Let me preface this by saying "I am not a comic book guy." I didn't read comic books when I was a kid. With very few exceptions, I don't like movies or TV shows based on comic books. I have seen only a handful of movies from the Marvel and DC franchises and, again with few exceptions, I didn't care for any of them. It's funny. I've had friends, family members and other acquaintances recommend a particular comic book movie, touting "This one is different! You'll like this one!" Against my better judgment, I watch and — sure enough — it is not different. It's a comic book movie. And I am once again reminded that I don't like comic book movies.
As a matter of fact, I can only identify a few of the colorful characters depicted in the image at the top of this blog post. So, what gives me the qualifications to write a piece about comic book characters. What gives me the qualifications to write about anything I don't know about?
My wife and I were out in the neighborhood on our regular after-dinner, early evening walk. We strolled past a newly-opened store that, by the stock visible thorough their large front window, is an art gallery of sorts. (Actually, this place hasn't actually had its doors open to welcome customers in weeks. Even during the days leading up to Christmas, the place is dark and a large metal grate is pulled down across the entrance and secured with an imposing and impenetrable padlock.) The window is cluttered with all sizes of prints, paintings and colorized photographs of celebrities, along with out-of-place framed Philles and Eagles logos.
As we walked past the store, I spotted this print in a corner of the window.
I just glanced at it at first, but then, I stopped and went back for a closer inspection. Apparently, these superheroes have taken a quick break from their busy agenda of philan.... philan.... uh... good deed doing to.... um.... relieve
themselves against a wall, à la Who's Next
. I pondered this print for way
to long. I stopped Mrs. P, who had already proceeded on her walk, nearly making it past the newly-reopened
(but currently closed
) neighborhood ice cream store
. I summoned her back to answer some of the questions now forming in my head, brought on by this stupid print in the window of a closed (and not long for this world) art gallery. Mrs. Pincus is more of a comic book fan than I am. If you get right down to it, almost everyone
is a bigger comic book fan than I am. Mrs. P is partial to Superman and the Fantastic Four. I know this because we have seen cinematic entries in the canons of the both
properties, both in first-run theaters and on television. I remember trying to stay awake during one of the Fantastic Four films and thinking how Brandon Routh was a poor replacement for the late Christopher Reeve in DC's attempt to revive interest in the Superman saga. (To his credit, Routh was serviceable in the recent Hallmark Christmas movies
featuring the one and only Ambrose the cat.
.. the real
I pointed to the picture and asked: "Do superheroes need to go to the bathroom?" This sparked quite a debate. One that took up way too much of our time, but considering that we have had lengthy discussions regarding the use of Jeannie's powers versus the use of Samantha Stephens', this was not anything unusual. (Welcome to the world of the Pincuses!) I began to think, despite my admittedly limited knowledge of all things superheroes. The one thing I do know is: one so-called "super" hero that has no actual super powers at all. Technically, he's just a guy in a costume with a bunch of highly-advanced gizmos. That guy's name is Batman. Obviously, Batman has to pee sometime. Because I am not now nor have I ever been a reader of Batman comics, I can only assume that the Caped Crusader has not been depicted using the porcelain facilities in the colorful pages of a printed book. I know that was never shown or even alluded to in the campy 60s TV series (which, as a five year-old, I watched religiously). However, I cannot speak for the current trend of grittier, more adult-oriented stories and subject matter that apparently pervades today's comic publications. So, because Batman is human and was not subjected to gamma rays or a spider bite nor is he a strange visitor from another planet, who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men — he pees. It's the other ones I'm not so sure about.
Superman, for instance. Since he is an alien, there is no way of knowing if he eliminates bodily waste in the same way as humans. Sure he eats and walks and does other humanesque things, but how are we to know if the Kyptonians were so evolved that the simple process of urinating was replaced with something more sophisticated and less.... primal.
A lot of superheroes started out as humans, but were subjected to an overexposure of laboratory chemicals and/or rays, either accidental or intentional. Sure, we got to see the results of such a mishap in Dr. Bruce Banner's anger or Barry Allen's speed. But, how can we assume that normal bodily functions weren't also
affected by the same
chemicals or rays. We can't.
Has the Hulk ever stopped for a bathroom break during a heated session of smashing? Has the Flash every paused to tinkle in the middle of a high-velocity pursuit? I don't really know. As far as Captain America, Steve Rogers was definitely human. He was injected with a laboratory controlled regimen of "super soldier serum" to make him the ultimate human specimen. While he may have suffered from a back full of "steroid acne" like Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, he certainly was capable more than just hitting a lot of home runs. I'm fairly sure that Bonds and McGwire still continued to urinate during their record-breaking seasons, but I cannot confirm or deny Captain America's bathroom visits.
By the same token, did the radioactive spider bite that gave poor Peter Parker his arachnidical abilities affect his urinary system? I read that spiders don't produce urine like humans, but do produce uric acid in solid form (hence to be known as "spider poop.") So, if "A + B = C," then Spiderman shits but does not piss. (Actually, I felt a glimmer of hope when I misunderstood Peter Parker's inner dialogue as "My spider sense is tinkling." I was disappointed all over again when I was corrected.)
Other heroes, like Martian Manhunter, Silver Surfer and Hawkman, fall under the same category as Superman. They are aliens. Since the creators of these characters were free to make up any sort of lifestyle functions they wished, bathroom requirements were, most likely, either not taken into consideration or ignored entirely. Wonder Woman, being an Amazon, can also be given "non-human, so human qualities do not apply" status.
As I have explained, I am by no means an expert on superheroes. I'm not even a novice. Perhaps someone can come forward and clear up this controversy once and for all. But, please... I beg you.... don't tell me how much I would enjoy Avengers: Endgame. Unless it ends with everyone excusing themselves to go to the bathroom.... I won't.