Teaching Drama

Superhero Series: Superhero Character Creation

Character Creation
Written by Kerry Hishon

We’re starting 2021 off with a fun series of exercises focused on superheroes, supervillains, and super sidekicks! You’ll find ideas for character creation, playwriting opportunities, different performance options, and technical theatre projects. Let’s dive right in!

Superheroes: they’re everywhere. From Spiderman to Wonder Woman to the X-Men to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, superheroes abound in films, television, and books. We love to cheer them on as they battle the bad guys, and we marvel at their amazing feats of strength, bravery, and leadership.

Individually or in groups, give your students a few minutes to brainstorm as many superheroes as they can think of from popular culture. Write them down. Then as a full class, discuss the following questions:

  • What do these superheroes have in common?
  • What makes a hero “super”?
  • What is a superhero’s mission or goal?
  • If you could have a super power or special ability, what would you most want to have and why? (You may also wish to pose a follow-up: What might the negative aspects of a certain power or ability be? For example, it might be cool to have telepathy, but there are many people whose minds I would not want to read!)
  • Does a superhero need to have special powers or abilities to make them a superhero?
  • What personality or character traits, outside of special abilities or powers, do superheroes possess? (For example: bravery, virtue, kindness – anyone can possess these traits whether they are a superhero or not.)
  • Are there negative aspects or downsides to being a superhero? If so, what are they? (For example: In X-Men, the mutants are ridiculed and hated because the public doesn’t understand their powers.)
  • Would you want to be a superhero? Why or why not?

Armed with this information, students can start to develop their own, original superhero character. Use Lindsay Price’s 20 Character Profile Questions to help students create their characters, with the addition of the following questions:

  • What is my mission?
  • What is/are my special power(s)? How did I get them?
  • What is my greatest weakness?
  • Do I have an alter ego (or public identity – for example, Batman is Bruce Wayne), and if so, what is my alter ego’s name and profession? How does my alter ego’s personality differ from my superhero persona?
  • How did I become a superhero? Did I choose this life, or was I forced into it? (As William Shakespeare said in Twelfth Night, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.”)

You’ll find a printable worksheet with these questions at the bottom of this post. Have students fill in their character traits and submit them to you. Don’t worry about villains, enemies, sidekicks, or intricate storylines yet – that’s coming up next. Just focus on the hero.

When your students have finished they will have created an outline for their own new superhero, ready to leap into action. But wait – their superheroes are going to need some help. Keep an eye out for our next post in the Superhero Series: Adding Support with a Super Sidekick!

Click here for a free printable Superhero Character Profile Questions worksheet.

Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. She blogs at www.kerryhishon.com.

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About the author

Kerry Hishon

Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. View her blog at www.kerryhishon.com.