Saturday, November 27, 2004

"...and when everyone's super, then NOONE will be"

It occurs to me that in The Incredibles, Syndrome was downplaying himself a lot. He really WAS a Super all along. He just was too busy looking at the people who had big physical powers to realize what he had himself. He invented rocket boots when he was...what? 12 years old? He invented his own super suit and powers. He could have been one of the great heroes, but instead he fell into a spiral of only seeing his physical weaknesses and forgetting the greater powers he posessed within his rather bulbulous head.

Furthermore, Syndrome evidences a sort of democratic sentiment towards superpowers, at least in the Athenian sense. If you see the "natural" Supers as the oligarchic elite of superheroing, then Syndrome acts as a major democratic threat. One of the big threats that the character poses is the fact that he intends to make superpowers availible to everyone, essentially extending the franchise of superhumanity to the "rabble", the people who's place it was to be saved rather than to do the saving.

What this means is that, while not exactly villifying Mister Incredible and friends, it puts a new take on the very idea of being a superhero. Is it only the powers that make the hero? If so, why? Oligarchies always need a specific class to extend oligarchic rights to, most often based on wealth, land, or birth. If you consider the Supers' "wealth" to be in power, and the fact that their powers seem to be genetic, then superheroism and supervillainy is a family matter, and while it may be very wide, it is essentially a closed franchise.

The threat that Syndrome reprsents, thus, is the idea of breaking the franchise, breaking the oligarchic group of superhumanity. He is the Everyman who has made himself super; the novus homo, as the Romans might say. He then wishes to bring this to others, so that people can then choose what to do with powers. They can choose whether or not to have powers, and what they will do with the powers that they then have. In the end, this means that the old Supers who naturally had powers are relegated to the same level of society as everyone else. Rathern than being special or unique, they are just ordinary.

And people don't WANT to be ordinary. They want to be unique. And thus Syndrome's vision of the future is a real fear for the Supers who have always seen themselves as special by defining themselves as special and non-powered people as "normal".

However, while Syndrome envisions a more uniform future, a true democracy where no one can be unique because EVERYONE is "unique", perhaps his future would end up more like Top Ten. Perhaps the "Syndrome Future" would unlock the possibility for other people to be super gadgeteers and thus take their own unique takes on the gadgets that empower them, especially if there are people just like him: gadgeteer supers who have always been cowed into thinking of themselves as normal because of the more amazing physical powers of their more potent Super cohorts.

Not really sure where to go with this. More later. Now, off to finish running the season finale of my Buffy: The Vampire Slayer Role Playing Game series Maggie: The Vampire Slayer.


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