Superheroes, Heroes, and ordinary heroes

When I was growing up in the sixties in  England I would read comics with characters like Superman and Spiderman. Later, I would enjoy Batman on Television.

The first superhero

The first superhero

When the elementary school principal told us she met Batman and Robin on the bus I was entranced. As I grew up, I entered the dark ages and lost interest in these characters. Fast forward to the nineties, I entered my renaissance and found a renewed interest in reading and watching film.

The dark night grossed $1B Worldwide

The dark night grossed $1B Worldwide


So how did I get interested in this subject of superheroes? I was browsing some of the featured books in our public library, and the cover of a book caught my attention. “Disguised as Clark Kent” with a subtitle “Jews, Comics, and Creation of the Superhero.” It is an interesting read into how children of East European Jews came to create all the major superheroes that we are familiar with. There is a social and historical context which gives some interesting insights. Superman was the first real superhero created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster who were sons of immigrant Jewish families.  In mid-1930s America, their inspiration came from “President Roosevelt’s fireside chats, the effects of the depression on the downtrodden masses, and the oppression of Jews in Nazi Germany. Superman was the answer to all the problems. Inspired by Moses and Jesus, he is a child destined for greatness, sent to save the earth and it’s people one at a time. The immigrant parents from the planet Krypton sacrifice all they have so their child can prosper. The child is adopted by a mid-western couple. Superman like many other superheroes follows a dual identity. He is the common man as Clark Kent with a job at the Daily Planet and then he is the extraordinary Superman, who has super abilities. Superman was such a hit, all other superheroes like Batman derive from him. I won’t bore you with a review but the book is worth a read.[j2]

In terms of heroes, I have been thinking about the subject over the last few months. Given a lot of the negative news coverage about Islam and Muslims, I wanted to highlight contemporary famous Muslims who we could consider to be heroes. I put the video “Muslim Firsts” together. This in turn led me to think about people of other faiths, Jews, Christians, Hindus who are making a difference to our Community, so I put together another video “Friends of Muslims.”   I am still thinking about the subject. I paid another visit to our public library looking for an Audiobook to listen to in the car. Out pops, ABC News, John Quinones with his “Heroes Among Us.” Perfect. In it he captures the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary heroic acts. Both Quinones’ a sixth generation Latino and the stories he tells are captivating.

Every cultural or national group looks for its heroes. Where they are deficient they create the altered egos in the form of a Superhero. Chinese films have created characters that can do super-human feats in films like “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.”

The 99: Muslim Superheroes

The 99: Muslim Superheroes

Bollywood too has taken note and come up with it’s first Superhero film Krrish. Although the Muslim world does not have a media capital, like Hollywood or Bollywood, they too are taking baby steps. No Mollywood yet but, over in Kuwait, Teshkeel Media, has started publishing “The 99.” It is a series of comic books based on superhero characters who battle injustice and fight evil. Each character embodies one of the 99 qualities that Muslims believe God exemplifies.





9 thoughts on “Superheroes, Heroes, and ordinary heroes

  1. quite true Javed. i have to say a lot of professionals in our midst are heroes. Nurses on modest income do ‘thankless’ tasks treating often very impatient bedridden patients. Surgeons who save lives as a career, firefighters who risk their own lives. Mind you Superman saves our planet so I guess he still gets the prize.
    Nice one Jav.
    By the way I very much liked that clip on muslim heroes you sent a few months ago.

  2. nice post! my personal favorite is Batman since he has no magical superpowers – just alot of wealth, but he is trained in martial arts and has cool gadgets and vehicles.

  3. Asalaamu Aleikum Br. Javed. May Allah continue to bless you and make you even more prolific in your media efforts. As a boy I read a lot of comics, and collected series which I now share with my children. I have always longed for a comic which represented more Islamic values. I did hear of the 99 sometime ago, but forgot about it. Thank you for re-kindling my interest. Do you know where we can get our hands on it?

    Thank you once more and please continue to publish.

    I believe you are one of our muslim heroes.

    your brother

  4. You are my superhero, and u have proved it many times, we don’t need cartoons to lose our imagination to, but the real ones who impact our lives everyday.

  5. Nice article. I think a superhero that is largely unrecognised is one’s mother. They carry us in their wombs, they go through child birth, they protect us from harm when we unable to, they feed us, clothe us, bathe us, & shower us with insatiable love. Although saving the world from the likes of Lex Luthor or The Joker would entitle you to the title of superhero, its the small things mentioned above that makes a real superhero.

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