Essay

Real-Life Heroes

Marvel’s Hero Project has one important goal: illuminating the many kids and teens that are making a difference. But how and why do they want to do it? Throughout the series, there are real kids and teens portrayed who use their real powers as forces for good in their communities, and Marvel has created web-based comic books to immortalize the honorees, giving each kid an alter ego with superpowers suited to their humanitarian mission, and the free comic books are on the company’s website, where readers can see the action panel-by-panel.

Marvel has chosen to do this to support the young heroes’ missions of ingenuity, compassion, and dedication. Austin, Gitanjali, and Sidney are just a few of the many young people profiled in Marvel’s Hero Project, but their stories are some great examples of all the important causes that appear in the comics.

Austin’s superhuman comic book counterpart has the power to conjure up a rain shower to irrigate thirsty crops. In real life, Austin doesn’t command the weather, but he does have a history of helping gardens—and his community—flourish. Austin started with just a handful of dried beans from his cupboard, but with effort, that soon transformed into a thriving community garden of fruits and veggies, and like his garden, his mission has grown to become dedicated to ending world hunger.

Gitanjali’s illustrated alter ego goes on a deep-water diving adventure, tracking down toxins in water and neutralizing them—fwoosh!—before they can harm anyone. She has a prodigiously powerful combination of scientific smarts and compassionate concern, just like the real Gitanjali, who invented the Tethys system after she heard that people in Flint, Michigan, were getting sick because of unsafe drinking water.

Sidney’s comic book counterpart teleports to fantastical realms to battle an alien and a dragon, but his portal to amazing adventures isn’t some complicated mechanical contraption. It’s…a book. Like his animated avatar, the real Sidney knows that books can open doors. An avid reader since he was a little kid, Sidney started a club called Books N Bros for African American boys that has more than 250 members across the U.S.

Austin, Gitanjali, and Sidney are just a few of the many inspiring young people profiled in Marvel’s Hero Project, a diverse group whose stories prove you don’t have to be superhuman to be a super human—they’re all, as Marvel puts it, “real kids making a real difference.”

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