Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

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Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-06-26 06:08pm

So, I've been thinking about the possibilities for realistic superheroes- ie, how could a superhero setting emerge, and function, in the real world.

Interestingly (and slightly disturbingly), there is a "Real life superhero" movement:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real-life_superhero
A real-life superhero (RLSH) is a person who dresses up in a superhero costume or mask in order to perform community service such as neighborhood watch, or in some cases vigilantism.

Early examples of this type of behaviour are reported from the 1990s, e.g. with Mexico City's "Superbarrio", who in 1997 donned red tights and a red and yellow wrestler's mask in order to organize labour rallies, protest, and file petitions to prevent families from being evicted. A "real-life superhero community" in the sense of an online subculture began to develop in the mid-2000s.
In real life, of course, these people don't have powers, and are at best activists with a gimmick or glorified cosplayers, at worst small-time vigilante thugs with a gimmick, though its still an interesting subculture (I saw a documentary film on this phenomenon years ago when I was living in Toronto- I remember Stan Lee was interviewed in it, but I can't recall the title).

Of course, in the real world, a superhero would be greatly limited in what they could accomplish, due to the absence of powers and the presence of functional law enforcement and organized crime syndicates far more powerful than any one non-powered individual. If they were to act within the law, they would basically be limited to activism or charity work with a colorful gimmick or limited neighborhood watch work/citizens' arrests, as noted above.

But I wonder if a full-blown superhero setting could emerge in the real world. What it would take, and what it would look like.

As I see it, it would require three things:

1. A culture which glorified individualism and specifically vigilantism, and in which superheroes are highly popular/a culture that values showmanship. The modern US has all of that (indeed, I would argue that superhero comics and their off-shoots are probably among the most uniquely and truly American forms of culture, at least in their original origins).

2. A breakdown of effective law-enforcement, and of public trust in law enforcement. The modern US is creeping more and more toward this, unfortunately.

3. A country without a level of armed, organized crime, or law enforcement, that would be impossible for individuals or small private groups to successfully confront. The modern United States most certainly does not fit this criteria. Indeed, it would be very hard to have the second criteria (essentially a failed state) while also having the third criteria- failed states tend to feature larger, well-armed terrorist/militia forces and/or organized criminal groups.

I suppose you could have a large militia of guys in costumes with automatic weapons, but that wouldn't really be a superhero setting in the sense that its usually understood.

What you would need, in short, would be a fairly peaceful, probably fairly small country without effective central government and with a culture that places a premium on individualism and showmanship. Has such a thing ever existed in the real world?

Also, what sort of "realistic" powers might occur? Not things that are flat-out impossible (either including or not including the possibility of further radical advances in cybernetics or genetic engineering), but on the high-end of the bell curve of human ability, physically or mentally? What sort of skills or innate abilities would be most useful for a real-life superhero? Alternatively, for a non-powered hero, what sort of equipment and training would be within the range of someone with an average income, as opposed to a Bruce Wayne or a Tony Stark?
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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Majin Gojira » 2018-06-26 09:25pm

Well, first of all, you're going to need to drop Batman as an idea of a 'realistic' hero. Powers or no, he's one for the most unrealistic in what he can do. And that's okay.

Next, I'd try and determine how many/how common they are. Even 1% of the global population is going to produce a LOT of supers.

As to determining what powers there could be, it would be best to look at the animal kingdom. Greater strength, speed, and endurance are all top of the mark, but it wouldn't get much better than, say 5 to 6 times stronger, maybe twice as fast (faster may require altered leg shapes).

You could also have enhanced senses of all sorts (though that may change the shape of a human's head in response), and the ever classic "things animals can excrete" list -- poisons, mucus, webbing. Defensive sprays, adhesive grips, extra-sensory hairs (whiskers or otherwise), various kinds of armor (from leather skin to bone-plate armor to dermal denticles), claws, sharpened teeth...there's a lot to draw on.

And it's pretty monstrous.

And most of it couldn't' hold a candle to a single person with a semi-automatic weapon.

So there could be a Spider-Man with 5x human strength, double their flexibility, adhesive pads on his feet and hands that he can control the presence of, and sensory hairs that allow him to 'feel' movement around him (once he learns to differentiate movement from the wind) who has organic webbing in a new system in his arms/hands.

