Superheros are so deeply ingrained in American society. Everywhere we look, we can find a superhero reference somewhere. For example, superhero movies are coming out all the time (take a look of the order of Marvel movies!), superhero toys are in Happy Meals, and you can find superhero emojis, posters, cars, foods, phone cases, and apparel.
But what we Americans think of the traditional superhero isn’t the same across the world. Here’s a guide on how the world views superheroes and how they differ from the American standard.
Pakistan — the Burka Avenger
Pakistan’s first female superhero, the Burka Avenger, is a girl’s schoolteacher by night and fights crime by day. Her method of fighting enemies is quite unusual yet sticks with her teacher theme. She uses the ancient art of takht kabbadi, which uses books and pens as projectiles and weapons. What’s even better is that the people she fights are those who are against the power of female education. While there has been a lot of criticism in Pakistan over her using the burka as something that is not religiously tied, many proponents of the Burka Avenger claim that she is using her education and stance for women as a tool for good.
India — Mr. India
Much like the Burka Avenger, Mr. India is a teacher and uses his musical prowess to take care of children and act with kindness. Mr. India emerged as a character in a typical Hindi movie, and he works to save India from corrupt bureaucrats, dirty politicians, and heartless businessmen. His character is used as a way to bring awareness to the domestic issues India is facing right now, such as rampant poverty and governmental corruption.
Malaysia — Cicak-man
Cicak-man is a just a normal guy, living his normal boring life until he drinks coffee that has been laced with a virus-carrying gecko. He soon turns into said gecko, and uses his reptilian powers to save his city from an evil scientist with the goal of contaminating the entire population. Great news: He is successful every time! Cicak-man is incredibly famous and has catapulted the Malaysia into the world of superheroes, because he is their first.
Japan — Ultraman
Created as a way to bring awareness of Japan’s actions in the 1960s international space race, Ultraman is seen as one of Japan’s most enduring icons. In the story, his name is Shin Hayata, and he’s a member of the Science Special Search Party. This organization is designed to help Japan achieve success in the space race, while fighting evil aliens in the meantime. One day, an evil alien threatens the Science Special Search Party, and Shin steps up and turns into Ultraman, an alien-fighting monster from an area in space. He is known to possess superhuman strength, can teleport and uses laser beams to fight his battles.
Making his debut in the 1980s, Bananaman is a boy named Eric who lived in Nutty Town, and would transform into Bananaman every time he ate a banana. He possesses the ability to fly, super-strength, and super-durability. He was based off of a comic book series that showed him fighting a different villain every week, but his ultimate foe was a person named General Blight, who bore an uncanny resemblance to Adolf Hitler. Funnily enough, Bananaman’s kryptonite was eating moldy bananas!
As you can see, superheroes are just as diverse as the world we live in. Now that you know that there are superheroes fighting crime all over, you can now discover new places and people in efforts to understand new cultures!