witterprompts:

“Superheroes aren’t allowed in my house, especially after they’ve destroyed my living room. Go away.”

I assume the speaker is Tony Stark.

getclever:

getclever:

new story concept: have conspiracy theorists in superhero stories but less “bruce wayne is a cryptid to gotham” and more flat-earther style “you can totally see the wires that hoist superman up into the air and those are obviously actors and body doubles instead of cops and villains. the cops are using blanks. the entire government is in on it.”

also the x-men are a lie. mutants were just made up to create distrust in the corn industry. ironically, i trust corn. now i only eat corn. GMOs are the only things that will save us now.”

mentallydobious:

dottydayedream:

capregalia:

dottydayedream:

dottydayedream:

rainnecassidy:

actuallyalivingsaint:

petitstar:

aniseandspearmint:

janothar:

misscrazyfangirl321:

wakeupontheprongssideofthebed:

writing-prompt-s:

You’re a regular office worker born with the ability to “see” how dangerous a person is with a number scale of 1-10 above their heads. A toddler would be a 1, while a skilled soldier with a firearm may score a 7. Today, you notice the reserved new guy at the office measures a 10.

You decide it’s best to find out what you can about this person. Cautiously, you approach his desk. He’s a handsome man, tall, but with a disarming smile. How could such a friendly guy with such cute, dorky glasses be dangerous?

You extend your hand. “I noticed you’re new here. What’s your name?”

He shakes your hand warmly. His gaze is piercing, as if he’s looking right through you. “The name’s Clark,” he says. “So, how long have you worked for the Daily Planet?”

This one wins.

It’s been a few weeks, and one of Clark’s friends shows up.  She’s pretty and all, enough muscle that she must work out.  First thought would be that she should be maybe a 6.

Clark’s introducing her around.  “This is my good friend, Diana, she’s in from out of town.”

You blink, and take a step back in fear.  You’ve never seen an 11 before.

The day Bruce Wayne shows up for his long promised interview with Lois Lane, you can’t help it, the mug your holding drops from your fingers and sends a shock of hot coffee and ceramic shards across the floor.

Clark stops a few feet away and squints at you worriedly from behind those ridiculous glasses you’re 99% sure he doesn’t actually need, and asks tentatively, “Everything all right?”

You ignore him in favor of staring at the inky dark numerals hovering over the beaming fool gesticulating some fantastic yacht story for a gaggle of secretaries and minor columnists.

That’s it. Your gift has officially gone haywire. There is no other explanation. Because there is absolutely no way that Brucie Wayne is a 10.

At this point, you’ve seen it all. Miled manner reporters and billionaires at a 10 and a model-like woman at 11. You were really starting to doubt your power. The day you really stopped believeing in it was when Bruce Wayne came for another visit, and this time with a kid. The kid couldn’t be more than 10 years old, a bit on the short side.

He was an 8.

The day you started believing in it again was when you saw on tv the formation of something called the justice league.

There were those same numbers over superman, batman, wonder woman and robin. That’s when you put two and two together. You wonder how nobody at the daily planet noticed that Clarke was Superman with glasses. You wonder why you didn’t notice. You wonder why nobody put two and two together that Diana Prince and Wonder Woman looked exactly the same. You look in the mirror as the realization hit you and you see your own number change from a 3 to a 9.

IT GOT BETTER

Despite this, you go about your life. You don’t talk to Clark – Superman? – and kept out of his way. His girlfriend Lois Lane – she was a five when you first met, but now she’s a nine just like you – tries to get you to interview Bruce Wayne, but you refuse. You meet other people in Clark’s group of friends with high numbers. The daughter of the police commissioner from Gotham. The forensic scientist from Central City. More and more people to avoid and worry about.

Meanwhile, your paranoia gets to you. You start working out. Training in self defense. Studying the Justice League, trying to find its members. Finding out all their identities so you can be ready.

One day you wake up with a ten above your head.

That day you get a call. You recognize the area code. Gotham. Your heart is in your throat. You should throw the phone away, run. They’ve found you. You’re doomed. You might be a ten, but you can’t beat them all.

You pick up the phone anyways.

“Hello?”

