Redefining “Superhero”

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The heroes of comics and storybooks are dead. The power to change the world now rests in the hands of everyday guys like you and me, and the time for a new, more relatable hero has arrived.

superhero1As a boy, I used to daydream about being a superhero. I’d spend hours creating imaginary worlds where the dragon needed slayin’ and the girl needed savin’.

These superheroes always had a mystical attribute that set them apart from the mortals around them; my superpowers always resembled The Man of Steel’s.

I was particularly drawn to the duality of character: Clark Kent, the quiet, reserved, nerdy journalist that blended into any crowd, and Superman, the seemingly immortal superhuman who fulfilled my boyhood dreams.

In Superman, I found hope that someone as ordinary and constrained as myself could be capable of a greater good, that despite my shortcomings and inadequacies, I, too, could be a superhero.

But as I grew from a boy to an adult, and as an adult became a young dad, I experienced the inevitable challenges that we all go through, and reality replaced youthful fantasy.

Tied down with a family and struggling to make ends meet, I bought the lie that I wasn’t worthy or capable of being a hero. I fell into the trap of assuming that if I couldn’t be a hero, that some other more prepared and self-assured individual would have to step in and do what was needed.

The crucial attribute that allowed Clark Kent to do great things as Superman was the wisdom to know when to stop being Clark Kent, to know when to put on the cape and save the world. 

I wasn’t the man that wanted or needed to be; I didn’t know when to put on the cape. 

To answer my predicament, and to begin to lead a remarkable life, the only hope was to redefine the concept of heroics altogether. 

What Makes a Modern Superhero?

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstdacles.” Christopher Reeve

The heroes of comics, movies, and campfire stories, while appealing, are distractions from the person you need to become. It’s time to slay the heroes of old and usher in the presence of a new, more relatable heroes.

Today’s heroes are guys like you and me who, despite shortcomings, are driven to become better men and in the process, make the world a better place. 

The world doesn’t need guys with superhuman strength, it needs men who are willing to:

  • Take responsibility for their actions. 
  • Step up and do what they can to make a difference in their communities.
  • Get off the phone or computer and spend time, face-to-face, with the people that really matter.
  • Refuse to be okay with the status quo. 

We all have flaws – sometimes massive, crippling flaws – that make the idea of being a hero seem ridiculous. 

This new hero pushes for progress not perfection: he aims to be a little better today than he was yesterday.

In the real world, the difference between a hero and an average man isn’t the ability to move at the speed of light or to sling a giant hammer. It’s the ability to look at your flaws, to stare your imperfections in the eye, and to boldly move forward anyway.

Every one of us is capable of being that hero, and that is the most freeing and terrifying aspect of all.

Looking (and Being Able to Perform) the Part

Strive for a body that projects health, confidence, and allows you to handle whatever comes your way. 

Want to go rock climbing? You can.

Want to be confident taking your shirt off at the pool or beach? Yup.

A strong body positively affects every aspect of your life. It teaches you discipline and grit. It provides the assurance that, despite what’s going on around you, you’ll always have your health, and that’s huge. 

When you look in the mirror at the end of the day, you’ll see the reflection of a body that allows you to have the capability and energy to do what you want on your own terms.

Conquering Your Villain

Inside of us all is both a hero and a villain, the greatest villain that you’ll come across.

The hero in me is a guy who has control of his life, is active, and lives each day in a way that makes an impact.

My villain is the guy who has no idea what to do with his life. He wants to hit the snooze button, yell at his kids, and sit on the couch eating Doritos. 

They’re engaged in an all-out death match to see who will win each moment of the day. 

We hide from our villain. We avoid acknowledging his existence while being painfully aware of the negative impact he has on our life.

And you know what? That never works.The more you hide anything, the stronger it becomes, and when you stop trying to hide from your villain, you take his power away. 

The more you hide from anything, the stronger it becomes, and when you stop trying to hide from your villain, you take his power away. 

Listen to what your villain says, but refuse to let him operate in the darkness. Then starve the fucker.

Facing Your Fears

“In the cave you fear to enter lies the treasure you seek.” – Joseph Campbell

Every hero in every story follows the exact same path; it’s the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell is credited with discovering this, and one of the key elements that he outlines is when the hero enters The Cave (also called The Pit or The Belly of the Whale).


The Cave is where the hero must face his deepest fears and insecurities. It’s the turning point of his transformation and is often where the hero faces a dragon or some other abominable monster.

For modern superheroes, The Cave represents the times in our lives when we have to leave our comfort zones, face our fears, and experience something that challenges us. As we do so, we grow and progress to a new state of awareness.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t make it past this point. We reach The Cave and that’s it. We don’t progress any further; our story ends.

I’d spent most of my life doing everything I could to avoid entering my own Cave, and I can tell you that at some point, you become disgusted with yourself for being controlled by fear.

One day it hit me: you’re either a hostage or a hostage-taker. You walk up to The Cave and turn around from the uneasiness you feel, or you sprint into the Cave, fists up, feeling completely unprepared, but willing to give it your best shot.

It’s not a one-time decision. Facing fear is like anything else in life: a skill that must be practiced.

It’s a lifelong process. The more often you do it, the more comfortable you become with being uncomfortable. 

Answering The Call to Adventure

In these stories and myths, the hero faces a significant and easily identifiable choice: the bad guy is threatening to destroy the world and the hero must decide whether or not to intercede.

Today, the call to adventure may or may not be so clear.

We can experience the sudden impact of a life-changing event: the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or becoming a father for the first time. But just as often there isn’t a clear, defining call to change our ways. There’s no dragon to slay, no damsel to save.

Ultimately, your call is an invitation to take on the grind of normal life, embracing the adventure in front of you as a journey for self-actualization.

The world around you is begging for this new, redefined superhero, so get out there and answer its call.

About the Author

Eric Weinbrenner is a fitness writer, coach, and founder of He's on a mission to stamp out the obsessive, confusing fitness info that dominates the industry and help busy guys build muscle and become more athletic while crafting a remarkable life. For more information about building the body you want without becoming a slave to the process, sign up for a free 5-Day Crash Course HERE.

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