Robot 6

‘If I had superpowers, I wouldn’t wear a costume’

stan lee-couch“Superman was the start of the whole superhero thing. He had the superpowers and wore that costume with the bright colors and silly cape. It’s the costume that was different. Zorro didn’t have superpowers, Doc Savage didn’t have superpowers; they could just do things a little better than the rest of us. The Shadow could be a superhero because he could make himself unseen, and if he appeared in a comic book today, he might be a superhero, though he doesn’t really wear a costume. I’m not an expert on the Shadow, but I think he just had a dark business suit and a sort of raincoat and a slouch hat. Superman’s costume was different because of the bright colors, that silly cape, those red boots, his belt, and his chest symbol. I mean, it’s ridiculous, because you really don’t need a costume to fly or fight bad guys. If I had superpowers, I wouldn’t wear a costume. [...]

Although a costume isn’t required of superheroes, the fans love costumes. The characters are more popular if they wear costumes. (Don’t ask me why.) In the first issue of the Fantastic Four, I didn’t have them wear costumes. I received a ton of mail from fans saying that they loved the book, but they wouldn’t buy another issue unless we gave the characters costumes. I didn’t need a house to fall on me to realize that — for whatever reason — fans love costumed heroes.”

Stan Lee, from his essay for What is a Superhero?, from Oxford University Press

(For the story on Lee’s 1983 “centerfold” photo, visit Sean Howe’s Marvel: The Untold Story blog.)

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Comments

8 Comments

It’s not just superheroes, though. Technically, Santa doesn’t have a great reason to be wearing a red jumpsuit with the white fur lining all the time, but we wouldn’t want him any other way. (Hmm…. I just had a wicked idea to sketch a Steampunk Santa. Give me a second….)

Realistically, there’s little reason for a superhero to wear a costume, but why would you even need a reason in the first place? As the legion of cosplayers out there: wearing a costume is the funnest part.

I agree with Stan Lee. If I had superpowers, I wouldn’t wear a costume. In fact, I’d probably use my powers to help myself and my family and friends rather than strangers. In this day and age, we need to take advantage of every opportunity we have to support ourselves and get ahead. I wish there were a super-powered character in comics that actually reflected that point of view.

catsmeow = supervillain. You don’t need superpowers to act in this manner. There are many, many, self-serving, self-centered, devious b@stards out there willing to do anything and step on anyone to get what they want. They usually become politicians, go into management, or big business.

Personally I think the best thing you can do for family is to inspire them not to be self-centered, and show a love for others. It makes them better people. And happier. Trust me.

So by wanting to help his friends and family, the people he loves, he’s a super villain? What an idiotic position to take.

Supervillians classically only look out for themselves Bwad. Selfless people, like Police Officers, Ambulance Officers, Nurses, Firemen, Teachers, Counsellors, people in the Defense Forces, etc are people who care for their families but also everyone else. Complete strangers in fact. That is heroic behaviour.

Suddenly receiving super powers and only using them for yourself and family members is not heroic. Using them to make only your life, and only those you care about better, and to the detriment of others, is not heroic. It’s self-serving.

Feel free to disagree Bwad – it’s your right as an asshole to do so : )

@Poochy: After years of hanging out with comics fandom, it’s nice to see someone who gets the frigging point. :-)

@Brad Rapstars
What do you think with Great Power comes great responsibility actually means?

@catsmeow
Read any Spider-Man comic, like, ever. Even the Superior Spider-Man echoes the message by showing what happens when you go to far in the other direction.

Candidate for the next quote of the day:

“If I could be a vegetable, I’d be a carrot.”
–Franklin Sherman, a Rhodes scholar and former governor of New York, former head of a trucker’s union, former ambassador, former cabinet member, and former Secretary of Balloon Doggies.

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