Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

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Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2019-01-07 01:32pm

Branching off from the what if Batman were poor thread, it occurred to me: how many notable superheroes are there (or villains, for that matter) who are just ordinary working class or middle class people, with no noble heritage or hereditary wealth? I mean, there are obvious advantages to making your hero part of the upper class, both in terms of giving them easy access to various connections/sources of new powers/etc., and in terms of crafting an appealing escapist fantasy for the audience. But I'd like to see some more solid working class superheroes.

Off the top of my head, we've got... maybe Spiderman? If we go outside of Marvel/DC, then Buffy in season six. I can't think of any unpowered ones off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are some.

Villains... the bad guy in the Marvel Spiderman movie was sort of a working-class supervillain, wasn't he?
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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by TheFeniX » 2019-01-07 02:29pm

Based on your criteria, a lot:
The Flash - Police crime scene investigator
Green Lantern - Both Stewart and Jordan are military, though from different backgrounds (Marines v Air Force)
Ant-Man
Cyborg - debatable. He bailed and got into athletics among other things even though his parents fucked him up even before the borgification.
Beast-Boy
A shitton of The X-Men and their villains. Magneto makes the list, Xavier does not.
Captain America
Darkwing Duck
Hulk - though not working class, he was still a "nose to the ground" researcher. I do not recall where he got his money for all the PhDs.
Black Widow
Hawkeye
Blankman
War Machine
Drax, Rocket, Groot

It's honestly pretty common. The problem is the "big hitters" in both power and popularity (Supes, Batman, Wonder Woman, Thor, Iron-Man) are all either super-rich or come from notable backgrounds. Iron Man only recently making the "popularity" list due to Downey Jr.

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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by K. A. Pital » 2019-01-07 02:37pm

Spider Man. At least, in his original incarnation.
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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by Batman » 2019-01-07 02:48pm

I think what TRR wanted was no money no powers heroes (though bringing up Peter and Buffy certainly muddled things). If you consider lightspeed a mild jog or an h-bomb going off in your nostril a minor nuisance you don't need infinite money to become a superhero.
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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by TheFeniX » 2019-01-07 02:54pm

Batman wrote:
2019-01-07 02:48pm
I think what TRR wanted was no money no powers heroes (though bringing up Peter and Buffy certainly muddled things). If you consider lightspeed a mild jog or an h-bomb going off in your nostril a minor nuisance you don't need infinite money to become a superhero.
Villains have a much better showing here. Mostly, comic books and the movies push that "working your way to the top" means "you're evil." Stane from Iron Man. ......Ivenko? > The guy from Iron Man 2. Lex Luthor. Yes, multiple Spider Man villains. Mr. Freeze steals money for research to save his wife...... Most of Batman's rogues qualify.

Hey, Darkwing Duck and Blankman still qualify.

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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2019-01-07 02:58pm

Batman wrote:
2019-01-07 02:48pm
I think what TRR wanted was no money no powers heroes (though bringing up Peter and Buffy certainly muddled things). If you consider lightspeed a mild jog or an h-bomb going off in your nostril a minor nuisance you don't need infinite money to become a superhero.
Any character with no money, no special heritage or noble status will do, but those can be further subdivided into two categories- poor but empowered (of which there are some well-known examples), and poor and unpowered (which is much harder to find, probably because giving your character that many limitations makes it harder to tell a plausible story that allows them to have a major impact as a hero).

I would like to explore stories you can tell with poor unpowered heroes, even with those limitations.
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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2019-01-07 03:16pm

Some powers make money academic. If one has mind-control powers, it's a trifle to walk into the bank and cheerfully ask the teller for a sack full of hundreds. Though that's more of a villain thing than a hero, I suppose (unless you're going into some kind of anti-establishment, anti-corporate message).

Booster Gold might be an interesting example-- football player from the future, disgraced for gambling, adopts new identity with a futuristic super-suit and travels back into time to our era, proceeds to (in at least one incarnation) plaster his suit with corporate sponsorships. Captain Amazing from Mystery Men did much the same thing, although he started out well-heeled so he doesn't qualify here.

