Superhero Origin StoryWhy is every superhero movie an origin story?

Because we love them. Hollywood makes billions of dollars off us because we flock to go see them. But why?

Is it because they show the exact moment when a normal guy goes from being ‘just like us’ to being somehow ‘better, faster, stronger’?

Is it because they show us not how to become super but how to be heroes; to choose altruism over the pursuit of wealth and power?

Superhero Origin StoryIn one form or another, the superhero origin story has been around forever – a hero battles supernatural forces and returns home more prestigious – or comes of age – from this perilous adventure, gaining more power in the process.

Superheroes typically experience two types of life-altering events that transform them; that drive them to become greater than they were when we first meet them:

The first event is trauma.

A SIngle LinkIn A Single Link, Remi is sexually assaulted by Mixed Martial Arts professional fighter Chris Cunningham. This drives Remi to train to become the first woman to fight professionally in co-ed MMA matches and to eventually become a champion. Others who have become superheroes through some traumatic event are Batman (the murder of his parents) and Mister Terrific (the accidental deaths of his wife and unborn child).

The second life-altering event is destiny.

Wrath of the SiafuIn Wrath of the Siafu, Remi is endowed with enhanced physical abilities that she ultimately uses to combat a corrupt and oppressive system. While her choosing to fight the system is due to her and others suffering at the hands of an oppressive and tyrannical state, she comes to realize that she was destined to become a superhero. Others who were destined to fulfill their destiny as superheroes are Static and Black Lightning.

Superhero origin stories inspire us and help us to find meaning in loss and trauma. In fact, A Single Link, which first came to life as a short film, was adapted into a novella after I suffered the loss of my father on October 16, 2013.

Superhero Origin StoryBefore it even premiered, the wildly popular television series Gotham made history when Netflix bought the exclusive subscription video rights to the series, shelling out $1.75 million per episode, in a an effort to expand its international audience.

That Netflix is using Gotham, a prequel to the Batman stories, as part of its international growth strategy speaks to the power of the allure of origin stories. And their decision, it appears, was sound. Gotham is a hit.

Another reason we are interested in origin stories is that we like people to be predictable. We have a need to understand others – where they are coming from, and why they do what they do. Origin stories help us make sense of other people.

So those are some reasons we enjoy a great origin story. What are some other reasons? Your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

Oh, and if you are hankering for a great origin story now, check out A Single Link and Wrath of the Siafu, which just released today.

Here’s a description:

The near future…

A young genius is gunned down brutally by the police.

Remi Swan – our hero from the hard-hitting Action-Adventure novella, A SINGLE LINK – fights to defend the little boy and herself.

She is arrested, imprisoned, forced to fight and infected with an experimental virus that turns women into raging monsters…or worse.

Possessed with incredible – and scary – new abilities, Remi sets off a war against a system that has long brutalized Black people. A war that, alone, she might not be able to fight, but now she is backed by an army…a powerful and deadly force of her own making.

Now, that brutal system will suffer the…

WRATH OF THE SIAFU!

Part Action Adventure; part Thriller; part Superhero origin story, Wrath of the Siafu – sequel to the hard-hitting Action Adventure / Martial Arts hit, A Single Link – exploded onto the scene today and is sure to leave in its wake many satisfied readers.

Wrath of the Siafu is now available in e-book and in paperback!

 

And here’s the hard-hitting song that inspired the title of the hard-hitting book, Wrath of the Siafu:

 

 

About Balogun

Balogun is the author of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the films, A Single Link, Rite of Passage: Initiation and Rite of Passage: The Dentist of Westminster. He is one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk – a philosophy or style of writing that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction – and writes about it, the craft of writing, Sword & Soul and Steampunk in general, at https://chroniclesofharriet.com/. He is author of eight novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the Urban Science Fiction saga, Redeemer; the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika; a Fight Fiction, New Pulp novella, Fist of Afrika; the gritty, Urban Superhero series, A Single Link and Wrath of the Siafu; the two-fisted Dieselfunk tale, The Scythe and the “Choose-Your-Own-Destiny”-style Young Adult novel, The Keys. Balogun is also contributing co-editor of two anthologies: Ki: Khanga: The Anthology and Steamfunk. Finally, Balogun is the Director and Fight Choreographer of the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage, which he wrote based on the short story, Rite of Passage, by author Milton Davis and co-author of the award winning screenplay, Ngolo. You can reach him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Afrikan.Martial.Arts; on Twitter @Baba_Balogun and on Tumblr at www.tumblr.com/blog/blackspeculativefiction.

