Is Luke Skywalker a Superhero?
AKA: Are Sci-Fi Heroes Superheroes?
I was originally going to call this “Is Neo a Superhero?” since I had just watched The Matrix, but decided to go with a bigger name. Technically all superhero movies, except for some of the ultra-realistic ones, can be lumped into the broad “sci-fi” category, since people with super powers or aliens with super powers who look like people are technically science fiction. But the narrower definition of science fiction implies that it takes place in the future, or at least in a distant galaxy with more advanced technology than us, and most superhero movies take place in the present, or in the near future. But in true sci-fi, like the Matrix or Star Wars, there’s often a single hero who has special abilities that set him apart from the rest of the population. Skywalker is strong with the Force, and Neo is the One. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone refer to Star Wars as a superhero movie.
One of the first downsides to being a superhero in a sci-fi movie is that there are often all sorts of different alien species who can be much stronger and have different abilities than humans. Often times, it’s even the alien who is the main hero of the sci-fi movie, like Riddick or Leeloo. There’s also the fact that there is so much advanced technology out there that practically anyone can use them to become a hero, just pick up a laser blaster or an exo suit or a lightsaber and you’re halfway there. And since it’s the future and the fashions are different from what they are now, there’s little need for a costume because practically everyone in the movie looks like they’re wearing a costume.
There’s also a question of who the villain is, and occasionally the villain is in question, like the later Matrix movies make the machines out to be a little bit less of a villain, and in Starship Troopers it turns out that it was the humans who made the first strike on the bug planet. But for every slightly ambiguous villain there are the outright obvious ones like the dark side of the Force, or the oily black evil one or whatever it was in the Fifth Element, it’s been a while since I’ve seen that one. Even the Borg/Klingons/Romulans/etc in whichever Star Trek movie, there’s often a sense of a much grander scale than just a single supervillain. Instead of just a single city or a handful of lives in the balance, the stakes for a sci-fi hero are often an entire planet, galaxy, or even the entire universe.
And on top of that, there are some sci-fi heroes who could easily fall into the category of superhero, though they are often regular people in the modern world who are taken out of their comfort zone into a foreign and alien territory where nothing is familiar to them, yet they somehow manage to become a hero in their own right, such as Flash Gordon, or to a lesser extent Super Mario Bros. What do you think? What are some of your favorite sci-fi heroes, and would you ever consider them a superhero? Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.