Poor and unpowered=pretty much most modern IRL vigilante types. In other words, they run into the wrong person with a gun, they're dead. Kind of hard to tell stories about characters like that without putting them through the wringer. Kick-Ass might be an example; I hesitate to call it 'good'.
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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2019-01-07 03:22pm

I wonder how such a hero would fair in a country where gun ownership/gun crime is a lot less common. Then again, superheros work particularly well with America as a backdrop, I think, because superheroes fit very naturally with American ideals of spectacle/showmanship, the glorification of the outlaw/vigilante, and the heroic individual taking action to solve the problems a corrupt or ineffectual state can't. Its no coincidence that the genre emerged in the United States, and while I won't say that it can't be translated well to other cultures, there is something about the good (or not so good) ol' US of A that lends itself very well to the superhero genre.
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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by GuppyShark » 2019-01-08 01:45am

How did the F4 get their big tower? Ben Grimm is about as working class as they come, it'd be Reed's money if anyone's. He has an academic background though, I don't recall his discoveries being commercialised.

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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by madd0ct0r » 2019-01-08 02:05am

GuppyShark wrote:
2019-01-08 01:45am
How did the F4 get their big tower? Ben Grimm is about as working class as they come, it'd be Reed's money if anyone's. He has an academic background though, I don't recall his discoveries being commercialised.
They date from the period the government would fund lots of research labs and let commercialisation look after itself.
Now of course, the military funnels most of the usa research via startups - cyber capability, mass survailance, crypto and now drones
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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by K. A. Pital » 2019-01-08 09:56am

Great thread here.

Shows just how reactionary most „superheroes“ are - oligarchs, bloody weapons dealers, hereditary monarchs or other feudal nobility, overpowered aliens...

No love for the working class. So hard to find the few heroes who actually aren’t rich or „noble“ birth. :lol:
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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by Crazedwraith » 2019-01-08 10:41am

Apart from... all the many heroes mentioned?

It also depends on what you mean by poor. There a few heroes that are very poor, there are few heroes that are Tony Stark/Bruce Wayne rich. Unsurprisingly most heroes fall in the middle if there economic status is even relative.
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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by K. A. Pital » 2019-01-08 10:47am

I like Ant Man and Spider Man but as far as famous heroes go, that is not a lot. Unknown names are existing, but not as a large-scale cultural phenomenon, surely you can see.

Who are these „middle of the road“ guys and girls? Surely you did not miss the „no special heritage“ bit?
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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by NeoGoomba » 2019-01-08 11:03am

I'm pretty sure that the Spirit of Vengence, Ghost Rider (take your pick: Ketch, Reyes, Blaze) is almost always some no-name person who makes a bad deal with Mephisto.

Captain America was just some scrawny dork who was lucky to be picked for the supersoldier project.

Daredevil was a poor kid who got hit by a truck carrying some nasty shit. Same with Jessica Jones. And Luke Cage just happened to be Imprisoned While Black and was experimented on.

The Silver Surfer was a librarian or something (if I'm remembering right) before he begged off Galactus.

Frank Castle is just a regular dude good at killing.

Green Lanterns are, for the most part, all chosen for their willpower and courage, not any sort of wealth or familial connections.

The Tick is just insane (and the best).

And I think we actually have to rule mutants out, because they get their powers because their parents were exposed to some shit initially, and then they pass down the X-gene, right?
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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by Darth Lucifer » 2019-01-08 11:18am

Three out of the Fantastic Four would qualify, namely Susan Storm (before she married Reed Richards), her brother Johnny and Ben Grimm.

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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by TheFeniX » 2019-01-08 12:40pm

K. A. Pital wrote:
2019-01-08 10:47am
I like Ant Man and Spider Man but as far as famous heroes go, that is not a lot. Unknown names are existing, but not as a large-scale cultural phenomenon, surely you can see.
Nearly the entire X-Men exist as a point in this. It was kind of the joke when I was a kid (since The Avengers weren't pushing anything outside comics) that the X-Men were basically "the working class Justice League since," yes, they own a jet and live in a mansion, but they aren't beloved by the populace and don't have infinite money. Xavier, as their patron, is one of the few that don't make the list. And honestly, if they had dropped that stupid "Cyclops dad is an alien bit," it would be even better.

Storm was daughter of a princess but was orphaned at like 5. Wolverine, routinely making the #1 spot on popularity lists, was a Canadian war vet who's power was "don't die after someone kicks the shit out of you." Jean Gray is middle-class. Gambit is a Cajun riverboat gambler. Rogue came from very little. The X-Men rogues-gallery is chock full of this. Magneto is a holocaust survivor for just one.