“Hey, this is Clark Kent. I was wondering if we could talk.”

Your mouth goes dry. “About what?”

Clark’s voice goes quiet. “Well. About the Justice League.”

You stiffen in your seat. Your adrenaline kicks in, and your eyes dart around the room. You can hang up, pack, grab a plane ticket to wherever and disappear. Your passport hasn’t expired, and you’ve been talking to Perry White about a vacation anyways. You could say it’s a family emergency and never come back.

But they’d find you. You know they’d find you. They’re goddamned superheroes. They can carry buildings. They could probably manage finding you.

“Hello?” Clark’s voice returns, tinged with concern, and suddenly you stop. Calm down. They’re the good guys. At least they’re supposed to be.

“Yeah, sorry, just a little shocked you–”

“Caught up to you?” Clark asked. He laughed a little, but it wasn’t teasing. His voice had his regular ease, the same casual tone he would employ to talk about the weather in the break room. “Yeah. Lois noticed your odd behavior, actually. We didn’t realize it was linked to the League until you refused to interview Bruce, and then we knew something was up.”

“Speaking of Bruce Wayne, are you using his phone? Your area code is Gotham, not Metropolis.”

Clark laughed. “Damn. Lois wasn’t kidding when she said you were the best investigator working for the Daily Planet.”

“I just notice things is all.” You laughed nervously. You still can’t shake your general unease. This guy could kill you without any effort. You’re no match for him, or for any of his friends for that matter. Hell, Batman didn’t even have powers and he’d still fuck you up.

“Yeah, and that’s a skill we could use around here. Would you like to talk about joining? Bruce can send you a car, bring you here–”

“No,” you say, sharper than you intended. “Sorry. I’d rather meet in public, if that’s okay with you.”

“Of course. Lunch or coffee? It’s still early, but it’s a bit easier to cram all of us in a restaurant than a coffee shop.”

“Lunch, I guess. And no superhero stuff.”

Clark pauses, then sighs sadly. You’ve heard this sadness before in rare amounts. When bad things happened and fear and greed overtook people, he’d always frown and sigh, like someone watching their best friend self destruct, unable to help or save them. “You’re afraid of us. Aren’t you?” His voice is concerned and hushed.

A pang of guilt starts to replace the fear. “You can throw around buildings like a sack of potatoes, Clark. Your friend is powerful on an impossible level, Bruce’s kid is a fucking eight–”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Clark said, the sadness disappearing. “You have a number system for us?”

“Look, it’s a whole thing. I’ll talk about it over lunch.” You grab your laptop bag. “Where are we meeting?”

Clark said something to someone else. “Got any restaurant ideas? They want lunch.”

Bruce Wayne – you’ve heard enough interviews to recognize his voice – said, “Saffron’s pretty good.”

“Jesus,” someone else said. You’ve heard the voice, but you couldn’t place it. “I keep on forgetting you’re rich.”

“You don’t think it’s a little much, Bruce? The pay at Daily Planet is good but not that good,” said Clark.

“I’ll cover their tab.”

“Okay…” Clark returned to the call. “Saffron, in…thirty minutes? You’re downtown, right?”

“You can get a table to Saffron in thirty minutes?” said the strange voice. “Boy, am I glad I made friends with you guys.”

“Yeah, that works.” You’re a bit hesitant, but you swallow your nerves. At least for now. Your thoughts about threat levels made you forget that Clark is a decent guy. All you could do is hope that he thinks you’re decent, too. “See you then.”

“See you then. Be safe. Bye.” Clark hangs up, and you’re left in your room. The worry is starting to turn into something different. Excitement.

You shove the phone into your pocket, grab your keys, and head out the door. You’re so full of restless energy you walk the whole way there. Once you arrive, you catch your reflection in the mirror and notice that you’re starting to suit that ten above your head.

KEEP GOING!!!!!!!

The hostess takes you to a hidden corner of the restaurant. It’s mostly empty, as though it’s only just opened. Sitting at a long table, chatting politely, was the Justice League.

