Friday, August 04, 2006

Being a Superhero

*Spoiler alert*

I got a real kick out of the second episode of Stan Lee's Who Wants to be a Superhero?. After two episodes the format has become clear. Two potential heroes are eliminated each week. One in an informal setting and one in a formal setting, after dark on the roof with lighted platforms. For each elimination Stan names three heroes who are in trouble, gives them a chance to explain themselves, and makes his choice. There can be only one (Wait a minute - that was Highlander).

Each week one choice is based on informal behaviour and one based on an assigned task. What the heroes haven't really grasped is that the task is a test of character. The winner is not who completes it fastest. Rather, it is who shows heroic character traits in doing it.

The first task was for each hero to change into costume in secret and run to an archway. Several heroes ran as fast as they could and congratulated themselves on "completing the mission", not noticing that there was a lost and crying girl nearby. The ones who passed the test are the ones who stopped to help the girl.

The second task was to help a little old lady who had locked herself out. Each hero had to let her in by going around and entering the back door. Which was guarded by two vicious dogs. The heroes were given protective costumes. The object was to touch the door. They could call "uncle" at any time and give up.

Some of the guys made it through in impressive times. I think that only one of the women managed. They were at a real disadvantage since the dogs outweighed them. A couple of surprises - Iron Defender, the biggest, strongest guy, got pulled down just short of the door and surrendered. Monkey Girl who had failed the first challenge, refused to give up. After ten minutes of attack she wore the dogs down enough that she succeeded. This is someone you want fighting to save you. In contrast, Cell Phone Girl gave up after four seconds because she had a headache and was rightly ejected.

From the beginning Iron Defender was a strange hero. He looks like a comic book character - tall, huge muscles, shaved head, big gun - but he doesn't look or act like a hero. He's an obvious villain. I suspect that the producers figured this all along. He was finally eliminated but was immediately offered a position as Stan's newest super-villain, Dark Defender. This was a laugh-out-loud moment. After all, what's a hero without a villain to fight?

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