The Pink & Ginger posts have been surprisingly popular, I thought I’d give something else a try. Everyone seems entertained by the quotes I share from Connor and Griffin, my 11- and 7-year-old sons. And it’s true: they’re hilarious and clever and insightful and weird.
So every once in a while, I’ll have a conversation with them on here. Today’s topic is near and dear to the Banks Family’s heart: Superheroes.
ProfBanks: So, who’s your favorite superhero, and why?
Griffin: Superman is bulletproof, and that’s awesome. Even if they shoot at his butt, it bounces off!
Connor: I’m sorta mixed between Deadpool and Green Lantern. Deadpool, because he’s so hilarious and unexpected, and he talks to us, like, “Hey readers!” And Green Lantern, because he can make anything that’s not yellow…
I can’t believe neither of them mentioned this flaw in GL’s powers.
G: He can’t make a rubber duckie!
C: And he’s a good person, and that gives him the privilege of being able to make anything so he can help. Why I said it’s a tie is that his weakness is yellow, so Rubber Duckie Guy could beat him, and that’s pretty weak. We could throw a pencil or a LEGO guy’s head, and he’d be all, “Oh no my only weakness!”
Darling Husband (interrupts): The Golden Age one’s weakness was wood.
C: That’s even weaker! A pencil would totally take him out!
G: He couldn’t ever go to school! But what do you like about those guys?
C: Because they’re kinda like me. Deadpool is funny and unpredictable, and Green Lantern is creative and open-minded.
PB: Awesome, Connor. Griff, I’m kinda surprised that you said Superman, because you’ve always been about the villains more than the heroes, and I thought that’s why you liked Batman best.
G: Well, Batman can beat Green Lantern with his belt!
C: Stop talking about how your heroes can beat my heroes!
PB: Stay on target, kids. Tell me more about Batman.
G: Awesome tools! Fighting crime! Sweet mask!
PB: You know, I can type whole sentences.
G: I feel bad for him, actually. I feel bad for his parents, and I hate the robber who killed them. Can I tell you how he killed them?
G: He used a gun. He shot them in the head.
C: Did you know that Batman actually used to use a gun, back when he started?
G: Wow, Mom’s writing this all down! Yeah, it makes me really sad. Can you make a little ?
G: I like how he found the Batcave, too. It’s awesome because there’s a gigantic penny! He could use it to buy something really expensive!
PB: That’s not how money works.
G: What if someone painted it as a dollar bill?
C: I do want to say that Green Lantern’s movie sucks. I mean, it was kinda cool, but it also sucks at the same time. It didn’t feel right, like with the Christopher Nolan series or with Man of Steel. It was more lighthearted. I liked it anyway, but it’s too bad.
PB: So what kinds of stories do you like best when you read or watch about superheroes?
C: I like the ones where there’s an essential key that you can’t imagine. Like, Captain America versus Iron Man in Civil War, or Superman losing his powers. I like how the writers are so creative and descriptive of how those things would happen. You don’t imagine Spider-Man killing one of the Avengers, but they make you understand all the pressures on them and how it could happen. What about you, Griff? Do you like the ones where the bad guy wins?
G: I like Teen Titans, because Robin’s in it, and he’s one of my favorites. He’s my favorite sidekick.
PB: So, Griff, you like stories for the characters in them most of all.
G: Yeah. Robin’s pretty cool, but not cooler than Batman.
PB: Why’s that?
G: He’s awesome because he’s Batman’s sidekick, and he’s funny. I think he’s probably the same age as my brother.
C: Do you like that because he’s a good kid rolemodel? To grow up and be great and help people? Would you like to be Robin someday?
PB: You realize Robin’s family dies, right?
G: Yeah, I’m also sad for Robin too.
PB: What does feeling sad for a character do to make the story good or bad?
G: I don’t really like it when people die. It makes me feel really sad, because it’s like they’re my friend.
C: I think it helps the story, because it helps you understand what happens to them. Like with Jason Todd. When he died, you really wanted to keep reading so you’d know what happened to him. Lots of people come back to life in Batman, and you want to know how they do that.
G: I’m also sad because Robin dies. I mean, Damian Wayne.
PB: Is that your favorite Robin?
It’s true: he does have awesome hair. But those are escrima sticks, not nunchuks.
G: Yes, plus also Nightwing. He has nunchuks and cool-looking hair.
PB: What do superheroes teach you about how to act like a good person?
C: It’s hard to explain, but superheroes give me inspiration to do good things, because they show that if you do good things to other people, even if you’re not in the best situation yourself, good things will come back to you. Captain America and Spider-Man are good examples. Spider-Man has had many deaths of people he loves and are close to him, because of bad choices he made.
PB: Was it really Spider-Man’s choices that made those things happen?
C: One of them, Uncle Ben. He started out cocky. And Captain America has had more deaths, but less personal to him. But he still chooses to fight for freedom, instead of Spider-Man who is a vigilante.
PB: Why is Cap better than Spider-Man because of how he fights?
C: Spiderman fights for certain people in his life, but he puts all his care into them. Cap spreads out his care across the world. Except for Nazis. He doesn’t care about them.
PB: Griff, what about you? What things do you see superheroes do that teach you how to behave?
G: It’s a really hard one. I don’t get it, because all the time, they just fight. It’s confusing that they’re good and they fight, because we’re not supposed to fight people. It’d be better if at the beginning of each movie, they said, “Don’t do any of this at home. Or at school.”
C: Or anywhere! Except maybe a boxing match.
G: They also teach you not to rob banks and stuff.
C: It’s kind of weird that Spider-Man’s theme song makes it sound like he’s singing at villains. Also, another thing: Who lives in America since they were born and doesn’t know about superheroes?
PB: Good question. Why do you think America is so into superheroes, especially right now?
C: Because we need leaders or reasons why to keep going, because we’re in a tough situation with the government shutdown and Osama bin Laden. We’re still getting over 9/11! So we need to have someone to watch over us, to protect us.
G: Because they [Americans] might learn from them how to protect themselves and how to be good.
C: Mom, are Americans terrorists to Afghan people, since we attacked them?
PB: That’s a really complicated question, Connor. Some people in other parts of the world do feel like Americans are bullies because of how we use our power to affect their lives. That’s not just military power; it’s also economic and social.
C: That’s not good.
G: No, not good.
PB: How do you think that relates to superheroes and how they’re supposed to represent American values?
C: I think it represents them kinda badly. To us, Superman and Captain America are the good guys and they fight for America and they’re good guys because of that. Recently (but before the New 52) Superman became more international, and maybe it’s because America’s not always right.
PB: Do you think that everyone appreciates the same values and stories about superheroes? What ideals do you think would be different?
C: There’s an episode of Justice League where they put Green Lantern on trial for breaking interspace law. It turns out he’s being framed, but the trial reveals that we have all these loopholes. Our politics are really dumb here—not dumb, but bad and some people who work there are dumb and close-minded. We arrest people with no good evidence.
PB: Is that how you think Americans seem to the rest of the world sometimes?
PB: How do you think that current superhero media can address that impression?
Not like this, though. This is bad.
C: Superman’s not just an American icon now—he’s known internationally. He fights for good, and he won’t stand down to an injustice happening. He’s not lazy about not wanting to go to bad areas; he’ll go anywhere something bad is happening.
PB: What about how we show superheroes as more flawed individuals, like Iron Man, not just big archetypes?
C: Man of Steel is a good example of this. Superman’s his own person, with his own clues and mysteries to solve in the world. He has a choice to make. He’s not perfect all the time.
PB: I did not expect to go this deep. Thanks, guys. As always, you rock my world.