Comic-book Superheroes seem to have it easy when it comes to leading a double life. All Clark Kent had to do was wear a suit and glasses, and suddenly he looked nothing like Superman (duh?!). However, my recent childish musings have lead me to wonder how a superhero would cope in the real world. Would it actually be possible to hide your true identity?
Assume that my powers were pretty much similar to those of the Man of Steel - everything bar the eye-beams and super-breath - and assume that I am the first and apparently only super-human in the world. Finally - assume that my powers are innate, and not the result of government experimentation or alien influence.
Assuming all that, my powers would obviously lay a huge responsibility on my shoulders - I’d be able to fight crime, I could go to war-torn areas an disable tanks without killing the soldiers inside - I could fly to disaster areas and make a huge difference to relief efforts by lifting collapsed building or flying in food and medicine to otherwise unreachable areas. In short - I’d be compelled to aid humanity as best as I could.
However, the sudden appearance of a person with super-human powers would undoubtedly cause shock and fear across the world. The Media would go into a feeding frenzy, conspiracy theorists would think they’d died and gone to heaven, and the average joe on the street wouldn’t know if I was a blessing or a dangerous menace.
Even worse, every government intelligence agency on the planet would be doing their damndest to find out everything they could about me. Who I am, where I came from, who my family are, who I’m working for, what my agenda is, what my political and religious leanings are. Heck, if they could, they’d find out long my pecker is and what I had for breakfast.
So with the eyes of the world on you - with all this intense scrutiny, and with the media-intensive world in which we live today, could such a person ever hope to protect his private life and the lives of those he loves? If anyone found out who I was, my private life would be over. My family would never know a moment’s peace, and may very well be in physical danger.
So how best to deal with it? I think I’d basically have three options:
If I basically ignore the media and just burst upon the world with a mask and a great right hook. I just never say a word to anyone and went about my daily business of fighting crime and injustice. Even my voice and accent would give away clues as to who I am, but deliberate silence would invite mass speculation about my identity and motives, and I’d probably be vulnerable to copycats. After all, if I wear a mask, anyone could claim to be me, right? uh, unless I flew, of course…
How about if I called Press-conference at the very beginning and read a prepared statement to the world? I’d pre-emptively answer some of the more obvious questions, but refuse to reveal my identity, and refuse to answer any more questions. Any appeals to respect my privacy will likely fall on deaf ears, but I could at least give it a shot. Press-conferences could become regular affairs, and would deal with the latest questions/speculations of the day.
I forget about Privacy altogether and accept the inevitable. I accept the loss of personal freedom as part of the price for my powers, and I basically give up hope of ever having a normal life, or a life that I and my family could call our own. I give up hope of ever having a meaningful relationship, and basically submit to the hell that is international super-stardom.
So - those are my thoughts on modern-super-hero-hood, as admittedly puerile and inane as they may be. How do you think such a person would fare in the real world?