Define a Hero by Priyanka Sarkhel
A dialogue based off Marvel superheroes.
Disclaimer: these characters are not my own and I'm not receiving any monetary benefit from this work.
Tony Stark: Also known as Iron Man. Impulsive playboy and war profiteer turned superhero.
Steve Rogers: Also known as Captain America, skinny boy turned muscular after given super serum (basically steroids, but let’s not question things)
Stark and Rogers previously had a heated argument that began by them pushing each other's’ buttons. Now, Stark is back for some answers, thus, a debate about what it means to be a hero ensues.
Rogers groans internally as Stark approaches him, anticipating the beginning of another headache.
Rogers: You really won’t let it go, will you?
Stark: *ignoring Rogers* So, Cap. Please do enlighten me as to what you mean when you say, “If you want to call yourself a hero, Stark, then act like one!”?
Rogers: *rolls eyes* Easy. A hero is someone who is willing to lay down on the wire and let the other guy crawl over him. Someone who sacrifices his or her life for the greater good.
Stark: So basically…a martyr.
Rogers: I didn’t say that.
Stark: All I heard was “you’re only a hero if you die for someone else.” Does that mean we’re not heroes, then? Since we’re still breathing and all.
Rogers: I didn’t say that either.
Stark: Then what? People who go into battle and live don’t count as heroes, then? Veterans? What about firemen? Policemen? Philanthropists? Animal rescuers? The Joe Shmoe who helped the kid’s cat out of a tree?
Rogers: Alright, calm it. *sighs* A hero is someone who is willing to give up their own lives to save someone else’s. Like us.
Stark: What about doctors who perform life-saving surgery, but aren’t really too hot on the whole dying thing just yet? And really, you’re going to disregard the philanthropists and the Joe Schmoes again? Unbelievable.
Rogers: You really won’t drop it, will you?
Stark: Hey, I’m just asking for advice from the wise one. You told me I needed to act like a hero, so I’m just trying to figure out what that means. Now, answer my question, old man.
Rogers: Fine. A hero is just someone who saves lives. Done.
Rogers: What now?
Stark: What if said hero was once someone who used to take lives, or what if said hero had to take lives in order to save others? What then? I’ll give you examples. For instance, our good friend, Black Widow was once a Russian spy. She was raised as a killer, but now she’s on the Avengers. Bruce Banner, or The Hulk, turns into a giant, green rage monster. Self explanatory there. Hawkeye was a secret agent for S.H.I.E.L.D., an elite one at that, who met Black Widow on an assignment to assassinate her. You killed Nazis and others from the Axis Powers during the World War. I killed people through war profiteering. Is our past taken into account? Or do we just disregard it because we saved New York from aliens?
Rogers: You are infuriatingly hyper verbal.
Stark: Just asking the relevant things, Cap.
Rogers: Then let me put it this way: a hero is someone who grows from the past, someone who tries his or her best to be good. A hero is someone who learns from his or her mistakes and tries to do better.
Stark: But that could literally be anyone. And me stopping the war profiteering thing and turning my company into a green-energy focused corporation, and then becoming Iron Man doesn’t count as being a hero? I’m trying to fix my mistakes, right?
Rogers: Sure, but you don’t have the right temperament to be a hero with how you’re acting.
Stark: Oh, you mean I’m not being all self-righteous and patriotic and GoodTM like you? And what does it mean, for a person to be GoodTM ? Are we all supposed to punch Nazis in the face in order to be considered GoodTM ? Apple pie, white picket fence, two and a half kids, the American dream, that whole shebang?
Rogers: *sarcastically* Your logic is blowing my mind right now.
Stark: Define GoodTM , Cap. Help out an Avenger in need, would ya?
Rogers: Look, goodness can only be shown with how you treat others, by what you’re willing to do for others. All of us have history, yes, bad history at that. But ultimately, what makes us the good guys is the fact that we fight against oppression, against evil, so that people can live in peace. We save as many as we can, and sometimes that doesn’t mean everyone. We sacrifice, fight the fight, only to go home and do it again later. Get it?
Rogers: *face palms*
Stark: Sure, sacrifice. Let’s talk about that. What exactly have we sacrificed?
Rogers: I thought geniuses were supposed to be good at critical thinking.
Stark: No, really. What exactly have we sacrificed? Our lives? Last time I checked, we’re all still here and not six feet under. Our money? The Avengers live in a mansion funded by a billionaire. Our lives? Being a superhero is our life. Everyone makes sacrifices, but in all honesty, we haven’t made any. Not anything that matters.
Rogers: Sacrifice isn’t always necessary. Frankly, a hero can be anyone, Tony. There’s no concrete definition.
Stark: Then what definition do you hold me to? If you don’t know the standards of being a hero, of goodness or sacrifice, then why do you tell me that I’m not acting like one?
Rogers: I-- *mouth thins* I don’t know.
Stark: Good talk.