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Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans


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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

Actually, realistically, I can fly, lift trucks and throw bolts of energy. It just takes the right equipment.

 

I could buy such equipment. Anyone with money could. Why is it that this fact doesn't throw us all into a panic?

 

Because we have laws regulating the use of equipment that fly, lifts trucks or throws bolts of energy. And we trust the laws.

 

In a superhero world, do the inhabitants have any reason to believe that the law (and more importantly its enforcement arm) has the ability to control people who can organically do the things that regulated machines can? And if they do not believe that the law has sufficient power to protect them, then what?

 

In the presence of such a potential problem and the absence of any institutional solution, fear is a reasonable response.

 

"Fear will keep the local residents in line. Fear of this battlesuit."

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

I just find it weird that people can accept that a superhero can throw a 12d6 punch and not have the equal and opposite reaction fling him backwards violently when he swung but can't accept changes to society's expectations. Everything about superheroes violates the fundamental laws of physics, yet it's impossible for people to be accepting of said heroes?

 

Realistically speaking, you can't fly, lift trucks, or fire bolts of energy. At all. There's a large suspension of disbelief that goes on in the game world, and I fail to see why that can't be extended to social roles. Would supers be readily accepted? Probably not. There'd be some kind of registration or regulation or whatever, but you know what?

 

If I can accept a guy getting bitten by a radioactive spider who winds up being strong, agile, and can climb walls, I can accept all sorts of things.

 

 

well said, and good food for thought, I hit thee with my imperial Rep Stick, as soon as it regains it's charges, was that -1.25 lim really worth it...

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

Nexus, the point of that comment was that government is so strict about its monopoly in use of force that even a man whose only power is levitation could be prosecuted for that alone (for disturbing peace).

 

It was not about Iron Age vs Silver Age.

 

It was not about cynicism vs hope either.

 

 

If superhumans actually existed, would government allow them to use their powers at all, unless they work for government ?

 

As for acceptance vs non-acceptance.

 

There is a setting where superhumans have been registered and accepted for a long time and it worked really well.

 

Forgotten Realms-setting; the nation of Cormyr.

 

Wizards are registered, accepted and treated as important part of society.I suppose that reason is that in this world there is no dividing line between superhumans and normals.If a man wants to be a wizard, he must find a competent tutor and study hard.

Potentially nearly everyone can be a wizard.

 

In most settings supers are separated from normals ("we can´t accept them because they are not us").

 

Then if something is not Silver Age it is not automatically Iron Age.There is also non-four color people with powers option which doesn´t fall into either category.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

Nexus, the point of that comment was that government is so strict about its monopoly in use of force that even a man whose only power is levitation could be prosecuted for that alone (for disturbing peace).

 

The posts I quoted made some large sweeping generalizations about the reactions to superhumans. They would be instantly otracized, arrested, etc. Such fews are ususally presented in "Iron Age" style settings of which Wild Talents is an example. Up until Civil War (a radical depature from earlier material) it was not a crime in the Marvel universe to posesses powers and not be registered with government, for example. It was what you did with them. "All supers would be outlaws" and the only way for supers to be free would be to utterly rebel against the government/take over the world" idea is primarely seen in "Iron Age" style stories and many of the authors and fans do, vocally advocate them as "more realistic." I don't agree. And no, it's not all of them. Aberrant isn't quite so dark in the regard and its creator definitely proclaims "This is not the Superfriends!" (though there are other issues.)

 

As for the Wild Talents example, I'd have to read it myself and see if the levitating man was doing anything else but levitating and the other issues involving his arrest.

 

Then if something is not Silver Age it is not automatically Iron Age.There is also non-four color people with powers option which doesn´t fall into either category.

 

There are more degrees than "Silver Age" and "Iron Age" but the points I was addressing when I started this thread usually reflect the sensibilities of the so called "Iron Age", at least many the stories and settings which would be catogorized under that title.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

I tend to lean towards the idea that many supers would want to be part of society rather than an outsider. For me this idea tends to be poorly explored. A Secret ID does not necessarily constitute integration into society.

 

Monkey psychology being what it is, a certain measure of fame may go with this. So you get the Transporter, a teleporting guy who forms his own courier company doing high-priced deliveries. You get the Siren, a super-hot chick who made Big Brother XIII so interesting by showing up all the contestants as parasitic non-entities; she has her own TV show now. You get the Rock, a bulletproof bodyguard who works for those in real danger. And you get the Mindbender, a telepath who is quite happy as a corporate shark.

