Looking for a Superhero

I personally don’t like movies about superheroes that have extra-special powers because they came from a different planet, have special clothing or mutated genes. I like my heroes human, with their own set of human strengths and flaws.

Not too long ago I saw a movie entitled, Concussion*, which tells the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic scientist who, after coming to America from Nigeria, helped identify a degenerative brain disease in American football players, starting with “Iron Mike” Webster, the All-Pro center for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1974 to 1990, whose death at age 50 came after several years of mental disorder and malfunction. Dr. Omalu performed the autopsy on Mr. Webster, and discovered what he describes as killer proteins throughout his brain, a condition that became known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. He (along with other doctors) published the findings in a medical journal, and then fought with the NFL to get the league to recognize the potential large scale, long-term problem it faces: humans are not built to play football. Others have picked up where Dr. Omalu left off in helping players and parents understand the potential danger from repeated contact required in football at every level the game is played.  It is the story of courage to do something great when the world (or at least America’s favorite sport) is against you.

Here is one of my favorite scenes from the movie:


I came out of the movie thinking, why don’t I have the courage, like Dr. Omalu, to do something great? In my professional world, I am a lawyer working for the largest publicly-owned oil company in the world. I consider myself an expert lawyer when it comes to doing deals, but all I have ever done in my career is make a lot of money for the company. No one will look at my professional contributions and say, there goes a courageous man who did something great and noble for his fellow human beings.

But perhaps I am being too hard on myself (as we all have a tendency to do).

One of my all-time favorite movies is Back to the Future**. As you will recall, Marty McFly is the teenaged son of George McFly, who, at the beginning of the film is portrayed as a nerdy loser, pretty much afraid of everyone and everything. George is antagonized in particular by Biff Tannen, who, when in high school with George, is the typical bully, who ultimately becomes George McFly’s supervisor, and who continues to bully George every chance he gets. Here is a link to a YouTube clip from the movie:

Marty McFly goes back in time to when his mother and father are in high school.  Lorraine Baines (later to become Marty’s mother) starts to fall in love with Marty, instead of his father, George, when Marty is accidentally hit by a car. Marty knows, if he doesn’t get Lorraine and George together, he will never be born. In a pivotal scene, Biff starts to force himself on Lorraine, and George somehow gets the courage to face Biff – something he has never been able to do before. He punches Biff, resulting in Lorraine instantly falling in love with George. Watch it here:


But the key is what develops afterword. Marty is finally able to get back to the future (which is really the present), but because of what George was able to do in the past due to Marty’s visit, this George McFly is totally different from the George McFly we saw at the beginning of the movie. He is hip, he is successful, and now Biff works for him. The morale of the story: In the face of a crisis, George McFly was able to stand up to his rival, overcome his fear and do the right thing – and that made all the difference.

Most of us will not have the chance to potentially change the world as Dr. Bennet Omalu and others may have done, but each of us can be like George McFly, willing to do something personally great when faced with our biggest challenges – which might just be having the courage to stand up to the local bully. Doing the “right” thing during a time of crisis, rather than blaming others or sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves, may not seem like a big deal at the time, but the ripple effect of such action may, over time, just change the world – if only our own.



Directed by: Peter Landesman

Starring: Will Smith, Alec Baldwin

Written by: Peter Landesman and Jeanne Marie Laskas

Distributed by: Village Roadshow Pictures and Columbia Pictures

**Back to the Future

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Written by: Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale

Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover

Distributed by: Universal

5 thoughts on “Looking for a Superhero

  1. Lisa

    I really like this post dad. You are right. Doing the right thing may not change the whole world, but it can change our world. I don’t know that I’ve ever really looked at trying to do good that way, as dumb as that makes me sound. And the world may not know you as a hero, but you are certainly one of mine and I think you are pretty great!


  2. Scott

    I think living as an example of what it means to be a strong father and strong husband as you have for my entire life, that is a hero. Even if that means just doing your “less courageous” work well each and everyday at your best. remaining solid as a rock in everything, to be that stable backbone for the family, that is just as meaningful and courageous as anything.


  3. Lisa

    Ok, I don’t know why it won’t publish my posts! I have written one at least 3 times on this post ever since you posted it. When I read your new post I noticed that it still hadn’t shown up! Anyway, not sure what I said verbatim, but all the good that you have done, may not change the world, but it definitely has changed mine. And while you may not be perceived by the world as a hero, you are definitely mine. Now, because of your example, and the words of this post to serve as a reminder, I can be an example for good in my own kids life. We choose to do good because that’s the right thing to do, not for recognition. It may not change the world, but it can change ours for the better, Love this post and love you!


  4. Jeff

    So I will share as well. I know you have heard this from me before. Reading the Steve Jobs biography was powerful to me. He talked about “denting the universe”. I came home so excited to do the same. How can I change the world!?! What charity would I start, how many lives could I save, etc. Told this to my wife, she said, “You could do all of that, or you can raise 4 awesome kids, change their lives, and dent the world 4 times over.” Or something to that extent. So you are right, like always. Changing us, changes the world, even if it only ours. But ultimately that is probably the only world that matters.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s