The Essence of a Superhero, and the Genuine Thing: “A Superhero’s Action: Unbounded” (My Definition of a Hero Explained)

A Superhero’s Action: Unbounded

My Definition of a Hero Explained

A superhero is a hero, I have said, but the two may be distinguished.  I defined a hero: The essence of a hero is to respond to some circumstance of dire need with a deed of godlike salvation.

Respond because no one can inspire oneself to do heroic deeds.  Circumstance because deeds must take place somewhere and sometime.  Deed because no one can be a hero passively.  Dire because the deed must be correspondingly arduous.  Need because no one can practice superfluous heroism.  Godlike because there is nothing above human beings except what is divine.  Salvation because a hero deed seems to arrive with his or her deed as if, at that time and in that place, salvation were to arrive to the whole cosmos.

Perhaps a person would take the view that a superhero is to be distinguished by the needs to which he or she responds, namely, direr or more sensational needs.  But even the classic supervillain’s plot to destroy the world or to enslave it may be opposed by another sort of hero, for example, a science fiction hero, a pulp hero, or a hero in the genre of fantasy.  To my eye, the distinction of a superhero comes into view not in needs, however dire, but in deeds of more godlike salvation.

Dr. Doom cackles about world domination (Source:


3 thoughts on “The Essence of a Superhero, and the Genuine Thing: “A Superhero’s Action: Unbounded” (My Definition of a Hero Explained)

  1. Rebecca Breaux says:

    Well said! I’m reading the book Being George Washington. a superhero, perhaps?

    • Edward says:

      Ha ha, thank you for leaving a thought! I just have to confess ignorance on any of the specifics of Washington’s life. My memory is that he was so loved by the American people as good man that he served multiple terms as president and was wanted as a king. A national hero, for sure, but I would rather not speak to whether he is a superhero.

    • Rebecca Breaux says:

      You could read it in a day or two…worth it, I think. Gave me a greater respect for our Constitution, and for the crazy odds the patriots were up against! Btw, As a British colonel in the French and Indian war, Washington emerged unhurt from one battle, although he had two horses shot out from under him, two bullet holes through his hat and two through his coat! Sounds like a scene from Hollywood! He rose to the call to lead through terrible conditions and with pitiful supplies. His honor and respect for others led his men to love and respect him, and they were loyal even when other generals and politicians plotted against Washington. He vehemently rejected the idea of being king, and served two terms as president. Let me know if you get a chance to read it.

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