• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

Suburbia is the death of . . . . super-heroes????

Joe Iliff

Reformed City Planner
Messages
1,441
Points
29
Ok, so the new Spider-man movie is almost out and I've got superheroes on the brain. So, let's get some of that out with a discussion relevant to our jobs.

I'm pretty familiar with most superheroes and most all of them live, work, and fight crime in an urban setting. Spider-man and the Fantastic Four live in New York City. Superman moves from Smallville to Metropolis to fight crime, and Batman is the protector of Gotham City. It's rare to find a superhero not based in a major urban setting, except for those that patrol the space between the stars. I mean, how would Spider-man get to the other side of town if he didn't have all those skyscrapers to swing on? Would Batman be interesting if Gotham wern't home to a seedy underworld, full of abandoned warehouses and corrupt industries?

It's hard to imagine a superhero at home in the suburbs. Would he/she get around in a flying SUV? Would they fight big box developments or deforestation?

Anyways, I'm asking for your thoughts. Is suburbia too boring for our heroes to live in? What does it say that our prefered built environment doesn't inspire us? That our favorite characters like superheroes, hobbits (LOTR), and wizards (HP) all live somewhere else?
 
Messages
5,352
Points
31
Interesting topic. I think that superheroes are set in urban areas because of the diversity of people. It's more interesting and more believeable to their altruistic natures to know that they are fighting for justice for all, rather than just a select few in a suburban setting that is generally considered more homogenous.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,174
Points
51
He would be cul-de-sac man. He would be a middle class, slightly overweight Wal-Mart “Associate” who has a 401K, 2 kids with his ex wife, and drives around in a late 90’s ford escape. He would fight things like evil commie planners who want to put side walks in, on street parking, and the worst of all, 0 front and side setback requirements. WHHHOOOOO I get chills just thinking about it. He would only be a super hero part of the time because he is not as young as he once was, and does not have the time or energy because he does have a 45-minute commute from his job.
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
Interesting topic.

But the X-Men live on an estate in Westchester, so I suppose that would make them suburbanites. :p
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Boiker came close to getting this right. Why did Superman move to the big city to fight crime? That is where the crime is. There is no crime in the countryside, small towns, or suburbs. Crime is only found in big cities with industry, skyscrapers, and worst of all - alleys!
 

Duke Of Dystopia

Cyburbian
Messages
2,713
Points
24
The city for the Super Hero is not going anywhere.

The suburbs are mostly "Breeder Farms" where you spend 20 of the best years of your life raising kids that either want to escape home for the city or learn to fear the larger urban environments.

The change can be made, just need an enterprising young cartoonist to make it happen. :)
 
Messages
5,352
Points
31
michaelskis said:
He would be cul-de-sac man. He would be a middle class, slightly overweight Wal-Mart “Associate” who has a 401K, 2 kids with his ex wife, and drives around in a late 90’s ford escape.
So this superhero would actually drive an SUV (and one that didn't exist in the 90's)?? GASP! ;-)
 

Big Easy King

Cyburbian
Messages
1,361
Points
23
It would be interesting if a superhero plot could be just as exciting or more in a suburban setting rather than in the typical urban setting.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,174
Points
51
Planderella said:
So this superhero would actually drive an SUV (and one that didn't exist in the 90's)?? GASP! ;-)
He "know's" someone at Ford, GM, and Dodge so he can get vehicles years before anyone else.
 

tsc

Cyburbian
Messages
1,905
Points
23
biscuit said:
Interesting topic.

But the X-Men live on an estate in Westchester, so I suppose that would make them suburbanites. :p
Salem Center... very posh suburbs... but with a rural flair. Near the Titicus Reservoir...

Actually... big publisher for comics (and magazines) here in Westchester...one of the Archie cartoonist immortalized our taekwondo instructor in one of the cartoons.

We all know that the idyllic suburbs do not need a super hero.... what evil would they fight?
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
I think that
a) how would you hide your secret identity in suburbia? you have more anonymity in an urban setting.
b) suburbia is not a true community. It is a place where "your home is your castle" is glorified and large yards and low densities are designed to minimize how much you have to deal with other humans. Cities inspire superheroes in part because they can be communities. And communities need protectors of the greater good. Suburbia does not promote the greater good. It promotes the good of individuals, apart from or even at the expense of a greater whole.
 

tsc

Cyburbian
Messages
1,905
Points
23
MZ.... I disagree... suburbs can be a vital community.... isn't that our job as planners?? I do believe the definition of a suburb includes a smaller community adjacent to or within commuting distance of a large city.