But that's about as heavy as it gets. The armored shell of a glyptodon being a few inches thick coupled with that strength that allows him to lift at most 8 times his normal body weight would make an impressive version of "The Thing", but he's only going to be lifting at most 2 tons (if he's extremely heavy from musculature, not counting the half a ton he'd need to lift constantly from his armor).

While the Spider-Man, who might be about 150 pounds, might be lifting 750lbs at most.

You could have some other animal-themed beings, people with electricity generating cells in their body who can maybe tazer with a touch.

But all of that means they'd be eating like horses to fuel all that power.

In the end, it wouldn't change too much in terms of law enforcement work. They might find themselves in violent professions (soldier, bodyguard, cop), or in sports organizations. The aforementioned Spider-Man would be terrifying to face in MMA's Featherweight division.

But it depends on how many there are. But with this low level of power, it's not going to change much.
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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-06-26 09:51pm

Majin Gojira wrote:
2018-06-26 09:25pm
Well, first of all, you're going to need to drop Batman as an idea of a 'realistic' hero. Powers or no, he's one for the most unrealistic in what he can do. And that's okay.
Well, nowhere did I actually say that Batman was realistic. While the basic premise of "rich guy in a costume beats up criminals" isn't too far out there, I'm well aware that the comics often wank him beyond anything remotely plausible.

Although come to think of it, in some ways a poor vigilante hero would be more plausible. The idea of someone as rich and famous as Bruce Wayne being able to sneak out every night without drawing attention seems a big stretch in and of itself.
Next, I'd try and determine how many/how common they are. Even 1% of the global population is going to produce a LOT of supers.
Well, there's two different scenarios here.

The first is just ordinary people dressing up in costumes to be activists or vigilantes or whatever. We have a bit of that in the real world. So my question is: what sort of society could produce such people on a larger scale, or even as the primary form of law enforcement/defense?

The second scenario, which seems to be what you're primarily addressing, is "What sort of abilities could you get if we see further advances in cybernetics or genetic engineering, within the boundaries of the laws of science as they are understood?"

Though I'm also interested in actual human traits/feats/abilities that are outside the norm, but documented to occur (note that some of these are consider more disabilities than advantages, or are one-off flukes):

Eidetic memory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eidetic_memory

Congenital insensitivity to pain: https://en.wikipedial.org/wiki/Congenit ... ty_to_pain (this one sucks to have because it can lead to people dying from injuries or disease they didn't know they had)

The Lazarus phenomenon: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317645.php

Hell, there's lots of things an ordinary person can learn to do that would have been considered supernatural to someone from another time or place. Ventriloquism? Making it sound like an inanimate object is speaking? Must be magic (or the power of a minor Batman villain: ). CPR? Necromancy! (And yes, I know CPR by itself rarely saves anyone). Computer hacking? Install a puppet government for a fraction of the cost of a military invasion! :D

But it all comes back to the question of exploring how superheroes, or a full superhero setting, could come to exist in the real world.
As to determining what powers there could be, it would be best to look at the animal kingdom. Greater strength, speed, and endurance are all top of the mark, but it wouldn't get much better than, say 5 to 6 times stronger, maybe twice as fast (faster may require altered leg shapes).

You could also have enhanced senses of all sorts (though that may change the shape of a human's head in response), and the ever classic "things animals can excrete" list -- poisons, mucus, webbing. Defensive sprays, adhesive grips, extra-sensory hairs (whiskers or otherwise), various kinds of armor (from leather skin to bone-plate armor to dermal denticles), claws, sharpened teeth...there's a lot to draw on.

And it's pretty monstrous.

And most of it couldn't' hold a candle to a single person with a semi-automatic weapon.
Yup. Honestly, you're better off just going with Kevlar and a gun of your own.
So there could be a Spider-Man with 5x human strength, double their flexibility, adhesive pads on his feet and hands that he can control the presence of, and sensory hairs that allow him to 'feel' movement around him (once he learns to differentiate movement from the wind) who has organic webbing in a new system in his arms/hands.

