I could hear the boys playing in the other room. Daryl was being the typical older sibling bully, trying to manipulate the play as he saw fit. I was once the older sibling; I remember exactly how it goes.
“Ok, Hal. I’m Hawkeye and Black Panther and Thor. Who do you want to be?”
“I want to be Thor!”
“No. I’m Thor. You can be Antman. Or Hulk. Or Ironman.”
“No! I don’t want to be Ironman! I want to be Thor.”
“You can’t. Why don’t you be Antman? Antman is cool.”
“Ok, fine. You can be Thor and Hulk, but I’m Hawkeye and Black Panther.”
“I want to be Superman!”
“No! You can’t be Superman. We are playing Avengers!”
I had been trying to get Daryl’s attention for some time. I finally raised my voice loud enough to be heard. “Daryl! Come here!”
When he entered the room, I said, “Quit trying to control everything.”
“Yes, you are. You are taking all the best characters and leaving him the leftovers.”
“No I’m not. I took my two favorite ones and then he can pick his two favorites. Besides, he doesn’t want Hawkeye anyway.”
“That’s beside the point. You should pick one and then let him pick one.”
He got a sly grin on his face. “Well, I’d just pick Black Panther first since I know he wouldn’t pick Hawkeye, so it’s the same difference.”
Sighing, I asked, “Why can’t he be Superman?”
“Because that wouldn’t be fair!”
“Why wouldn’t that be fair?”
“Because I can’t defeat Superman!”
“None of the Avengers can beat Superman?”
He looked at me like my intelligence ranked somewhere around that of a slug.
“No, mom. I don’t have any green Kryptonite. Hawkeye doesn’t have any Kryptonite arrows. And Black Panther doesn’t have anything Kryptonite either. Superman is like the strongest, toughest guy ever. You can’t beat him without Kryptonite.”
“Oh, ok,” I responded before walking down the hall to share the amusing conversation with my husband.
As I recounted the tale to him, Jane jumped in and said, “Thor could beat Superman. Thor is really strong. And he’s not just a superhero. He’s a god.”
“Pssshhhht! Whatever. Thor wouldn’t stand a chance against Superman.” My husband looked affronted.
And with that, I got a glimpse of what Daryl might be as an adult. My husband began speaking with great authority on the relative strengths of various superheroes plus some history on comic books in general.
And I learned the main, most obvious reason that Hal could not possibly be Superman. With much the same tone his son had used, he explained, “He’s not even in the same universe.”