Tuesday, December 12, 2006

That Was The Weakness That Was

SUPERHEROES. Gotta love them. Guys and girls in tights, and in the case of some (Powergirl comes to mind), costumes designed to enhance some amazing asset. Okay. So they've got the power. They've got the charisma. They've got fame and fortune, and sometimes they have talented tailors. But what about weaknesses? Achilles had his tendon. Curly had an issue with lindburger cheese. Skipper had Gilligan.

As we face the middle of the week, let's pause and consider this a primer for supervillians. Below is a discussion of superheroes and their weaknesses.

SUPERMAN. Son of Krypton, an all around good guy. I recently interviewed Lex Luthor about him. "Guy's got a problem with remnants of his home planet," said the bald genius.

"How could..?"

Luthor stopped me with a wave of his hand. "Doesn't make sense. I know, but that's Supes for ya. And then, of course, he's quite vulnerable to magic."

DAREDEVIL, a red suited blind vigilante who doubling as a lawyer during the day. Now let's see, what possible weakness could that lithe individual have? I asked Bullseye, a crazed assassin with bad skin: "Sound. Can't see. He uses sound to navigate. Like a bat. Loud sound can screw him up. Got a match? No..okay..yeah. Thanks."

THOR: God of Thunder. Blonde, tall, broad-shouldered, great smile. His half-brother, Loki, who now works as a union organizer in Jersey called me: "The hammer, idiot. That's where he gets his power from. Get the hammer and he's helpless."

IRONMAN: Tony Stark built the armor originally to deal with a heart issue. Jack Bauer, former aid to the Secretary of Defense, told me recently: "Ironman? Easy. Kill the armor, kill the playboy billionaire alcoholic within. All you need is an electromagnetic pulse. Now that I've told you that, I've got to kill you. After I torture you."

TORCH: The ambassador from Latveria recently contacted us: "The Torch? You mean that impudent Johnny Storm? Weakness? Why bother? Make him read a book. Okay, okay, quit bothering me. Use some common sense. The Torch can be extinguished by cutting off his oxygen supply. Now go away."

SPIDERMAN: I couldn't find any apparent weakness, so I spoke to Peter Parker's Aunt May. Parker apparently is a close friend of Spiderman. "I don't know much about him. I worry too much about Peter and he worries about me. He worries and worries..sometimes I think he cares too much about people and it affects his judgement."


SQT said...

Funny post.

I guess the Supes are human after all.


ShadowFalcon said...

I've always had a problem with Superman - he's too good, drives me mad. Then again Batman is obviously insane...this is why I liked Nightwing

Thor is dreamy though, with or without the hammer

Ironman- human torch ...why bother

See I love Spidey, especially cos he's a manic depressive.

So how do you take out Mystique?

deslily said...

I heard Wolverine had trouble picking his teeth.. he kept cutting his lip in the process..

gosh if he isn't perfect no one is!

Marvin The Magnificent said...

Wolverine may have trouble picking his teeth, but at least he has the advantage in picking his nose!

Marvin The Magnificent

SQT said...

So how do you take out Mystique?

I'll never tell. ;)

You know, this thread is getting short shrift IMO.

I think the weaknesses of Supes is an interesting topic to explore.

I watched a special on Superman not too long ago and the issue of his lack of weaknesses was a problem for the writers. He was too powerful and they had to scale back on his prowess so they could come up with credible enemies. I mean, if the only thing that can take him out is kryptonite, there isn't much you can do to the guy if you don't have any on hand is there.

Dare Devil is very different though. He's powerful despite a very significant handicap. I don't think I could cross the street, much less fight crime if I were blind.

Stewart Sternberg said...

The reason that Marvel crashed onto the scene during the fifties and sixties was that they understood that the weakness made the hero. Overcoming weakness is something everyone can identify with.

Dr. Strange is an arrogant surgeon. He has a gift and throws it away on alcohol, eventually getting in a car accident which changes his life.

Peter Parker is a real kid, struggling with acne and bullies. Given the gift of super power, through inaction he sees himself responsible for the gift of his uncle.

Wolverine is a lonely man trying to come to terms with his history, which has enormous gaps. He is unable to find the intimacy he craves and struggles to temper his own outrage.

The Fantastic Four's Ben Grimm, a walking wall of orange rock, is the loneliest fella around. Afraid of losing his humanity, unable to fit in, he sometimes seeks comfort behind a wall of bitterness and indifference.

Yep..SQT...the problem with some of these superheros during a period of time wasn't that they were too strong, but that they didn't have enough weakness. Drama requires conflict. It requires that the reader be able to identify with the protagonist, and what better way to do that than by identifying with the weakness.