WHAM! KRASH! All Grown Up and Still Loving My Superheroes.

By Kathryn Smith

In 2000 my husband and I went to see the first X-Men movie. Some unknown named Hugh Jackman was playing Wolverine and I was dubious as to whether or not he could wear the sideburns of my favorite mutant with the right kind of attitude. Boy, did I get smacked upside the head! When Jackman appeared on screen in the cage match, I reached over, grabbed Steve by the leg and whispered, "It's Logan." And ever since, Hugh Jackman has been Wolverine for me. In fact, I find him much more attractive as Wolvy than I do as his 'regular' self.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine opens on Friday. A bunch of my friends and I are already planning to pre-buy tickets for opening night. Heck, I'd be there at the first showing if I could. When the trailer first debuted on line I think I watched it 6 times one evening, and every time my heart rate kicked up. And it's not just because of Hugh, though he helps. And it's not Ryan Reynolds or the cutie playing Gambit. It's because of the characters. I'm a sucker for superheroes.

I was six or seven years old the first time my cousin showed me his X-Men comics. I remember thinking it was so cool that Wolverine was Canadian like me. I'd never heard of any Canadian superheroes before that. I read those books and I wanted to be Jean Grey (although I always referred to her as Phoenix) or Storm. The idea of having super powers quickly over powered my notion of someday being the next Olivia Newton John. I wanted to be a mutant! Of course, back then it was just so I could do all the cool things those girls could do.

As a kid I watched a mix of cartoon and live action superhero shows: Wonder Woman, Spiderman, Superman, Batman (yes, the corny Adam West one) The Bionic Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man, Greatest American Hero... My favorite shows were always about people who could do amazing things. I made myself a WW tiara out of construction paper and wore it around the house. I desperately wanted the outfit Debra Winger wore as Wonder Woman's younger sister. Now, I wish I was built like Linda Carter!

It's funny, but as I approached my teens, my interest in Supers waned. Why this was, I don't know. Maybe it's because most of the shows were gone by then. Or maybe because I started spending my money on fashion magazines rather than comics. I find it odd now that as I entered that awkward phase of my life I left my mutants and supers behind, because who else could relate to the alienation of being a teenager than Peter Parker, or any other mutant who felt like a freak and an outsider? I'm ashamed to admit it, but I think part of this rejection of my heroes came from the need to be girly. And back then superheroes weren't girly. And they weren't at all 'cool.'

Then, in 1989 Tim Burton released his Batman movie and suddenly it was okay to like superheroes! I remember seeing Michael Keaton in the mask and thinking that he looked fabulous as Bats because he had lines around his mouth, and Batman would have lines around his mouth! And who could forget Jack Nicholson as the Joker? Those movies started something. Sure, they were campy, but no one does twisted like Burton. And as my generation and the generation before me grew older, superheroes started to get more and more attention. There have been some bad movies (Punisher or The Hulk, anyone?) but since X-Men in 2000, there have been some massively amazing movies, both live action and animated. The Spider-Man franchise, X-Men, Batman, Ironman, The Avengers, Dr. Strange, and most recently: Wonder Woman staring the voices of Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion. These movies are darker than those that came before, but there's also one other HUGE difference.

They've made superheroes relatable. Human.

Peter Parker is just a highschool kid trying to get through the day without getting beaten up, making goo-goo eyes at the girl of his dreams. The X-Men are a bunch of misfits who hide from the world, while Magneto, who has experienced hate all too closely, wants to smack humanity in the face. Batman is damaged sure, but Bruce Wayne is desperately seeking salvation, revenge and redemption. He is lost and we respond to that, just like we respond to the hard-partying Tony Stark, who gets a life-threatening wake up call and becomes more than just a rich kid with shiny toys. I think the one thing we people like to see more in our dramas than a suffering hero is one who not only triumphs over that suffering but then comes back to kick some butt!
So here it is Tuesday and I can't wait til Friday. I'm closer to 40 than I am to 20 or even 30, and I'm unashamed to tell you that I love superheroes. I'm positively giddy to see Wolverine slash his way across the silver screen once more. Now, if we could just get the live action Wonder Woman made I would be a very happy girl indeed.
What I want to know is -- how many of you love superheroes too? Who are your favorites? And if you could have any super power what would it be? I used to think I'd want telepathy, but now I think I'd like to have the power to make a book spring from my head, completed and beautifully written with just a thought. :-)


  1. I would like to say I have always been partial to cat woman. Yeah I know not really a superhero, but who could turn down batman’s true love especially when she gets to wear that black leather outfit and carry a whip all the time. hello complex!!! I also love storm, from the x-men, I used to run around with a white cape and tell my friends if they got outta line i would strike them with a thunder bolt. :)


  2. When I was in first grade, my friends and I played superheroes at lunchtime. I was Wonder Woman because I have dark hair and blue eyes, and my BFF played the Bionic Woman.

