REVIEW: How to Be a Superhero

If you’re anything like us, you’ll probably find yourself with a lot of questions about superhero movies, stories and characters on a regular basis – for many people a big part of being a fan is going a bit deeper into these stories than the casual watcher might do.

Well, Mark Edlitz’s book How to be a Superhero helps to answer some of those questions through a series of conversations with the actors who have played these characters – on both the big and small screen. The book contains an absolute wealth of interviews and truly digs deep into what it is like to attempt to portray these beloved, larger-than-life heroes (and villains).

From page one it is easy to see the passion that has gone into this project: Edlitz is nothing if not thorough and he clearly knows his subject inside out. The book is well-researched and richly detailed. Edlitz has gone after the big guns for this book – and he has succeeded: the contents page reads like a who’s who in superhero stardom.

Something else I enjoyed about the book was, although it can certainly be devoured in two or three sittings, it also works excellently as something to dip in to at any point. Each interview stands alone and, although the actors’ ease and enthusiasm in the interviews may vary, each was well worth reading. The sheer breadth of interviewees also means that if there are any that don’t float your boat, well, another one will be along in just a couple of turns of the page! There is something here for everyone: from more recent actors such as Tom Hiddleston and James Marsden, to favourites from the past (Adam West and Nicholas Hammond anyone?) There is also a short section featuring actors who have played characters who ‘aren’t technically superheroes, [but] do share similar qualities’ – ok, you could argue that that is rather clutching at straws but the calibre of people featured (Leonard Nimoy and Roger Moore being two examples) does make up for that in my opinion!

The final section features interviews with people behind the scenes of our favourite, including Stan Lee and Joe Quesada, an interesting change from the rest of the book and a nice coda on which to end – although it doesn’t actually end there! The main book is followed by nearly one hundred pages of appendices featuring a host of well-curated quotes from actors who apparently weren’t available for interview. It’s a great example of Edlitz’s commitment to thoroughness, and is full of interesting snippets, thoughts and musings from people like Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger and Halle Berry.

Overall I would heartily recommend this book; the interview style keeps it light and fast-moving, Edlitz is an intelligent interviewer and writer, and the book is so easy to just keep reading! I’ve certainly learnt a lot and I expect I’ll be dipping in and out of it for a while yet!

Have you learnt how to be a superhero yet? Or even better, have you read the book? Let us know in the comments section or send us a Tweet!

About the author

Grace Davis