But that's about as heavy as it gets. The armored shell of a glyptodon being a few inches thick coupled with that strength that allows him to lift at most 8 times his normal body weight would make an impressive version of "The Thing", but he's only going to be lifting at most 2 tons (if he's extremely heavy from musculature, not counting the half a ton he'd need to lift constantly from his armor).

While the Spider-Man, who might be about 150 pounds, might be lifting 750lbs at most.

You could have some other animal-themed beings, people with electricity generating cells in their body who can maybe tazer with a touch.

But all of that means they'd be eating like horses to fuel all that power.
Ooh, I like Electric Eel Man (or Woman). :D
In the end, it wouldn't change too much in terms of law enforcement work. They might find themselves in violent professions (soldier, bodyguard, cop), or in sports organizations. The aforementioned Spider-Man would be terrifying to face in MMA's Featherweight division.
You know, I've often wondered why more superheroes don't go into sports or entertainment, rather than crime-fighting full-time.

I guess because its less heroic/makes for more boring stories. But practically-speaking.
But it depends on how many there are. But with this low level of power, it's not going to change much.
Yeah. The only way you could make it work as the main form of law enforcement/defense is if the setting had little effective government or organized crime (so probably a fairly small, peaceful country).
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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Majin Gojira » 2018-06-27 12:48am

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-06-26 09:51pm
Well, nowhere did I actually say that Batman was realistic. While the basic premise of "rich guy in a costume beats up criminals" isn't too far out there, I'm well aware that the comics often wank him beyond anything remotely plausible.
Fair, I just wanted to nip it in the bud just in case.
Although come to think of it, in some ways a poor vigilante hero would be more plausible. The idea of someone as rich and famous as Bruce Wayne being able to sneak out every night without drawing attention seems a big stretch in and of itself.
They'd also be, well, pretty crazy. Like Rorschach in Watchmen.
Well, there's two different scenarios here.

The first is just ordinary people dressing up in costumes to be activists or vigilantes or whatever. We have a bit of that in the real world. So my question is: what sort of society could produce such people on a larger scale, or even as the primary form of law enforcement/defense?
The have to be problems only the costumed vigilante can handle for one reason or another. A lot of Superhero lore draws from the Prohibition era and it's ripple effects of well-funded, well-organized criminal syndicates.

Fortunately, most actually intelligent people know how to bilk people of their money legally.

Wait...

Basically, for one or more reasons, local law enforcement can't handle the crimes occurring.
Ooh, I like Electric Eel Man (or Woman). :D
Thanks. And I just thought of another possibility: Poison Touch-types where the vector is tiny hairs/stinging cells they can control to inject people with god-knows-what.

Sure, you could go the spitting cobra rout, but Jellyfish are pretty nasty too, not to mention what plants can do.
You know, I've often wondered why more superheroes don't go into sports or entertainment, rather than crime-fighting full-time.

I guess because its less heroic/makes for more boring stories. But practically-speaking.
With the number of "Heroes forced to fight" stories out there, I'm honestly not so sure. Though I say this as someone who loves Marvel's "Unlimited Class Wrestling" as a concept, and who hates Avengers Arena with the burning passion of a thousand exploding suns.

On that note, I'd check out the webcomic Grrl Power. Its worldbuilding has some pretty big powers but has a pretty logical structure for them and the 'superteam'.
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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Raw Shark » 2018-06-27 01:31am

I'm pretty much my building's unofficial cop. I've 86'd more troublemakers than I can count. I don't have superpowers, just the willingness to get rough and withstand pain. That's about as realistic as it gets without special training, probably.

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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-06-27 12:56pm

I mean... in terms of the super-suit alone, and the amount of tech he uses... if you want a Batman-type super, they pretty much have to be either loaded, or quite willing to go completely broke. The cosplay types can do a lot with papercraft and foam and Spandex suits, but that wouldn't cut the mustard in an actual fight.

Take Watchmen again. The Batman type in there-- Dan Dreiberg-- he was independently wealthy thanks to patenting some clever inventions, IIRC. His precedessor as Night Owl basically put on a singlet and a domino mask and went out to beat up people the old-fashioned way. Which one is more likely?
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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Bedlam » 2018-06-27 01:31pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-06-27 12:56pm
Take Watchmen again. The Batman type in there-- Dan Dreiberg-- he was independently wealthy thanks to patenting some clever inventions, IIRC. His precedessor as Night Owl basically put on a singlet and a domino mask and went out to beat up people the old-fashioned way. Which one is more likely?
The first Night Owl was also, if I remember correctly, a cop. Which assuming the police are corrupt enough removes at least some of the problems with why doesn't the superhero get arrested. The wall of Blue may be happy to look the other way if one of their own is beating up criminals in a mask.

