor (I can assure you) do I own a relatively all powerful red and yellow power suit either. But what I can relate with, is Tony's overwhelming confidence. The military has been a big part of my life, so I've moved around my whole life, having to adapt to all sorts of new environments. Along with moving around a lot, I struggled with a heart condition when I was little, and then when I was a bit older I was diagnosed with Rickets Disease, which is a protein deficiency making me weaker than the already fragile kid I was. Like Stark, I struggled a lot with my heart, unsure of when the next time a seizure would hit me. Just because of my simple health restrictions I could already relate to Tony. After moving I would have to dawn an "Iron Suit" of sorts when being brave enough to stand up to new neighborhood bullies. But what I really admired/relate to most, again, is Stark's confidence. Sure I may have been brave in my childlike ways, but I had to be confident with all of the handicaps that were placed on my life (NO, I am NOT implying that my life was hard, BELIEVE ME, I know MANY who have it worse than I did). I HAD to show confidence in myself ( and in Stark's case, often over-confidence). I chose Iron Man, not because he's necessarily EXACTLY like me, but in many ways, in my own ways, I can relate to the confidence that comes from his physical handicaps, and manifests itself in an iron suit.
# 4.) Gambit
Once again I am not going to focus on the origins of the hero being discussed; however, I will briefly cover some of the necessities. Many heroes are often born into a fairly normal life, until something extraordinary happens and transforms them into a superhuman, or a creation that grants a regular person super natural abilities. However, in the case of Gambit, (and the rest of the X-Men) he really didn't choose the life he had, nor did some incident turn him into a hero. Instead, Gambit was born into his life of "super powered thievery," he was molded by the fact that he was different. After years of switching back and forth from the Warring Guilds (the Thieves Guild in particularly) the X-Man began to take notice of him, specifically, his potential. I chose Gambit because, despite being born into the relatively crappy life of a mutant (especially being known as "that kid with glowing eyes, yea! let's name him "the white devil!""), he later—after some years of thieving and mistakes—chose to be on the side of heroes. I can relate to this (like so many) because being human we obviously make mistakes, we begin to lose sight of our full potential because we adopt a mindset of being "too far gone," for Gambit, this simply wasn't the case. Despite his adversities he chose to live the life of heroes. Now sure, it is arguable that he can be considered an anti-hero, but that is beside the point that I am trying to make. Gambit recognized his potential and saw it manifest itself as a member of the X-Men. I believe the world could use more people that recognize their potential. I know I could use a little more of that.
# 3.) Firestorm
Once again, I certainly cannot relate to having the ability to literally manipulate matter by creating something out of virtually anything. I don't know about you, but I for one do not have that kind of power (maybe in the kitchen I do?). Firestorm has the classic origin of accidentally having toxic/nuclear waste spill over high school student Ronnie Raymond and Nobel Prize winning Physicist, Martin Stein. Now you think as simple as this origin story is, readers would get a relatively simple hero. However, for Firestorm that simply isn't the case. Everyone can relate to finding one's own since of identity. For most the "nuclear spill" finds itself in the form of puberty and the abundance of emotions that result from growing up. What creates the complexity of this hero is how he struggles to cope with the fact that the body (controlled by Ronnie) is also being shared (mentally) by Martin Stein. Often time the hero struggles with impulsive reactions toward catastrophic events (or villains). Ronnie usually acts on his impulse and runs in headlong; however, the wiser mind of Martin remind Ronnie that not every problem has a headlong solution. I chose this hero because I can relate to the fact that Firestorm struggles with his identity, at times it can be very impulsive, but after a simple reminder from Martin (basically the conscience) Ronnie is guided into a more strategic way of thinking. It is important to have that struggle between impulse and conscience reminders, that's what makes us human, and it important to learn how to cope with that fact, just as Firestorm does in his later appearances.
# 2.) Batman
I am beginning to see a pattern here with the billionaires, obviously I am no billionaire myself, but what I would like to focus on, is Batman's concentration on justice. Obviously, Batman is a fan favorite and rightfully so. Bruce Wayne had such a bright and happy future ahead of him, he had wealth, two parents who loved him, and a butler that practically raised him. However, one night, on a lovely evening at the theater, his parents were brutally murdered and ultimately taken from his life. Though inheriting billions of dollars, Bruce decided to exercise restraint therefore denying his youthful desires. Instead of spending away his money, he decided to face his fears and inevitably dedicate his life to justice. What I found most interesting was Bruce's ability to deny his desire for revenge (yes, he did have initial desires for revenge). However, instead he took out his anger and concentrated on training to make himself a formidable foe to the evil-doers of Gotham City. No, I am not a masked vigilante, nor do I prowl the streets fighting crime at night (as much fun as that would be...), I will say that Batman's ability and dedication to doing what's right and stopping those who support quite the opposite is a very admirable trait that many people have. Sure they aren't gliding about the city and beating criminals to a pulp, but people like Police (non-corrupted), or people who are simply trying to make a positive difference in their own way. I chose Batman because I can relate to having the desire to make myself the best that I can be so that I can one day make a positive difference for society too.
# 1.) Spider-man
Spider-man is my number one favorite super hero of all time. Stan Lee designed this teenage super hero to be more relatable than the almost godlike super heroes that came before (I am of course not saying that there is anything wrong with those super heroes). Spider-Man's origins are similar to the hero genre in the fact that it deals with the death and loss of a mentor/ father figure. Peter Parker was on a school field trip where he was bitten by a radioactive spider and later finds out that he can do anything that a spider can. What I appreciate most about the character is the fact that he is so young. The youth of the world especially need heroes to look up to, and in this case it doesn't always come in the form of an adult figure. Spider-Man represents more of a "common hero" he often is coined with the saying "It's your friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man!" associating himself with more of a local type of feeling, instead of coming from a distant planet or something of the like. I chose Spider-Man for multiple reasons, he of course was my role model as a kid growing up, I felt like I could become a hero and save people too, I chose him because he is often faced with villains who are WAY more powerful than him (often leading to Spider-Man getting beat up pretty badly) yet he still perseveres and triumphs despite innumerable odds, I chose Spider-Man because he deals with everyday problems, he struggles in classes (on occasion granted), he has high school relationships, he makes mistakes, he gets bullied, he represents an everyday teenager that is flung into a world of major ethical decision coupled with the responsibilities that his powers grant him. Not to mention that both Captain America AND Iron Man stop fighting in the Marvel story line "Civil War" to marvel at Spider-Man's AMAZING (GET IT!?!) powers of combat, and agility. He always had a quick sense of humor, yet has also been a victim of extreme loss. Sometimes he battles with over confidence, yet he often tries to keep his identity secret both protecting those who are most dear to him, and humbling himself at the same time. I am not arguing that he is the greatest super hero of all time for everyone, I am simply stating the reasons why, to me, Spider-Man is my favorite and most relatable hero. Everyone at one point or another struggles with the idea of the ethical dilemma "with great power comes great responsibility," I know I have, yet Spider-Man deals with it with perseverance, a light hearted and witty sense of humor, and an over all genuine sense of justice and what is right. All characteristics that I admire (including his intelligence) are characteristics that I believe are most relatable to my life as well as the lives of many others, allowing Spider-Man to take the top spot in my Top 5 favorite and most relatable super heroes.
Thanks for reading!