Friday, March 23, 2012

Davy Crockett, Uncle Sam, and Superman

Uncle Sam, Peter Cottontail, Santa Claus, Allan Quartermain, Davy Crockett, and Johnny Appleseed are a few names you might know, and if you live in the United States, they're names you'd better know. These are the names of our moral leaders, our gods, our mythology. Tales have been told of these men, real or not, for centuries. These are the characters held above the rest. Higher than Mickey Mouse, higher than Bugs Bunny, higher than Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Harry Potter, Eragon, Luke Skywalker or Jack Sparrow. These are the characters who history will chiseled in the walls of remembrance alongside the elevated fathers of the US. And today I propose we add to their ranks two very familiar men, and the people who are close to them. Today we shall admit into the ranks of folklore Superman and Batman.

Lois can come too.
I'm not suggesting something crazy like modern superheroes being interpreted as the gods our culture by good-natured but naive future historians. I'm not suggesting that at all. As fun as that concept is to think about, it's not really likely to happen. However, Superman, Batman, and their rogues gallery kind of stand on a different plane than those other heroes. Sure, they're owned by DC, but that's not the association the brain makes when they think of Superman. The brain thinks of flowing red cap, bright blue tights, that one funny curl, and his blazing insignia soaring through the sky. Spider-Man, Captain America, Hulk you think of Marvel. Flash, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow are DC (notice how I left out some heroes.)

What Superman and Batman have that those four don't, though, is the fact that everybody knows about them. And I don't just mean their names. Who doesn't know Wonder Woman or Aquaman? What I mean is everybody knows about them. Everybody knows Superman is from Krypton. Everybody knows Batman battles the Joker. Everybody knows Superman rescues Lois Lane. Everybody knows Batman is buddies with Robin. That's the other thing. I want all you casual readers out there to name just one villain to swap blows with Captain Marvel who isn't Black Adam. Go ahead, take your time. You can't do it, can you? You probably don't even know who the hell Black Adam is.

Don't worry, he's one of them White Egyptians.
Now name someone that Batman fights.

Oh? What's that? Joker, Riddler, Penguin, Two-Face, Catwoman?

How about Superman?

Luthor, Bizarro, Doomsday, and Darkseid?

Well how about their friends? Do Batman and Superman have any friends?

Robin, Other Robin, Other Robin, Other Robin, Girl Robin, Batgirl, Batwoman, Alfred, Supergirl, Superboy, Superdog, Lois Lane.

Holy moly, Batman! Looks like everybody knows who you fight against and who you fight them with! I'm betting a good portion of you also know at least one of the Robin's real names (hint: It's probably Dick) and that you ALL know who Batman and Superman are when they aren't wearing capes.

If you guessed Bruce Wayne and Klark Kent, you're right! I'll bet you feel like a real nerd right about now, don't you?

Oh wait, no you don't. Because freaking everybody knows who these two people are. They have been buzzing around for nearly a century liberating people from the forces of evil and upholding liberty, justice, and every possible moral code of conduct you could ever discover that doesn't involve seppuku. This is just what all the other folk heroes have been doing, some of them for not a terrible lot longer than the Man of Steel or the Dark Knight.

These caped crusaders are the heroes of peace and freedom and hope. These heroes are the champions of your father, of your grandfather, and even if you don't know it, they're your champions, too. These men are the legends of our people. 

DC, you might own the trademarks to Superman and Batman, but dammit, you've got nothing on their spirit.

No comments:

Post a Comment