Course Catalog for Superheroes: A Sample

“In the Nick of Time:” Part of being an effective superhero is mastering the art of getting away from the villain in an effective but still impressive manner. While multiple kinds of vehicles may be employed while being pursued by the bad guys, the car still remains what many would consider the most reliable one. More durable than a bicycle, less complex than a plane, train or speedboat, the humble auto will be our vehicle of choice to practice leaving/arriving at the scene of the crime. We will learn such skills as hot wiring (or instinctively knowing which car in the lot still has its keys in the ignition), climbing in and out of the car while it is in motion, using random items inside to stave off our attackers, navigating one way streets and narrow alleyways, hydroplaning safely after colliding with a fire hydrant, and how to avoid hitting panicky pedestrians who are scrambling to get out of the way. For the final exam, you will complete both a written exam and road test by a licensed superhero driver, and upon successful passing, you will receive certification.

Vehicles provided, but there will be a fee, as well as legal forms to sign upon registration.

Soliloquizing 101: A famous Shakespeare character once said, “To be or not to be/ That is the question.” While rescuing the kidnapped, busting out the imprisoned, and killing the person responsible is always satisfying, it’s equally important to give a meaningful speech right before this occurs. We will examine famous speeches given by superheroes throughout the ages and analyze them for their tone, pacing, wit and use of trademark phrases. We will also discuss the importance of timing, as a common mistake even with seasoned superheroes is to talk so much that the villain is able to regain his/her bearings and manage to once again escape. For the final exam, students will prepare a ten to 15 minute soliloquy which will be rated by the class and the instructor.

When All Else Fails: Sometimes despite our best efforts in the heat of the battle, our weapons get lost or broken, our allies don’t show up when we most need them, and our super-suits malfunction. Then it is up to us to depend solely on our own ingenuity when it comes to dueling the villain. Fortunately, many ordinary items both indoors and outdoors can come in handy and provide adequate protection, at least for awhile. Many everyday objects turned into weapons can also retain some effectiveness, even after they are partially damaged. We will be viewing an array of action/thriller films in order to pick up pointers. For the final, each student will be required to give a practical demonstration for approximately a half hour, after being blindfolded and led to an unfamiliar location.

The Great Escape: It’s a rare superhero who hasn’t found themselves at least once trussed like a Thanksgiving turkey or imprisoned in a seemingly inescapable fortress at the mercy of one’s nemesis. Fortunately, though, there are time tested methods of getting out of such jams. We will study such escape artists as Houdini, as well as other famous superheroes in order to increase the odds that we will be able to get away in such a situation. We will also examine the role of disguise as an aid to getting away, as well as the advantage of bonding with the minions of one’s nemesis. A practical exam will be administered at the end of the course.

Hacking 101: While it’s possible to find a hacker who can provide key assistance on the spur of the moment, doing so when the fate of the world is at stake and you’re on the run can be a challenge. In this course, we’ll learn tips and tricks for gaining access to other people’s secure systems in the least amount of time possible. Although most villains have the mental capacity of a Wheat Thin when it comes to protecting their personal data, there are still some who have working brain cells and enact barriers more complex than having “password” or their birthday plus their dog’s name be their ultimate protection. The final will consist of a practical exam in which each student will have a limited amount of time to access and retrieve data.

Gymnastics 101, i.e. “Flips and Dips.”: Agility is a necessary quality for a superhero. In this course, we will learn maneuvers that will best help us dangle out of buildings, scale cliffs, and navigate grids safely while decreasing the odds of pulling a muscle, breaking a bone or winding up dead. For the final, there will be a practical field exam.


Quiz: How Clichéd Is Your Underdog Movie?

In honor of “Eddie the Eagle,” and “Race,” which are due out soon and appear from the trailers and early reviews to reliably follow the Hollywood triumph of the underdog formula, here’s a practice quiz. The more b)’s and c’s) you end with, the more clichéd your movie will likely be.

1. Your main character (MC) has _ obstacles to overcome.

a) 3 or less
b) 4-6
c) 6+

2. The other characters in the movie generally respond to the MC’s ambition with_

a) Benign indifference
b) Mild derision
c) Open fire hostility

3. If applicable, the MC’s family is_

a) Indifferent
b) Baffled
c) Actively hostile

4. If applicable, the character _

a) Was raised by people other than his parents
b) Grew up in dire poverty.
c) Grew up in an orphanage/ stayed in JD.

5. How many times is the MC told straight out things like, “You’ll never be able to do this.”

a) 3 or less
b) 4-6
c) 6+

6. How many inspirational speeches does the MC give?
a) None or one
b) Two or three
c) More than three

7. The best description of the MC’s mentor/trainer is _

a) A hardass with a heart
b) Someone with substance abuse/relationship issues who is antagonistic toward the MC at first
c) Someone like b) but with a tragic secret in their past having to do with the sport

8. The mentor’s actual training will consist of:

a) Exercises and advice to sharpen the MC’s skills.
b) Incorporating Eastern philosophy or something similar to bring out the best in the MC.
c) Barking cryptic orders during a montage plus at least one inspirational speech.

9. The strategy for the MC during the Big Event is best described as _

a) Going out and giving it his all.
b) Doing something legal, but that the rival won’t expect at all.
c) Employing a strategy that could get the MC seriously injured or killed if performed incorrectly.

10. Your MC will get _ montages (count all, not just training/competing ones)

a) None or one
b) Two or three
c) More than three

* Bonus point for each montage set to songs like “Walking on Sunshine,” or “All Star.”
* Bonus point if the song does not match the era of the setting.

11. The top competitor/ main rival will respond to the MC with_

a) Indifference: It’s pointless to waste energy worrying about every possible underdog.
b) A few snide remarks.
c) Sabotage

12. If your MC deals with an unexpected snag in his plans, it will be_

a) Something non-man made like the weather
b) A death or a sickness in the family.
c) The Powers That Be attempting to keep him personally from competing by invoking a rule.

13. If c), they do this because _
a) It’s a legitimate safety issue.
b) There’s some ambiguity in the rule’s description.
c) They are elitist, sexist, etc.

14. If applicable, does the MC’s family?

a) Attend the event to cheer him on.
b) Not plan on doing so, but is guilted into it somehow.
c) Is adamantly opposed yet arrives at the last minute.

15. If applicable, is the MC supported by:

a) His community or school.
b) His nation
c) Just about everyone including the judges once they see how brilliant he is.

16. When MC does compete, the following happens _

a) He wins and all is well.
b) He wins and gets a standing ovation. (If the spectators are already standing, they then go crazy.)
c) He wins, gets a standing O and changes history forever.

* Bonus point if there’s an end card saying something like, “X is widely considered the greatest in the world…” prior to the credits.