They aren’t wearing masks or uniforms, no bright colors and costumes. Clark Kent is in his usual office wear, Bruce Wayne is wearing a tailored suit, Diana Prince dons a nice blue dress, and Oliver Queen wears a nice button down. You don’t recognize two of them – a twenty something in jeans and a hoodie, a man in a green shirt, and a burly guy in a baggy t-shirt and old jeans who looks like he had just washed up from the sea. All of them, aside from Diana, are tens, of course.

Clark Kent stands, shakes your hand when you come in. “Glad to see you made it.” He introduces you to the others, and they all shake your hand quite happily and greet you like a friend. You learn that the guy in the hoodie is Barry Allen, the dude in green is Hal Jordan, and the beach dude is Arthur Curry. Waitresses, all ones, twos, and threes, come in with drinks, and one plops a mug of coffee in front of you, along with a small menu. Clark Kent gives you a knowing gaze.

Once the waitresses clear out, Bruce sits up straight. “Clark, would you rather I do the honors?” His silver watch glitters in the light from the windows.

“No, no, Bruce,” Clark says, setting down his glass of water. “I think it’s best if I ask them myself.”

Within a moment, you piece it together. “You want me to join the Justice League?”

Clark Kent cracks a smile. “How’d you guess?”

“You call me out of the blue, mention the Justice League, invite me to Bruce Wayne’s place, and then here, where you introduce me to a group of people who all look strikingly similar to the members of the Justice League.” You take a sip of coffee. “Subtlety is hardly your strong suit.”

Barry Allen laughed. “They got you there on that one.”

“Well, you’re right. At first Bruce wanted to handle the situation himself,” – you’d rather not think about what handle was a euphemism for – “but I insisted we do some more digging. We did, and what we found was…surprising. To say the least.”

You look at him oddly. You aren’t normal – no one else saw numbers floating above people’s heads – but you weren’t surprising. Your parents were the only ones who knew about your ability, and they’re long gone. You’ve got no checkered past, no odd history–

“You have powers.” Clark’s voice was clearly impressed.

“How did you find out about that?” The fear comes back, forming a knot in your stomach. “I’ve never told anyone else about it.”

“It’s not hard to notice,” Barry Allen says in between sips of soda. “Most of the information we got we got from Lois after she’s hung out with you.”

“I’ve never her told her anything about the numbers, though.”

Oliver Queen sits up, flashing you a confused look. “Numbers?”

Okay, something’s not right here. “The number I see over everyone’s heads,” you say, keeping your voice low. “It ties into how dangerous everyone is. Usually it’s just a one or two, maybe a three or four or five if they’ve got some kind of training or if they work out or whatever. Almost everyone at this table has a ten.”

“Almost?” Diana furrows her brow.

“You have an eleven,” you add.

Diana nods, smiling with a bit of pride and making an “I told you so” face to Bruce Wayne, who rolls his eyes. Oliver Queen clears his throat as Bruce and Hal pass him a couple bills.

“Ignore them,” Barry says, rolling his eyes at the three of them. “What you said was interesting – I might have to ask you a few questions on that later – but it wasn’t what I found. Remember the sensory and memory study you did when you were ten?”

You do remember it. Your parents were contacted by a scientist friend of theirs who needed kids to run a study on memory and stimuli. You remember it clearly. The large sterile room, the tests, the person conducting them, a handsome woman with a four above her head, the questions, the smell of latex gloves and fresh bleach. But you don’t remember the results. You were never told the results, other than that they were good, though with a test like that it was hard to say.

“Well, I found the tests. And they were superhuman.”

Oh shit this is the best one!

linddzz:

missrebeccabarnes:

ribbonsflyingoutthewindow:

iamnmbr3:

I love how in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve and Bucky are having their dramatic highway battle and the cars in the other lane just keep driving. Like, the regular people in the Marvel Cinematic Universe must be so jaded at this point. Like, “Ho hum. Another Monday. Aw dangit. Looks like they’re at it again. The five o’clock rush is gonna be hell.”

Various twitter accounts just like:

So-called superheroes making me late to work again. Are they gonna employ me when I get fired for their incompetence? 🖕

THINK I SAW CAP AMERICA ON HWY 95 BRIDGE 🇺🇸❤️

No one at work believes I was late because I missed my turn due to “enormous bird man.”
#cantmakethisshitup

Captain America vs SHIELD secret police have shootout on freeway in DC. What are they not telling us?