The suburbs of my county are vital smaller communities...they just call them the burbs compared to the larger city a few miles away to the south. It seems you speak of housing tracks?? I think you describe bad sprawling suburbs.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
Slightly OT:

I had a land use law professor who created the following scenario on a final exam for us to evaluate:

[straining puny brain to remember details]
Batman and Robin fall on hard times in Gotham City. Wayne Manor - foreclosed on and auctioned off. Batcave: sold to mining interest.

Our superheroes relocate to more a more affordable location in the city; they decide to place a mobile home on a vacant lot the Commissioner had aquired.

Problem: the property is zoned SFR only. The City has not zoned any land for manufactured housing.

The assignement: Represent the Dynamic Duo in front of the Gotham City Zoning Board in their variance application.

'Twas a fun essay to write!

[/straining puny brain to remember details]

Bonus points and major props to anyone who can name the professor, and the graduate program!
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
tsc said:
MZ.... I disagree... suburbs can be a vital community.... isn't that our job as planners?? I do believe the definition of a suburb includes a smaller community adjacent to or within commuting distance of a large city.

The suburbs of my county are vital smaller communities...they just call them the burbs compared to the larger city a few miles away to the south. It seems you speak of housing tracks?? I think you describe bad sprawling suburbs.
I think generic "suburbia" and specific suburbs are different things. And if you do have a real community at the suburban level, what kinds of problems would you have that would NEED the attentions of a superhero? (Serious question. Feel free to propose such. But I don't really want to get into a serious debate of definitions of "suburbia".)
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
Michele Zone said:
I And if you do have a real community at the suburban level, what kinds of problems would you have that would NEED the attentions of a superhero?
I'd like to see a superhero take on the new people around the corner, they of the late-nite parties and yardful of commercial equipment; so far, code enforcement hasn't had any effect. Other suburban nemeses (or is that "nemisises?): the kids who vandalize mailboxes, uninvited solicitors, guys who fire up the yard/woodworking equipment at 7 a.m. on Sunday, owners of unfettered pooches the size of calves. Yes, there's much out there for superheroes in my suburb. ;-)
 

Markitect

Cyburbian
Messages
110
Points
6
Planderella said:
So this superhero would actually drive an SUV (and one that didn't exist in the 90's)?? GASP! ;-)
Speaking of SUV-driving superheros...





Here's the Batmobile that being used for next summer's Batman Begins.
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
Zoning Goddess said:
I'd like to see a superhero take on the new people around the corner, they of the late-nite parties and yardful of commercial equipment; so far, code enforcement hasn't had any effect. Other suburban nemeses (or is that "nemisises?): the kids who vandalize mailboxes, uninvited solicitors, guys who fire up the yard/woodworking equipment at 7 a.m. on Sunday, owners of unfettered pooches the size of calves. Yes, there's much out there for superheroes in my suburb. ;-)
Perhaps it is time for you to invest in a cape and skin-tight outfit and become the holy crusader for your suburb. :-D You might even be able to take up a collection and get some of the neighborhood men to pay for said skin-tight outfit -- for a good cause, of course. ;-)
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
Hey... I just remembered... the Toxic Avenger is from Tromaville, NJ, which is supposed to be a small town that was riddled with crime. I guess crime does occur in small towns... well, at least in New Jersey!!! :-D
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
Michele Zone said:
Perhaps it is time for you to invest in a cape and skin-tight outfit and become the holy crusader for your suburb. :-D You might even be able to take up a collection and get some of the neighborhood men to pay for said skin-tight outfit -- for a good cause, of course. ;-)
You are giving me really evil ideas for Halloween. hehehehehe. Or the lae-fest, maybe.... ;-)
 

simulcra

Member
Messages
127
Points
6
Freewaytincan: Seeing as how I'm currently a plano resident (stupid school not being year-round, or rather, stupid me not having the foresight to save for a place in chitown), that pic COMPLETELY shocked me. Where is that from? (Greetings from Dallas North Suburbs, btw.)

I actually had a similar thought about superheroes in suburbs while seeing spidey2 today. I thought, "Wow. I'd love to see spider-man get around Plano. He would actually need to drive places."

I think ultimately, though, superheroes need an equally grandiose setting for them to exist in, otherwise, they would not be being super (it's late and logical argumentation is not quite my forte). So what better setting than such grand metropolises as NYC, or the similarly-idealized Metropoli?
 
Top