6 Inspiring Speeches That Remind Us Why We Love Superheroes

Superheroes were created during the Great Depression, popularized during World War II, and re-popularized after 9/11. They're historically more than entertainment -- they're mouthpieces for humanity's aspirations and loftier goals. Which probably explains why every other sentence that comes out of their mouths is a galvanizing speech of some sort (Hulk's irradiated mumbling notwithstanding). Here's our humble attempt to round out the most inspirational and just plain coolest ones.

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6
Captain America's "No, You Move" (Captain America: Civil War)

The Context:

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The U.S. government has passed a law forcing everyone who has ever worn their underpants on the outside to register or go to jail. Captain America ain't a fan.

The Speech:

"Compromise where you can. Where you can't, don't. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say, 'No, you move'."

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Can this quote be used to justify some insane and/or evil crap? Yep. But it also perfectly captures Captain America: an incredibly stubborn man who (luckily for the rest of us) happens to have an exceptionally fine-tuned moral compass. While this speech is delivered by romantic interest Sharon Carter in the movie, it's adapted from a similar speech made by Cap himself in The Amazing Spider-Man #537 (2006). Considering that (ENDGAME SPOILERS AHEAD, as if you haven't watched that movie five times by now) Cap ultimately goes back in time and marries Sharon's aunt, maybe she originally heard it from him during one of their supremely awkward family dinners.

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There are other great speeches that demonstrate why Steve Rogers calls himself Captain America and not Captain Federal Government of the United States of America, but no one has put it more succinctly than Frank Miller in Daredevil: Born Again:

Marvel Comics"It's important to catch some Z's."

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Related: The 5 Ugly Lessons Hiding Every Superhero Movie

5
Superman Cuts Loose (Justice League Unlimited, "Destroyer")

The Context:

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Earth is currently being visited by a space tyrant who makes Thanos look like a chump, because he is in fact the original Thanos. Superman offers him a warm welcome.

The Speech:

"I feel like I live in a world made of cardboard, always taking constant care not to break something, to break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control even for a moment, or someone could die. But you can take it, can't you, big man? What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose and show you just how powerful I really am."

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Above is evidence that you can do scenes with Superman punching villains through buildings, and the fans will accept it if the dialogue is good enough (like, compare this Superman to Man Of Steel Superman). The implication here is that Superman lives in a constant "dad tiptoeing around the house at night so the kids don't wake up" state, because he's afraid of hurting people -- bad guys included. Depicting Superman as a very cautious bull in a china shop adds another layer of complexity to the character, and let's be honest, it's just cool to watch Superman manhandle villains while dropping one-liners.

DC ComicsPutting items of clothing on tyrants' jaws has since been banned by the Geneva Conventions.

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Related: 6 Seriously Flawed Moral Decisions By Movie Superheroes

4
Batman's "None Of You Are Safe" (Batman: Year One)

The Context:

Gotham City is plagued by corrupt politicians, corrupt cops, and probably all the way down to corrupt school cafeteria workers. Then some nut in a bat costume shows up ...

The Speech:

"Ladies. Gentlemen. You have eaten well. You've eaten Gotham's wealth. Its spirit. Your feast is nearly over. From this moment on -- none of you are safe."

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Batman's introductory speech to his fellow one-percenters is short and to the point. "Hey. Time's up. Thanks for the fondue." Then he leaves. It seems like pointless theatrics, but we're talking about a guy who lovingly carves bat ears onto every object he owns, simply to scare criminals a little bit more (as if a caped ninja master beating you up in a dark alley wasn't scary enough on its own). He's all about the pointless theatrics. Dude would be directing pretentious Off-Broadway musicals if he was slightly more well-adjusted.

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This scene was written by Frank Miller, who established that Batman's verbal beatdowns could be almost as brutal as his physical ones. There's his "I want you to remember my hand at your throat" speech to Superman in The Dark Knight Returns, and this little nugget from the same comic:

Batman's eyesight isn't what it used to be..

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NOTE: Yes, we're deliberately ignoring the "Batman soiled his pants while saying the speech" retcon by Kevin Smith. That never happened, nope.

Related: 5 Hilarious Ways Comic Books Failed To Address World Issues

3
Aunt May Tells Miles Morales NOT To Be Like Peter Parker (Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #14)

The Context:

Spider-Man is dead, and some new kid is trying to fill his tights, but he doesn't think he can live up to Peter Parker's legacy. Luckily, there's still someone named Parker around.

