Be Your Own Superhero

Be Your Own Superhero
We’re often told that sci-fi/fantasy is a bad thing as it encourages us to think we can simply wait around to be saved, rather than saving ourselves. I disagree. I think SFF can actually inspire us to do better in our own lives: just because we don’t have super speed like the Flash or wizardly powers like Gandalf doesn’t mean we don’t have our own unique talents and qualities.

This blog explores how we can identify and use those talents. Each post looks at a SFF film/TV show and picks out one way in which we can indeed be our own superhero.


Be Like Bruce Banner

Controlled punch

SPOILER STATUS: this blog post assumes that you are familiar with the character progress of Bruce Banner/The Hulk in the Avengers movie of 2012.

I will be the first to admit that I don’t have a huge knowledge of the comics behind the recent flurry of superhero movies and TV shows, so I must beg the pardon of anyone who feels I’m not accurately representing the characters.

However, as these shows and films are so popular, I still think there’s value in looking at what we can take from them to apply to our own lives.

This time I want to talk about the Hulk, or, as he is known in his non-green state, Dr Bruce Banner. In a nutshell, when Banner is overcome with rage, he transforms into the monstrous Hulk, and his rampages have on many occasions caused serious havoc for both friends and foes.

‘So how is this helpful?’ I hear you ask. ‘Surely you can’t be telling us to get angry and run riot?’

Well, no. But it’s interesting to look at Banner’s progress as a character through the movie. We initially see him hiding from the world, attempting to live a life of servitude and peace as a means of keeping his anger at bay, so that he does not inadvertently release wanton death and destruction.

However, he is recruited by Natasha Romanoff to come to the aid of the Avengers in their battle against evil aliens. And come to their aid he does. Whilst we see him struggle with his rage for a while, he is ultimately able to unleash the Hulk only when necessary: to use the big green guy’s power to help his friends and fight his enemies, rather than attack indiscriminately.

And his secret? The reason he’s able to do this?

‘I’m always angry.’

In other words, he no longer experiences random outbursts of repressed anger; he feels it permanently – and he is able to control and channel this emotion, an extremely powerful force, in a focused and targeted way to deal with the situation at hand.

This is absolutely something we can all take inspiration from. Whether you’re angry about Brexit (whichever way you voted), or the US presidential election (again, whichever way you voted), or any number of things that have happened this year (and boy, has it been a year for things happening), you too can use your rage to do real good.

Don’t suppress it: that’s a sure-fire route to having it explode when you least expect it. Feel it and use it as momentum to action: but make sure that action is positive.

Get specific. What are you most furious about? Pick one target for your rage and do one thing, however small, to combat it.

For example, if you’re angry about racial intolerance, you could:

  • reach out to neighbours from a different ethnic background to build bridges on a personal level;
  • join (or start!) an activist group for promoting multicultural integration in your area;
  • lobby parliament for changes to the law, to achieve equality and justice on a national level.

Bruce Banner’s secret is that he’s always angry, but there’s another secret too: that doing something about a situation makes you feel a lot better than not doing something.

Give that emotion somewhere to go.

Be like Bruce Banner: channel your anger into positive action.

Be Like Luke Cage

Helping hand

SPOILER ALERT: this blog post discusses episode 2 (season 1) of Luke Cage.
Do not read on if you wish to avoid spoilers about this episode!

We’ve just started watching the new Netflix series Luke Cage: the latest in the quartet of Marvel superheroes making their way to the small screen, following on the heels of Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Luke Cage has superpowers as a result of biological experimentation gone wrong; most notably, he is bulletproof: a gun can be fired even into his head and he will survive.

In episode 2 (season 1), a shoot-out takes place at the barber’s shop where Luke works. A flunkie of the main bad guy takes it upon himself (never a good idea) to open fire through the windows, which clearly doesn’t bode well for the people inside. This, however, is a situation for which Luke is ideally equipped. He takes advantage of his bullet-proofing to shield a young boy from the gunfire: the bullets merely bounce off him and the boy is unharmed.

That’s all very well for Luke Cage!‘ I hear you cry. ‘He has superpowers! I wouldn’t be able to protect someone in an assault like this!

You are quite right, and I am absolutely not suggesting you try!

However, you do have talents and qualities that are, if not unique to you, then at least not possessed by everyone.

  • Maybe you’re a whizz at baking cakes?
  • Maybe you’re an expert in web design?
  • Maybe you’ve got a knack for saying the right thing?

You don’t have to be bulletproof to help those in need; just think where you could apply your special gifts and go from there.

What about a homeless shelter?

  • The cake maker could bake goodies for the soup kitchen.
  • The web design guru could look after their web presence.
  • The diplomat could chat to people about their needs.

Any of the above activities would be a small but vital contribution to saving those less fortunate than ourselves. It’s not just bullets that are a threat to life, but cold, hunger and loneliness too. If you have the means to protect someone from any of those things, then it is absolutely within your power to do so.

Be like Luke Cage: protect the needy.