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Old 09-28-2018, 06:43 AM   #1
AlexanderHowl
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Revolutionary Supers

While superheroes are traditionally seen as patriots who maintain the status quo and supervillians are criminals/revolutionaries/terrorists who seek to change the status quo, I see no reason why you could not reverse the traditional stereotypes. In that case, the supervillians would be the patriots wanting to maintain the status quo while the superheroes would be the revolutionaries who want to change the system. In order to preserve the hero versus villain dynamic though, the supervillians would still be willing to commit crimes and use terror against innocent targets to maintain the status quo while the superheroes would limit their actions to avoid harming innocents.

Now, let us not place the supervillians and superheroes in a dystopia, that would be too easy. Instead, let us place it in our contemporary world. How would patriotic supervillians and revolutionary superheroes function in our world? What would they be willing to do? Who would they be? Can you share your examples of such characters?
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Old 09-28-2018, 07:31 AM   #2
Varyon
 
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Default Re: Revolutionary Supers

This is a bit of a minefield, so we'll want to tread carefully. One method would be to come up with something you feel is wrong with the modern status quo, then create a superhero to combat it and a supervillain to champion it. This need not be something you personally oppose, of course. In fact, I think we should open this with a disclaimer that opinions expressed by heroes do not necessarily match those of the poster, and that we should avoid political discussion like the plague here - by necessity, the villains are extreme caricatures of supporters of the status quo, and should not be taken as an indication of how those supporters actually are.

As an example, let's use abortion (told you, minefield). You could actually do this with the hero being on either side (you can oppose the status quo of abortion being available, or you can oppose the status quo of access to it being restricted in some areas; note just about anything you choose could have a hero or villain on either side, and you could even have two different hero/villain matchups where the two heroes are on different sides of the issue), but I think it's easier to make a hero who opposes availability and a villain who champions it, in no small part because availability is more the status quo than restrictions thereof. The villain's actually easier - he (or she) is racist and elitist, purposefully trying to use abortion as a means of ethnic cleansing to rid the world of the "unfit." If your Supers world is one where magic is a thing, he may be using a ritual to turn the pain and death of the unborn into mana or similar. The villain would have a chain of seemingly-legitimate abortion clinics (all seemingly unconnected, so that one getting discovered doesn't result in the whole chain getting shut down), but they'd all be run similarly to Gosnell's "House of Horrors" clinic. Indeed, worse - they'd probably abduct pregnant women of minority races (either through physical means or magical compulsion) and force them into abortions, and they'd also corrupt, defame, or assassinate those who oppose them. The superhero, then, would attack these clinics as they sprung up, freeing the women forced there against their will and restricting their violence to the staff that's "in the know" in some way in the scheme. He'd probably be a religiously-themed super, although that's not strictly necessary.

I feel I should reiterate it at this point, but I'm not at all implying those who are pro-choice are anything like the villain above. Again, he's a caricature for the purpose of creating an evil villain for the hero to oppose.

Of course, you could also take a different route - Captain Planet sort of follows the model you're looking at, with the Planeteers being something like a superheroic version of Greenpeace or similar organizations.

EDIT: Something else a bit less controversial, but somewhat leaning toward dystopianism, would be the webcomic Indefensible Positions. There's a lot more going on there, and the heroes are less revolutionaries than you might want, in no small part because they oppose both the status quo of extreme Order and the counterpoint of extreme Chaos. Oh, and because their primary antagonists are arguably more well-intentioned extremists than true supervillains.
EDIT2: Forgot to mention, but while the comic is itself roughly PG-13 in terms of art and language, many of the themes are inappropriate for children. The first real chapter (chapter 1's just a very basic introduction) involves the main character disrupting a ritual to kill a room full of sexual deviants in order to reduce general sexual deviancy in the world.
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Old 09-28-2018, 08:08 AM   #3
Gnaskar
 
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Default Re: Revolutionary Supers

I'm not going touch the abortion example (Varyon managed to step on a couple of mines despite their evident care), but it takes two to start an unproductive political argument.

Instead, I'll wander blithely into a slightly more obscure minefield of my own: Ireland in the 1910s.

Our villain is a simple English patriot, who sees no issue with using violence and threats to keep the United Kingdom together, regardless of what the Catholics (always said in the tone of voice reserved for slurs) might want. Beating people up for their political opinions is illegal, but no more so than beating up people for their crimes.

