A world with superheroes might seem like a fantasy, but it is actually a bleak nightmare.
We’ve all at points wished superheroes were real. Whether it be through childhood whimsy or a casual thought while watching an Avengers movie, it’s graced our minds before: “Man, it’d be so dope if superheroes were real.” We picture the thought of walking around New York and seeing Spider-Man swinging around or possibly turning on the news to hear about the exploits of Wonder Woman. Granted, more often than not we have this imagination with a caveat of “and I also had super powers,” but occasionally we just want to live in a world where super people are possible. Where billionaires spend their money on saving the world, not just squeezing more and more money from it. Where the little guy can go on to do amazing things, like punching a world-shattering dictator in the groin. On the outside, it feels like a world of hope. A world of justice. A world of HEROES! *Cue Stan Lee cameo*
However, let’s take a step back. Superheroes don’t come as a solo deal. No sir, they’re a package, and just like how you can’t ever get a delicious left Twix without one of those horrid right Twix coming in tow, superheroes come with supervillains. The villains for these heroes bring with them various forms of mayhem and destruction. Rare is it when a hero follows up on tips and intel in order to bust up a villain’s warehouse before they ever get a chance to use their motorized killbots or acid-filled water guns or whatever sort of maniacal thing. As such, even if they are stopped by the heroes, the villains will pull in some numbers in the ol’ death and destruction count before they’re carted off to Escapees R’ Us. But hey, they get captured in the end, right? That’s what matters.
Hold on. What if they don’t?
The fact is you have to be prepared for the worst. Despite all the hope and justice the heroes bring, every encounter they have is still a FIGHT. There would be tracked footage of them getting their asses handed to them through buildings or periods where they “disappear” while they recover from injuries (or if you’re Spider-Man, just generally having an emotional period). People who choose to be prepared would spend their effort and, unfortunately, their anxiety on thinking about what happens the day the hero falls or, possibly worse, never shows up to begin with?
Now, maybe your world only has one or a few superheroes in it. In the case of heroes like Daredevil or Batman (normal Gotham Streets Batman, not Justice League Batman), the hero disappearing would mean whatever city they were located in would see a ramp up in crime. Honestly though, these issues are approachable through standard law-enforcement. It might take time, it make take tons of tax-payer dollars, but the city would right itself. We’ve seen it with gangs and organized crime in the past. While gang violence DOES still exist, police forces have specialized gang units and have operating procedures in place to combat these groups. It is entirely possible for the street-level, crime-focused villains to be managed by conventional means. Just because 50% of the surface area of your face is a purple cold sore, doesn’t mean your a special case if your main goal in life is robbing banks and museums.
But what if your only superhero was bigger than just street-level.
Let’s say you lived in a world where the only superhero was the Blue and Red Man of Iron/Carbon Alloy himself:
Clark Kent Superman.
Well, let’s first take a look at what villains that brings along:
- Mongul – A super strong, near unstoppable space-tyrant
- Zod – A super strong, near unstoppable space-tyrant
- Darkseid – A super strong, near unstoppable space-tyrant
Also in the mix we have hulking, Superman-level of strength behemoths like Parasite, Bizarro and oh yeah DOOMSDAY WHO ACTUALLY DID KILL SUPERMAN AT LEAST ONCE.
So here’s the hypothetical: Darkseid rolls up and is all “hey, earth meats. you peeps is all my slaves now.” and of course Superman is going to come help with that. ANY minute now, here comes Superman. Swooping in and punching this guy right in the Thanos. Any second now, just you wait. Alright, maybe his alarm didn’t go off. Here he comes…..
….unbeknownst to you, Superman died fighting some sort of, I don’t know, super strong, near unstoppable space tyrant or something on a distant planet and is most definitely NOT coming.
Boom. World over.
Living in a world with galactic-level, world shattering heroes means living in a galaxy surrounded by beings who could bring imminent doom to the planet with little but a smile and a wink. And for anyone who is a forward thinker, or the type to over prepare, or the poor, poor people (yours truly) who live with anxiety, this would be an absolute nightmare. At any given moment, you could just be enjoying your lunch and BLAM, a building comes crumbling down because Zod tossed Superman through it. Here I am, on the John and KAPOW, some galactic monstrosity as just flattened my neighborhood. Any of this could happen at any point in time, and worse still it could happen and NOBODY could stop it. Even if Superman shows up, what happens the day it’s just too much for him? If he loses, we lose, and that thought is present with EVERY. SINGLE. ENCOUNTER.
And we’re not talking “oh, one space tyrant a year, that’s fine.” It’s hard to get a solid timeline in comics. They come out once a month, but they often tell stories that happen over the course of days or weeks. Rough guess, you’d be looking at a world shattering monster coming a-knocking once every two to four weeks.
And okay, so maybe you live in a world with all the heroes. You live in the Marvel Universe, fine. If one hero falls, there are many more to pick up the slack. Okay cool.
Welcome world/city shattering crossover events every four months. Hope you survive the experience.