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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-06-27 02:59pm

Majin Gojira wrote:
2018-06-27 12:48am
Fair, I just wanted to nip it in the bud just in case.
Fair enough.
They'd also be, well, pretty crazy. Like Rorschach in Watchmen.
Likely. Real vigilantes don't tend to be nice people.
The have to be problems only the costumed vigilante can handle for one reason or another. A lot of Superhero lore draws from the Prohibition era and it's ripple effects of well-funded, well-organized criminal syndicates.

Fortunately, most actually intelligent people know how to bilk people of their money legally.
And organized crime has resources that one person without powers can't effectively challenge.
Wait...

Basically, for one or more reasons, local law enforcement can't handle the crimes occurring.
Yeah.
Thanks. And I just thought of another possibility: Poison Touch-types where the vector is tiny hairs/stinging cells they can control to inject people with god-knows-what.

Sure, you could go the spitting cobra rout, but Jellyfish are pretty nasty too, not to mention what plants can do.
Poison touch would suck to have. You'd basically be Rogue from X-Men, prohibited from having physical contact with other people.
With the number of "Heroes forced to fight" stories out there, I'm honestly not so sure. Though I say this as someone who loves Marvel's "Unlimited Class Wrestling" as a concept, and who hates Avengers Arena with the burning passion of a thousand exploding suns.
Yeah, superhero wrestling could be a lot of fun.
On that note, I'd check out the webcomic Grrl Power. Its worldbuilding has some pretty big powers but has a pretty logical structure for them and the 'superteam'.
Thanks for the recommendation.
Raw Shark wrote:
2018-06-27 01:31am
I'm pretty much my building's unofficial cop. I've 86'd more troublemakers than I can count. I don't have superpowers, just the willingness to get rough and withstand pain. That's about as realistic as it gets without special training, probably.
Pretty much, I guess.

I suppose without superpowers, a superhero is defined by attitude/style, more than ability.
Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-06-27 12:56pm
I mean... in terms of the super-suit alone, and the amount of tech he uses... if you want a Batman-type super, they pretty much have to be either loaded, or quite willing to go completely broke. The cosplay types can do a lot with papercraft and foam and Spandex suits, but that wouldn't cut the mustard in an actual fight.
Quite.

I'd love to do some press estimates on what sort of equipment and training a character could afford given different levels of income, though.

Say:

1. Poor college student. Maybe 20,000 a year, debts, only a few hundred in disposal income once you account for food, rent, utilities, etc.

2. Sort of middle-class guy, makes 40,000 a year, with a few thousand in disposable income.

3. Fairly well-off professional, makes 100,000 a year.

4. Millionaire. Say ten million a year.

5. Billionaire. Say a billion a year, with several billion in the bank.
Take Watchmen again. The Batman type in there-- Dan Dreiberg-- he was independently wealthy thanks to patenting some clever inventions, IIRC. His precedessor as Night Owl basically put on a singlet and a domino mask and went out to beat up people the old-fashioned way. Which one is more likely?
More likely to be feasible? Number II. More likely to be survivable? Not sure. 2. will have less resources, but 1. will draw more attention. More likely to make a large-scale impact? Definitely 1.
Bedlam wrote:
2018-06-27 01:31pm
Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-06-27 12:56pm
Take Watchmen again. The Batman type in there-- Dan Dreiberg-- he was independently wealthy thanks to patenting some clever inventions, IIRC. His precedessor as Night Owl basically put on a singlet and a domino mask and went out to beat up people the old-fashioned way. Which one is more likely?
The first Night Owl was also, if I remember correctly, a cop. Which assuming the police are corrupt enough removes at least some of the problems with why doesn't the superhero get arrested. The wall of Blue may be happy to look the other way if one of their own is beating up criminals in a mask.
Unfortunately, yes.