Our Hero is a Irishman who refuses to use their powers to fight against the English, but they believe that using super powers against the Crown will inevitably escalate the conflict and they still have hopes for a peaceful resolution. They are willing to use super powers to protect people from the villain however, and so has to walk a fine line to avoid the ire of the government while still engaging the terrorist the government appearently lets operate freely for political expedience.
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Old 09-28-2018, 08:25 AM   #4
whswhs
 
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Default Re: Revolutionary Supers

I'm going to point you at Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. The protagonists are highly capable ordinary people who are trying to figure out why their society is falling into ruin; but the true heroes of the book are super normals who have decided that socialist ideology needs to come down, and will do whatever it takes. No masks, no costumes, no colorful names, but consider that you have an incredibly wealthy man posing as a playboy to cover up his revolutionary activities (who at one point is described as walking as if he had a cape streaming behind him in the wind), a philosophy turned pirate whose warships outperform those of any navy on earth, and a mysterious figure whose name has become a household word for despair and who has command of the most advanced technology on earth. Whatever you think of their cause, the literary method is right there.
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Old 09-28-2018, 08:26 AM   #5
Varyon
 
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Default Re: Revolutionary Supers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnaskar View Post
Instead, I'll wander blithely into a slightly more obscure minefield of my own: Ireland in the 1910s.
If we're allowed to set things in the past, things get a lot easier. A KKK villain during the days of Jim Crow laws and the like practically writes itself, and it's none too difficult to create a hero to oppose him.
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Old 09-28-2018, 09:36 AM   #6
whswhs
 
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Default Re: Revolutionary Supers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
If we're allowed to set things in the past, things get a lot easier. A KKK villain during the days of Jim Crow laws and the like practically writes itself, and it's none too difficult to create a hero to oppose him.
On the other hand, if you read Gone with the Wind, the masked men who go out to protect women and the poor against lawlessness and resist an occupying army are the Ku Klux Klan. Rhett Butler isn't a bad fit to the Diego Vega/Bruce Wayne archetype.

In earlier generations, the natural course for aristocrats of subjugated countries was to become bandits; that's where we get the romantic highwayman myth.
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Old 09-28-2018, 10:03 AM   #7
Varyon
 
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Default Re: Revolutionary Supers

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
On the other hand, if you read Gone with the Wind, the masked men who go out to protect women and the poor against lawlessness and resist an occupying army are the Ku Klux Klan. Rhett Butler isn't a bad fit to the Diego Vega/Bruce Wayne archetype.
Never seen/read Gone with the Wind, but that would probably spin a few players' heads. It would probably spin mine some too - reading a Sherlock Holmes story ("Case of the Orange Pips" or something like that) where the Klan was competent and exotic was enough of a change from what I'm used to, but one where they're the heroes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
In earlier generations, the natural course for aristocrats of subjugated countries was to become bandits; that's where we get the romantic highwayman myth.
That... makes a lot of sense. I wasn't aware those were the origins of that particular trope.
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Old 09-28-2018, 10:45 AM   #8
whswhs
 
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Default Re: Revolutionary Supers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
Never seen/read Gone with the Wind, but that would probably spin a few players' heads. It would probably spin mine some too - reading a Sherlock Holmes story ("Case of the Orange Pips" or something like that) where the Klan was competent and exotic was enough of a change from what I'm used to, but one where they're the heroes?
Gone with the Wind is actually quite a good novel, and was made into a memorable film. You have to be prepared to adopt the viewpoint of an alien culture and society, but a lot of good science fiction demands the same process. (I have to say that personally I found Tess of the d'Urbervilles far more repugnant, but I'm not sure I could explain why.)
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Old 09-28-2018, 11:00 AM   #9
oneofmanynameless
 
Join Date: May 2012
Default Re: Revolutionary Supers

Someone I know once posted on facebook a question of, "If you could have one super power what would it be and what would you do with it?" It got over a hundred replies, ranging from super power fantasies that were pretty admirable to pretty scary. However, with only a few exceptions the vast majority of answers were motivated by either personal gain or political convictions, and (again with only a few exceptions) the vast majority of people seemed to think of super powers as a "free pass" to break the rules (i.e. the law, social ethics, etc.)

