Friday, May 18, 2012

Super heroes out of uniform, or This is a job for...

The 1993 Hong Kong martial-arts movie Iron Monkey is marginally more realistic than some others that I've seen. There's a bit of blood now and then, and characters occasionally appear injured from chopping, kicking, and bashing hell out of each other with hands, fists, feet, bamboo poles, office equipment, and household objects, for example.

All four main characters are physicians, druggists, or apprentices or assistants thereto, including Yang Tianchun, a benevolent doctor by day, the benevolent roof-hopping, rich-robbing Iron Monkey by night.

This got me thinking about which occupations cultures see as heroic. Superman was a reporter when not fighting crime (Christ, I wonder what newspaper he'd work for today). Spiderman was a news photographer, and Batman was a 1 percenter. It takes no genius to see echoes of American belief in the power of muckraking and the moral obligations of wealth (though Clark Kent never did do much reporting that I can recall, which will come as— but never mind.)

What did other super heroes do out of uniform, and what do their civilian occupations say about the culture that spawned them? Here's a list of what some superheroes did for a living. And here's a quiz that will test your knowledge of Marvel superhero day jobs.

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Shotaro Ikenami writes about Baian, a physician by day, but also a master assassin in his other life. Think acupuncture needles. The books are excellent, by the way.

May 18, 2012  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...


Its a Marvel Quiz. I like Stan Lee but I'm more of a DC guy.

May 18, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, I.J. In at least one of the books, Baian appears to an Iron Money-like avenger of wrongs. Interested that he, too, is a physician. I'll add the books to my list.

May 18, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I should probably note that it's a Marvel quiz. I was always more of a DC guy in my first comics-reading incarnation, too. Back then, DC was the establishment and I think Marvel cultivated an image of plucky unconventionality.

May 18, 2012  

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