Out of the Mount: Superheroes

Out of the Mount.

Two plays in Out of the Mount deal with superheroes, Bianca Dillard’s “No One’s Superman” and Lyvia Martinez’s “The Illegal Alien”.

Mormon writers are often, fairly or unfairly, dismissed categorically as a bunch of fantasy writers. And while certainly true that Mormons are surprisingly common in fantasy, science fiction, and related genres, outside of actual comics, written works about superheroes are relatively rare so having two in one volume is striking.

Neither of these plays features actual Mormon superheroes (for that you will have to look elsewhere, for instance my own play titled “Mormon Superhero“) and of all the plays in the collection, they are perhaps the most resistant to a Mormon reading.

But “resistant” is code for being particularly fruitful and I suspect that more theories will eventually be promoted here than for the other more obviously Mormon works. I’ll go first.

For starters, the superheroes in this book are painfully real. They have eating disorders and immigration issues. Yet they put on a happy face and continue to save the day.

The idea that Mormons are perfectly nice (etc) results in pressures that many have difficulty coping with.

Plus, doctrinally, Mormons are aiming for godhood.

What better metaphor than a beleaguered superhero?

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Read your own copy then return and discuss.

One thought on “Out of the Mount: Superheroes”

  1. I see that in both plays, too. Friend, professor, mentor, brilliant playwright, and all-around-good-guy Eric Samuelsen once said something that’s always stuck with me–he suggested that there is a collective ideal in Mormon culture, and we all fail to live up to that, and many (perhaps most) of us don’t even want to. I think that’s an apt summary of the superheroes and the superhero culture in Bianca’s play; a bit reminiscent of a funnier “Watchmen” as filtered through a Mormon writer’s lens. Lyvia’s play, meanwhile, conflates the superhero sacred with the profane, giving us the most godlike of superheroes dealing with the most mundane, absurd, and paradoxical of paperwork situations (the play reminds me a little of one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite films–the “Santana’s ‘Abraxas'” bit from the Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man”).

    I really like both pieces (obviously, or they wouldn’t be here). It felt a little odd including the only two superhero plays we’ve ever produced, but “No One’s Superman” was one of our big successes, and my favorite piece of Bianca’s (one of our more important playwrights, all nepotism aside) that we’ve produced. And “The Illegal Alien” is my favorite from Lyvia, another one of our most notable and beloved writers. I’m curious to hear other thoughts on both pieces.

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