    And as far as Hugh Jackman as Wolverine...well, I had a huge poster of HJ hanging above my computer while I wrote THREE NIGHTS...and yes, the hero did take on some of Logan's qualities LOL

    Looking forward to the new movie cuz I LOVE Gambit, chere :)

  3. I love superheroes because of their super/weak dichotomy--like, they have some amazing skill, but they also have something that can bring them to their knees. The most obvious example, although not my cuppa hero, is Superman and the kryptonite.

    I like these types of heroes because they have to make a choice about what to do with their powers, and they are usually intensely, superly flawed in some way.

    I am so looking forward to Wolverine too, Kate, gotta just make sure that it's okay for the 9 y.o. to see.

  4. Wolverine...!!! If I didn't have a dress rehearsal Friday night, I would be there for the opening box office. I have to wait until Monday night (grumble, grumble.)

    I'm 44 and I'm a superhero fan all the way. In fact, my favorite type of story is the superhero origin story. So 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' is making me all tingly, just thinking about it.

    My husband is a massive Batman fan - in fact, our bathroom is the Batman bathroom, filled with everything Batman. Okay, so he's not the only one who loves Batman...

    Wolverine might be my true favorite superhero. Though the recent version of Ironman kicked ass.

  5. I'm seeing a trend of kick ass chicks and tortured guys here! So far we seem to love the heroes with baggage. Wonder what that says about us? lol.

    FWIW, I do think Flash is awfully cute. lol.

  6. Love Wolverine! Love Hugh Jackman! I think he's perfect for the role and he's certainly becoming the big guy in Hollywood. My young nephews have every super hero and villain action figure and I confess - I do play with them - the action figures and my nephews. They love it! I generally play the bad guys. I also like tortured heroines - Xena could kick butt but she had that tortured side - seeking redemption.

    Fun post!

  7. I'm really more of a Cyclops gal myself, probably because James Marsden made one hot Scott Summers.

  8. Love, love, love the superheroes! And Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, yup, there's Logan!

    I admit I have a softer spot for the heroes that don't have powers, like Batman and Iron Man. They are normal men who rise above the lot, with no particular help from nature or genetics, to become heroes. No one portrayed that struggle better than Batman, and while I did like the Burton versions, I think Batman Begins and Christian Bale caught the dilemma and the inherent turmoil of Bruce Wayne aka Batman in a poignant and transcending way.

    Personally, telepathy would be great, but then again, that's what the superheroes are all about - you have the power but it never brings only good to your life.

    Great post, Kathryn. And actually, you're right to be proud of liking superheroes! They're worth it!



  9. Hmmm, I still remember the Supergirl comics with Superdog! I think my favorite heroes were more like the original Avengers or Flint from In Like Flint.

    But I loved how they brought the Spiderman character into the real world. How sweet and touching Peter's story became...

    Ironman truly astounded me, not only because I never would have imagined Robert Downey Jr. as a superhero, but also because it was one hell of a good movie. Wow.

    Now I must admit, as much as I love Hugh Jackman, I have yet to see Wolverine. Many of the superhero movies pass me by, though I did love Hellboy. *laughs*

    The Flash was cute, by the way!!


  10. Kathryn,

    I'm SO with you about Hugh as Wolverine, he's perfect and I find them now linked in my head. It helps that I met his personal trainer at work the other day and he reports that Hugh is not only crazy talented but a real gem of a human being who loves his family. He just keeps getting cooler!

    X-Men really appeals to me for the fact of their status as outside the mainstream, superheroes that have had to struggle with being 'other' and misunderstood. I utilize that theme a lot myself.

    I'm also partial to the average human taking on superhuman responsibility, so of course I'm a huge Batman fan.

    In the graphic novel world, Neil Gaiman's ENDLESS aren't superheroes in the traditional sense, but I always thought of them as such, they have a mythic and transcendant quality that makes them superhero-esque to me.

    Great post, m'dear!

  11. Leanna, isn't it great when you hear stories that actors you admire are good people too? I've heard so many horror stories about John Cusack that it broke my poor heart. :-)

    I love hearing about fave superheroes! Hellboy is fabulous!

    Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen did something that unsettled me a bit. He took Mr. Hyde and made him an awful monster, but then gave him a weakness when it came to Mina Murray. What he did to the invisible man in her name is going to stick with me for a long, long time. It was so disturbing, but a lot of my discomfort with it comes from the fact that it was also darkly satisfying.

    I'm so glad we have amazing actors like Jackman, Bale and Downey Jr. who bring so much more to these characters. I mean, you gotta have a little tortured soul in there for the good to really work, y'know? :-)

    I'll post about the movie after I see it!


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