Stuff I didn’t know about superheroes before setting up a children’s entertainment business... part 1
A lot of people assume that I’ve always been a big fan of superheroes. It’s not the case. 18 months ago I didn’t know who Ironman or Captain America were let alone that Batman once shared a pizza with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (notice how I got the words in the correct order there... it’s been a steep learning curve). To be honest I probably could have gone my whole life in this ignorant bliss. But then we decided to expand our party repertoire from activities to include adventures and suddenly I was surrounded with small superheroes who not only expected me to know who they were but expected me to know everything about their superhero lives.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m still no expert. That’s why I employ a superhero geek (sorry Dan). But here’s some of the stuff I’ve learnt in a nice easy guide because I’m guessing there are parents out there lost in the superhero wilderness who don’t have the time (or inclination) to do in-depth research just so they can play at superheroes with their small children. If you’re hoping for a detailed and scholarly article this is not it, but there are lots of those available just google away.
There are two main families of superhero... DC and Marvel. It doesn’t really matter to us mere mortals but it might explain why it’s so hard to find superhero themed items with both Batman and Spiderman on together! If you’re looking it’s almost futile.
The most famous Marvel characters are Spiderman, Captain America, Ironman, Thor and the Hulk. They’re also known as the Avengers, (not to be confused with the TV program of the same name from the 1960s. These aren’t the only Marvel superheroes, there are hundreds; they’re not even the only Avengers (that’s a long story). But if your kid has a costume it will most likely be one of these or a DC character (we’ll get to those later).
Spiderman is definitely the most popular superhero amongst under 5s at the moment so he seems like a good place to start.
Spiderman’s alter ego is Peter Parker, a young photo journalist. Since he was bitten by a radio-active spider he has superpowers: He can climb walls. He has web shooters to, well, shoot webs; (he cannot, as I had believed growing up, shoot webs out of his actual arms ;) ) He’s also got Spidey sense, a sixth sense that allows him to detect danger. His dying uncle said “with great power comes great responsibility” it’s become a bit of a theme for him.
If you’re playing superheroes with your Spiderman obsessed child you may find you get cast as the Green Goblin his nemesis. Apparently Green Goblin drank some goblin serum (whatever that is) that has given him superhuman strength etc. he uses pumpkin bombs to attack people whilst he flies around on a special goblin glider (bit like a surf board without the water).
I might not have heard of him until 18 months ago but Captain America has been around since 1941! A weakling of a boy, Steve Rogers, was transformed into Captain America by a government scheme to create a super soldier. It was in the build up to the USA entering world war II. His greatest nemesis is Redskull, one of Hitler’s minions who also underwent the same ‘make me super’ process but was evil so it turned his head red... or something like that ;). Of course your average 5 year old doesn’t really care about all of this. What you really need to know is that he is almost sickening moral, super strong, agile and has everlasting stamina. His only weapon is a shield which he’s just as likely to use as a missile as protection.
Let’s get the shocker news out of the way. Neither Ironman or his suit are made from iron! The suit is primarily a gold titanium alloy and the man? He’s Tony Stark, CEO of Stark Enterprises which is a military weapons manufacturer, he’s also a bit of an arrogant, misogynistic slimeball if you ask me. Tony doesn’t have any special abilities. He does have a big glowing circle in his chest (magnetic field generator) to stop shrapnel from reaching his heart and killing him (it’s a long story).
The suit has jet boots which enable him to fly and ‘repulsors’ in the hands which shoot out a beam of energy. His biggest nemesis is the Mandarin. He wears 10 rings which all have different powers like shooting ice, fire and electricity.
He really is Thor, the original Norse god.
He’s been sent to Earth to learn humility... so far, it’s not really working out. He is super strong and powerful and a god. For some inexplicable reason he carries a hammer, (with a name; Mjolnir), which he throws and hits things with. The story goes, he’s the only one who can wield the hammer. That’s actually a bit of an exaggeration. Spoiler alert: http://screenrant.com/characters-who-have-lifted-thors-hammer he’s not the only one. His magic tool ;) also enables him to fly and control the weather. Loki is also super strong and immune to the usual human weaknesses of disease and injury. Loki is also good with magic.
Bruce Banner became The Hulk when he got caught in the blast of a gamma bomb. He’s basically got a type of multiple personality disorder where he switches without control to a big, green, super strong, impulsive monster. He fights with the other heroes as much as he has his own enemy. That’s not to say he doesn’t have his own nemesis’ but, well, I manage to get by without being to name them so you probably can too. If you’re curious http://comicartcommunity.com/2012/07/top-10-hulks-enemies might help. If you’re playing the role of the Hulk wave your fists around and shout “Hulk smash” and your nailing it!
Random fact: There is also a red hulk, a grey hulk (infact the original Hulk in the comic books was grey) and a she hulk (she’s the Hulk’s cousin who gained some of his powers when she had a blood transfusion from him).
Hawkeye is not so popular with the kids. Probably because he’s not played a big role in the movies yet. His real name is Clint Barton. He ran away and joined a circus when he was young and his parents died. (Incidentally all the heroes seem to lose their parents really early on, which is something you might want to bear in mind if you’ve got a child that wants to be a superhero). Hawkeye’s ‘superpower’ is that he’s the ‘world’s greatest marksman’, he also has various types of trick arrows, for example ones that explode on impact. Hawkeye’s nemesis is Trick shot. Who was also in the circus and is also an expert marksman. But, he doesn’t have the same stamina as Hawkeye and of course, he’s evil.
So, that’s the Avenger’s, next time we’ll look at some of the other Marvel characters… the X-men, Fantastic Four and Guardians of the Galaxy.
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