Uncle Ben Parker.
Some of the names listed above are great dads in comics and geek culture. Some are not great fathers. Others left lasting impressions on the children in their care in lives that were cut tragically short. Although, it goes without saying that without their sacrifices or untimely deaths, the heroes-to-be would not have materialized.
As I celebrate my first Father’s Day this year, I reflect more on the man I call “dad,” but it is fun to look at some of these genre dads and how they shaped some of the most important figures in pop culture.
I won’t go into detail on each name provided above (sorry Reed and Henry). But I did want to explore some of the father-son relationships.
The Martha’s (Wayne and Kent, respectively…also something fans had a major issue with in the final act of Batman V Superman) are touted as being so instrumental in the lives of their sons, and rightly so. But I think if you overlook the importance of Jonathon “Pa” Kent, you’re doing a disservice to the writers who gave him life and the actors who gave him breath. While I was initially thrilled about Kevin Costner’s casting, I didn’t care for the writing of Pa Kent in Man of Steel. But every other likeness has been far truer to the character (looking at you, John Schnieder) and enriched the mythos of Jonathon Kent as a morally strong man who believes his son is destined for great things. When Superman stood for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” you could hear those words being said by Pa Kent into a young Clark. “Live your life better than we have. Be better.” It’s why Superman is beloved as a figure in his fictional world and how he has stood the test of time as one of the most popular characters in culture for the last 77 years.
Norman Osborn and Uncle Ben Parker. The environments they create for their “children” makes all the difference when we see how Harry Osborn differs from Peter Parker. Even though Ben is Peter’s uncle, he serves as Pete’s guardian, and his final words will forever be linked to greatness, memed before memes were memes. “With great power comes great responsibility.” Six words that will echo into eternity. And because of the love and support Ben gave to young Peter, Peter, even though he wasn’t particularly popular, had the confidence to forge for himself a heroic life. Harry, poisoned by his father’s demons, would eventually don the glider as well.
Darth Vader’s revelation of his fatherhood to Luke Skywalker in Empire Strikes Back could go down in history as one of the biggest “OMG” moments in cinema history. And while their relationship was fleshed out a bit more in Return of the Jedi, it was Luke who sensed the good in Anakin and was able to bring him back from the Dark Side, as Vader tosses Emperor Palpatine into the pit, and thus bringing balance to the Force. I mean, you know all that already. Vader – not the best dad. But did get better.
One of the most interesting father-son relationships in comics to me has always been Thomas and Bruce Wayne. Tale as old as time – parents murdered in Crime Alley in front of young son. Son grows up to become Batman, vowing to clean up Gotham City. It was the loss he experienced that, in my opinion, made him want to ensure no other child of Gotham felt the pain he felt. What’s interesting is that in DC’s Flashpoint (Flashpoint Paradox, if you want the animated version), we see that Batman is Thomas Wayne, taking out his pain and anger in a much more brutal way (including guns). Also, in the Flashpoint story, Martha Wayne becomes the Joker, but who cares about that. Watch the end of the Flashpoint Paradox, after Barry runs back in time and corrects the timeline, and see the impact a father can have on a son.
You have an adult Bruce receiving a letter from his deceased father, a father who is writing a letter to his deceased son. And the man who
walks runs between both worlds.
I’m grateful for my father. I’m thrilled I get to spend some time with him today and go golfing. I know many don’t have that opportunity. And my wife gets to spend some time with her dad. And before and after the golfing, I get to spend time with my son.
He’s almost six months old. We have a lot of time ahead of us, and I don’t want any of it to go to waste. If you’re wondering why I haven’t had a new episode of the podcast in almost two months…well, my boy’s getting bigger. He’s making sounds and sitting up and smiling and so happy. And I get to be here for all of that. Please don’t begrudge me for being away. I’m also in the process of moving.
But I promise I will be back. I am working on guests right now. I have some in mind, and need to reach out to a few more. And I do have thoughts I want to share. Kevin over at My 1-2-3 Cents blogs every day, runs every day, has a new episode of My 1-2-3 Cents the Podcast every week, and has three kids. (Also, Kevin told me his blog entries are between 300-500 words, and this is almost 1,000. I must learn to condense). So there’s some hope for me. I’ll find my groove again.
In the meantime, I get to be a DAD.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!