• Tehreem Nazish

Do we need more diverse superheroes?

Nazish talks about superheroes' history and how the ambiguous and demanding definition of diversity would spoil the current well-established culture of superheroes.


Characters of myth and fantasy, superheroes have a history. In both writings and early secular literature, protagonists who possess extraordinary strength, combat, and cunning are commonplace. The early 20th century comic strips became the ideal visual medium for the creation of these heroes, and Superman, the archetypal superhero, was introduced in June 1938 by Jerry Siegel and artist Joseph Shuster. Superheroes have made a lasting contribution to popular culture, expanding eventually into radio, video, TV, and computer sports.


Why are superheroes important?


First and foremost, superheroes have a strong support base with children because children want to associate with them and mimic the best features of their role models. This will allow them to improve their personalities, literally and metaphorically.


Superheroes foster good intentions, such as supporting friends, sticking up to bullies, and protecting others. Children will learn more about bravery, self-sacrifice, self-control, and readiness. Even if children are clearly not strong, they will feel mentally stronger from having superheroes as idols.


Also, the fact that anything is imaginable in the world of superheroes brings a lot of creativity and mental exercise to children.

What do we mean by "diverse?"


Do we mean different voices of authority? Different sexual orientation? Different nationalities?


There's really no reason to push an ambiguous definition of diversity onto the creators of superheroes. The most important point of concentration should be effective writing and production of a good character. Regardless of whether you have the ideal balance between races, gender, or other modes of diversity, the books, TV shows, and movies will still suck if the plot fails. That's not dependent on diversity.


Because of the power superheroes yield, as they symbolize role models, a well-crafted story will bring success regardless of the skin color, race, ethnicity, or gender of the superhero.

It is an extremely ambiguous query to request for more diverse superheroes, partly because diversity has an ambiguous definition! There are already many superheroes hailing from many continents, races, and cultures.


Representing an Asian culture: the difficulty of diversity

The genre will collapse in accordance to conventional Asian values: modesty, empathy for older people, and common peace.

It's hard to translate the Americanized conventions of superhero comics into an Asian setting, for example. The genre will collapse in accordance to conventional Asian values: modesty, empathy for older people, and common peace. How can a superhero from Asia lead the evil man down without having to restrain himself to Asian cultural values and norms? How can you simultaneously save the Earth while worrying about maintaining norms for the Asian audience watching?


American-created superheroes give us the impression that we can be strong and learn from the morals expressed in movies and comic books. It's better to keep it that way, for the sake of preserving the well-established comic book and superhero culture.


*Prompt taken from New York Times list of topics.