The most common choices by far were:
1. Kill, mindcontrol, or otherwise eliminate the leaders of the opposing political party. Sometimes it was targeted at a specific very prominent individual, other times it was just the entire political party. This choice wasn't just common, it was fully the majority.
Now, you said you don't want to place them in a dystopia, in the real world instead. But I think this would lead to a dystopia very quickly, and if I follow the guidelines of Hero = revolutionary, Villian = status quo, then things are quite dystopic!
Villains would serve, and run, the major political parties, seeking to maintain their power and influence by any means necessary: be that things the parties already do like gerrymandering, to things that people will debate about whether they do like voter suppression laws, to outright tyranny like placing super powered "police" at voting booths to repel "undesirables". They would also spend a lot of time trying to protect the rich and powerful and keep the lower classes in their place, while delivering a narrative of "Noblesse Oblige" to try to win over the uneducated people. Note that this would genuinely work for a majority of people, or at least a very large minority. Enough that they would often be seen as Heros, not Villians.
On the other hand Heros would be consistantly painted as violent terrorists seeking to destroy the country. They'd be hounded by everyone and constantly on the run. While constantly trying to find ways to get their message of "democratic government of the people, by the people, and for the people," out to the people. They'd try to use their superpowers to gather evidence of the evil the villains are conducting, and maybe win over the congressmen and congresswomen that aren't fully villains themselves.

But even if you don't go the route of making the villains try to maintain the status quo and heros change it. Even if you let the heros try to maintain the status quo by defending the structural integrity of the political system while it's attacked constantly by super powered politically motivated vigilantes, things are going to get very dark very quickly.
2. Steal money or other valuables. This was a pretty large minority.
Mostly people chose stealth and infiltration powers for this: insubstantial or permeation to go through walls, teleportation to just go there and grab it, invisibility, impersonation, etc. The most creative individuals chose things like computer control for hacking internet finance hacking, or precognition for gambling and stocks. I feel like, just based on common sense, that would be more successful at getting away with it. But idk.
Trying to make these guys heros and have the villians protecting the money is pretty classic Robin Hood, although it could be more modern than that: there's at least one notable work of fiction in which the protagonists attempt to blow up the major banks in order to neutralize credit and give everyone a fresh start.
3. Acquire fame and success, especially social status. This was a slightly smaller but still large minority.
This isn't inherently villainous or heroic, so it's a good for making heros and villians that fall on both sides: you could have a hero using super powers to make it as a indie music star, fighting against big labels that try to rig the system and rob the artists; or a musician using mind control rather than talent to try to gain popularity and make money, brainwashing the masses into listening to their terrible music to fulfill their fantasies, at the expense of literally everyone but also the talented artists who actually deserve to be recognized (who might be the heroes fighting them.)
Most of these fantasies revolved around mind control in some capacity, but certainly not all of them: there were plenty of people who wanted powers that would let them invent wondrous inventions to get rich off of (could be good or evil depending on their methods, attitudes, and the effects of what they invent.) Some of them were outright altruistic: wanting their music to supernaturally heal peoples broken hearts.
4. Truly altruistic objectives, which were mostly too unique to the individual to catagorize. Out of more than a hundred answers there were only a half dozen or so in this category.
I don't remember all of them and they did not have any sort of unified objective. There were a couple people that basically said, "if I had super powers I'd have to go join the police or the fire department and become a superhero."
There was one person who wanted healing powers so that they could heal all their friends and family of all maladies and travel the world providing free guaranteed health care to whoever needed it.
Another person wanted weather control to fight climate change.
And yet another person wanted earth bending to provide free housing to people all over the world.
5. there was also one person whose objectives weren't really... like... villainous or heroic at all. They wanted computer control powers in order to make whatever video games they could imagine as easily as they could imagine them, not so that they could make a profit off of them, but so that they could then enter into them and thereby explore other worlds and lives. They said that there were alternatives to video game powers, such as book powers that let them enter into books or pull things out of a book, or something similar with board games, etc. But basically they wanted to use games to become a wizard in a tower apart from the world exploring the extents of their imagination without being confined by reality.
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Old 09-28-2018, 11:12 AM   #10
jason taylor
 
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Default Re: Revolutionary Supers

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Gone with the Wind is actually quite a good novel, and was made into a memorable film. You have to be prepared to adopt the viewpoint of an alien culture and society, but a lot of good science fiction demands the same process. (I have to say that personally I found Tess of the d'Urbervilles far more repugnant, but I'm not sure I could explain why.)

In the review I read, it says that in Tess an innocent girl is shunned for being a victim of date rape and her boyfriend is to cowardly to stick up for her. I don't think it is implied that that is supposed to be a GOOD thing.
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