Beyond summer blockbusters, superheroes show great diversity

Sep 25 2012

By Callie Langford, Originally published in TODO Austin Magazine

When you think of the term superhero, one of the many summer superhero blockbuster stars may be one of the first to come to mind: Batman, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man. For those of us whose superhero knowledge comes primarily from mainstream movies, it can be easy to assume there aren’t many minority superheroes. White males tend to rule the superhero universe, though I’m not sure what you would consider The Hulk when he’s in his “Other Guy” mode.

Yet if you look beyond movies, or at minimum check out X-Men, you will get to know a much wider variety of superhero characters. The comic book world has been working to incorporate female superheroes, superheroes of color and LGBTQ superheroes since the 1960s. The newest comic book Spider-Man, Miles Morales, is half Latino and half African-American. He took over after the death of Peter Parker, the Spider-Man many of us know from the movies starring Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. The body-armor superpowers of the Blue Beetle were assumed by Jaime Reyes of El Paso in the third reincarnation of this character. X-Men’s Storm was the first black superheroine, with Captain Marvel and Captain Confederacy following in her footsteps. X-Men have always fought for human rights, with their comic book struggles modeled after the civil rights movement in the 1960s and then evolving into a metaphor for the LGBTQ rights movement in the 1990s, yet it has taken time for LGBTQ superheroes to get a foothold. Marvel Comics had a mandate against openly-gay superheroes that wasn’t lifted until 1992 when their character Northstar came out. Only in the late 2000’s did DC introduce Katherine Kane, who took over protecting Gotham as Batwoman when Bruce Wayne passed away, as a lesbian superheroine. Just this summer DC announced that the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, would be coming out as their first openly gay superhero.

What this comes down to is the fact that anyone can be a superhero, and you don’t even have to be a comic book character to become one. You can become a superhero for children who’ve been abused or neglected simply by signing up to run in, and maybe even fundraise for, the upcoming CASA Superhero Run on Sunday, September 30th! CASA of Travis County has been hosting the CASA Superhero Run 5K and Kids 1K for three years, and this event has grown bigger and better every year as more Austin superheroes stand up against child abuse and neglect. This year we've joined forces with CASA of Williamson County to help even more kids in our community!

The CASA Superhero Run has no shortage of diverse superheroes, so we offer great rewards to a variety of our superhero competitors. The superhero costume contest categories include the Best Traditional Superhero, Best Original Superhero, Best Super Kids and even Best Super Dog! The original superhero competition brings out the best in Austin’s creativity. In the past year’s we’ve seen Super Recycle Girl, Jade the 80s Superhero, Mr. Organic and a personal favorite, Super Chicken. 

Super Recycle Girl  Jade, the 80's Superhero

Super Recycle Girl and Jade, the 80's Superhero

So join us at the 2012 CASA Superhero Run and do your part to further diversify the world of superheroes through your own original superheroes or perhaps just a unique spin on a traditional superhero. You can join the race against child abuse by heading to