Just because CURRENT Hollywoo trends are "AVENGERS! JUSTICE LEAGUE!" doesn't mean things like the X-Men weren't INCREDIBLY popular a few years ago. X-Men revived the Super Hero genre in Hollywood, taking all the credit from Blade (another good example) IMO.

Spider-Man is noteworthy because a large emphasis of the story is focusing on Peter attempting to survive as a Superhero while also balancing the even more impossible task of affording to live in New York, and then turn around and woo and keep the woman of his dreams.
Who are these „middle of the road“ guys and girls? Surely you did not miss the „no special heritage“ bit?
People with little means (~middle class) with no powers who do great things are called: Action Heroes.
Basically anyone in the 80s and 90s played by Arnold, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Jackie Chan, Antonio Banderas, and a few others. The list would go on for days and even still does numbers today. Look at Dwayne Johnson movies. Fast and the Furious.

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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by Bedlam » 2019-01-08 05:22pm

Most of the cast of Watchmen.

Rorschach more or less lives on the street, as far as I recall even Ozymandis started as no one special and worked to the top via his intellect. The first Night Owl was a beat cop and the second lives roughly a middleclass life on his inventions. Dr Manhatten was a low level researcher before the accident. None of them apart from the last had any powers.

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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by FaxModem1 » 2019-01-08 07:28pm

Billy Batson's whole schtick is that he's a homeless orphan who has no family and lives on his own. It was only when the wizard SHAZAM saw his potential that his life took a turnaround.

Showing that no matter where you come from, you can be a hero, even if you have nothing.
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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by TheFeniX » 2019-01-08 07:30pm

Watchmen is a weird one and (at least the movie) seems to lean heavily on the <default> power of "tougher and strong than peak human." The Comedian in his fight with Ozzy punched through a section of a concrete fireplace with zero injury then had his head slammed into a (assuming) granite counter top, knocking out a whole section, and was still conscious. There are other examples from the other heroes which put them a bit above "Action Movie Hero" into "Low end mook tier" a la all the disposable mutants in the big brawl at the end of X-Men 3 who can jump 20-feet in the air for seemingly no reason.

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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by Batman » 2019-01-08 07:54pm

That goes for essentially all 'baseline/peak human' characters in superhero comics (or action heroes in general). They routinely dish out and shrug off damage an actual human couldn't survive.
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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by Vendetta » 2019-01-09 06:25am

TheFeniX wrote:
2019-01-08 12:40pm
And honestly, if they had dropped that stupid "Cyclops dad is an alien bit," it would be even better.
Have they made Corsair an actual alien then?

Because before he was just abducted by aliens.

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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by K. A. Pital » 2019-01-09 06:50am

Oh I do agree about the X-Men („dated metaphors for racism in the '60s“) and especially Magneto. But they are not all so heroic as well, many fit the role of an antihero. :)

Fantastic Four also taken. Seem to be fairly low and also moderately famous by now with several films.
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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by NeoGoomba » 2019-01-09 07:53am

Ghost Rider warranted TWO Nicholas Cage movies.

Make of that what you will hahaha
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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by K. A. Pital » 2019-01-09 08:34am

NeoGoomba wrote:
2019-01-09 07:53am
Ghost Rider warranted TWO Nicholas Cage movies.

Make of that what you will hahaha
I thought about that. And did not add it to my post... :D
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Re: Notable superheros who are not wealthy and have no special heritage?

Post by Zor » 2019-01-09 12:50pm

K. A. Pital wrote:
2019-01-08 10:47am
I like Ant Man and Spider Man but as far as famous heroes go, that is not a lot. Unknown names are existing, but not as a large-scale cultural phenomenon, surely you can see.

Who are these „middle of the road“ guys and girls? Surely you did not miss the „no special heritage“ bit?
Deadpool. He's a soldier (a skilled special forces type but still a Soldier) from a regular background which got caught up in a scam to cure his cancer in which he gets subjected to horrible experiments to make him into a slave soldier to be auctioned off to the highest bidder by some shady ass bastards.

Mind you he's on the "anti-hero" side of superheroics.

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