Note, superhero and vigilante are not synonymous, and many major superheroes are not (the Avengers were formed by the government agency SHIELD after all. Superman is actually rarely a vigilante, and even Batman has had his stints where he's not, like the '66 show).Zixinus wrote: ↑2018-07-04 03:32pmThe 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.
If superpower people show up, and are small enough and visual enough, then they can easily, easily fill a superhero-esque framework while being 100% a legit institution who works with the police and thus not requiring a breakdown of much of anything. In some worlds, it could be that supers have always been there and it just happens organically. In others, the fiction came first, so people put them into a known framework. Rather than requiring a breakdown, it can also happen when people just stand out enough. Like, imagine if there was a fire fighter who rescued 10 people from deadly blazes literally every day- they'd probably get superhero like press before long. Have a number of people like this, and people come up with a name for 'em and lump 'em together. And you can still have the quite-realistic factor of vigilantes making a mess of things even in a world with supers.