The other day, I found myself answering the question, “Who is your favorite superhero?” I started with predictable Marvel Comics characters Spider-Man and Iron Man, but I really couldn’t resist putting in Sherlock Holmes. In defense of my choice, I mentioned that he’s not only the world’s greatest detective; he’s also an expert boxer and martial artist, a good enough actor to have been one professionally, and a phenomenal musician and composer. In one story, he even bends an iron fire poker with his bare hands to show his massive strength.
While each of these skills could certainly be possessed by other people, I find it a stretch to consider Holmes an entirely ordinary hero since he possesses them all at one time. The actor Benedict Cumberbatch has been known to refer to Holmes as having an attainable superpower, and I tend to agree.
On the other side, Holmes isn’t Batman. He only uses available technology (for whatever time period he’s adapted into) and good, old-fashioned brains to do most of his work. There’s not a natural sci-fi element to the stories. He’s just really, really clever and exceptionally mindful, and Doyle famously based him on a real person, Dr. Joseph Bell (though rather loosely, I’d imagine).
I’ll agree that Holmes isn’t a traditional superhero of the cape-wearing, mid-century comic book variety, but I also find it difficult to argue that he’s a completely ordinary man. Each talent he possesses may be explainable, but their existence together in one person, combined with how Holmes uses them, makes him just to the side of superhuman in my estimation.
What do you think? Can Sherlock Holmes be called a superhero, or is he just an extremely compelling character?
The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.
The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.