Okay so who doesn’t like Superheroes? A few years ago, die hard fans of Superman, Spiderman, etc. were ridiculed for being cheesy but let’s admit it – these days, superheroes are all the hype. I personally blame Marvel’s amazing take off with Iron Man since 2008 and DC following up with really crafty, dark and competitive Batman and Superman movies, opening a new path for the expansion of their fanbases in these last few years. The fact that 3 DC and 4 Marvel movies have ended up on the List of Highest Grossing Movies (above 1 Billion) proves that the new generation is into Superheroes and that it’s time for comic books nerds to come out of hiding with proud and smug smiles.
As such, with our National Independence Day coming up, my thoughts wandered to another era of forgotten heroes. The heroes who actually did heroic deeds and worked to get our country back from the British Raj mess. The heroes who the modern superheroes are based on. The Freedom Fighters.
This helped me to come up with this list of rather strange, but (I think) well-placed contrasts of modern superheroes with our old time real heroes:
1. Mahatma Gandhi and Professor Charles Xavier:
Let’s be honest – you hear ‘fight for independence’, you think ‘Mahatma Gandhi’. It’s like we’re programmed to think of them as synonyms. Now, other than the obvious absence of hair, something that makes me relate Mahatma Gandhi to Professor X is that they were both men of resilience, peace and constant struggle in their lives. Even though I’m sure we have even more X-Men movies about Xavier’s adult life coming up, the ones already out make it clear that Charles had a difficult life growing up. Same as Mahatma Gandhi, he started out as a lawyer for the rights of a minority, but eventually ended up fighting a bigger fight. Both of them took on the position of leaders after seeing that the society would benefit from their influence, even if it came at a personal cost. Their unique ideology helped their respective worlds progress in a huge and positive way.
2. Jawahar Lal Nehru and Nick Fury:
Jawahar Lal Nehru is most known for loving children (to me at least). While Nick Fury isn’t exactly a chummy character, he did help one of his special agents, Clint Barton aka Hawkeye, to keep his family a secret, and helped him ensure that they were safe. Both these men were fierce leaders, ambitious and goal-driven in their careers, while learning not to compromise anywhere they could. They both protected their countries the best they could, rising as leaders in important times to lead their country through periods of crisis and unrest. Not to mention, that both these men had a ton of secrets that they guarded to their graves. Let’s leave it at that.
3. Chandrashekhar Azad and Raven (Mystique):
Chandrashekhar Azad was a man of many abilities, and one of them was that he was a master at disguise and strategy, not unlike the mutant Raven, whose mutation allows her to change into anyone at her own will. While Azad was definitely not blue, and while Raven is often portrayed as the anti-hero in many versions of the comics and movies, we know in our hearts that she is good and does what she does to protect her people. Chandrashekhar was famously known for joining the cause for freedom at the age of 15, as soon as he was old enough to understand things going on about him. Similarly, Raven fought for the mutants beside Erik Lehnsherr, being one of the first to join his ‘Brotherhood of Mutants’. Both of them were clever, determined people who fought for the cause they believed in with ferociousness and cunning, always making sure that they got what they want – no matter the cost.
4. Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Tony Stark:
The only reason for this comparison is the fire both of them had for the protection of the people of their country. Bhagat was driven, violent in his actions, ruthless, uncaring of govt rules and regulations, especially if they were against his ideology. Same as Tony Stark, who additionally, always gave his best efforts towards protecting his country, not caring if it cost him his life in the process (hint hint New York). Also, both their families were in the protection business since before they were born. Bhagat Singh’s uncles were imprisoned for violent activities against the British and his ancestors served in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s army and Tony’s father, Howard Stark was a weapons contractor for World War 2. Also, Bhagat ran away from home at the prospect of arranged marriage, stating that he was too dedicated to his country and the cause for it’s freedom. We see Tony and Pepper break up in Cap3: Civil War for pretty much the same reason.
5. Subhash Chandra Bose and Steve Rogers:
Both these men above have played an iconic role in the freedom of their countries. They were both military men, spirited fighters from a young age. While Rogers never backed down from a fight, regardless of the fact that he would always get punched and knocked out, and Bose similarly was expelled from College when he attacked one of his Professors for his anti-Indian remarks. Bose went to found his Indian National Army, which consisted of Indian soldiers captured during the Battle of Singapore. Rogers similarly found his elite force called the Howling Commandos. Both of them even ‘supposedly’ died in plane crashes. There are many conspiracy stories about Bose’s death and like Captain Rogers, his files are still very much classified by the Indian Government. In fact, 5 files are so classified that their names are not even disclosed under the RTI Act. One fact, a rather significant one, that separates their main ideologies are that while Rogers was clearly a part of the Allied Military effort, Subhash Chandra Bose sympathized with the Axis Powers, as it was with Japan and Germany’s aid that he was able to revamp the INA.
Not to end here, I found another yet an interesting match of Muhhamad Ali Jinnah and Erik Lehnsherr:
Both of them were rather misunderstood but terrific leaders, who adopted any means necessary to ensure the survival of their people. Jinnah, like Erik, swayed from his initial stance of a common nation for Hindus and Muslims and eventually ended up making his dream a success with the creation of Pakistan. Jinnah had a huge influence on the people of India(Pre-Independence) like Gandhi and was a fierce leader himself. But his separate ideology, which was similar to Magneto's made him form his own troop. While Magneto is not exactly a hero, and he does not make the list, this is just one of the comparisons that I felt needed to be stated.
Stories peg superheroes as legends. I don’t agree. Superheroes are inspired from real people and this short list only represents the few people that I could connect the dots to. I’m sure many of you have some amazing thoughts to share about this topic, and I’d be especially glad to hear if I missed someone good. Not to mention, arguments are equally welcome because I know many would love to counter me on some of these. Ultimately, I’d only like to say that the Independence of our country wasn’t a sole man’s affair – it took a whole team of heroes to accomplish, and we salute them for it.
- Written by Evani Verma and Yatin Hans.
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