15 responses »

  1. Fujimoto says:

    Ooh, a superheroine novel now? I love it! This will be one to pick up right now. I’ve been very interested in superheroes lately and the need for ethnic diversity in their stories. I sure would like to try my hand at it myself someday.

    Some time ago I saw someone complaining about superhero origin stories as films and wanted that to stop. This person thought it wasted time for audiences who would rather see the hero/ine be in business from start to finish. I have never seen anyone else hold such a view though. I always thought a good origin was important. Perhaps a story doesn’t need to begins with one though; I think one could get away with getting people to know a superhero/ine without giving away the origin as a way of building interest, then providing an origin later.

    • Balogun says:

      I agree. Batman was six issues in before his origin was shared, so it can definitely work. That is actually what I did with A Single Link and Wrath of the Siafu. I knew all along Remi would become a superhero, but in A Single Link, I tried not to give any clues about that, other than her expertise in martial arts and her courage and tenacity. I just told a story about a woman who seeks empowerment after suffering from a horrific act. In Wrath of the Siafu, however, I go there…and beyond. 🙂

      Thanks, so much, for your feedback, Fujimoto!

      • Fujimoto says:

        You’re welcome!

        A very clever idea. I breezed through Wrath of the Siafu in a few hours and what a wild ride that was! I was thrilled to see a very well-muscled heroine like Remi; there are not nearly enough muscular women in fiction, especially heroines. This one made good use of current events with the killing of poor Mark (although that sort of atrocity is hardly new it seems like the American media is finally noticing it) and awareness of how exploitative the prison system is. That ending…wow! Chills up my spine yet so invigorating. More books can be written but if it ended there I would be fine with it, leaving me to imagine how much further Remi and the Siafu went.

        I have only a few complaints. I would have liked to have known Mark a bit more before he died and I think he should have been mentioned more often after he died. After a while I felt like he had been forgotten, although a lot of things were going on after like what happened to Eboni, Kundo, and the attorney and the twisted things they were discovering.

      • Balogun says:

        I’m glad you enjoyed it, Fujimoto! I will work on bigger and better things for Remi and The Siafu! 🙂

      • Fujimoto says:

        You’re welcome. I look forward to reading those!

  2. Murewa Adeyeye says:

    Greetings Baba. I absolutely love origin stories. They really bring life to the character in my opinion. Star wars is a good example of Hollywood recognizing this telling the end before the beginning. Seeing young Anikan skywalker and yoda in there prime. I think i first noticed this watching dragonball z as a teen. I didn’t know there was a Dragonball original story until years later when they aired it here in the U.S. again and i loved young Goku’s more than the Z series.The same can be said about gaming like Zelda and others. I think alot of the time also when you see Martial arts masters or overly powered side-characters or rivals, its always interesting to see how they acquired their skills, ranks, teachers, artifacts, or what ever are their defining traits

    • Balogun says:

      I agree, Murewa.
      As a child, I always enjoyed reading the heroes’ origin stories in the comic books the most. The same applied for movies.

  3. Fujimoto says:

    Wrath of the Siafu reminded me a little of the long-running superhero program Kamen Rider, where every hero begins as an innocent person who is transformed by evil forces into a superpowered being and the hero escapes, vowing to use this power to take down the evil. Thinking of that, I started thinking of the slightly younger sibling program to Kamen Rider, Super Sentai (remade as Power Rangers in the US), and I started imagining an Afrikan-themed Super Sentai-type story. I think something like that would involve five people representing West Africa, North Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, and South Africa becoming superheroes based on their respective regions working together as a team to protect the world. Just an idea I had but it would nice to see someone make.

    • Balogun says:

      That is a great idea, Fujimoto!

      • Fujimoto says:

        Thank you!

        I’ve been meaning to ask, do you know any good sources of information on Afrikan weapons and tools? When I look online I only find Wikipedia and sellers of weapons (a great visual reference but doesn’t tell me much about names or exact usage), and I can only find one out of print book on Amazon (I probably will buy this eventually, it’s just a bit pricy). I would like to know in case I try to write something like my five heroes idea.

      • Balogun says:

        The book you found is probably the only source I would recommend. Is it African Arms and Armour?

  4. Fujimoto says:

    Yes it is. Very well, I shall buy that one. Thank you for the advice.

  5. […] A Single Link and Wrath of the Siafu are witty, thrilling and, sometimes, frightening Urban Fantasy books that I have always wanted to […]

  6. […] versions of the film. Now, I’d like to continue the fun by dream-casting my latest novella, Wrath of the Siafu, part 2 to the superhero origin story that began in the popular novella, A Single […]

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