While the greatest heroes seem to stand tall on their own, there is usually a pretty strong father figure who helped pull them to their feet in the first place. We can learn a lot from dad figures like Alfred Pennyworth, Jor-El, Uncle Ben, Joe West, Thomas Wayne. The thought came to me as I’ve been helping Boy Wonder pull himself up on his own feet. I realized that I’ve never paid much attention to these guys before but they deserve their due as the real IncrediDads.
These men are the father figures behind Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and the Flash. They all seemed to know that a man has to follow his own path. And they had a knack for standing back and letting the hero make his own mistakes. But in those deepest darkest moments, these Dads were always there to lend support, share some words of wisdom, and get the hero back on his feet when he needed it too.
A dad I really admire recently posted a quote on their social media, “You don’t raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they’ll turn out to be heroes, even if it’s just in your own eyes”. He made me wonder what pearls of wisdom have been shared by father’s of super heroes.
Surrogate father and butler to Bruce Wayne a.k.a Batman. They don’t make them like Alfred anymore. He’s a man who loved a kid not because he had to but because he chose to. Even when Bruce confided his plan to become Batman, Alfred did not discourage but he did try to give some perspective.
“Drive expensive cars, date movie stars, buy things that aren’t for sale. If you start pretending to have fun maybe you’ll have a little on accident.”
Alfred understood that Batman consumed Bruce Wayne almost entirely and understandably he worried about it. Rather than argue with Bruce, he simply handled things with a dry sarcastic humor.
A father who never got to see his son grow up. His only connection was through a hologram on a space ship. Still he would have been proud of who his son Kal-El or Superman turned out to be.
“You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.”
While that is a lot of pressure to put on our sons, the idea behind it rings true. Be the example. Soar high and raise up as many people as your can for the ride with you.
Spider-Man’s Uncle and father figure uttered what is probably the most famous sentence in super hero history.
“With great power comes great responsibilities.”
It’s a lesson that became Peter Parker’s mantra and it’s something we all should remember. History has given us so many men who have been known for abusing their power. There’s Caesar, Hitler, and Napoleon to start with but more recently we can cite Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump. If only someone, maybe their own IncrediDad had quoted Uncle Ben to them.
You don’t have to be a super hero to understand this. If you have the ability to do something, make sure that you do it for the good of others. If you can stop something bad from happening, do it. It’s possible that your small actions will have a big impact in the world or at least on your little sidekick.
Here’s another super-hero father who chose to love his boy. Joe took Barry Allen in after the boy lost his parents. When Barry discovered his super-powers, Joe tried to talk him out of a life of herohood but inevitably became one of the Flash’s greatest allies.
From Joe, I learned that our kids have as much or maybe more to teach us than we have to teach them.
“You always want to be the person who sees the best in people. I have been a cop for twenty-five years. All I can see is the flaws, the lies, the dark thoughts that people think I don’t see. I wish I could be you. As fast as you are, THAT is your real power.”
Another time he told Barry,
“When I took you in I was thinking I would be the light in your life but you’ve brightened mine. Don’t lose that light.”
Same Joe. I get it because I have the same feelings about Boy Wonder. He’s the motivation for me to become as good a man as he thinks I am.
“Why do we fall Bruce ? So we can learn to pick ourselves up again.”
If Superman’s dad teaches us push ourselves to our limits, Batman’s dad teaches us what to do after we’ve reached them. Thomas said this to Bruce after he fell down the into a hole that would someday become the Batcave. Now, I say this to Boy Wonder as he’s learning to walk. If he falls, I cheer, laugh, and pull him back onto his feet. Then I quote Thomas Wayne. Hopefully my boy will never be afraid of falling or failing.
So, it turns out that these old guys in the background are more than just snappy one liners and filler between the action. These guys model what it means to be an IncrediDad.
Do you have a favorite quote from a super hero dad? Share it in the comments below.