Dropped my snack in floorboard bc some metal arm dude flew off this car & into the gd road. Skittles everywhere.

Saw some guy get tossed into oncoming traffic and hit by a penske truck this afternoon. #gross #wasgettinglunch #nevermind 🤢

FUCKING SUPERHEROES BETTER HAVE SOME SUPER FUCKING INSURANCE. CAME OUT OF MEETING. MY CAR IS TOTALED. WTF?!?!

Saw Black Widow on bridge this afternoon. #daymade

Which Avenger has a metal arm? #newfave 💋

Think I saw Cap A out of costume & still fighting shit. Either that or some kids have taken LARPing too far.

Is there an Avengers with wings? Seriously. This is important.

Pray for those caught in #Hwy95 incident. Bus overturned. Potential Avengers situation. 🙏

Ridding the world of evil? What about the evil of making a girl late to her lunch date? Smh

Got bullet holes in my car today, but it also shielded black widow so like thank you ma’am. It’s been an honor.

Okay I already reblogged the original, but this ‘twitter’ post has me crying, so I have to reblog it too. Lmfao!

Which avenger has a metal arm? #new fave

*dead*

As a former resident of the NOVA/DC area I can honestly say that people driving around this super battle on I-95 was one of the most realistic things about that movie

How would Batman stories fit in a solarpunk universe? It would probably be hard to set it in a world where capitalism has been demolished and circuses fall out of style. They would probably fit best in the past. Wouldn’t be too hard since a lot of great stories are set in the past. Look at Stranger Things.

timeclonemike:

watsons-solarpunk:

thatpersonrightbehindyou:

watsons-solarpunk:

I don’t have a specific answer to this, but I do think it’s a good springboard for a conversation about a more fundamental question: what are the ethical consequences of the superhero narrative?

You could argue that superheroes are intrinsically problematic, because they presume as part of their premise that 

  1. there are categorically exceptional people 
  2. those people are entitled to supercede the standards of behavior expected by the community 
  3. the actions of exceptional individuals are a meaningful locus of change in society 
  4. beating people up is an effective way of bringing about that change

I think these assumptions are, in fact, real problems that exist in most existing superhero mythoses. (Mythai? mythees?) But, I think you could formulate something that looks a lot like superheroes but that doesn’t reinforce these narratives. For example, you could write a story based on premises that

  1. the natural variation in the qualities of individuals produces a subset of people who are exceptional, not as a distinct category of human, but as a function of the relative scarcity and real-world consequences of different talent sets
  2. the standards of behavior within a community are shaped by that community, and the superheroes are subject to those standards. But those standards call for people to help each other to the best of their ability, and someone whose abilities include superheroeyness would be called upon to leverage that talent set toward the community’s goals
  3. the actions of exceptional individuals can form vital parts of larger processes with many vital parts. Superheroey exceptional individuals might have the most interesting vital skills to write stories about, but the vital skills with more mundane presentations are still acknowledged and valued
  4. Sometimes you need to beat up people who stand in the way of change

(Aside: My story in Sunvault, “The Boston Hearth Project,” is very much a superhero origin story along these ideological lines.)

Now, that’s a lot to load into a story. And it isn’t the status quo, so you have to do more work to do that loading than letting the reader fill in the status quo blanks. But I don’t think it’s impossible.

The first thing I think you’d need to do is build original properties that are founded on this idea. Then, assuming these assumptions get a foothold and become market norms, I think most or all major properties could be re-imagined in ways that suit this kind of worldview.

Part of the reason I think Batman makes such a great Grimdark superhero is that he is, on some level, an exploration of when it is and isn’t okay to ignore the social standard of behavior, and some of the best comics writers in the past several decades have recognized that that’s a tension that deserves real and thoughtful exploration. 

I know the standard is “Different sides of Batman’s personality expressed in more or less healthy ways,” but my personal interpretation of Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery is “Different rationales for why it’s okay to ignore the law.” Batman himself is an argument for the law failing; Harvey Dent is a counter-argument to that, the Riddler is an argument that the most intelligent people are above the law, the Joker is an argument that everything is okay when done in the name of art (see popular comedian argument “Nothing’s off limits”), Penguin’s an argument that financial interest is a legitimate sole priority, etc. 