Of course, given the real-life issues with vigilantism, I'm of the view that superheroes only work in a setting where regular law enforcement is for some reason entirely ineffective anyway.
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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by K. A. Pital » 2018-06-27 03:57pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-06-26 06:08pm
So, I've been thinking about the possibilities for realistic superheroes- ie, how could a superhero setting emerge, and function, in the real world.
Kickass, first film. When they are beating him with sticks. Or some other scenes. Despite its comedy take, it is very educational at times.
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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-06-27 04:01pm

You know, I've never seen that one. I probably ought to.
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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-06-27 04:05pm

Meh, I'm not particularly a fan of Kick-Ass. The comic was OK, but the film wasn't great. Second one is worse.

Mind you, you might not get much mileage out of the comic either if you aren't a fan of John Romita Jr artwork. I'm not.
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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by K. A. Pital » 2018-06-27 04:06pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-06-27 04:01pm
You know, I've never seen that one. I probably ought to.
The first film is recommended, skip the second.

As for your other questions, regarding the lack of superpowers especially - highly gifted individuals who forego the social ladder more often turn to crime and become real-life supervillains.
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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-06-27 04:18pm

Not going to argue with that. Superheroes at their best are idealized people- most real people will not meet the same standards.
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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Raw Shark » 2018-06-27 05:42pm

Bedlam wrote:
2018-06-27 01:31pm
The first Night Owl was also, if I remember correctly, a cop.
Auto mechanic.

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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Raw Shark » 2018-06-28 12:11am

Regarding the hero/villain thing - I'm both. I contain Multitudes. Eidetic Memory, Eagle Scout training, and flexible ethics can be used for many things. Keep your eyes on Boy Scouts. We've got ours on you.

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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Q99 » 2018-07-02 12:00pm

"What if superheroes were real?" is a fairly commonly asked question in comics, with a wide variety of takes, though most of the 'what if powers appeared?' variety, because non or barely powered people are mostly just vigilantes. A lot of the time the writes delve more into 'what if superheroes were jerks?' via their own biases, but still.

Kickass has been mentioned. Watchman is pretty much this *except* for Dr. Manhattan, obviously.

Global Frequency, while it gets into some weirder stuff, is basically an international rescue network with agents with extraordinary skills, like parkour, or in one case a body feedback skill that allows ignoring of pain.

GI Joe is basically 'military superheroes via extreme skill vs similarly supervillain terrorists.' Superhero is not limited to vigilante, and indeed, a lot of big name heroes has never been vigilante, so you don't really need those aspects in the op.

You could also look to some comics of low-powered heroes, of which the golden age had a bunch who were pretty reasonable. Sandman had a knockout gas gun, for example.

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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by K. A. Pital » 2018-07-02 12:16pm

Misfits is one of the best takes on "what if powers were real".
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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-07-02 02:30pm

I wouldn't call GI Joe a 'superhero' setting. A few characters do demonstrate superhuman abilities, but for the most part the Joes are mostly (highly specialized) normal humans. Likewise many of the COBRA villains are human as well (unless you buy into the shitty movie notion of the reptile-people...).
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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Me2005 » 2018-07-03 09:48am

We have one here in our state. He's called Pheonix Jones and is an ex-MMA fighter. He has a ballistic vest/suit and usually patrols with a couple of people backing him up, one videoing everything and other(s) driving and/or as backup.

Remembering old interviews, I'm not sure it sounded like he actually did that much useful policing. He'd break up fights, help people, and make citizen's arrests, and I'm sure the people he helped are glad for it, but it sounds like he just patrols like a regular police officer would/could.

I thought you were going to be looking for Worm, a very long web serial where superheros are real in that universe.

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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Formless » 2018-07-03 06:16pm

Really, the possibilities of a realistic "superhero" setting is limited not by the ability of the writer to create a plausible superhero, because superheroes are defined more by an aesthetic than necessarily the existence of superpowers. Batman is only implausible in that no one man can accomplish everything he has accomplished, rather than any one of his skills or abilities being unattainable on their own. Hell, the website Be a Game Character is all about how to obtain the physique and some of the skills of many superheroes and other characters in video games (including an entry for Batman), so that is a great resource to look at in order to start answering the question of what a realistic superhero might look like. They need skills, a training regimen, an aesthetic, and they are good to go. The real problem is something I read just this morning in a blog post about writing a supervillain's plan which really focuses the issue: what makes the hero uniquely qualified to thwart them? Or alternatively, what makes the authorities unable to do so? Assuming the protagonist isn't a cop, of course, which superheroes usually are not, and that of course brings us to the issue of vigilantism being illegal. Its not an impossible question to solve, of course, and in fact a few superhero stories give possible answers.

