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 Post subject: Hypotheticals: Superhero Timeline Influence
PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:24 am 
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Without getting into too much boring detail, I came across Wikipedia's article on Watchmen, whose backstory includes political ramifications from the introduction of superheroes in the 1940s/1960s to a timeline previously parallel to our own. Which got me thinking...what about social ramifications? I have a particular scenario in mind for this question, and since I couldn't come up with satisfactory answer on my own...figured I'd ask everyone here.


Basically, superheroes (all with traditional superpowers) came into being in the mid 1950s. Thanks to an assembled team of five superheros in the 1960s, the Bay of Pigs Invasion was successfully pulled off, resulting in the end of Fidel Castro's reign. This team was composed of two white women (one of whom was the leader), two black men, and one white man.

What type of effect could/would this have on racial/gender equality/stereotypes in the 90s, three decades later?

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 Post subject: Re: Hypotheticals: Superhero Timeline Influence
PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 10:17 am 
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Having been defeated during the Bay of Pigs invasion, I think the way people thought of communists would definitely change. The Cold War probably would have ended then and there, or not soon after, I think; mostly due to the perception that any communist threat could be easily defeated by these superheroes. Also, possibly, due to socialist nations trying to actively prevent similar fates from befalling themselves.

Would this result in a more ruthlessly capitalist world today? That is, a world where the more socialist benefits we get today don't exist. You could say so, if you wanted. Given the circumstances.

Race relations might change. Funny thing about racists and bigots is that, aside from being cocks, they subconsciously dissociate people from groups of people. Sure, they might see two african american men, but they'd be 'cool' or 'okay'. The rest of them, though. Still 'good for nothing'. It depends though. Progress would be slow, but I think that by 1990 you'd see more of it than we've made today, that's for sure. Though, Australia's about as racist as the worst parts of the deep south, so I could be pretty biased with my experience, there. I think relations with latin Americans would actually be better, somehow. New Cuban government being American-backed and friendlier, with the people of Cuba appreciating this, trying to kickstart better relations with America, and the inevitable media coverage. It'd certainly provoke some sort of change.

Women. I don't know what'd happen there. The whole strong-working-women being sexy as a public consensus, rather than weird kink, phase would probably begin much sooner. Say, in the 1970s rather than the 1990s. Which is when it happened in Australia - where the respect of women as equals actually became actively encouraged. Before then, from the 1960s up to the 1990s, women were treated more nicely; but, that's hardly respect in the same vein, is it. Women started to be treated as though they actually deserved the same rights as men; rather than because they might get Germaine Greer to lop your penis off with bolt-cutters if you didn't give her money for foundation powder, or something.

Honestly, it'd probably just benefit Australia a lot, too. Were, uh, Australia anywhere near America. The population at large might actually understand the aboriginal people, rather than just thinking of them as unreasonable and a nuisance as seems to be the general understanding today. :/

One thing I keep thinking is that the way sexuality operates in society today would probably be vastly altered in this alternate reality.

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 Post subject: Re: Hypotheticals: Superhero Timeline Influence
PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 12:13 am 
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Loki Kola wrote:
One thing I keep thinking is that the way sexuality operates in society today would probably be vastly altered in this alternate reality.
How so?

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 Post subject: Re: Hypotheticals: Superhero Timeline Influence
PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:48 pm 
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I have another thought: who's to say that any other country (pro or anti communism) wouldn't produce heroes of their own? That's the one thing I think Watchmen glossed over, but I'm sure it was intentional as it would have been too big of a concept to incorporate with the messages intended with the story.

But, that doesn't mean someone else couldn't expand/expound on it, since the idea of a "hero" is very subjective, depending on what you believe in. (What immediately comes to mind are communist propaganda posters that glorified various people, specific and general, as heroes.)

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 Post subject: Re: Hypotheticals: Superhero Timeline Influence
PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 9:09 pm 
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The Phiend wrote:
Loki Kola wrote:
One thing I keep thinking is that the way sexuality operates in society today would probably be vastly altered in this alternate reality.
How so?


We're talking about the appearance of humans - or even humanoid aliens - who are naturally far more powerful physically than their human peers. I think this would drive people to try and emulate their power even if they can't do that physically (or, magically, or whatever). The simple utterance of, "Okay, this time, I'm Ultra Power Woman (or whatever) and you can be the helpless mailman," would probably strengthen the sexual revolution of the time, and increase it's duration. Metaphorical viagra, if you will. Really, I'd say it'd make kinks based on power, say, domination and submission, far more common - and acceptable - than they are today. This would also possibly make more open expressions of sexuality standard, if just because the knowledge these kinks are out there and accepted would make people more comfortable in expressing themselves more publicly. Or, it'd at least make them feel better than they would today.

Basically, the most intense part of the sexual revolution would last for much longer, which would naturally mean that by 1990 we'd have come further than we have even today. Homosexuality could even be far more accepted, if, say, one of the superhumans were gay themselves. You could even use said person to symbolise the struggle for human acceptance that has unfortunately characterised the existence of most gay people to live through the past few decades.

'Human acceptance' meaning acceptance as human beings and equals, to be talked to and interacted with. Rather than, "Yeah, mate, I'm fine with Greg being a fag; so long as he don't go doing any faggy shit when I'm around.," which seems to be a prevalent attitude at least in Brisbane.