But from what I hear, outside the super-serious-business graphic novels and movies, Batman has a lot of strong social relationships, the question of whether he has a community and whether he acts in concert with that community’s values is complicated in more interesting ways than the Grimdark versions. But I haven’t been able to sink my teeth into comics enough to really get a feel of what’s happening outside the graphic novels, where especially in Batman the standard is “The darker and edgier, the more ART it is.”

I think that kind of an understanding of Batman could grow really well in a solarpunk environment, and a lot of depth could be drawn out of the tension of Batman’s tendency towards lonerness and self-isolation, where the conclusion isn’t a foregone “well of COURSE he has to be alone because BATMAN”

… Okay maybe I did have a specific answer about the Batman thing. But it’s like 4 a.m. and I’m not going to go rewrite the top of the response.

I’m super curious to hear what other people think about this, though!

I HAVE A SPECIFIC ANSWER ABOUT THE BATMAN THING!!!!!

How would Batman stories fit in a solarpunk universe? It would probably
be hard to set it in a world where capitalism has been demolished and
circuses fall out of style. They would probably fit best in the past.
Wouldn’t be too hard since a lot of great stories are set in the past.
Look at Stranger Things. 

First off, the circuses thing. I’m assuming that you mean circuses as in the traipsing-captive-animals-around kind, but others do exist and personally I think they’d thrive in a solarpunk world! Think Cirque du Soleil, acrobats and gymnasts and contortionists (and hey, probably magicians and assorted carnival-esque faire!) travelling from place to place, amazing audiences and showing their craft.

If anything, it’d be even more popular in solarpunk, as the capitalist barriers towards pursuing such a career path would be removed, and the idea of close communities tied not by blood or circumstance but common interest and shared ideals, showing and teaching their skills to as wide as possible an audience for the art of it, seems pretty dang solarpunk to me!

This is important because the Graysons are acrobats- namely, trapeze artists, but Dick is usually depicted as having picked up a number of tricks from the rest of his family in the circus, including at least some mixed martial arts, ground-based gymnastics, minor contortion, sleight of hand, and minimising damage while taking blows (essential to many kinds of choreography, as well as important in a capitalist nationalist world where you are a minority group with a stigmatised vocation and are eternally new in town). None of that changes (except the stark necessity of holding one’s own in a fight from a young age) in a solarpunk world, or indeed a circus that doesn’t keep performing large animals.

Capitalism in regards to the Batman himself is probably your larger stumbling block, but that largely depends on where and how you think Batman is, well, Batman. Many modern depictions, mostly since the silver age, have Batman appearing to rely on a great number of gadgets and gizmos that outsmart his foes due to being exclusive (and usually illegal) cutting-edge technology funded by his inherited (and meticulously managed by Lucius Fox) technological empire. Bat-vehicles, the high tech comms system, the Batcave’s multibillion dollar computers, all of this is now a staple of the Bat franchise, but it wasn’t originally that way.

In the comic book Golden Age, Batman started out as a rich guy playing detective because he didn’t have to work for a living, and thus could disappear for much of each day without anyone being suspicious. Nobody at Wayne Industries, or Enterprises or whatever it was back then, had any idea what their boss got up to when he was ‘out golfing’, and the Batcave was a home laboratory in his basement for analysis of evidence that the police couldn’t use (or for sensitive items that were likely to be ‘misplaced’ by a crooked cop or two if just handed over).

He went after cases that his friend, Commissioner Gordon, mentioned to his idle rich friend the police couldn’t solve, or that he expressed concern about over corruption. Sometimes Bruce would tag along to a crime scene and play detective, and nobody really stopped him as he was seen as a good man and a friend of the Commissioner. Batman had no aides or assistants, and did what the police could not by going where the police could not go.

