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Question... - Journal of Omnifarious

Jan. 25th, 2008

02:18 pm - Question...

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People have been recommending "Soon, I will be Invincible!" to me. And this has brought to mind an important question. Why is it that only comic book villains are interested in being invincible? Why don't heroes ever seem interested in that? I mean, if you're a hero it seems to me that it would just be generally all around good for everybody (not just your) to be invincible and not rely on the machinations of plot writers and such to make it sort of happen via the invisible hand of the narrative.

If you have an idea, please consider posting it as a reply before reading the comments. I'm sort of interested in as much variety as possible as well as sort of an informal poll. :-)

Current Mood: [mood icon] curious

Comments:

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From:aynjel
Date:January 25th, 2008 10:39 pm (UTC)
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I think, from the hero perspective, the genre dictates that either you are (as a result of whatever powers you've gained or been born with), or you accept your limitations and work within them. And even the invicible heroes have weaknesses (kryptonite, or whatever) that they have to work around.

It seems (and I haven't actually read a lot of superhero comics, so I could be talking out my ass) that the tropes of the genre dictate that villains strive for the impossible. They want world domination, they want to be emperor of the universe, they want to be invicinble, all for some sort of self-gratification. And this is what cues the heroes to come in and lay the smack down. It is, in a sense, what makes them the villains. I'm guessing that one doesn't become invicible by means that are actually useful to society. It's a very black-and-white, good-and-evil look at the world (and possibly one of the things I find less than fulfilling, as a reader). The shades of grey only really come into play when the heroes begin doing less-than-heroic things, or when they do heroic things in less-than-heroic fashion, at which point, the character either crosses the line into villain, or becomes an anti-hero.

Additionally, utterly invicible heroes would be dull as anything. You, as a reader, would know the outcome. The hero will win. Granted, that's generally the expectation anyway, but without the heroes being invicible, there is always a question of whether or not this time might be different. And I think that, when it comes down to it, heroes only have so much time to allot to endeavors so they can either spend it trying to do heroic things, or they can spend it doing research to try to be better at doing heroic things and the latter (as with making a movie about, say, hacking, that was actually true to the experience) is potentially really dull.
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From:hattifattener
Date:January 26th, 2008 05:09 am (UTC)
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That first para is pretty much what my reaction was. The hero is generally either nigh-invulnerable already, or his vincibility is narratively important. The hero's powers don't generally change over the course of time, either, unlike the villain-of-the-month who has to appear, do something, and be defeated.
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From:eonen
Date:January 25th, 2008 10:39 pm (UTC)
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It's probably one of those absolute-power-corrupts-absolutely things; make someone invincible and they're likely to USE that invincibility...if they don't find some way to use it, they'll make a way. It's like having a hammer and no nails: you just start searching for something to smash! ;)
So...I think even a hero needs to fear absolute power.

Anyway, I've often thought it would be entertaining to find someone who is invincible--that is to say, unkillable, undamagable--but who is physically weak as hell. Cuz then you just roll him up in a carpet, lock that carpet with a chain, lock it in a box, weld the box shut, cover it in concrete, and dump it in the ocean. Sure, after a few millenia, he might pound his way through all that, but in the meantime... :)
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From:klicrai
Date:January 26th, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)
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I think it's because Villains set out to do things that they know the community at large is going to object to. They know that people are going to want to stop them. They are, by definition, in an oppositional relationship with all of society and this mindset causes them to have the ability to overcome everything and everyone as a main objective.

Heroes, on the other hand, are only in opposition to the bad guys. They don't have the need to be better than everyone, just better than the villain.
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From:goldfish42
Date:January 26th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC)
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Well, in the book you mention, some of the heroes are invincible as well as some of the bad guys. They even make a joke out of it: there is a metahuman database that lists people's powers and origins and such, and the main character searches by the keyword "invincible" to see who all comes up.

And yes, you should read it. It was fun.
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From:phaedra_lari
Date:January 27th, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
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Excessive pride is seen as a dangerous and negative trait. Wanting to be invincible is lusting for power over others, and heros want justice rather than power. I think also the democratic ideals of our culture suggest that no one should possess absolute power over others, since that kind of power can make one corrupt.
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