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 Post subject: Re: Hypotheticals: Superhero Timeline Influence
PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 4:53 pm 
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Jude wrote:
I have another thought: who's to say that any other country (pro or anti communism) wouldn't produce heroes of their own? That's the one thing I think Watchmen glossed over, but I'm sure it was intentional as it would have been too big of a concept to incorporate with the messages intended with the story.

But, that doesn't mean someone else couldn't expand/expound on it, since the idea of a "hero" is very subjective, depending on what you believe in. (What immediately comes to mind are communist propaganda posters that glorified various people, specific and general, as heroes.)
I suppose it could come down to the triggering factor. If whatever caused the emergence of superpowers was a physical object or otherwise focused around a particular place, it would make sense that individuals with these powers (whether these individuals are heroes or not) would be clustered around that location. Numbers and/or potential would decrease the farther away.


Hmm, now I've got another thought in this vein...dispersion. Say a meteorite (are those cliche these days?) is responsible for superpowers emerging in some individuals. The force of impact caused it to disintegrate, and as time goes on it disperses through the atmosphere like some benevolent fallout. This would mean the first superheroes would also be the fewest and the most potent...and also concentrated in a small area. Time goes, more heroes in more places, but not as powerful. At some point in time, the effect would be widespread throughout the globe but negligible in effect; some kind of "end of an age".

What if it's already happened, and certain mythological figures were the result of such influence?

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 Post subject: Re: Hypotheticals: Superhero Timeline Influence
PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 11:08 pm 
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Reminds me a bit of a certain story CWS, germanicuscaesar and I were developing a number of years back.

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 Post subject: Re: Hypotheticals: Superhero Timeline Influence
PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 5:35 am 
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The commonality/dispersion angle is an interesting one. Also I think there could potentially be major geopolitical ripples from the Bay of Pigs thing. Would it be a demoralizing blow to the cause of global communism in the 20th century, as Loki suggested, or would both the USSR and other, smaller third-world communist regimes use it as a rallying cry by pointing to it as an example of American "imperialism"? And which view would become more prevalent in "Cuber" (as JFK always called it :P ) itself, since unlike now, they would not have had to have lived for half a century with Fidel's boot on their collective throat?

Alternate history scenarios are fascinating, but damn they can be complicated. :rbg:

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 Post subject: Re: Hypotheticals: Superhero Timeline Influence
PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:20 am 
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CWS wrote:
Would it be a demoralizing blow to the cause of global communism in the 20th century, as Loki suggested, or would both the USSR and other, smaller third-world communist regimes use it as a rallying cry by pointing to it as an example of American "imperialism"
The two aren't necessarily exclusive...suppose the smaller third-world communist regimes make it into propaganda, try to retaliate for their fallen Cuban brethren...and the US cleans their clocks. Reinforcing the notion, yes, but also reinforcing the stakes.

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 Post subject: Re: Hypotheticals: Superhero Timeline Influence
PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 11:52 pm 
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To follow up on the idea of superheroes arising from other countries: Superman: Red Son

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 Post subject: Re: Hypotheticals: Superhero Timeline Influence
PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:06 am 
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Jude wrote:
To follow up on the idea of superheroes arising from other countries: Superman: Red Son

I've heard quite a bit about Red Son...admittedly I have not actually read it myself, but based on what I've read about it (including the author's notes), while certainly an intriguing idea, I have the impression that it got quite a few things about Superman's character wrong...or at least the Superman I grew up with, anyway.

But that's just a nitpick on my part, and I'm not trying to shoot down the overall concept. Besides, there are also plenty of other examples to pick from, anyway. :rbg:

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Last edited by CWS on Fri Nov 12, 2010 3:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Hypotheticals: Superhero Timeline Influence
PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 4:28 pm 
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[I've heard quite a bit about Red Son...admittedly I have not actually read it myself, but based on what I've read about it (including the author's notes), while certainly an intriguing idea, I have the impression that it got quite a few things about Superman's character wrong...or at least the Superman I grew up with, anyway.]

That was probably the idea. A Soviet Superman is not going to grow up with the same ideals, motivation and sense of justice and ethics that the American Superman would develop, let alone the same personality. All these concepts have different meanings in different countries and cultures, and even from person to person. :geek:

Coming up with a completely hypothetical alternate timeline is incredibly complicated and near impossible for obvious reasons, and I applaud Alan Moore's attempt which worked extremely well. I can understand why he couldn't (or wouldn't) delve deeper into it. I mean, Watchmen was meant to be a limited series, and if you tried to add more detail than necessary and explore what was happening outside New York and the main characters, then your work would never get finished.


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 Post subject: Re: Hypotheticals: Superhero Timeline Influence
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 4:46 am 
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Unfortunately, I only watched the motion comic of Red Son. Assuming that it was unabridged, I felt the story skipped a lot of bridges from one plot point to the next, and could have been developed further. Aside from that, it was a very intriguing concept, particularly the ending. And yes, the intent was to delineate from the Superman most are familiar with. Worth a read, at least. I'll stop now so as to not give away any spoilers.

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