Silver Age Batman and his sidekick Robin, the Boy Wonder, were meticulous in obeying the law and upholding themselves as prime role models for all of society. They went after criminals because they were sworn in as officers of the Gotham City Police Department, and operated as a specialised unit for costumed criminals such as the Riddler, the Penguin, Catwoman, and (once his image was scrubbed clean some by the Comics Code) the Joker, putting them into temporary incarceration pending trial. Also he fought aliens and alcohol and racists and I swear to god there was a comic about him fighting tooth decay at one point, though I haven’t come across it again.

Bronze Age Batman moved back to ‘real world consequences’, where Batman could no longer be the squeaky clean champion of justice because once more, lives were at stake and often lost. Pretty sure this is where Jason Todd died, somewhere in the Bronze Age, but that might have been on the edge of the next one. Always striving to be the best he could, gaining and maintaining the bonds with his allies both in other cities and his ever-growing horde of children so determined to fight crime that he had to train them to be stronger so they wouldn’t end up dead in a ditch somewhere from trying to fight the good fight on their own. Using the resources at his disposal to improve life for as many as possible.

Those are good Batmen, who could well be transplanted into Solarpunk settings or stories. If capitalism still exists in the world, Bruce Wayne inherited it and is trying to use it for its societal benefits while transitioning it to at least a softer form of capitalism, if not outright solarpunk. Some centralisation is good in the world, after all, but he’s a nice guy.

The Modern Age, sometimes also considered part of the Bronze Age, is where the ‘mentally ill’ rogues thing starts being explored as a main feature, and retroactively applied to the bat himself. Batman had never hidden to his audience that he was just a normal person who had the opportunities to do extraordinary things with his life, which is more heavily touched on in Justice League material as he’s the only ‘normal’ human among its usual main cast, but it was more here that it was explored what kind of person one would have to become, in a capitalistic society, to have it all and then dedicate your life to misery and pain for the betterment of others lots.

Saying that Modern Age Batman is a paranoid entitled rich white guy with a messiah complex wouldn’t really be out of the question, and comics as a whole have come to focus in the Modern Age on such a toxic concept of hypermasculinity and ultraviolence that traits which, in previous ages, painted Batman as a tragic or even problematic figure (inability to move past his parents deaths, emotional repression, defaulting to intimidation or violence to get results if negotiation initially fails) have become seen as ‘positive’ traits (he’s driven! he’s stoic! he’s badass! he’s not afraid to do what it takes!), which is not so much a fault of the character of Batman so much as of our society and its views on the places of hope and positivity.

Basically Batman would be a whole lot better and closer to his roots if he were in a solarpunk setting, and don’t take DC and Marvel’s current bent towards “WE MUST BE GRIMDARK AND ANGSTY! SHOCK! HORROR! YOUR FAVES ARE NAZIS” as writ of what the characters were originally created to represent. Superman was once an alien shocked at the primitive unfairness of capitalism, fighting for the lower classes against corporations and executives and preaching compassion for other living beings over patriotism and blind loyalty.

(also, consider: by daylight and popular opinion, bruce wayne is that nice guy who lives in the power plant up the river, a bit reclusive but happy to socialise on his own terms and has a close family in the others who help maintain the hydroelectric generators. his parents died when he was fairly young, and so he makes a natural first port of call for anyone who needs someone to talk to about stuff like that, and when an aspiring young acrobat is orphaned by what the circus community thinks was an inside job, he offers to take the boy under his wing for a while as someone who can relate. under the cover of darkness, or rather a black outfit and mask, he is the Batman: a local legend come to life, assisting those who cry for help and serving as a sinister figure to search out crime and corruption in places or situations that regular law enforcement, whatever form it takes, either cannot reach or is not equipped to cope with)

I love this

This is really good and I almost feel bad about adding my two cents to the issue, it’s that good.

The essential background idea of any superhero story, I think, is the disparity between what a society wants and what it actually gets. This is probably easiest to measure in terms of actual criminal acts, since most if not all classic superheroes started as crime fighters, either authorized by the law or working outside of it. It’s not the only metric; Superman was flying around giving people shit for doing bad things that weren’t, at the time, illegal. But he was answering cries for help and acting in ways that a lot of “ordinary” people would like to think they would act, had they the power to do so. I’ve actually seen a lot of stuff on Tumblr recently about how Superman is a guy in a violent world, with an enormous capacity to be violent, trying to be as nonviolent as he can; he serves more as an ideal to try to live up to than a bogeyman criminals trade stories about (like Batman) and the two examples in the posts I saw involved criminals with empty guns planning to bluff their way through a robbery and a genius home inventor who build a jet pack by himself. In both cases the disappointment was Real. But I’m getting off topic.