For instance, in Batman's city the police are corrupt or useless. Hence Batman's desire to step up and solve the dual problems of crime and corruption in the city. I particularly liked Nolan's take in The Dark Knight where Batman will step down if the police corruption issue ever gets fixed. It makes Nolan's Batman seem more rational than some takes on Bruce Wayne. In the X-Men mutants are a persecuted group, so the authorities are not their friends, and the X-Men fight with other mutants as a way of policing their own community in the hopes it will improve public relations between themselves and the general public. And one could conceive of many other alternatives, such as the superhero-as-super-soldier narrative from Captain America. But in any case, as I see it the most important thing to the Superhero genre that has to be worked out in a setting in order to make it "realistic" is the dynamic between the heroes, villains, and conventional law enforcement (or search-and-rescue for heroes like Superman that do lots of Good Samaritan activities). You can handwave a lot of things, but you can't (or shouldn't) handwave human behavior.
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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Q99 » 2018-07-04 08:16am

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-07-02 02:30pm
I wouldn't call GI Joe a 'superhero' setting. A few characters do demonstrate superhuman abilities, but for the most part the Joes are mostly (highly specialized) normal humans. Likewise many of the COBRA villains are human as well (unless you buy into the shitty movie notion of the reptile-people...).
They fill the role of superheroes, though- they're 'realistic superheroes' in the non-powered, just vaguely plausibly super-skilled people who tackle (or cause) large problems sense. If you want realistic in the sense of 'their actual abilities are fairly plausible,' they're the type of thing you'd go for.

Me2005 wrote:
2018-07-03 09:48am
I thought you were going to be looking for Worm, a very long web serial where superheros are real in that universe.

With the note the way powers are activated in the setting inherently leads to lots of villains- they're triggered by highly traumatic events and extreme circumstances, so you get a lot of jerks, people lashing out at the world, criminals and others surrounded by violence, etc.. Plenty of whom still end up becoming heroes, but it slants things. It's explicitly a dark superhero setting.


My Hero Academia is a manga that does a reasonable job of tackling "What if everyone had powers to some extent?" and where being a hero is a licensed job that takes a ton of work to qualify for and where use of powers without a license is legally discouraged.

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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Q99 » 2018-07-04 08:48am

Some webcomics tackle realistic supers too, in the 'how do people handle powers' sense. Like Strong Female Protagonist, wherein the heroine, Allison formerly Megagirl, tries to figure out what to do with her life when there's not that much need to go around punching stuff since supervillainy really isn't as self-sustaining as it is in comics either (and it tackles stuff like someone hating her for the very legit reason of a loved one dying due to super strength not magically telling you which buildings have not been fully evacuated). The central theme is Allison wants to fix the world and punching villains doesn't do that (though punching villains is sometimes necessary to stop them from wrecking it).



Dumbing of Age is largely a college slice of life comic, but one of the characters, Amber, is very much of the 'real life superhero' variety akin to the people who do it in real life.

Something Positive also has a real-life-super character (an existing one who picks it up), and it's a minor enough part of the comic that I'll just make a mention of it, but he does basically helpful stuff like assist lost people, help old people with their groceries, etc., with little in the way of actual crime fighting, again akin to many Real Life Supers.

Grrlpower is a superhero webcomic (with a lot of fanservice, fair warning. Of both genders) that goes into things like the legality and payment of it (i.e. being a super is legal, vigilantism isn't, the government frowns on the latter, and when forming their first official superhero team, the payrate is very high because they want to attract and retain the best supers), training to minimize collateral and what normal-looking super moves are actually breaking an unpleasant number of bones, and so on.