 

Comics tend to be oriented towards adolescent power fantasies and many comics fans are in denial about that factoid. This results in extremes rather than entertaining 'what if' scenarios.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

Troe but to be fair those types of character do exist in most superhero universes, they just aren't the focus of most stories but they're not that exciting or exotic despite being interesting. The Rock might have adventures now and again and Siren's life among the rich and famous could make for fun stories but it wouldn't be the stuff of high adventure, adolescent or not.

 

The characters in Heroes are more down to earth compared to most comics (power level wise and action wise) but there are still various metaplots and a big scale scenario in the background to keep things "cinematic".

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

Eh, I don't think the "This is Not the Superfriends" article was quite that bad. Its point was more that popping a node did not cause people to automatically make up a codename, put on spandex, and either rob banks or stop people from robbing banks.

 

Outside of the Secret Evil Conspiracy, I think Aberrant generally had a pretty decent setup for what "realistic" supers setting would look like. You had some people who'd use their powers to try and better the world, you had some people who'd use their powers to indulge their darkest desires, and you'd have most people who'd use their powers to live their lives, only *bigger*. And every superhuman is a celebrity.

 

Likewise, government reaction ran the gamut from "totalitarian crackdown and genocide" on one end, to "lets just make sure they don't commit crimes or cheat on their taxes while they *push the economy into overdrive*" on the other.

 

Which reminds me, I think the thing most Iron Age writers forget most readily? Governments, and corporations for that matter, aren't nameless faceless entities that exist entirely in their own right. They are made up of *people*, who are in fact still *people*. Writing a government as deciding that its going to respond to superhumans appearing by killing them all, requires writing that a large proportion, if not the majority, of the people composing that, from the Executive at the top down to the cop or soldier doing the shooting, believes that this is a good idea, or at least good enough to be worth acquiescing to when so ordered.

 

Way too often, writers assume that, 'becuz guvnment iz ebul!', a government will decide, in some nebulous manner, to commit some horror, with somehow *no one* in the entire hierarchy having any ethics or morals whatsoever, despite no hint that those composing it were anything other than ordinary people. Authority can get people to do awful things, but not *that* easily and casually.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

A slightly cynical but not particularly realistic version of public reaction to superhumans is seen in the Get Backers manga/anime. Essentially, the reaction is "that's nice. And?" The government isn't trying to track these folks down for dissection or enslavement, but it doesn't give them any special breaks either.

 

To the public at large, superhumans are non-entities (except for the girl whose superhearing helps her play the violin really, really well.) If you need them for a job, fine, but they don't get special treatment just because they have the ability to hide nigh-infinite numbers of knives in their body or shoot lightning bolts.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

Eh, I don't think the "This is Not the Superfriends" article was quite that bad. Its point was more that popping a node did not cause people to automatically make up a codename, put on spandex, and either rob banks or stop people from robbing banks.

 

I feel that while that might have been the intent behind the article and that message in and of itself has merit, I think it was written very poorly if that was the purpose; the message was lost under layers of snark and condescension mostly directed at “comic book fanboys” and other lesser minds. If you’re trying to make a point or illustrate a differing point of view snidely insulting your audience isn’t the best way to start. That and Aberrant had too many tropes from comics for it to be as totally divorced from the genre/medium as the writers and developers so often claimed. There was a definite air that considering it a “comic book” was an insult to the writer. And like so many rants of the sort it seemed to have been written by a person whose ideas about comics and superheroes formed and calcified when the Superfriends were still on the air.

 

Outside of the Secret Evil Conspiracy, I think Aberrant generally had a pretty decent setup for what "realistic" supers setting would look like.

 

I agree, the setting showed a great deal of promise but, IMO, too many White Wolfisms started to crept in, among them the “Secret Evil Conspiracy” the PCs could never detect, the metaplot freight train and overpowered NPCs (large to enforce the previous two). I ran what I felt was a successful Aberrant campaign for several year though after writing out some of the more annoying parts.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

One of the things that usually goes undiscussed in these arguments is that supers banding together to use their different powers more efficiently tends to have a multiplicative effect rather than a simple additive one. IOW, combine a teleporter, a telepath, a brick and a speedster, and you will get a combat team that's vastly more effective than 4 individuals on their own(e.g., the telepath locates the command/communications facility, the teleporter brings the team to the facility, the speedster takes out the guards, and the brick takes out the heavier equipment and vehicles in the area). Most likely, any sizable group of supers with a reasonably diverse power set will wind up having multiple advantages over any "normal" forces dispatched to deal with them.

