In Mark Edlitz’s epic tome, ‘How To Be a Superhero,’ fans of the genre are treated to interviews with actors who have portrayed the greatest heroes and villains of our time, whether that be on the big screen or on television. One of the greatest strengths of the book is the sheer range of actors interviewed, with Edlitz finding the time to interview heroes from the past as well as some of the more modern actors playing heroes. Every interview includes a helpful synopsis of the hero/villain and the medium in which they were portrayed, bringing the reader up to speed on the circumstances of each actor portraying the role, and the public challenges and victories of the actor at the time.
To name a few of the greats that took the time to sit down with Edlitz are Adam West (60’s ‘Batman’ TV series), Matt Salinger (90’s ‘Captain America’ film), John Wesley Shipp (90’s ‘The Flash’ TV Series), Malin Akerman (Silk Spectre in ‘Watchmen’), Lou Ferrigno (‘The Incredible Hulk’ TV series), Alan Cumming (Nightcrawler in ‘X2’), Jack Larson (Jimmy Olsen in 50’s ‘The Adventures of Superman’), Julie Newmar (60’s ‘Batman’ TV Series), Tom Hiddleston (Loki in the MCU), Leonard Nimoy (Spock Prime in ‘Star Trek’), Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson in the MCU), and Stan Lee himself. It is an impressive series of interviews, and though lengthy, each conversation reveals fascinating tidbits about the life of an actor portraying a superhero, and the life changing results of being cast in such iconic roles.
Furthermore, Edlitz does a great job capturing the personality of each subject through his interview questions, and it is clear his love of their work really inspires the actors and artists to provide real, in-depth answers, which makes for fascinating, and oftentimes quite humorous reading. The daunting length and sometimes tedious repetition of questions notwithstanding, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of actors who have portrayed superheroes, readers hungry for behind the scenes stories of the trials and tribulations of taking on the responsibility of portraying characters beloved the world over, and the consequences of being associated with that character for the rest of their lives.