What is life like for an ordinary person in a superhero universe?

Huge mega-crises every year or two, collateral damage seeming like no big deal, and never being able to relax or take a breather. Who would want to live in a big city? Who would want to try to raise a family?

Has there ever been a series of stories or novel or any movie or TV show that dealt with this, especially in something like the modern DC or MC universe?

This is one big reason I really dislike these kinds of fantasy movies, that they seem to me to depict a world that would be impossible to live in. But I would actually be interested in the stories of ordinary people to see ways their lives were affected, especially if they are not living at ground zero.


It last all of 3 months.

Normalman by Valentino is a fantastic series from the 1980s that posits a 180º Superman story: a baby without superpowers lands on planet of nothing but superfolk.

Brandon Sanderson’s The Reckoners series has a world that has supers thrust on it, leaving normals as the oppressed majority.

Marvels not only shows life for non-super people in the Marvel Universe, but shows the reaction of a regular person to iconic events in Marvel history.

The Boys is a comic that stars basically a CIA hit squad that deals with superheroes that get out of line since they live in a very DC/Marvel style world where superheroes are venerated but are actually really shitty people secretly who routinely abuse their powers. Lots to do with the unspoken Cold War between people with superpowers and normal human beings.

It took a few episodes, but I was really starting to like this show. Then it was gone.

I would sure as hell move out of New York if it suddenly turned into the Marvel Universe.

One good fistfight between The Hulk and The Thing would likely leave me smooshed under a toppled skyscraper.

What about the opposite: Powered people/mutants who want to be ordinary people. Maybe not totally ordinary, but not interested in fighting crime/taking over the world, etc.

Super-genius in Applied science or medicine, not weapons or vehicles for superheroes/villains.
A time traveler/future-senser playing the market (or Vegas)
Being with (not-too) enhanced speed/strength in professional sports
Mind-control or mind-reading in a law firm
Charismatic leaders leading business empires (but for Fortune 500 profit, not evil)
Super-strength or telekinesis in transportation or construction
Animal control in agriculture or National Park Service

I’m sure these powers are used by secret identities… but what about if they don’t have a costumed alter-ego? No interest at all in being a hero/villain. I know these might make for boring comic books, but I’m sure it’s been explored?

“Marvels” depicted it as some sort of fantasy world where you might look out your window and see spectacular wonders. But it also emphasized the potential for horror, sadness, and tough moral choices.

It seems to me that it might be something closer to “Kingdom Come,” where the world is just nonstop chaos and terror. Norman (our narrator and normal man) is exasperated by the anarchy. We see super-teams fighting each other but have no idea who are the “good guys” and the “bad guys” or if those words even apply.

I guess I would be one of those hapless civilians running from a super-fistfight on a crumbling building. One of those fleeing in terror, open-mouthed and horrified, right in the foreground of a panel, with the mayhem going on in the background.

You might like the TV show The Strain. It’s pretty much normal people suddenly having to deal with an onslaught of vampire/zombies. One main character was a pest control officer in NYC prior to the infestation, and he goes about fighting the V/Zs pretty much the same way he fought rats.

Reference-- the Wild Cards braided novels series.

There was an interesting arc in Astro City where a normal man tries his best to deal with the disappearance of his wife due to a time travel crisis. I think they did a really did a good job. I’m going to really miss Astro City.

I liked it, though it never really hit its stride.

I though that Gotham Central has some promise as a procedural type of show with the Bat Family lurking outside the edges of the frame, but it seems the movie series may make that tough.

There was an Astro City arc about it, but I’ve forgotten most of the details, and don’t have the issues handy, at the moment. There was a telepath who’d help with contract negotiations, although they admitted that that wasn’t entirely above board, that I remember.

My Hero Academia has restrictions on using Quirks (which more than 80% of the population have), but enforcement seems to be ignored for minor Quirks (well, the exact wording is ‘public Quirk use’, so maybe they just haven’t been used in restricted situations that I’ve seen), and it’s possible to get licensed for major Quirk use without becoming a Pro Hero (Ochaco initially wanted to get licensed so she could use her Zero Gravity quirk to help with her family’s construction business), and a lot of heroes specialize as rescue heroes, rather than fighting villains, either due to their personality, or their Quirk being better suited for it.

There’ve actually been two arcs dealing with him - his initial short one (perhaps it was a single issue? Almost certainly no more than 2.) where he learned what happened, and the long one that ended the most recent ongoing series. (Also, Buseik plans to continue the series, just in the form of GNs, not series…but, honestly, that’s probably not going to make the spacing between releases THAT much more sporadic.)

Jack Kirby drew those guys real good.

Several of the X-whatevers were people who had no interest in crimefighting or super-anything; some of them just got a panel someplace, others got pulled in, either when they were attacked by Purifiers or their kin, or when they got involved in some sort of disaster and “discovered” by people who didn’t react nicely.

This includes Dazzler (who originally just wanted to be a disco singer with a very low light bill) and multiple instances of medical personnel who had disagnostic or healing powers.

Superlópez (who just got a movie out) is a parody of That Other Guy; one of the themes is the reactions from people, which tend to be negative. In the comics, his love interest (Luisa Lanas) likes López but refers to Superlópez as Supermediocrity, Supernothing and the Superdisaster among others. Him and his teammates spend more time running from cops and insurance companies than anything else.

Another story in Astro City involved a soap opera that in our world would’ve made a cop a recurring character — you know, for a touch of street-level realism?

The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-gag is, in that world, the same line of reasoning leads them to instead cast an actor-who-does-his-own-stunts type to play a superhero.

But the other part is, that guy works with a woman who has telekinetic powers: she’d considered becoming a superhero, even maybe come up with a code name, and then decided that, nah, she’d rather just earn a steady paycheck while staying away from shootouts: she just provides special effects if a TV show needs someone to move like a gymnast, or fly around like Peter Pan, or whatever.

A decade ago, there was a webcomic about ordinary people living in the City of Heroes universe. Some of it has been archived.