Are you here to save, defend, protect, or avenge the world?
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of the pre-Gatsby James Gatz, “So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would like to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.” It’s this concept—that a seventeen year old would create a larger-than-life figure to grow into—that is the basis for every superhero tale from Gilgamesh to Harry Potter.
With a non-stop barrage of brilliant superhero series and movies coming at us in the next year, it is prudent to look at the archetypes that make every metahuman, mutant, demigod, and Time Lord worth their weight in adamantium. You are probably living an origin story right now, and soon you’ll have more responsibility and power than you hoped for.
For starters: You’re probably living in the city, an ambiguous 20-something, and single.
You’re probably an orphan of some sort, and with a sad or mysterious story about being so. If you live in the country, you’ll soon be somehow called into the city to meet some great fate, whether it be a dragon (or dragon archetype) or some interstellar artificial intelligence/alien. Either way, no superhero stays in the country (or country of origin). Almost every fight ends up on Earth, in America, and usually in New York City. So just move to New York City.
You’re an introverted and somewhat—or totally—nerdy teen with a propensity for all things S.T.E.M.
Is there a girl (or boy) who you just can’t get? And are you a misfit or reject of some sort? Just wait – you’ll be bit, zapped, or injected with gamma-rays or something radioactive, or your mutant powers will grow as your puberty finishes. Just wait for an owl to deliver a letter from a balding man, or a long-lost father to invite you to the dark side.
You happen to be a Goddess, God, Demigod, Planetary Traveler, Alien, Other-worldly royalty, or Inter-dimensional Being.
Do you have a legacy to uphold here on terra firma, while also fighting for your throne back home? You might just be on your way to join a superhero team or save Earth from the demons or villains who also happen to be from your home world. Or you might be orphaned on Earth. Or you might just hide out here because we have all the good movie and fast food franchises. Any way you slice it, you’ll probably get the same billing as the normal human with the bow and arrow.
Can you run real damn fast? Like faster-than-a-jet-fast? Like faster-than-DSL-fast?
You’re in. For some reason, every superhero tale or team needs a speedster. Sure, the alien superheroes can probably fly or run quickly, but somehow you’re special because that’s all you do. That’s called focus. Now take our drink order – you can definitely beat the crowd to the bar.
Your silver spoon is showing: you’re a super-rich tycoon who also happens to invent technology that even N.A.S.A. hasn’t started dreaming up yet.
And you can build indestructible Magic and God-defying armored suits for everyone on the team. And if you have to, you’ll take down the team, you know, when they get taken over by sorcery or alien mind-control. You probably already know that you’re a superhero, and you didn’t need me to tell you that.
For some reason, in 2016, you’re an amazing archer.
You’re also amazingly adept with any weaponry where you can shoot a bird in the eye from seventeen miles away, and you can afford stealthy outfits and staying up most nights a week guarding the city you love.
Scientists apply: most scientists end up as villains in the superhero world, but you may just transform into something greater in the lab, or near Earth’s orbit.
If you think your doctorate and lab work doesn’t count for much in terms of brute athleticism, think again: you could easily become a beast, thing, stretchy man, or whatever a “hulk” of mammalian mass is, without all that reason and logic to hold you back. But you still have the IQ of history’s greatest thinkers. However, you’ll need extra time under the Bodhi tree to keep that anger in check.
Are you a gritty individual who has lost loved ones to violence and you must now wander the Earth avenging their deaths (with or without weaponry you once swore off)? Or are you also maybe a top-level double-agent working for international shadowy agencies?
There’s a special place for you in the superhero world, and chances are you will wear a lot of leather and wigs.
Job opening: former criminals, soldiers, and/or mercenaries who have seen the error of their ways and want to be magically or scientifically enhanced.
You might also be trying to save a loved one from a villain or government conspirators, or trying hard to make one last heist before you retire (when you realize you can use your talents for good). We take all kinds.
Finally, do you have any of the following: Magic or psychic powers, sovereignty over the elements, or invisibility? Were you once kidnapped by aliens or alien bounty hunters and given special weapons or abilities? Are you from the future? And do you have other powers yet addressed?
If so, you are at the beginning stages of what could be a solid series of adventures first on your own, then with a team or sidekick, then in parallel universes, then in obscurity, and eventually in many franchised books, television series, and films! You’re on your way, old sport.
See you at the movies or around the comic book store. Excelsior!
—Photo: JD Hancock/Flickr