Top ten superhero comic book tropes

Comic book tropes can be tiresome, especially when one sees the same common situations, gadgets, and scenes repeatedly. However, these commonplace tropes have withstood the test of time, despite being a bit campy; so, without further ado… To the countdown!


10. The Big City

Nearly every superhero’s origin places them in a major city. Batman had Gotham and Superman had New York City’s equivalent, Metropolis. Most heroes live in densely populated areas. Although, the location of a big city makes work a bit hectic, what with a thriving population of citizens that could potentially need saving when a major disaster strikes. Of course, having heroes more widespread would be more logical, but who needs logic? It works in the franchises, so leave it be.


9. Money

Everyone likes to have money, right? Well, while it is only fitting of some heroes, it never fails in the comics of heroes. Being rich gives the writing team and easy out and a blanket excuse for allowing superheroes to have the coolest and latest technology and toys at their disposal in each issue. Of course, it also helps explain how the hero’s logo gets onto everything they touch. Tony Stark uses his money to build the Iron Man armors; Batman flaunts his money and uses it to build all his fancy gadgets. The Fantastic Four build tools of science with the aid of money. Although, not as widespread as trademark devices, money still comes in handy.


8. Utility Belts

With the use of money comes a lot of tools, hence the need for a utility belt. Deadpool, Batman, Captain America, and so many others have carried devices, which again, gives a writer an excuse to have everything our heroes could need in one convenient location. Especially true for heroes such as Batman, who rely heavily on devices to get through the tougher and more challenging moments.

Dead family

7. Dead or Dying Family Members

Need a reason to seek vengeance? Vow to fight crime? Rid the world of evils? Or become a force for justice? Meh. Just kill someone they love and everything is suddenly easy to explain. Uncle Ben’s death prompted Spider-Man to become the web-slinger he is today. Young Bruce Wayne lost his parents, thus motivating him to become Batman, (I swear that better not be a spoiler to any of you). It happens so often that it is assumed that in order to become a superhero someone very close to you has to have been killed by someone with ill intentions.


6. Mentors

Of course, you’re missing your parents or your guardians, thus you need someone to look up to. A role model of sorts. So naturally, superheroes get mentors. Everyone needs some help in the beginning. Someone to train, to guide, to model the young breed. They may or may not be a hero themselves, but there is always a helping hand. Professor Xavier gave the X-Men a dream to follow; Captain America took an ambitious Tony Stark and taught him how to fight. From Alfred to Aunt May, there is always a guiding voice in a hero’s life to keep them on the right track. It’s old, it’s overused, but honestly, would we give them up? Probably not.


5. Hideouts and Safe Houses

The Fortress of Solitude; The Batcave; The Xavier Institute; Spider-Man’s Manhattan apartment; all of these places house people with a purpose. While some of these locales may not be as glamorous like the others, there is always someone for the hero to head home at the end of a long day of fighting against the forces of evil.


4. Secret Identities

Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Simon Williams; these names belong to heroes when they are not fighting crime. Go figure, right? These identities allow our heroes to have normal jobs to continue and perpetuate the “normal person” persona. Jennifer Walters is a lawyer when she is not She-Hulk, so is Matt Murdock when he isn’t Daredevil. These other personas help keep their loved ones safe, as well as make it easier for the heroes on a day to day basis. If everyone knew that Wade Wilson was actually Ryan Reynolds when he wasn’t Deadpool, the man would never get a moment’s rest.


3. Archenemies

Heroes are out, villains are in. The heroes are nothing without a villain to define them against. The struggle for good and evil has been around since the dawn of time. Lex Luthor, Circe, The Joker, Magneto, the list is virtually endless. Without an antagonist to come back over and over again for bigger, better, more dastardly and dangerous plans what reason would there be to fight crime?


2. Sidekicks

Every hero needs a sidekick, just as every dinner needs a side dish on a slightly smaller plate. Captain America and Bucky, Wolverine and Jubilee, Aquaman and Aqualad… these characters help the hero when they’re down or overwhelmed; they are a continuous force that supplies trust and continues to fight when the hero cannot do so. They are one of the most important techniques in superhero comics; however, there is one thing that is more important…


1. The Origin Story

Most heroes have some sort of story that gets them into the situation that carries them throughout their comic book lives. For some it’s genetic mutations; others an accident, thusly Bruce Banner became The Incredible Hulk. Needless to say, every hero starts off somewhere, and it is the most important factor in a superhero story. Without the story of the planet Krypton, there is no Superman. Without gamma radiation there is no Incredible Hulk. The compelling stories are what bring forth the heroism of the person, who put their lives on the line for others who do not have the ability to do it themselves.

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