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How to Survive in a Superhero World

by on March 10, 2011

I’ve been rewatching the DC Animated Universe, every episode, all the way from Batman: the Animated Series to Justice League Unlimited, thanks to the wonder and glory of Netflix. In so doing, I’ve noticed certain things about the world of the DCAU that I didn’t pick up on as a kid. And so I thought I would share those things with you. If, by a crazy random happenstance, you get zapped by a pyscho-temporal-spatial anomaly and find yourself living in the world inhabited by Superman, Batman, and the rest, here are nine things you need to know in order to survive.

1.  Do not get overly attached to your car. You will lose it.

Owning a car is a risky proposition in the DCAU. At any given moment, it is likely to suffer any one of a number of gruesome fates. It could be run over by a tank driven by Veronica Vreeland’s military father chasing after Harley Quinn. It could be smashed by rogue Kryptonians escaping from the Phantom Zone. It could be dinged by the passing Batmobile. It could be thrown by Captain Hammer at Dr. Horrible’s head (actually, that’s not a DCAU occurence, but I had to make a Dr. Horrible reference somewhere. Obligatory. 😛 ). You get the drift. If you have a car, and if superheroes are fighting supervillains nearby, chances are that car will be used as a weapon. Therefore, you should not keep anything irreplaceable in it. Also, if you’re hurting for money, get a job as an auto mechanic. Repairpersons in a world of superheroes are likely to be very, very busy.

2. Fashion is easy.

If owning a car is problematic in the DCAU, buying clothes is incredibly simple. You will always wear the exact same outfit, every day, without fail. Take Dana Tan in Batman Beyond, for instance; she always wears the same blue dress in every episode. The one exception that I recall offhand was when she wore a white dress in the episode “Rats”, and she was very nearly eaten by, well, giant rats (thus the title). Let this serve as a warning to you. Wear the same outfit, or you will be messily devoured by giant rodents. The downside of this is, either you have multiple versions of the same outfit, or you have only the one, and you have to wash it every day. But still, giant rats.

3. Being a villain means you get access to cool props.

Even if you are a villain with a presumably low income level, you will be able to acquire all sorts of wonderful toys. On that note, let’s look at Toyman. In his first appearance, he told his backstory wherein his father was framed by the gangster Bruno Mannheim and died in prison, and Toyman spent his childhood bouncing from foster home to foster home, etc. Yet when he makes his villainous debut, he has a sizable hideout, a giant robotic duck, a collection of bombs hidden in the ceiling of his hideout, flying bullet-spewing planes, etc. How did he pay for all these things? My theory is that there’s a special non-profit organization that provides these things to villains free of charge. It’s like the evil version of the Salvation Army. It’s probably funded by Lex Luthor.

4.  Expect the unexpected.

Living in a superhero world is fraught with peril. At any moment, you might see giant cows rampaging down the street, or be at a football game when Gorilla Grodd decides to pit the Justice League vs. his own Secret Society, or have your dinner interrupted by the attack of the Condiment King. Be prepared.

5. Watch out for falling objects.

In a world where people can fly, and when villains can lift cars with their hands, things could at any moment fall down on you. These may include cars, chunks of debris, boulders, trees, other people, robots, gorillas, and the occasional small building. If you see a superhero battle unfolding, you should immediately don a hard hat and take shelter. You should not stand out in the middle of the sidewalk gaping like an anemic guppy. You should also not waste time in screaming, “LOOK OUT! OH NO! RUN! RUN!” Instead, close your mouth and run.This is especially true if you have a small child. Falling objects in superhero battles tend to gravitate towards babies left in strollers.

6. Learn to swim.

In superhero battles, especially if you are a villain, you are likely to get knocked into water. Henchmen rarely get killed during battles, but they do inordinately fall off bridges, or embankments, or the sides of boats, or fall out of blimps. You will eventually land in the river, or lake, or ocean, and when this occurs you will need to know how to swim so that you can surface moments later. This will assure the audience (most of whom are presumably impressionable youths) that you are in fact alive and therefore the superheroes haven’t crossed a moral line by killing you.

7. Move to the suburbs.

Superheroes, and thus supervillains, usually fight around cities. Cities have lots of people, which means lots of targets for the supervillain. One never hears of a superhero being the sworn defender of a suburb or a small countryside town. Thus, if you live in a suburb or small town, you will probably lead an untroubled life. The exception, of course, is if that one town is Smallville, Kansas.

8. Beware of abandoned buildings.

This is more true of dark Gotham City than bright shiny Metropolis, but in any event, superhero battles rarely take place in an office building packed with workers. It will generally happen in an abandoned building, such as a factory, warehouse, old theatre, etc. If you are out walking one night and you see an abandoned building, walk the other way.

9.  Be nice to people.

Say, for example, that you’re driving along the road, and someone cuts you off in traffic. One course of action would be to aim some vile epithets at him. However, in the world of superheroes, the target of your wrath could very well be a psychotic clown who decides to take his revenge by forcing you to become his temporary minion in his evil plot to kill people and wreak mayhem. Instead, let it go. The same applies to, say, picking on a wimp who spends some time with your girlfriend. That wimp is likely to get his mind melded with a giant robot, and he will feel perfectly justified in using that robot to smash your car. Instead, you should be polite to the wimp and respect his feelings. (Also, you should be equally nice to your girlfriend as she may date the wimp to get back at you, and he will be especially upset when he finds out she didn’t really like him, and BOOM goes the giant robot.)

So there you have it. Living in a superhero world is possible; you just have to keep these basic rules in mind. And don’t worry even if you forget them; more often than not, the episodes of the DCAU usually have a happy ending. Unless you’re a villain. Then, not so much.


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  1. learn to swim?? great advice!!

    • even better, you don’t even have to learn to do any complicated swimming. just surfacing seems to do the trick if you’re a hench-person in the DCAU.

  2. Great post and “It’s like an evil version of the Salvation Army” has cheered me up no end. Found your blog through Hack’s competition – the man’s a superhero!

    • Thanks; it’s comforting to know that my blog is spreading cheer and goodwill around the world. 🙂 Indeed, Hack is a superhero; he even seems to have a nemesis: the Ghost of Ernest Hemingway’s Filthy Beard. there’s a movie in that, I tell you.

  3. Excellent work! I love the DC Animated Universe, though they have had a few missteps, but it rocks!

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