Empowered by Adam Warren is also a superhero webcomic (slash romance one, and ditto the fanservice warning) that gets a lot into objectification of heroines, celebrity culture and how it'd form around supers, supers sometimes having frat/sorority mentalities and their positions kinda detaching them from normal people (without normally being villainous in the sense that a lot of dark tries-to-be-realistic-but-is-really-just-being-edgy ones try) in a way akin to some celebs, and yadda yadda. Also a physical comic that goes well beyond the web stuff but there's a lot on the web.


One thing you may be picking up from my recommendations is lots of super stuff has some aspect they make realistic, but which aspect varies considerably.

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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Majin Gojira » 2018-07-04 01:40pm

Q99 wrote:
2018-07-04 08:16am
Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-07-02 02:30pm
I wouldn't call GI Joe a 'superhero' setting. A few characters do demonstrate superhuman abilities, but for the most part the Joes are mostly (highly specialized) normal humans. Likewise many of the COBRA villains are human as well (unless you buy into the shitty movie notion of the reptile-people...).
They fill the role of superheroes, though- they're 'realistic superheroes' in the non-powered, just vaguely plausibly super-skilled people who tackle (or cause) large problems sense. If you want realistic in the sense of 'their actual abilities are fairly plausible,' they're the type of thing you'd go for.
Hey, remember that time Srgt Slaughter became Hercules?

I'm just teasing, that show could get ridiculous. Though the idea of militarized superheroes also brings to mind Fullmetal Alchemist and its State Alchemist program.

My Hero Academia is a manga that does a reasonable job of tackling "What if everyone had powers to some extent?" and where being a hero is a licensed job that takes a ton of work to qualify for and where use of powers without a license is legally discouraged.
It's a great setting and with All Might as a hinge focus, keeps things small while being pretty big.

Though it does make me wonder how regular police with quirks function, or if they just have crappy quirks or something. Just for comparison.
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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Q99 » 2018-07-04 02:23pm

Majin Gojira wrote:
2018-07-04 01:40pm
Hey, remember that time Srgt Slaughter became Hercules?

I'm just teasing, that show could get ridiculous.
Yes, the comic a bit less so, but they're still pretty over the top.
Though the idea of militarized superheroes also brings to mind Fullmetal Alchemist and its State Alchemist program.
For a realistic take on military supers, there's Uber by Kieron Gillen, which is a comic of 'what if a method of creating superhumans was found (late) in World War 2?'.

The answer is 1) just like everything else, they'd be treated as industrialized weapons of war and pumped out in as big of quantities as possible, and 2) the war goes on longer, which sucks for preeetty much everyone.

It's a great setting and with All Might as a hinge focus, keeps things small while being pretty big.

Though it does make me wonder how regular police with quirks function, or if they just have crappy quirks or something. Just for comparison.
Mostly crappy quirks I figure- a ton of people have really crappy quirks, and police don't have to have special quirk training like heroes do to guarantee it can be used safely (if Bakugou was a cop, he wouldn't be allowed to explode in the line of duty). That said, note how one of the more prominent officers has a canine quirk- I figure people with always-on quirks have something of a leg up when it comes to such jobs.

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Re: Possibilities for a "realistic" superhero setting.

Post by Zixinus » 2018-07-04 03:32pm

The greatest conceit in making a superhero story work isn't a society broken enough that they NEED superheroes. It's that a self-motivated, independent individual has things they CAN do as a superhero. Superpowers are not strictly required, merely a willingness and opportunity (and okay, actual ability) where they can meaningfully do something that fits them. That they also manage to do more good than bad is also essential and a more key component to why they are allowed to exist.

Real-life vigilantes usually make a mess of things and are a prime reason why they are not allowed. Contrast with your archtype, Batman, who never, ever kills anyone and usually gives less work for the police rather than more. What is also essential is that he also takes on the most dangerous aspect of police work (confronting an armed criminal) that now the police officers don't have to do themselves, which is probably why most of them don't make too much of an effort to arrest Batman unless pushed to. People generally are not overeager to make their job more dangerous and difficult. Commissioner Gordon outright has stated that he needs Batman more than he needs to arrest him, hence why his relationship is a city-wide open secret.

Crime-fighting is merely the go-to thing to do because of its dramatic nature, simplicity, wide scope and its spontaneous nature (as long as you are talking about crime that you can tell is happening just by looking at it). There is a bad guy, there is a bad thing and superhero merely needs to stop it to do good.
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