Most of the time, superheroes are depicted as reactive, while villains are proactive. The villain plots and schemes and does naughty things, and the heroes try to foil the plot and defeat the villain. The necessity for superheroes also seems to come about when either the villains are too strong, smart, or ruthless for conventional law enforcement… or alternatively, are built into the structure of society in the form of corruption or oppression. It follows that the crudest interpretation of a solarpunk superhero would be a hero that opposes the worst excesses of the present system. This kind of makes Captain Planet the Ur-Example (to use a TVTropes term) of a solarpunk hero, even though his focus was almost entirely from the environmental angle.

As for what any given solarpunk hero would actually fight, you can take your pick. Ecological damage, economic inequality, racial tensions, religious and social intolerance, the list goes on. How they fight what they fight, however… I think that has some potential in the genre to be treated differently than conventional superhero stories in that Solarpunk heroes are not simply a force of retribution against the worst excesses of the present system, but actively opposing the systems that produce those excesses. To put it another way, they are not simply an immune response that is triggered when there is Too Much Pollution or Too Much Oppression, simply a symptom of a larger problem (which is an interpretation of conventional superheroes I have seen a few times) but are actively fighting the disease.

How they do that can be just as varied as with conventional stories:

  • The Agitator: With a flashy costume and theatrics, the Agitator’s antics draw both good and bad attention to an issue, prompting more people to speak out and discuss an issue.
  • The Science Hero: With better technology than the industry standard, the Science Hero leads the way to a new future not simply through gadgets and gizmos, but through open source blueprints and diagrams released into the public domain.
  • The Internal Reformer: Somebody in a position of power whose moral compass cannot be bought, pulling strings behind the scenes to shift priorities and undermine those who are underhanded, beating the corporate shills and cronies on their own playing field.
  • The Competitor: Like the Green Hornet was a hero that adopted the persona and modus of a crime boss to go after other criminals, the Competitor presents the image of another underhanded power player willing to do anything to gain a monopoly, using the same dirty tricks to protect their “legitimate business interests”. Sort of a darker side to the Internal Reformer.
  • The Icon: Like the Agitator, the Icon operates on public opinion and serves as a focal point for non heroes, as well as for the villains. Rather than championing a specific cause or going after a specific nemesis, the Icon inspires in a more general sense.
  • The Spanner in the Works: Alternatively known as the Saboteur or Hacker, the Spanner in the Works reflects the disconnect between the knowledge needed to operate or make modern technology and the requirements for ownership of that technology. Understanding the systems that the privileged exploit allows a hero to disrupt those systems, subvert them covertly, or dramatically undermine trust and faith in The System by forcing a breakdown at a politically or socially important time.

The Agitator, Competitor, and Spanner in the Works are darker versions of the Icon, Internal Reformer, and Science Hero respectively, and might not be considered compatible with the genre conventions of solarpunk. However, I believe that they are realistic in the context of a society at some intermediate stage between present day industrial corporate capitalism and whatever alternative governing and economic structure comes later.

For more general inspiration, I would personally look towards the genre of Two Fisted Tales. Between the horrors of the World Wars and the economic inequality that came from the Robber Barons on the late 19th century and the Great Depression in the early 20th (to say something of rampant institutionalized racism and sexism and every phobia under the sun), the setting has a lot of bleakness and darkness to it. It also has the wonder of exploration, the thrill of adventure, and perhaps most important, it’s hinged on the premise that a few determined individuals can make a difference. (After all, if defeat was a foregone conclusion, nobody would bother to read the stories because they knew how it ended.) The idea that ordinary people with no special powers except for excessive amounts of grit / gumption / determination can overcome insurmountable odds is pivotal, I think, to any solarpunk hero story because it inspires the reader to keep fighting. Even if it looks like the social and racial tensions of the present day are the default state of humanity, or that it’s already too late to save the planet, or that the capitalist juggernaut really is Too Big To Fail, the fight’s not over until we say it’s over.

