Smith, Travis. “Superhero Ethics: 10 Comic Books Heroes; 10 Ways to Save the World; Which One Do We Need Most Now”? Templeton Press, 2018.
Conducting Our Lives
We might not realize it but superheroes play an important, if not major, part in our lives. Regardless of their silly costumes and their ethnicities and power, they are not just for kids. Travis Smith shows us that “they really are profound metaphors for different approaches to shaping one’s character and facing the challenges of life.”
In his “Superhero Ethics”, Smith takes ten top superheroes and pits them one against another, chapter by chapter. The hero who better shows how we ought to live moves on to the final round. By the end of the book, a single superhero emerges is named most exemplary for our times.
Below are the matches that we read about:
- How can we overcome our beastly nature and preserve our humanity? (The Hulk vs. Wolverine)
- How far can we rely on our willpower and imagination to improve the human condition? (Iron Man vs. Green Lantern)
- What limits must we observe when protecting our neighborhood from crime and corruption? (Batman vs. Spider-Man)
- Will the pursuit of an active life or a contemplative life bring us true fulfillment? (Captain America vs. Mr. Fantastic)
- Should we put our faith in proven tradition or in modern progress to achieve a harmonious society? (Thor vs. Superman)
We find ourselves on an intellectual adventure in which we have fun while we think. We see that costumed characters have a bigger purpose in our modern world than just entertainment. Smith shows that they can teach us plenty about right and wrong. We are reminded to look beyond the special powers and find the role model.
Smith has worked hard to put a superhero in a political context. Every superhero has such a context and governs the world in which the superhero finds himself. His world is the precedent of the real world.
Smith uses the super heroes as a jumping off point to discuss issues in our daily basis. He looks at ethics, mores, folkways, and right from wrong. It is here that we learn about ourselves and our friends when we talk about what makes a hero.
By exploring the ethics of the characters we learn a great deal. Superheroes speak to people in profound ways and there are not always appreciated. What a fun way to show our concern for popular and political culture in modern America.