I see a lot of Superman insignias everywhere I go – from people’s bags to shirts to getting them painted on the rear windows of their cars. Why the obsession with Superman? He always seemed so boring to me. Born with amazing abilities that no one can touch. Ho-hum. I never found him terribly relatable. Only when I was obsessed with Smallville did I get invested in what Superman was up to (and I blame that on the allure of Tom Welling). But then I came across Bill’s Superman monologue in Kill Bill Vol. 2, and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and I started to get it.
People who like Superman are the same people who value natural talent and ability. Have they had to train to get to that point? Yeah. But training just adds on to their already natural ability. They’ve got the talent and have discovered what they naturally excel at doing.
So those are the Superman fans. The Batman fans are a different breed – they value technology and smarts above everything else. Weren’t born with natural talent? No problem. They’ll engineer a solution. They put all their stock in not what they already can do, but what they believe they can figure out. They’re crafty, because they’ve had to be. No one gave them anything they didn’t earn.
Both of these types I find can be applied (among other things) to sports. I’ve met both of these types over and over already in derby. The natural talents who, as soon as they make the league, shoot to the top. They don’t understand why other people think it’s hard, and it all just seems to fit. The Supermans. Fans especially love the Supermans – they’re so glossy and amazing and stand out from the pack so easily. It’s hard not to idolize them. Then there are those who immediately recognize that they aren’t the Supermans, but have the drive and ambition to get as far as fast as they can with their ingenuity. These Batmans are self aware and not plagued with doubt or uncertainty – they can sum up their pluses and minuses and figure out where to put them to their best use.
Where do I find myself in all of this? My own personal superhero role model? Well, the philosophy I’ve found fits best with my “style” in life is the House of HufflePuff in Harry Potter. Of course I always wanted and dreamed of being a Superman. But I’m not. And I’m too plagued with self-consciousness to be a Batman. I’m a HufflePuff – I work hard, I plug away, I slllooowwwwlllyyy and steadily improve. Supermans burn out, Batmans get bored. I keep going.
But I might need something a little more than just recognizing I’m a HufflePuff to keep me motivated and going in derby. Who’s the superhero who has overcome mediocrity and kept plugging away until they’ve succeeded and become amazing? That’s the one I can get behind. That’s the one who’s insignia I want on my car. Even though I work in comics, I’m sadly uneducated in the majority of current superheroes. Recommendations?