Most likely, a hostile initial response to superhumans would trigger this very sort of teaming up, and when they saw the consequential increase in capability, the negotiation teams would come in, and the lawmakers would acknowledge the reality of the situation.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

One of the things that usually goes undiscussed in these arguments is that supers banding together to use their different powers more efficiently tends to have a multiplicative effect rather than a simple additive one. IOW, combine a teleporter, a telepath, a brick and a speedster, and you will get a combat team that's vastly more effective than 4 individuals on their own(e.g., the telepath locates the command/communications facility, the teleporter brings the team to the facility, the speedster takes out the guards, and the brick takes out the heavier equipment and vehicles in the area). Most likely, any sizable group of supers with a reasonably diverse power set will wind up having multiple advantages over any "normal" forces dispatched to deal with them.

Most likely, a hostile initial response to superhumans would trigger this very sort of teaming up, and when they saw the consequential increase in capability, the negotiation teams would come in, and the lawmakers would acknowledge the reality of the situation.

 

Many arguments that I've seen about how easily the military would

"realistically" pown superhumans seem hinged on the idea that the superhumans in question lack even basic tactical sense, giving the military days, even weeks of time to set up, take no proactive actions, the military has intelligence on their targets that borders on psychic, unflagging moral and perfect luck

 

Pretty much like any VS. argument :D

 

I don't think it would be an easy fight for either side but the superhumans would have an edge.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

Actually, alot of it depends on how powerful the superhumans are. Spider-man would have to run and hide from an armored division with air support; Superman could go to sleep. Or, not all superhumans are created equal.

 

That said, tactical acuity or lack thereof can certainly make the difference in marginal cases. A flier who always makes sure to be either below cover or at high altitude can make tanks ineffective, while having, and actually using, high mobility can make you a much harder target for artillery and air strikes.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

Which reminds me, I think the thing most Iron Age writers forget most readily? Governments, and corporations for that matter, aren't nameless faceless entities that exist entirely in their own right. They are made up of *people*, who are in fact still *people*. Writing a government as deciding that its going to respond to superhumans appearing by killing them all, requires writing that a large proportion, if not the majority, of the people composing that, from the Executive at the top down to the cop or soldier doing the shooting, believes that this is a good idea, or at least good enough to be worth acquiescing to when so ordered.

 

Way too often, writers assume that, 'becuz guvnment iz ebul!', a government will decide, in some nebulous manner, to commit some horror, with somehow *no one* in the entire hierarchy having any ethics or morals whatsoever, despite no hint that those composing it were anything other than ordinary people. Authority can get people to do awful things, but not *that* easily and casually.

 

True dat! Rep for you.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

Actually, alot of it depends on how powerful the superhumans are. Spider-man would have to run and hide from an armored division with air support; Superman could go to sleep. Or, not all superhumans are created equal.

 

Oh Yeah, Spiderman isn't taking out the US army by himself but he wouldn't be easy meat either. It takes time for a armored division and air support to be deployed, particularly after one man, even with his now public ID finding and targetting one man is difficult. It would be more an excerise for criminal investigation than tanks. In an urban enviornment, Spidey would have a huge speed and mobility advantage over normal troops and even snipers would have trouble drawing a bead on him with speed and Dangersense. Also, unless the more mundane forces are willing inflict serious collateral damage and casualties on their own cities unleashing the military inside a city might make hunting even street level supers with it a pyrrhic victory at best. And a Superman level character might go to sleep but how much untold damage and casaulties could he inflict before he did and then it would be a matter of locating him and getting to him in the 8-10 hours before he woke up (he might well go rest up on the dark side of the moon if he's able) and he might friends to watch his back or at least wake him if danger approaches.

 

I'm trying to understate or belittle the power of a modern military but they're intended to defeat other armies and inflict large scale destruction usually on enemy soil. Even dealing with small scale insurgency is difficult if the level of force has to be restrained to some degree. Superhumans would be like terrorists or guerilla fighters with equipment beyond conception*.

 

And as Megaplayboy said, there's coordination. Spiderman and Nightcrawler aren't much of a threat to an armored column but Spiderman teleported with Nightcrawler into its command center or among it when it stopped for whatever could make a considerable difference. There's allot of factors involved. Who starts it is a major one. The first attacks by either side could be very telling.

 

Another thing that doesn't come up is the impact of large scale powers from "fragile" characters. It's not Hyperion I'd worry about. It's Storm. Imagine what she could do in a few days if she decied to play nasty? Massive hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzard hitting major cites withou no warning at all, several times a week, seemingly at random or communication and transportation scrambled in an instant. Or more subtly and perhaps worse, long term droughts or other economical and resource draining prolonged disasters. Or someone like Forge. "Hey, Look, I just came up with a way to turn the GPS positioning satellites into a system of orbital mind control lasers, neat huh?"

