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Sweatpants & Humor | The Overthinker on Superheroes

By Tony Moir

man superhero superman shirt

The funny thing about superheroes is that they mostly make no sense. There are several major reasons that they do not, including the fact that they limit themselves in incredibly nonsensical ways. They usually have origin stories that defy physics, chemistry, and history. They do not act like the people they must have been previous to their change. And they seem to mostly be able-bodied men who happen to be incredibly shredded physically. Or if they are women, many times they choose to wear incredibly revealing and impractical costumes. Of course, both of these things are because of the folks who wrote the original comic books, but if they were real, it would be very odd.

As an aside, look up William Moulton Marston, the guy who created Wonder Woman. Pay particular attention to how many times she and others are in bondage and about the spankings.  Hmmmmm.

That said, I devour superhero stories despite their alternative and illogical existence, because they make me irrationally happy and inspired. They feel like the way we should be, rather than the way we are. I wish that we were more like them, but it would then make no sense that they could defeat the comic supervillains, because we have a very difficult time defeating the people that act like supervillains in real life. Also, if there is one pole for those endowed with super powers, it does not necessarily stand to reason that the other pole should exist. There could just be one or the other. For example, there could be an entire Superman movie where he and Batgirl are making lasagna for the Justice League because it is a really slow crime day.

superheroes girl costume

Sure, they always create a Lex Luthor for Superman, and a Joker for Batman, but really that makes no sense. Usually, the bad guy is created through some horrific accident that made them turn immediately to a life of crime and realize that with their powers and horrible attitude they should probably wear some sort of awkward costume or garishly colored suit. Why should this be? Additionally, why should the accident have not killed them, and also, why is it not killing them in short order? As with the superheroes, it seems like the story should go like this: Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, and suddenly he gains some miraculous powers…which, unfortunately he only gets to enjoy for the amount of time that it takes for the hand on which he was bitten to begin to develop radiation poisoning and gangrene and spread incurably throughout his body. The end. Or, a small time criminal gets pushed into a vat of acid which bleaches his skin white and causes him to become The Joker, for the amount of time it takes him to realize he is blind and deaf, and he dies from his skin and mucous membranes and lung alveoli having been burnt and destroyed. The end.

Really, it is kind of silly. Where are the potential arch villains who have their life-changing accident or event, but then use that as a springboard to start an Acid Vat Survivors Advocacy Group that runs a 10k and charity golf tournament to benefit the victims of large open vats of acid that happen to have a rickety catwalk above them? The William B. Joker Foundation? Maybe they would even sponsor documentaries on vat safety on PBS, and promote legislation to mandate a lid on all giant vats of acid.

If we are willing to suspend our disbelief to the point that we can buy the thought of someone having been irradiated by gamma rays somehow being able to increase their body size and strength by exponential amounts out of nothing, while still wearing the normal sized pants (so we do not see their enormous green genitals waving about) because they got angry, and then somehow shed all of that bulk again after the problem is resolved, then we can proceed with the idea of superheroes. Although it is sort of like if you had a fun-size Halloween Milky Way bar in your house, and it got mad and became a chocolate sheet cake that was enraged and then it calmed down and was a tiny candy bar again.

Side note: Why would smaller candy be more fun? Isn’t the normal candy bar more fun? Shouldn’t the Halloween one be the “mildly disappointing size” bar, and those really little Hershey’s ones be the “really kind of a bummer size” bar?

Another thing that is problematic is the cities in which these heroes live. Like in Gotham City, how is there possibly any crime left? If you were a criminal, wouldn’t you just say to yourself, “Hmmm. Gotham City has that crazy bat guy who hangs me upside down off the building and screams about the Joker at me, and Syracuse has just a regular police force. Naaah, I think I will rob the First Bank of Gotham anyway. Maybe I’ll get lucky.” Or even worse, committing a crime in Metropolis. Seriously, if you know that you shot Superman and the bullets bounced off him and he can fly around and zap you with heat vision, what would possibly convince you that you could beat him? Ever? It would be like challenging God in Trivial Pursuit. Even if God got a wrong answer, it would change existence to make the answer true. Plus, if a god needed to roll a six to win, what do you think would come up on the dice? Probably a six, wouldn’t you think? It’s just a really bad idea to challenge someone when you are so hilariously outmatched. But we are supposed to believe that somehow random criminals are thinking that maybe just this once…

Also –  they have powers, but why are superheroes not lazy like the rest of us? One time, my wife and I were going to go out to dinner with some folks, but she wasn’t feeling well and was already in bed with a glass of wine and considering painting her nails, and she asked me to go without her because she didn’t feel up to going out and being social. I said, “What if you were Wonder Woman and there was some big disaster happening? What would you say when you got the message from the Justice League telling you where the public needed you to protect them?” She replied that she would send me over and have me make some excuse to Superman. I was somewhat horrified, because I totally would not pick Superman to tell. I would pick Hawkman or maybe Green Lantern. I think Hawkman would probably think, “Whatever, we don’t need her anyway,” and Green Lantern probably wouldn’t care at all because he only thinks about lofty things and JUSTICE. But I would never pick Superman or Batman to tell. Superman would probably x-ray vision the house and see the nail polish and wine fest going on, and Batman would suddenly appear behind me and whisper in a gravelly tone way too close to my ear that my excuse was bullcrap. I would possibly tell one of the Wonder Twins.

Side note: About nail polishing in general, though—I recently found out that nail polish (which is basically paint) is hideously expensive. What the hell? It seems like it would be better to buy a gallon of it at Home Depot and then you are set for life. I told my wife that and she looked at me with an expression that made it clear that she was suddenly wondering how I was able to put my underwear on the correct way in the morning without help. In case you were wondering, I am pretty good at it, generally, so there.

The other problem is that the superheroes would always be spending a bunch of time in court. Since they were the only witnesses to many of these crimes, they would have to testify to what happened. That is why leaving criminals hanging from a spider web bag with a note saying “Compliments of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” would not fly in our current legal system. They would not even be able to actually arrest them, and any competent defense lawyer would get the charges thrown out for lack of evidence. Plus, smashing through the high rise window from the outside to uncover a crime ring is basically warrantless search and seizure, so that takes care of most of Batman’s work. Even if you consider it a citizen’s arrest, he still would probably be the one charged, and the criminals would go free. And also, do you have to buy Batman insurance if you live in Gotham? Dude is always crashing into things or throwing criminals through windows. And who pays for all of the road repair from the superhero landings they all do?

But maybe I am overthinking this…

Tony Moir is a cyborg who holds world records in synchronized luge and panda steeplechase. Or maybe he isn’t. But he lives in San Francisco with his lovely wife and three outstanding sons.

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About Tony Moir (18 Articles)
Tony Moir may or may not be one of your favorite writers. It depends. It depends on many things, not the least important is your personal taste in writing. Although if you were to give him a list of requirements, it is possible he could change, or maybe not, I’m not sure. In any case, he is thinking about it.

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