Dad’s Impact on Future Superheroes, Part 1
Since today is a special day for fathers everywhere, I wanted to discuss a topic that is near and dear to the heart of every male interested in sci-fi or fantasy fandom-the importance of a father figure in a young hero or villain’s life. Every future main character has an origin, and often times the presence, or lack thereof, of a father/mentor makes all the difference in the path they take. Heroes thrive best when they have the support of a father.
Every hero needs guidance to reach their potential. Whether they receive this guidance from a father, another relative, or an unrelated mentor, the presence of a dad helps the young person develop their potential for good. Superman, A.K.A. Clark Kent or Kal-El, had not only his adopted father, Jonathan Kent, but also the recorded memories of his birth father Jor-El to influence his moral development. Without these important figures in his life, he may not have developed both the compassion, and the sense of responsibility, to take his place in the pantheon of superheroes.
Every young hero needs someone to rebel against, and be held accountable by. Peter Parker might never have decided to become a hero in the first place had he not seen his Uncle die, thanks to a criminal he chose not to catch. If his Uncle Ben had not taught him responsibility of power, and then reiterated his words in a ghostly dream, Spiderman might have turned in his costume before he made any kind of difference in the world. And if not for mentorship offered by the deceitful and manic Green Goblin (Spiderman, 2002), he would never have developed his passion for justice over personal gain.
Every young hero needs to see their mentor fall or fail, so they can learn to stand on their own. The hardest part about growing up, and not just for heroes, is learning to see our parents as human and fallible. There comes a time when we must accept that they are not perfect, and make mistakes, and that we have to hold on to our principles and duties despite these illusion-shattering revelations.
Luke Skywalker was mentored by Ben Kenobi, who had taught him that his father had been a Jedi Knight. Ben’s omission of Anakin’s fate could have been Luke’s turning point when he discovered the truth, but he had grown into a man with resolve, and ultimately not only stayed on the light side but led his father back as well. He had learned from examples both good and bad, and was ready to make his own choices.
These are only examples of what can happen to a potential hero who benefits from the mentorship of a father or father figure. However, the absence of a father can have just as big an impact of the development of character, and I’ll discuss this in Part 2 of this post, Dad’s Impact on Future Supervillains.
Thanks for reading,