What is a Superhero?


Hello interweb, Nate here.  What is a superhero?  No, this is not a trick question.  A few weeks ago, someone asked me if Mario was a superhero.  At first, I was going to say no, but what does Mario do that’s different than Batman?  They both have villains (goombas, koopas, and Bowser for Mario and countless others for Batman), they both protect people, and neither of them have superpowers (if we’re excluding Mario’s power ups).


Define superhero

According to the Merriam-Webster free online dictionary:

a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers”

OK, that’s a fine definition.  But that would mean Batman, Green Arrow, Nightwing, Robin, Ironman, Black Widow, etc. that are usually called “superheroes” aren’t superheroes.  I coined the term pseudo-superheroes in my Batman Vs Ironman Character Compare, but that’s not even what there officially called and anyone who doesn’t read this blog has never heard of it.  So if Batman and the others aren’t superheroes, why do we label them as such?

I’m thinking that’s not the best definition for superheroes.  What does the word “superhero” mean?  Well “super“, according to Merriam-webster, means:

of high grade or quality

and “hero” means:

“a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities”

So by putting those two definitions together, we get:

“a high grade or quality person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities”

Does this definition work?  Well lets look at Batman and see if he fits this definition.  “High grade or quality”, well Batman is a master detective, he’s a master of martial arts, he has trained his body to peak human perfection (he has stated once that if he was any stronger, he’d be superhuman), and his IQ is off the charts.  That sounds like high quality to me, now has he done great or brave acts?  Well considering that he has gone toe to toe with two psychopathic clowns, and countless other psychotic sociopaths, I’d consider him a hero.  So Batman is a superhero!

Lets do one more example, how about Ironman?  First off, his he super?  He is very intelligent, and is smart enough to make a robotic suit.  Heck, he’s even created a new element.  Now is he a hero?  Well he has protected people from gods, as well as a few other threats.  So yes, he is a superhero.


Other superheroes

So is Mario a superhero?  Well, is he super?  Honestly, I can’t think of a high quality thing about him.  Now you could start pointing your finger at all the power ups that allows him to shoot fire balls, fly, and other ridiculous stuff.  But those power ups could be used by anyone, even toad.  What special abilities do Mario have special all to himself?

Is Mario a hero?  Yes, he has protected peach from Bowser many times.  So is Mario a superhero?  No, is he a hero?  Yes.  Feel free to disagree, but that’s my two cents on the matter.


End Thoughts/Announcements

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  1. Defining what makes a superhero is tricky. And that’s mainly because different people have different opinions on who is and isn’t a superhero.

    The rationale behind what makes a superhero probably contains hundreds of factors that would be difficult to put down on paper. But in the end, you just sort of know.

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