There is a difference between heroes and superheroes. The hero is an ordinary person who is faced with a serious fact and acts to modify it. A hero is a person who, walking down the street, see[s] a car on fire and runs [to] help the person who is in the driver’s seat, attached to the seat belt to loosen it. [A] superhero is a person who, on the same scene, would fly to the car and try to turn it upside down and shake it using his super strength, until the driver is released.Steven Spielberg, at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
My personal feelings about Hollywood’s greatest momma’s boy aside, this assessment of superheroes is narrow-minded, hateful and just plain stupid. And lest we forget, back in 2015, Spielberg was certain the runaway popularity of superhero films was part of the cyclical nature of the industry. He said superheroes would go “the way of the Western” and enjoy a “finite time in popular culture.”
It’s 2021, Steve, would you like some wine with that crow?
But seriously, (kind of), it amazes me that accomplished individuals like Stevie, Martin Scorsese and even Tom Hanks can be so cruel and elitist when it comes to my chosen genre.
“News of the World might be the last adult movie about people saying interesting things that’s going to play on a big screen somewhere, because after this, in order to guarantee that people show up again, we’re going to have the Marvel Cinematic Universe and all sorts of franchises.”Tommy Hanks in 2020.
You might be wondering why I’m raging against the haters of superhero cinema, especially when none of them are going after my chosen genre of superhero fiction – with a ton of other genres thrown in for good measure – and you’d be justified in asking.
Oh wait, you probably want an answer, right?
The truth is, I take attacks against the heroes of my youth, and even my so-called adulthood, pretty personally, especially now that I’m building my own superhero universe. I constantly refer to the superheroes of Into The Dark as “unconventional”, but that doesn’t mean they don’t share the same capacity for doing good and standing against the forces of evil as the Alien, the Bat, and the Amazon Princess.
They just do it in a vastly different and distinct manner.
Nemesis: Our MC (main character for those of you who, like me, had no idea what those initials meant in this context), walks the walk. With a Green Hornet domino mask, a green leather jacket and a t-shirt with a red lightning bolt insignia, he’s put his own spin on superhero wear. And he’s determined to stamp out any and all evildoers in his path to The Dark at all costs – and that means he’ll cross lines most heroes won’t.
Fun Fact: I made the decision to have my heroes kill after I remembered a question my daughter asked me when she was a mere eleven years of age.
“Why does Batman keep capturing the Joker, so he can escape again and again and kill more people? Isn’t Batman as responsible as the Joker for all those deaths? Those people, including one of the Robins, would still be alive if Batman had just killed him the first time they fought, right?”
Yes, the kid was a genius even then. So not only does Nemesis have a unique power set (limited invulnerability, a sonic scream, the power to turn night into day, teleportation and telekinesis, and a few yet-to-be-revealed surprises) he’s willing to sacrifice his own soul to put his enemies down. His motivations are deeply-personal, but he started this journey simply to do the right thing for its own sake.
Knight Shield: He may not wear a costume, but this hero (who was named by my non-nerd bride) also has a unique power set. He’s discovered a million uses for his ability to generate energy shields around himself and others. KS is a little bit Damon Salvatore of The Vampire Diaries mixed with every cool uncle you ever had.
Worm Man: Yes, Worm Man. My daughter’s contribution to the Infinite Crossover Crisis universe, this happy-go-lucky wrangler of red wigglers is the hero the bad guys won’t see coming – until it’s too late…
Blue Atom: Dan Garret became a costumed hero in 1939, after his father was killed by a gangster’s bullet and he discovered he could accomplish more as a superhero rather than a NYPD cop. His original moniker, the Blue Beetle, is owned by DC Comics, as is the name “Dan Garrett”, so I’m utilizing the original Dan with one “t” and rebranding him as the Blue Atom and bringing him from his native time to a world he never made for the next two installments of the Infinite Crossover Crisis. And that’s how you make good use of the public domain, kids.
As for the the Blue Atom’s bag of tricks, he can… well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it? Buy Into The Grey and Into The Light and find out for yourselves, friends.
And the rest…
The remainder of the heroes you’ll meet in Into The Dark aren’t clad in costumes as such (though there are two earthbound angels who wear battle armor when things get hot and heavy), so they may not qualify for Spielberg’s hit list – but they each have their own powers and are more than ready to take on the bad guys.
Scorpio the master strategist, Taurus the vampire, Cancer the manipulator of time and bio-chemistry, and so many others, are ordinary people who happen to possess extraordinary abilities and who are acting to modify a serious fact. And by “serious fact”, I mean the corruption of the Balance, a set of natural laws put in place by God Herself to keep mankind’s capacity for good and evil in check.
My heroes are of the super variety in my mind, but they certainly don’t resort to the sort of collateral damage Stevie is convinced all superheroes wantonly indulge in.
My superheroes represent the best – and sometimes the worst -humanity is capable of.
My superheroes stand, not just in the place where they live, but anywhere the little guy is being oppressed – and they… will… not… move… until the day is won.
I hope we meet in person someday, Mr. Spielberg, so I can congratulate you on all your success – and hold you to task for your shortcomings.
See you in the lobby and the virtual bookstores, kids…