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The Speech:

"Don't do what we say, don't do what he says, don't do what you think Peter would say ... Do what your heart tells you. I've learned a lot in my life and I've learned that life is too short for anything else. Don't do what Peter would do. Do what Miles Morales would do."

Marvel Comics"... For example, Peter did a dance scene. You should probably avoid that."

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Aunt May's advice is a natural extension of her late husband's famous "With great power ..." speech. Peter Parker wasn't born a hero. He became one because dumb luck (and poor lab safety regulations) gave him the proportional strength of a spider, and he learned to rise to the occasion. Miles Morales demonstrates that if someone else can follow the same simple power/responsibility formula, boom, they're Spider-Man now.

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This is also a major theme in Into The Spider-Verse, wherein we learn that even totally ridiculous characters like a cartoon pig, an anime girl, or Nicolas Cage can be Spider-Man. The movie ends with Miles telling us even we can be Spider-Man as we sit there stuffing our faces with popcorn. In fact, there's a deleted scene in which Peter paraphrases Aunt May ("Don't do it like me, do it like you"), which can still be seen in the trailer:

Maybe they were like, "Don't do it like the comic. Do it like the movie."

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Related: 5 Terrible Messages Hidden Inside Every Superhero Story

2
Lex Luthor Sees The World Through Superman's Eyes And Freaks Out (All-Star Superman)

The Context:

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Lex Luthor has taken a serum to give himself Superman's powers. What he didn't count on was also gaining Superman's perspective ...

The Speech:

"It's so obvious. The fundamental forces are yoked by consciousness. Everything's connected. Everyone. And this is how he sees things all the time, every day ... Like it's all just us, in here together. And we're all we've got."

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For a while, DC tried to sell us on Lex Luthor as a superhero, giving him a cool armor, a cape, and even a Justice League membership. None of that was as effective as the few seconds in All-Star Superman when Lex finally sees the world as Superman does, in both a literal and philosophical sense. After gaining Superman's super-senses, Lex realizes that reality is bound together by a single consciousness we all belong to, like an endless psychic human centipede (but more wholesome).

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In the animated adaptation, this realization makes Lex collapse and admit the error of his ways. In the comic, Superman uses the opportunity to punch him. We'll let you decide which one is superior. And of course, we can't talk about this comic without mentioning the scene in which Superman prevents a suicide with a few words and a well-placed hug ...

DC Comics

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... which seems exactly like the sort of thing you'd go around doing if you knew we're all part of the same universal mind. By the way, if you're wondering how the comic's writer came up with that idea, he didn't. It was one of the things the aliens showed him when they kidnapped him.

Related: 5 Terrible Lessons We Learned From Superman Movies

1
Stan Lee Lays It On The Line (Stan's Soapbox: The Collection)

The Context:

It's the '60s, and radical ideas like "black people should have the same rights as whites" are still considered too controversial for almost all mainstream entertainment. Almost.

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The Speeches:

"Let's lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can't be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them -- to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are."

Marvel Comics

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OK, so Stan Lee was definitely not a superhero. Heck, some of his collaborators made him sound closer to the Green Goblin than to Spider-Man. He also made it clear early on that he didn't like getting political. He was a salesman by nature, and talking about politics is a great way to alienate half your buying audience. But to Lee, issues like Civil Rights weren't political. They were about basic human decency, and he didn't shy away from touching them in his stories or Stan's Soapbox columns, even if it bothered some readers.

Marvel Comics

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This attitude clearly rubbed off on the rest of the Marvel Bullpen. The letters page for Silver Surfer #7 includes a letter from a reader scandalized because the comic acknowledged that *gasp* discrimination against black people exists. The editor's response:

Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics"You know who I mean" ... idiots?

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"Marvel Comics: We'd At Least Like to Have it Said of Us That We Tried" is pretty bad as a slogan, but great in every other sense. Excelsior!

Follow Maxwell Yezpitelok's valiant effort to review every '90s Superman comic at Superman '86 to '99. Special thanks to Neil Raymundo for research assistance.

For more, check out Why All Superheroes Are Actually Villains - Obsessive Pop Culture Disorder:


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