Secondary: Current Assemblies
CREATING A SUPERHERO
To consider how to create a superhero to encourage students to use their gifts for good.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and five readers.
- Taking inspiration from the hit film Man of Steel, you could show the students the short video ‘I want to be a superhero’, which looks at the possibility of creating a superhuman, at: www.truetube.co.uk/film/i-want-be-super-hero and the trailer for the film (which tells the back story of Superman) at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJGMeyRZHpc (optional).
- Find and have the means to play the theme from a superhero film as the students leave.
- Leader Many of you will have seen the film Man of Steel. Even if you have not, you will be familiar with its theme. Superheroes have been around for a long time. Marvel and DC comics introduced superheroes such as Superman, Spiderman, Batman, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Captain America and so on as early as the 1930s. That is eighty years ago! Not only your parents but also your grandparents grew up on the same stories that are still with us today.
Action films featuring these well-known characters have been made and remade ever since. Every young boy has probably owned a Spiderman costume at some point in his life. Every man probably has a pair of Superman boxer shorts in his collection.
In the particular version of the Superman story in the film, Kal-El has been sent to earth from Krypton by his parents, Jor-El and Lara, to be brought up as a human and live among humans. His human parents are aware that he is different from an early age and encourage him to keep his superpowers hidden. When he leaves home and tracks down a ship from his home planet, he comes face to face with a hologram of his birth father, Jor-El. Jor-El encourages him to use his special gifts for the good of the human race. He tells his son, ‘You will give the people an ideal to strive towards.’ He makes Kal see that by showing humans what he can do, he will help them to strive to be better and achieve more. ‘In time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.’
- Leader Throughout history, men and women have striven to be the best that they can be. To run faster, to climb higher. To perform incredible feats of courage and endurance. Maybe growing up on tales of superheroes has encouraged these individuals to strive for excellence, encouraged them to work, train and make sacrifices to achieve their goals and accomplish wonders.
Achievement at that level requires dedication and hard work. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we were all born with superpowers like Spiderman, Superman or Batman? What superpower would you like to have?
Allow time for discussion and suggestions from the students.
Address the five readers. What about you five? What superpowers would you most like to have?
Reader 1 I think it would be really cool to be able to run as fast as a cheetah. I would never need to rely on my mum for lifts or need money for bus fares. I could just run anywhere I wanted to go. I’d get a stack of gold medals at the Olympics, too.
Reader 2 I would like to be able to see for miles, like a hawk. My eyesight isn’t that brilliant. To be able to see from my house into windows some distance away would be amazing.
Reader 3 I’d love to have the hearing of a bat. It would be great to hear people talking about you from across the playground or to hear what your parents are saying about you in another room.
Reader 4 When I watch my cat, I wish I was more like her. To be able to balance on the top of the fence, to spring up on to a window ledge, to jump from great heights and not get hurt. How cool would that be?
Reader 5 Spider powers are what I would choose. To cling to the sides of buildings and sling out a web to swing from across the city. That would just be totally amazing.
- Leader All of these wishes feel like a dream to us, the stuff of comic books, video games and action movies, but are they really?
Julian Savulescu is Professor of Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford. He believes that, given a little more time, we could introduce the characteristics of anything from the plant or animal kingdoms into human beings.
Show the first video listed above, ‘I want to be a superhero’, or carry on by giving the following description of the content of the film.
A genetically engineered supermouse has already been created that can run 5 kilometres at 20 metres a minute. Genes from a fluorescent jellyfish have been introduced into a human embryo to create a fluorescent human embryo. There are also goats that produce spider webs in their milk. Superpowers are no longer just made-up stories, but such very real scientific developments are being made. Maybe in your lifetime, you will see men and women with the vision of a hawk, the sonar abilities of a bat, the balance of a cat or the lifespan of a turtle.
Why would we stop there with genetic modifications? What about cyborg modifications? Maybe you will also see individuals who are part machine, part human. The advances in the use of artificial limbs and organs are astounding. Artificial cochlear implants already help the deaf to hear.
In the short film ‘I want to be a superhero’, Julian Savulescu points out that there are clear ethical issues involved in this kind of genetic manipulation. As a human race, where would we start? Where would we stop? Who would control it? Who would decide? While this kind of genetic engineering could help the human race to achieve goals and live unparalleled lives, in the wrong hands, it could lead to a terrible disaster. The words of Jor-El to his son in Man of Steel may, in time, become relevant to the whole of the human race. He urges his son to become a role model, a positive influence for good, not for evil.
Show trailer for Man of Steel film, if using.
Time for reflection
Actually, maybe Jor-El’s words are relevant and do have something to say to us right now. We may not be actual superheroes, but we do have special gifts and talents. We can choose to use these gifts and talents for good or not. We do have a responsibility to be good role models. By showing others what we can achieve, we can encourage them to try harder and achieve more. What is your special gift or talent?
Reader 1 I am a good dancer. I have natural rhythm. I still try to work hard, though, to do my very best and always try to encourage everyone around me and help them get the moves right.
Reader 2 I’m good at maths, if you can call that a gift. Most people just tease me and call me a nerd. Because of that, I try to hide how good I am. Maybe I should help out in a maths homework club or something.
Reader 3 I’m a pretty good writer. They are always trying to get me to write articles for the school magazine, but I can’t be bothered. It’s really boring to read, but I suppose I can’t really complain if I won’t contribute anything myself.
Reader 4 I don’t know what I’m good at. Nothing really. People say I’m a good friend, but that isn’t really a gift, is it? I suppose I can set a good example and not bitch about people and fall out with my friends over nothing. Is that the kind of thing you mean?
Reader 5 I’m good with animals. They seem to like me and trust me. I hate to see people treating their pets badly. I want to show people how amazing animals can be if you just treat them right.
Leader Address all the students. What about all of you? Take a moment to reflect on all that you have heard today. You may want to thank God for all the scientific advances in our world today and pray for his protection.
What is your special gift or talent? You may not have superpowers, but you each have things you are good at, even if you don’t think you do. You may want to thank God for those things and pray for his guidance in to how to use the gifts you have been given for good.
Play chosen theme from a superhero film as the students leave.