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How Would Humanity React to Superheroes?

Would we welcome these godlike creatures with open arms or fear?

Courtesy of Marvel

We live in a world dominated by superheroes. Both Avengers movies are in the top 10 highest grossing films of all time. Everywhere you look you see an ad for another superhero product. 5 different superhero movies have already come out in 2017, with 2 more slated to premiere later on this year. This superhero overload had me thinking, what if they were real. I'm not saying, how great would it be to be a superhero, but how would humanity as a whole react to the idea of superheroes. In order to determine that, we must first break down the different types of superheroes. Humanity would react differently to different types of superheroes, so let's break them down into 4 categories.

Man-Made Superheroes

Courtesy of funny-pictures 

Examples: Iron Man, Batman, Hawkeye 

This is the most plausible of all the superhero scenarios. It's possible that at some point a person or organization will develop the technology to make a person into a superhero. This category covers all the superheroes that don't necessarily have any superpowers. They either have superior technology or training.

How Would We React: It would essentially launch a superhero arms race. I think the opening of Iron Man 2 is the most accurate depiction of what would happen. The government would try to take control of the technology while other countries and companies try to replicate it. If it was specialized training I think it would go largely unnoticed. Think about how many people would be afraid of Hawkeye. Even though he's incredibly skilled and deadly because he is a known quantity he's immediately less threatening. A man in a flying suit would cause panic because his abilities are unknown. The reason people are afraid of Batman is that he remains hidden if people knew his abilities he would be less scary. While there would be mixed feelings about a masked vigilante with specialized training, I don't think he would be feared.

Unique Heroes

Courtesy of Jsousa10.deviantart

Examples: Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America

This is the category that most superheroes fall under. They have some sort of power or enhanced ability, but there's only one of them. Meaning, there's only a handful of these superheroes in the world. The world would react very differently to one Spider-Man than it would react to hundreds of them.

How Would We React: The reaction to these superheroes depends on what we know about their origins. If it's a superhero like The Hulk, it would be similar to how we would react to the Man-Made Superheroes. If it was known that this superhero was the result of a military experiment, militaries and companies around the world would do whatever it takes to create this new weapon. However, that is a unique circumstance because the origin of most of these heroes remains a secret. The people of Queens don't know that Spider-Man was bitten by a radioactive spider, they just know that there's some dude in tights helping people. Because of the mysterious origins, there would be less of a public arms race. Yes, there will still be organizations trying to find ways to replicate these abilities, but everyday citizens wouldn't be concerned with that.

Since there are only a handful of superheroes in this scenario, we would react based on each heroes merit. If Spider-Man is helping people then humanity would trust and appreciate superheroes, but if it's The Hulk destroying property and possibly hurting innocent bystanders, then that would be met with much more fear. Regardless of how helpful the superheroes are, if the number of superheroes gets too high, that's when people would start to panic and something like the Sokovia Accords would get introduced.

Aliens

Courtesy of CW

Examples: Superman, Martian Manhunter, Thor

This covers any superhero that the public knows is an alien.

How Would We React: The way we would react to alien superheroes is simple, fear. The reason Superman and Supergirl are depicted as beacons of light is because the natural reactions to super powered aliens would be fear. The only way to make a world where it's plausible that people would like alien superheroes are if they're unequivocally good and full of hope. In reality, even if the aliens were here to help, we would always be worried that they could turn on us, destroy the world and there would be nothing we could do about it. A lot of people would side with Lex Luthor, no matter how heroic alien superheroes would be, they would ultimately be met with fear because they are a powerful unknown.

Mutants

Courtesy of FOX

Example: X-Men

How Would We React: The X-Men need their own category because they are very different than the other superheroes on this list. In the X-Men world, their powers are caused by a known quantity, the mutant X gene. In the movies and comics they are met with fear and hatred, and unfortunately, that is exactly how they would be received in real life. There are countless mutants with extraordinary powers, and humanity would have no way to defend themselves. There's a reason the creators decided to make Magneto a Holocaust survivor; most of humanity would want to treat mutants the exact same way. They would want all mutants to have to register so they could keep track of them, then eventually eliminate them to keep the rest of us safe. Ideally, there would be a better solution to this, but in a world where someone can be born with the power to read everyone's mind, I don't see them being met with anything other than fear and hatred.

I think the conclusion here is pretty obvious while living in a world of superheroes sounds cool on the surface, it would probably be met with nothing but fear, aggression, and hatred. 

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