 

A Xavier/Menton level Mentalist would even more terrifying. All that said, yes more than a few low end supers would be taken down. It's certainly NOT going to be cake walk. Competent militaries and police forces are very good at their jobs and every superhuman ism't a walking god or even tactically asute or clever in how they use their powers.

 

And this is assuming there is some magical dividing like that makes all "supers" go to one side and all "normals" on the others, a "white room vs battle". The situation in most fictional settings would or should be much more complex. Where would Captain America fall? That could decide it right there :D

 

*Of course in a comic universe, the military and intelligence agencies would have some incredibly advanced equipment to cal and inventors as well, assuming people like Tony Stark would be on the "human" side.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

Oh sure, Spiderman isn't taking out the US army by himself but he wouldn't be easy meat either. It takes time for a armored division and air support to be deployed, particularly after one man, even with his now public ID finding and targetting one man is difficult. It would be more an excerise for criminal investigation than tanks. In an urban enviornment, Spidey would have a huge speed and mobility advantage over normal troops and even snipers would have trouble drawing a bead on him with speed and Dangersense. Also, unless the more mundane forces are willing inflict serious collateral damage and casualties on their own cities unleashing the military inside a city might make hunting even street level supers with it a pyrrhic victory at best.

 

I'm trying to understate or belittle the power of a modern military but they're intended to defeat other armies and inflict large scale destruction usually on enemy soil. Even dealing with small scale insurgency is difficult if the level of force has to be restrained to some degree. Superhumans would be like terrorists or guerilla fighters with equipment beyond conception*.

 

And as Megaplayboy said, there's coordination. Spiderman and Nightcrawler aren't much of a threat to an armored column but Spiderman teleported with Nightcrawler into its command center or among it when it stopped for whatever would be. There's allot of factors involved. Who starts it is a major one. The first attacks by either side could be very telling.

 

Another thing that doesn't come up is the impact of large scale powers from "fragile" characters. It's not Hyperion I'd worry about. It's Storm. Imagine what she could do in a few days if she decied to play nasty? Massive hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzard hitting major cites withou no warning at all, several times a week, seemingly at random or communication and transportation scrambled in an instant. Or more subtly and perhaps worse, long term droughts or other economical and resource draining prolonged disasters. Or someone like Forge. "Hey, Look, I just came up with a way to turn the GPS positioning satellites into a system of orbital mind control lasers, neat huh?"

 

A Xavier/Menton level Mentalist would even more terrifying. All that said, yes more than a few low end supers would be taken down. It's certainly NOT going to be cake walk. Competent militaries and police forces are very good at their jobs and never every superhuman is a walking god or even tactically asute.

 

*Of course in a comic universe, the military and intelligence agencies would have some incredibly advanced equipment to cal and inventors as well, assuming people like Tony Stark would be on the "human" side.

 

Plus, you have all the precogs, telepaths, and futurists getting the supers together ahead of time and saying, something bad is going to happen, so we need to get prepared. The telepaths and shapeshifters could wreak havoc on the decision-making process and at least delay things long enough for the supers to be more organized. The initial task forces sent out would probably be humiliated, with their vehicles wrecked and their members alive but unconscious. Any kind of mass murder of supers would quickly escalate matters to a level beyond what any government would consider acceptable losses(there's really no real-world type security systems that could stop a team of supers from grabbing WMD if they were really determined to do so).

 

But presumably some analysts from "BLAND Corporation" have already figured this out and prepared a report for the government recommending finding a way to tolerate/accomodate/co-opt superhumans rather than try to exterminate them.;)

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

Yeah, in a setting with extant superhumans, the military would have doctrine for how to deal with them, ranging from tactics to effectively fight superhumans, to methods to reduce vulnerability to them. These would be of varying efficacy, though, depending on the tech level, the super, and whatever superhumans the military has available ( and I can guarantee you, any first world military would be eager to recruit any superhumans who can manage discipline and competency sufficient for NCO status or better ).

 

For example, against a teleporter like Nightcrawler ( presuming he somehow ended up fighting a military unit ):

 

-Offensively, emphasis would be on using long range sensors ( like JSTARS ) to spot the guy from long distance, and once so spotted, hit the area he's in with a long range, supersonic area attack, like a ToT artillery barrage

 

-Defensively, you'd have command units constantly on the move, with armed defense on the *inside* as well as outside, and every effort made to keep command vehicles indistinguishable from normal ones

 

-In addition, if the troops are feeling particularly self-sacrificing or the command is feeling particularly ruthless, you could have a surprise 'friendly fire' attack readied to land on a given unit if engaged by the teleporter. . . or more safely, a fake command vehicle that doesn't have any people inside, but a load of explosives rigged to detonate the moment someone pops in

