This Fictional Universe Isn’t Big Enough for the Both of Us!


As I’ve said before, I’m not a regular reader of comics, but I’ve picked up some knowledge here and there, and this series of superhero texts is quite amusing. You’ve probably seen it already, but it brings to mind some points I wanted to make about comics and fantastic fiction in general. In many imaginary worlds, there are things that people don’t believe despite seeing far-fetched things happen around them all the time. It’s like how in Harry Potter, everyone thinks Luna Lovegood is crazy for believing in nargles and snorkacks; but dragons, unicorns, and horses you can only see if you’ve watched someone die are perfectly normal.

Picture by Kyusil
Of course, no fictional world is going to make EVERYTHING true, and highlighting some of the things that aren’t can help with world-building. Still, it can make for awkward storytelling at times. I think a lot of this comes from shared universes, like Marvel and DC Comics both have. Most long-running superhero titles have gone all over the place in terms of how realistic they’re supposed to be, but adding other characters and their worlds to the mix only complicates things further. I get the impression that writers of Batman stories have been trying to make them at least mostly confirm to the laws of physics, but that’s kind of hard when we know Superman exists in the same world, and according to some stories the two of them interact regularly. Officially, Superman’s powers are scientific rather than magical, but can you really find any science to support heat vision? There often isn’t much of a difference between imaginary science and magic.

SCIENCE!
That’s not even getting into the fact that gods from classical mythology appear in both Marvel and DC. How does that impact religion in those worlds?

I know with the Thor movies they’ve said the Norse gods are actually just beings from another world with advanced technology and supernatural powers, rather than proper deities. This is more or less proceeding from the point of view in many mainstream religions today, in which God is omnipotent, omniscient, unknowable, and outside of time and space as we know them. This wasn’t always the case with older pagan religions; the Norse gods pretty much WERE just beings from another world with advanced technology and supernatural powers. I guess the key difference is that worshipping them isn’t going to do any good, although whether the comics and related media address this is something I don’t know. Also, the miracles performed by Jesus and the Old Testament prophets seem rather small-time when compared with what some heroes are doing practically every day. What superhero worth his or her salt HASN’T been resurrected at least once?

Then we have stuff like people in the X-Men comics being prejudiced against mutants, but apparently having no problem with anyone who achieved supernatural powers through some kind of accident.

Technically, Peter, I believe that’s what’s known as a somatic mutation. <a href=http://x-men.wikia.com/wiki/Mutant<The X-Men Wiki says that Spider-Man is considered a “mutate,” as is Juggernaut. I remember on the X-Men cartoon, Juggernaut was always saying, “I’m not a mutant! My powers are magical!” Apparently that makes a difference somehow.

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This entry was posted in Cartoons, Comics, Harry Potter, Humor, Magic, Mythology, Norse, Religion, Science, Television and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to This Fictional Universe Isn’t Big Enough for the Both of Us!

  1. Joe says:

    Yep. These reasons and more are why I have zero interest in superheroes. Even as a kid, I found their stories inchoate, implausible and silly (not that I thought of it in those terms at the time). And while they’ve become far more sophisticated in the modern age, their overall universe is still rudimentary when compared to many of their contemporaries in the fantasy, science-fiction and even horror genres. So, I watch the films for a few hours of escapism, but they don’t hold my attention past that. Guardians of the Galaxy may be the sole exception that breaks the rule for me, as I loved that movie, but for my money, with stories like V for Vendetta and The Watchmen, I can’t help but feel the genre has reached its peak and is now just treading water.

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