Saturday, April 06, 2013

What's your Superhero Origin Story?

Let’s get one thing straight. I hate the word Superhero, but I don’t hate superheroes. I think that’s because like many things, the overuse of hero has dis-empowered the word. A hero, in its original sense, meant more than mortal. A person worshipped, honoured and elevated above others. Some of them were demigods, others made it to godhood and had shrines raised to them which lasted beyond their deaths.

Superman is an alien raised by kindly adoptive parents, one of the last scions of a destroyed world. Batman is a man who is forged in tragedy, becoming a symbol which casts long shadows. Captains' America and Britain are elevated by science and magic respectively, to become symbolic as defenders of the world. The X-Men are mutants, set-apart by genetic quirk and the merciless pressure of evolutionary selection.

And all of them, all of them, have an origin story. They’re not just their powers - they’ve been shaped by their experience, those events which change them, make them different.

They do not stand in isolation - whether it be genetics, radiation, magic, or being child of a god, a hero is nothing without their origin. So, where does that leave us poor ordinary mortals who have our everyday lives? It’s highly unlikely we’re going to get nuked in a particle accelerator and come out with godlike powers. And yet, if you look, it is once again the apparently ordinary which they strive to protect.

Whether its the fireman, the paramedic, the doctor, the librarian, the alien ubermensch, the Dark Knight or the trench-coat wearing magus who chain-smokes his way through apocalypses, laughing all the while. Whether it’s the barbarian or the wizard, the soldier or the king, they all come from
somewhere. They don’t just pop into existence - they emerge somehow. Without the ordinary, they have no fuel, no way to claw their way into existence, to drive their stories.

So, let me ask you - where is it that
you come from? What’s made you who you are? Just think about it.

That hero was nothing without that
difference. Your neighbourhood, your childhood, your family, your beliefs, your food, your drink, your culture - all of these shaped you. You are one of billions on this planet; one of those staggering numbers which boggle the mind, force it to take shortcuts, to create categories like race, sex, gender, politics. All that to make sense of things.

Because gods forbid you look at yourself in the mirror and see the Mystery that you are. Gods forbid you conceive of the sheer wonder of life - not that it may have meaning, or otherwise - merely that it exists at all!

Look over your shoulder and imagine the countless choices that brought you here. Imagine the memories and nuances you have, which no-one else does.


Imagine all those things that made you what you were, and then look back at the screens and the newspapers and wonder - “Why the hell are they trying to get us to buy these things? Why the hell do they want me to conform to this body-image, dream this particular dream?”

You are the proverbial miracle, hiding in the common-place. The diamond in the rough - the commonest carbon compressed by a billion pounds of heat and pressure into a multifaceted gem. You may not have a nuclear explosion or genetic code that warps notions of humanity. You may not have billionaire status, or be a member of an alien aristocracy, but you have the fuel, the experience that you can arrange, the
difference that makes the difference.

And maybe, just maybe, it’s time to give up on the secret identity, claim your birthright and assume the mask of the hero.


Craig 'VI' Slee is a Consultant & Theorist dealing with Mythology, Folklore, Storytelling & Culture.

Currently, he serves as Writer and Content Developer for
FoolishPeople, an internationally acclaimed immersive theatre company who create ritual experiences, books and films. Their latest work is STRANGE FACTORIES, which will be released to worldwide distribution late 2013.

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

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