Why Can’t We All Be Superheroes?


Abbie Ehrenberg, Sr. High Staff Writer

Recently, I read a book series about superheroes, people born with special powers who live among regular humans with no special abilities. One overarching conflict throughout the series was the creation of a substance that could take away superhero abilities, turning someone into a regular, super-powerless person. While reading I imagined how the series might end. Would they equalize the world? Take away everyone’s powers? Could they give powers to people who were born without? Books, shows, and movies like these always fascinate me because they provide an exaggerated comparison of inequality in our world. 

In one tv show, a villain attempts to “equalize” the world by removing the abilities of those with magical powers. He claims that the “non-magical” citizens have been oppressed, because they were born without powers, and therefore no one should have them. As a viewer, you’re tempted to side with those with the magical powers, as they are the protagonists, however, once you begin to think about the feelings of the supposed antagonists, it might be hard to pick a side. 

Looking at the real world, there are so many people born with advantages over others. Those born with disabilities may find life more difficult, thanks to something they had no control over. Additionally, those who are born biologically male, have a genetic advantage when it comes to strength, as opposed to those who are female. There are even social reasons why some people are born with advantages and disadvantages. In our society, being born with a certain skin color or ethnic background might give you an unfair advantage or disadvantage compared to others. While being born into a family with more money and privileges will also present more of an upper hand. 

So looking at these fictional worlds can make you think, how is it best to eliminate inequality? Should everyone be brought down to the same level? Up to the same level? Or is there a way to change the world so that those apparent advantages and disadvantages don’t exist? Because even though you might want to have the same superpowers as a tv show character, imagine living in their world, powerless, and knowing that they did nothing to receive their abilities while all you want is to have the same power. 

There are some ways that people have tried to give everyone the same opportunities, but they generally anger a portion of the population (those with more power). Things like affirmative action, which makes it so that those who are more likely to have had difficulties and trials in life (people who are part of minorities), can have a better chance of getting into colleges or joining the police force. Some requirements might be waived for them that might normally be necessary for those with more privileges. This has upset the privileged population, because even if someone is very qualified, someone else who is less qualified, but also part of a minority might be selected first. 

Even if we attempt to change the way that people think, and make it so that some social disadvantages, like race and gender, become an inequality of the past, it doesn’t erase the disadvantages that come with the historic systems of oppression. 

Affirmative action and other real world solutions for inequality are examples of changing society to level the playing field. But it is interesting to view how heroes either solve or ignore inequality in fictional worlds. 

Fantasy so often provides us with an outlet to view our problems in a simplified, exaggerated story.