It occured to me the other day, or rather, has occured to me the last few years, but only just the other day I put the thoughts into order, that we (well, american culture, at least) is fighting hard to kill superheroes long before we have any actual such beings.
What I mean is, a superhero could not come to be in actuality. We wouldn't allow it. A hypothetical "super" being could appear somehow, and they would be "legaled" to death. Superman? Iron man? Batman? It doesn't matter who they are, what they can do, what good they intend or how much they bennifit others, they would be torn apart one way or other.
This concept isn't new, it's been explored many times over in the last decade or so as writers explore the difference between a "hero" and a vigelante. A form of this has been touched on in EQ, as characters explore their own morals and ethics. At this point, though, in real life, if there was the slightest question of the perfection of the hero's life, scandal would erupt rapidly, pointing to the sligtest flaw as a sign of monumental hypocracy.
Further, even if the "Hero" was beyond reproach, how would they be commissioned? Would they be a federal agent, which would not be able to operate on many local levels, or would they be forced to act strictly on a local level, with special rules to allow them to act in whatever method they need to?
For example, Superman, at any given movie, acts as an EMT, firefighter, Judge, law enforcement, transporter, pilot, freight operator.... many others as well. Not only that, but in order to keep from falling under "vigelante" status, he would need to file flight plans with the FAA, ensure that whatever actions taken do not violate FCC regulations, weigh out the precise amount of force taken to enforce the law, make sure he isn't violating NATO regs.... it would take years, even at super speed, just to memorize all the laws reguarding all the things he does, and I'm sure there would be hundreds law suits, requests to appear in court, etc, etc, etc.... He'd never get anything done.
And forget slipping on a pair of glasses as a disguise. Today's facial recognition has become so fast, so efficient, so all encompasing it's a standard feature on most new smart phones to automatically label images of people.... I'm sure Google, Bing, governments, and any other amounts of interested parties that wish to could easily connect any high profile individual with any private life they wished to lead.
Of course, then there's the question of what such an individual should be responsible for. Let's say a Superman shows up, with all the usually powers. He could work at super speed around the clock non stop with just the smallest town and still not make everything perfectly fine, and this would be considered a waste of his time at that! But if we only "make him" do "big" stuff, like tsunami rescues, tornado deflections, earthquake suppression, asteroid aversion... It would reduce the work load, but still leave the issues of "could he have done more?" Sure, he rescued the tsunomi victims, but shouldn't he have had his ear to the ground and just stopped the hazard to begin with? What happens when he has an earthquake in LA, a massive hurricane in Florida, an oil spill in the Gulf, a stock market crash in New York, a dictator executing ethnic groupd here and there all at the same time? Do you prioritize on potential populatoin affected? By ease of aid? By duration of "easiest first", by what you feel like? The world is a big place, and if you don't have all your ducks in a row, you're going to be blamed for no doing more.
Further, unless commisioned by something that can pay up for damages, almost any amount of aid by a superstrong entity will eventually result in collateral damage, and who pays for it?
Well, I'm turning into a zombie. Just my thoughts, what's your's?