There’s also the attraction of seeing, for example, a corrupt corporate shill getting punched in the dick in mid laugh. Never underestimate the cathartic appeal of seeing somebody who stands for what you hate undergo testicular trauma.

How would Batman stories fit in a solarpunk universe? It would probably be hard to set it in a world where capitalism has been demolished and circuses fall out of style. They would probably fit best in the past. Wouldn’t be too hard since a lot of great stories are set in the past. Look at Stranger Things.

watsons-solarpunk:

I don’t have a specific answer to this, but I do think it’s a good springboard for a conversation about a more fundamental question: what are the ethical consequences of the superhero narrative?

You could argue that superheroes are intrinsically problematic, because they presume as part of their premise that 

  1. there are categorically exceptional people 
  2. those people are entitled to supercede the standards of behavior expected by the community 
  3. the actions of exceptional individuals are a meaningful locus of change in society 
  4. beating people up is an effective way of bringing about that change

I think these assumptions are, in fact, real problems that exist in most existing superhero mythoses. (Mythai? mythees?) But, I think you could formulate something that looks a lot like superheroes but that doesn’t reinforce these narratives. For example, you could write a story based on premises that

  1. the natural variation in the qualities of individuals produces a subset of people who are exceptional, not as a distinct category of human, but as a function of the relative scarcity and real-world consequences of different talent sets
  2. the standards of behavior within a community are shaped by that community, and the superheroes are subject to those standards. But those standards call for people to help each other to the best of their ability, and someone whose abilities include superheroeyness would be called upon to leverage that talent set toward the community’s goals
  3. the actions of exceptional individuals can form vital parts of larger processes with many vital parts. Superheroey exceptional individuals might have the most interesting vital skills to write stories about, but the vital skills with more mundane presentations are still acknowledged and valued
  4. Sometimes you need to beat up people who stand in the way of change

(Aside: My story in Sunvault, “The Boston Hearth Project,” is very much a superhero origin story along these ideological lines.)

Now, that’s a lot to load into a story. And it isn’t the status quo, so you have to do more work to do that loading than letting the reader fill in the status quo blanks. But I don’t think it’s impossible.

The first thing I think you’d need to do is build original properties that are founded on this idea. Then, assuming these assumptions get a foothold and become market norms, I think most or all major properties could be re-imagined in ways that suit this kind of worldview.

Part of the reason I think Batman makes such a great Grimdark superhero is that he is, on some level, an exploration of when it is and isn’t okay to ignore the social standard of behavior, and some of the best comics writers in the past several decades have recognized that that’s a tension that deserves real and thoughtful exploration. 

I know the standard is “Different sides of Batman’s personality expressed in more or less healthy ways,” but my personal interpretation of Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery is “Different rationales for why it’s okay to ignore the law.” Batman himself is an argument for the law failing; Harvey Dent is a counter-argument to that, the Riddler is an argument that the most intelligent people are above the law, the Joker is an argument that everything is okay when done in the name of art (see popular comedian argument “Nothing’s off limits”), Penguin’s an argument that financial interest is a legitimate sole priority, etc. 

But from what I hear, outside the super-serious-business graphic novels and movies, Batman has a lot of strong social relationships, the question of whether he has a community and whether he acts in concert with that community’s values is complicated in more interesting ways than the Grimdark versions. But I haven’t been able to sink my teeth into comics enough to really get a feel of what’s happening outside the graphic novels, where especially in Batman the standard is “The darker and edgier, the more ART it is.”

I think that kind of an understanding of Batman could grow really well in a solarpunk environment, and a lot of depth could be drawn out of the tension of Batman’s tendency towards lonerness and self-isolation, where the conclusion isn’t a foregone “well of COURSE he has to be alone because BATMAN”

… Okay maybe I did have a specific answer about the Batman thing. But it’s like 4 a.m. and I’m not going to go rewrite the top of the response.

I’m super curious to hear what other people think about this, though!

I’m glad to see this discussion, because I’ve always loved superhero stories but certain of the Marvel movies have made me realize how problematic the genre’s “might makes right” implications are.