If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
I ask because Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice released in movie theaters yesterday.
Here’s the synopsis of the new action and adventure film:
“Fearing the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the man of steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs.”
It’s completely unrealistic, of course, which is the whole point, and which is the exact OPPOSITE of the way I write my novels. But everyone needs to let go and live in fantasy now and then.
What is the big deal anyway? Why are we intrigued by superheroes??? We know they’re not real. But we’re suckers for the stories, aren’t we?
I think superheroes capture us because they assure us that there is good in the world, and that’s comforting. And, since every good superhero has his or her flaws, we can relate to them and are inspired to be a better version of ourselves.
Now, Superman and Batman are extremes. Superman has X-ray vision, he can fly, and he has superhuman strength. Batman has genius intellect, martial arts abilities, wealth, and a fierce ability to intimidate people. And that’s fantastic fun to watch on the big screen.
But scale them down, and superheroes can still be just as exciting.
Take Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, for example. Reacher can’t fly, but he definitely has some extraordinary skills and Reacher fans definitely consider him a hero.
Here’s what The New York Times has to say about Jack Reacher:
“Reacher has amazing powers of deduction, a serious conscience and the occasional touch of tenderness. It’s a wildly improbable mixture, one that can’t be beat.”
Pretty cool, huh?
Clearly, I agree with The New York Times’ assessment of Jack Reacher, which is why I was inspired to write the Hunt for Jack Reacher series. In my Hunt for Reacher books, we flirt with the question, is Reacher a good guy or a bad guy? It’s a question of perspective, really. Part of FBI Special Agent Otto and Gaspar’s challenge is to use their own “superpowers” to figure out just who this Jack Reacher guy is, and what motivates him.
Whenever I work on writing thrillers and developing characters, I think about what their “superpower” is. I don’t mean superhuman strength or a sonic scream. What I mean by that is, what makes the character unique? What extraordinary talent were they born with, and how does it influence their decisions?
For example, Superman loves Lois, but he can’t just marry her and live happily ever after, even though he wants to. Because he feels it’s his duty — because of the powers he was born with — to fight for truth, justice, and the American Way.
Whenever I can, I like to gift the stars of my books with the ability to see the hidden relationships that others don’t see. To me, that ability is a super power.
What’s your “super power”? In other words, what is your unique ability that helps guide your life?