Superhero Dad? Nope. I'd Rather be a Super-Villain Dad.
Yes, thank you, my suit does look sharp. A plan?! Of course I have a plan.
I know you love superheroes as much as I do. We're noble. There's nothing more satisfying than a win for the good guys. It feels right, it's fun, and goshdarnit that Tony Stark is so cheeky. But the truth is...superheroes annoy me. They tend to be more super irrational and bumbling than super heroic.
Consider the following annoying elements of a few superheroes:
- Superman is utterly indestructible until stumbling across that glowing, green rock.
- Cyclops perpetually wears sunglasses like a Jay-Z wannabe.
- Captain America is only slightly faster and stronger than I am. Cool.
- Everything looks like a nail to Thor.
- ...at least the Invisible Woman doesn't take as long to get ready in the morning.
Tongue-in-cheek, I know. But in truth, what bothers me about the superhero's function is that it's purely reactionary, making him/her predictable and boring to the real geniuses – super-villains. Without super-villains around, superheroes are passive, purposeless daydrinkers. They aren't role models I look up to, they're just warriors with better tools fighting evil. I don't really want to be them.
And before you object with righteous moral outrage, please understand I know why superheroes are awe-inspiring and I know why they're important. But is it bad that I still don't want to be them?
What I really need someone to help me be more genius in my schemes and capers, to read between the lines with more clarity, and to find the leverage points in our world that allow for change. I want to be proactively scheming for good, not reacting to the bad. And I get my tips from super-villains for that stuff.
The Anatomy of a [Male] Super-Villain:
My best friend's dad scared the hell out of me growing up. I'm still intimidated. He isn't physically imposing or short-fused. He's just calm. Collected. Thoughtfully quiet. I broke more things at their house than the Cat in the Hat, but he never lost his temper. This was more scary to me, even though I knew his character and looked up to him like a father. The best super-villains are exactly the same. Heath Ledger's Joker and Tom Hardy's Bane top the rankings in recent villain history. They're powerful and confident, never raise their voice, never react. They're twice as sinister and effective because they're hard to read. This quiet mystery is what rivets us to them and makes their films so brilliant.
I aim to achieve this super-villain calmness in fatherhood. I don't want my kids to fear me [too much], I just want their attention. I want them to wonder what's going on in this mysterious head of mine and how I remain so even-tempered. I'll leave reactionary outbursts of rage to the Hulk, because really...that isn't powerful to kids in the real world. After a while they just stop listening.
He has a Plan.
Superheroes bug me because they're reactive problem solvers, not proactive world changers. If “great power comes with great responsibility” then why does Superman masquerade around as Clark Kent doing news stories when he's not fighting crime? If he were responsible, he'd be using those laser eyes to purify water for the millions in Africa without clean water (or something). He needs to work on using his powers more actively, although the movies probably wouldn't be as good.
In contrast, the super-villain knows something others don't know. He sees the leverage points in the way the world works and craftily works out a plan for destruction. He's focused, full of purpose, and relentlessly confident – even if it's for the wrong reasons. Now that's what I like.
I aspire to be the dad who invites his kids along on his capers and gives them important roles. It teaches them to think, move forward, and own their own projects. It teaches them follow-through and responsibility. It teaches them the get-it-done attitude that helps them see between the lines and make them innovative leaders one day.
The super-villain is an expert at what he does. He's calm and calculated in his methods, as we have seen. But he's also likable, funny, outgoing, sincere. Whereas superheroes are typically super serious, easily confused, and introspective head cases with no communication skills. They're quite often boring, if I'm honest.
I feel like it doesn't matter what we do as much as how we handle ourselves when we do it. When a super-villain assembles a team, he inspires them to join by selling the importance of his mission. He's persuasive and silver-tongued, transferring some of his own passion for the task to those supporting him. They believe in the cause and they put their lives on the line for it.
I want fatherhood to look the same for me. We're a family, and I'm dad. I'm calm, I have a plan, and these are the reasons this is so important. Let's act like super-villains and scheme our way to what the world needs.
Grab that ratchet set and let's fix this alternator, Mike. You'll be driving this car soon so get to know it the best you can. I know the tool isn't exactly what we need but let's make it work before dinner or Mom's gonna be ticked. Heather, I have this awesome surprise for Mom for Christmas. Think you can keep a secret? Also, please grab the extra toilet paper out of the closet because we're going to prank the Smith's tonight! It'll be hilarious! Past your bedtime? Who cares? This doesn't happen every night.
Being a dad feels like a strange juxtaposition between 1) you vs. your kids and 2) you for your kids. Love and care pass freely between father and children, but quite often discipline has to show up to guide children in the right direction. It can be a war, and it's difficult to know how to act because we're making this whole parenting thing up as we go most of the time.
I just want to stay calm, have a plan, and charismatically lead my kids into the mature awesomeness I see growing inside them.
What Super-Villain do you aspire to emulate in your household? Weigh In, Torch Tribe!