How to: Superheroes

Let’s face it: we are living in the era of the Hollywood superhero. By this, I mean comic-book characters have turned into mainstream Hollywood legends. During the past 15 years, the Marvel movie industry has made nearly four billion dollars, with DC Comics behind at around three billion. If you’re a normal human being, you absolutely love these movies. There is something inspiring about seeing an Average Joe, much like yourself, leap out of his boring life, throw himself into a dangerous world, then rise to pursue his destiny, normally by running along rooftops, fighting crime, flying, among other things. This type of story speaks to our desires of forgetting our mundane lives and becoming someone seemingly more important.

Maybe you have already come up with your own superhero identity, with your own alter-ego, set of powers, origin story, and fantasy that allows you to escape reality at any time you want. If you haven’t yet attempted this, I strongly suggest you do. I personally love entering my own false world as a slick vigilante, but the problem is that it’s not easy to create your own superhero.

The more you think about it, the more you realize the unbelievable genius of the writers who create such complex worlds and characters. The various superheroes existing today lead us to believe that all the good ideas are taken. And although creating your crime-fighting alter- ego is a challenging task, have no fear, The Talon is here.

All superheroes have some sort of rationale as to how they do what they do, whether it be flying, shooting webs, or anything else. When this rationale is clearly physically and biologically impossible, however, it hinders the audience’s willingness to believe in what they are seeing. For the sake of logic, we will not only be creating our own super alter-egos, but we will also satisfy science. Top that, Marvel.

Step 1: Come up with some sort of ability that allows your superhero to be extraordinary and help others in a unique way. We could cop-out and go with the usual, “Oh, my superhero can fly, shoot laser beams, and has super-strength!” Novice mistake. Hopefully you understand that that would be way too easy and not much fun. That’s why we will follow, or at least come close to following, science. Organisms of all kinds, such as insects, avians, and fish, have unique adaptations that allow them to defend themselves from predators, or become better predators themselves. These adaptations are unmistakably awesome. A bonus point is that these “powers” already exist in other organisms, so they are physically possible. I see no reason why a human couldn’t have these adaptations, do you?

Let’s pick out one (or more) of these fascinating animals’ abilities to give to our superhero. Dragon millipedes can shoot cyanide at their predators. Fleas can jump 200 times their body length in a single bounce. Lyrebirds can imitate any sound they hear including chainsaws and car alarms. Geckos have over 14,000 tiny hairs on their feet that allow them to climb on virtually any surface without leaving a residue. The platypus uses electrolocation to sense any and all notable electrical currents. It seems that superheroes exist after all, they just happen to be in the form of animals.

Step 2: Now that we have some options for anatomically plausible superpowers, we can pick and choose which ones we want to incorporate into our character. For the sake of the article, I’ll pick the electrolocation ability of the platypus, the climbing ability of the gecko, and the supernova-punch ability of the pistol shrimp. We’re already off to a great start.

Step 3: Put all the the abilities together and imagine your creation. My superhero can see electricity like Daredevil or Electro, climb walls like Spiderman, and throw red-hot supernova punches like…. well… a pistol shrimp. Basically, he is ready for combat. If you’re not envisioning a mysterious hero hanging on the side of a skyscraper, fists red-hot, scanning the city keenly with electrolocation, there’s clearly something wrong with you. It’s up to you to put together your own set of adaptations to create your own alter-identity. Good luck.

Step 4: Now that you’ve got your powers picked out, the hard part is over. Congratulations on coming this far. It’s time to envision your hero’s costume, origin story, and adventures. This isn’t easy and will require some serious imagination. Coming up with an origin story can be tough, but don’t exaggerate. I like to consider my heroes genetically mutated from birth even though being born with superpower-causing-mutations is unlikely.

Step 5: Grab a pen, find an illustrator, and start pumping out copies. You’re a comic-book writer now and the world is your oyster. You’ve got the million-dollar imagination. The best part of this all is that your science teachers will love you for not neglecting them.