 

Between tactics like this, and military superhumans, an army wouldn't die on being attacked by a superhuman, barring either overwhelming power, overwhelming cleverness and skill, or most likely, a team of superhumans with different powers that syncretize.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

well, it depends. In an all out fight, first you'd need some supers to guard the civilian leadership. Then you'd need some to guard the military leadership. Then you'd need some to be available to protect your intelligence gathering assets(supers who can survive in space can really mess up a GPS/milsat setup), your logistical supply lines, and probably your airfields and artillery positions as well. Whatever's left over are your forces dedicated to proactively engaging the enemy supers. But they, lacking the need for civilian leadership, supply lines, intelligence gathering tech, airfields, military leaders, etc., can concentrate all of their forces into two or three distinct groups, such as a stealth group, an intel group, and a strike group or two. Put a teleporter, group of flyers, or portal-maker with each group to give them rapid mobility and the ability to reinforce each other. Put a telepath with each group to give them instant, secure comm. The first thing they figure out is where the military supers aren't, and hit there first in force.

 

The other thing is, is the Army really going to call in artillery strikes and airstrikes if the fight is taking place in New York City, Seattle or Washington, DC? Urban fighting puts constraints on the military. Urban fighting in your own urban centers puts enormous constraints on use of massive force.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

I feel that while that might have been the intent behind the article and that message in and of itself has merit' date=' I think it was written very poorly if that was the purpose; the message was lost under layers of snark and condescension mostly directed at “comic book fanboys” and other lesser minds. If you’re trying to make a point or illustrate a differing point of view snidely insulting your audience isn’t the best way to start. That and Aberrant had too many tropes from comics for it to be as totally divorced from the genre/medium as the writers and developers so often claimed. There was a definite air that considering it a “comic book” was an insult to the writer. And like so many rants of the sort it seemed to have been written by a person whose ideas about comics and superheroes formed and calcified when the Superfriends were still on the air. [/quote']

 

It's White Wolf. Can you expect anything less than Totally Pretentious?

 

I mean, Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game (a game I loved because they ditched all that pretentiousness) was a total accident as far as those guys are concerned.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

It's White Wolf. Can you expect anything less than Totally Pretentious?

 

I mean, Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game (a game I loved because they ditched all that pretentiousness) was a total accident as far as those guys are concerned.

 

That's really what WW thinks about Street Fighter? It succeeded 'by accident'?

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

well, it depends. In an all out fight, first you'd need some supers to guard the civilian leadership. Then you'd need some to guard the military leadership. Then you'd need some to be available to protect your intelligence gathering assets(supers who can survive in space can really mess up a GPS/milsat setup), your logistical supply lines, and probably your airfields and artillery positions as well. Whatever's left over are your forces dedicated to proactively engaging the enemy supers. But they, lacking the need for civilian leadership, supply lines, intelligence gathering tech, airfields, military leaders, etc., can concentrate all of their forces into two or three distinct groups, such as a stealth group, an intel group, and a strike group or two. Put a teleporter, group of flyers, or portal-maker with each group to give them rapid mobility and the ability to reinforce each other. Put a telepath with each group to give them instant, secure comm. The first thing they figure out is where the military supers aren't, and hit there first in force.

 

This all mostly presumes you have that many, and that powerful, of superhumans yourself, though. If your the Justice League or Avengers, you really aren't beatable, or stoppable, by a military force unless it has super-equivalent resources of its own, or its willing to engage in hilarious pyrrhic practices, anyway.

 

A big part of military antisuper doctrine would be accepting that the other side is going to do damage; the trick is to reduce their ability to do damage, and in turn having the ability to counterattack when they do move.

 

The other thing is, is the Army really going to call in artillery strikes and airstrikes if the fight is taking place in New York City, Seattle or Washington, DC? Urban fighting puts constraints on the military. Urban fighting in your own urban centers puts enormous constraints on use of massive force.

 

Depends on the situation. If the villainous supers are freely tossing around skyscraper-shattering firepower, than there really is hardly any reason *not* to, as whatever damage friendly fire does to the city is lost in the noise. . . and stopping the bad guys quickly may be the only way to reduce the damage. This can extend all the way up to being willing to nuke your own city, because the bad guy *absolutely* must be stopped, and losing a city worth of people is less damage than will happen if the bad guy succeeds.

 

That said, this is the big reason why full scale military force would be a distinctly fall back option for dealing with even high end supervillains, compared to superheroic opposition. . . and why lesser supervillains wouldn't really ever warrant military opposition at all, even if police have an exceedingly hard time with them.

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