The three types of superheroes

Alex Macris explains his critical theory of superheroes:

  1. Ordinary person accidentally becomes extraordinary through chance.
  2. Determined person becomes extraordinary through dedication and will.
  3. A person born with extraordinary gifts lives up to their birthright.

These are, respectively, proletariat, bourgeois, and aristocratic views of human achievement.

The proletariat sees success as a product of chance. “He got lucky.” “He won the lottery.” “He don’t deserve what he got.”

The bourgeois sees success as a product of hard work. “I earned what I’ve got.” “I tried harder.” “It’s a meritocracy.”

The aristocracy sees success as a product of nature. “Some people are born superior.” “Blood runs true.” “I was born to lead.” Examples of aristocratic heroes are Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Green Lantern.

Examples of bourgeois heroes are Batman, Green Arrow, Nightwing, Ozymandias, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow.

Examples of proletariat heroes are Spiderman, Incredible Hulk, and the Fantastic Four.

Marvel’s mutants are interesting. A mutant who sees his mutation as a mighty gift, like Magneto, is aristocratic but typically a villain. A mutant who sees his mutation is a random event tends to be portrayed as a proletarian hero. Most of the X-Men fall into this group.

Overall, Marvel’s heroes tend to be more proletarian, while DC’s heroes tend to be more aristocratic, with bourgeois heroes in both. Under progressive influence, these roles still apply. DC heroes act with noblesse oblige as aristocratic patrons of the oppressed. Meanwhile Marvel heroes tend to suffer from oppression themselves, as in much of the X-Men tales.

Bourgeois heroes tend to be least susceptible to progressive re-purposing as their bootstrap heroism is inherently a conservative message. Hence the progressive critique of Batman for being a successful businessman who uses his skills to beat up criminals, e.g. oppressed people. A progressive Superman can use his powers to defend illegal immigrants, but a progressive Batman is just George Soros.

This analysis helps explain why the Batman movies had conservative undertones, and the X-Men movies had liberal ones.

As it happens, Alt⭐️Hero superheroes will initially be a combination of aristocratic and proletarian due to the unique collective origin story. But there will be more conventional bourgeois heroes as well as time goes on. As with most of my novels and short stories, there is the story, the metastory that encompasses it, and the metasquared story that underlies the whole thing that is not immediately apparent to the reader.

For example, very, very few readers of the Arts of Dark and Light epic fantasy series are aware yet of the metasquared story aspect of the series, if indeed any of them are.