THE SUPERHERO PARADOX

THE SUPERHERO PARADOX

The latest movies by the world’s leading comic book houses, DC and Marvel, have a very obvious similarity: the main characters of both universes are now at war with one another! The undisputed heart of both stories is the brawl between iconic superheroes, once the united leaders of the forces of “good” that fought “evil” together- but now, they are against each other. Who is “good” now and who “evil”?
But there still are yet other odd similarities.

1. The Characters Themselves.
DC’s Batman vs. Superman pits its titular characters against each other, while Captain America and Iron Man are the ones having a Civil War in Marvel’s latest flick. Superman and Captain America are surprisingly similar goody-goody characters, strong and righteous with a passion for wearing US flag colours- Steve Rogers literally being an all-American hero; Superman generally embodying the same values despite his interplanetary origins. Both are now in trouble with the government: Superman for apparently being an alien and for the damages he inflicts saving the world; the Captain because he won’t sign accords that give governments control of the Avengers.

Batman and Iron Man show the more cold, calculating side of superheroes: playboys with penchants for making fancy gadgets with their immense wealth. Batman builds a high-tech suit and fancy weapons arsenal he uses to punch Superman in the face, Iron Man builds a high-tech suit and fancy weapons arsenal used to punch Captain America in his face.

2.  The Villain and his Quasi-Villain.
In Batman vs. Superman, it’s Lex Luthor pitting both heroes against each other, pulling strings and waiting for them to destroy one another, getting his hands dirty by actually kidnapping Clark Kent’s mother and manipulating Bruce Wayne. As a backup plan/quasi-villain he has the monstrosity of Doomsday, a creature with DNA from  Superman’s home planet Krypton that has been bred and raised to kill his countryman.

With Captain America, there’s Col. Helmut Zemotaking a more behind-the-scenes, puppet master approach to placing the two avengers on their collision course. He doesn't directly get involved in any of their fights, just revealing details and adding timely obstacles that will surely lead to discord and, in the end, actual war-  for example the revelation that Zemo’s quasi-villain, Bucky Barnes- Steve Rogers’ childhood best friend-killed Iron Man’s parents while under Hydra’s influence.In Batman vs. Superman, it’s Lex Luthor pitting both heroes against each other, pulling strings and waiting for them to destroy one another, getting his hands dirty by actually kidnapping Clark Kent’s mother and manipulating Bruce Wayne.

3. Mom Problems
During the iconic fight during Batman vs. Superman, Bruce Wayne has Clark Kent in a tight place and, facing impending death, he manages to choke out, “Save Martha,” causing Batman to pause and ask him what he means. Lex Luthor, villain extraordinaire, has kidnapped Superman’s mom and is holding her hostage till one of the heroes is dead. Now, we’ve seen about two flashbacks of Batman’s parents dying but we once again we see Batman’s mother falling down, her necklace of pearls breaking apart, and we realise Bruce’s confusion is because- coincidence of all coincidences- his mom’s name is Martha too. This  causes a quick and oddly easy reunion between two people trying to kill each other three seconds ago, but they now fight the villain together.

During Captain America: Civil War’s climax, villain Zemo reveals that Steve Roger’s best friend, Bucky, killed Tony Stark’s parents- in his defence, he was under the influence of Hydra and their mind-bending abilities- but this is enough for Stark’s rage to grow murderous, and he moves to kill Bucky. Captain America heroically protects his friend but Iron Man is beyond caring about whether Bucky was in his right mind; Steve and Bucky defeat Tony and leave him lying in a broken Iron Man suit but a couple scenes later writing that Steve will always “be there” when Tony needs him.

Both used flashbacks to parents’, especially mothers’, deaths as essential plot points to move the plot forward- DC to reunite their estranged heroes, Marvel to create more issues between them. But the mom as an important (if barely-seen) part of a plot isn’t a new phenomenon- Guardians of the Galaxy has StarLord forever keeping the mixtape his dying mother made him; Spiderman and Superman have motherly/elderly figures they take care of while orphans like Batman and Iron Man are forever angrily searching for answers to their deaths.

-Devanshika Bajpai