Santa Claus, a real superhero? Where’s his swirling cape, ultra cool mask or trusty complimentary sidekick? Well, he’s certainly got more than a recognizable ‘costume’ – then there are all those sidekick ready magical elves. If they qualify as a faithful Gotham City Robin or patriotic pulsing Bucky, Santa’s got hundreds of super duper helpers. And we can’t forget those eight tiny reindeer. Rudolph’s nose – and his ability to fly fast and high – put him right up there with the mythical flying horse, Pegasus or Krypto, Superman’s super flying pup.
Still, maybe it’s all way too much. Is Santa as a super hero pushing it? Would Professor X utilize Cerebro to locate the eternally jolly, old elf?
Batman punishes the bad guys with therapeutic sentences in Arkham. Santa punishes the naughty boys and girls with lumps of coal. Superman upholds universal truth and justice. Santa upholds the truth and justice of good kids getting what they want for come Christmas. Red Ryder BB gun, anyone?
Arch enemies are required lore for any super hero. Batman’s got his Joker, Santa’s got his Krampus. Ready yourself for a speed test. Justice League funny guy, Flash, travels the globe in a flash. Santa can’t go so flashy fast, but reindeer get him around the Earth in one night – not so far behind in speed.
Unlike his pulp fiction brethren, Santa didn’t start out wowing his adoring public in the comic books or the funny pages, but his exploits were told of in mythology and poetry.
Sinterklaas, Wodan & Father Christmas
Santa hails from the old country, Europe. The Dutch Sinterklaas and the British Father Christmas merged to become the Santa Claus we know today. Way back in 1773, the American press first used the name Santa Claus. In Washington Irving’s History of New York (1809) he’s portrayed as a fat bellied Dutch sailor. Instead of our modern depictions, with the now traditional red and white fur centric clothing, he was portrayed dressed in a green coat, happily smoking a pipe.
Santa’s more mythic connections are historically aligned with the German god, Wodan, with associations to the pagan Yule, and The Wild Hunt, a spooky, ghostly romp through the sky. But the modern depiction of Santa is attributed to the 1823 poem, ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’ – written by the caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast. From this famed literary creation, we get the pop culture reinforced image of Santa with his portly build, red and white fur wardrobe, and black leather boots and belt.
Of all of Santa’s more familiar elements, we’re most fascinated with our king of the toy givers own toys. A colony of magic powered elves combined with a sleigh fueled reindeer with the capability to nearly out race The Flash himself. Yep, Santa boasts nifty powers that even the most potent Avenger or Justice League charter member would turn green with envy over.
Whichever agreed upon timeline milestone anchoring our modern fashioned Santa taking embryonic root into our Western consciousness, the fact is he predates our earliest super powered folk such as Batman and Superman by a healthy margin.
They’re the little long eared guys who help make it all happen. Who doesn’t want a super colony creature at your beckon call? Elves may not make the zoological grade in a David Attenborough planet Earth spanning documentary, but they sure do act out the part.
It’s not established exactly what Santa’s elves are all about or where they come from, but they certainly act like a big insect colony – say the busy bees or ever ambitious ants. Elves, by all accounts, are also industrious little tykes. Crafting and detailing all those nifty toys for all those girls and boys. And all that toy designing and making is great, but what of their other abilities?
Are those North Pole based elves similar to Star Trek’s Mister Spock’s Vulcan? Spock taps into the mental recesses of the mind through a Vulcan mind meld. He drops an opponent into blissful unconsciousness instantly with the nerve pinch. Pretty nifty abilities, but all based on sci-fi biological imperatives. Still, Santa’s elf’s resemblance to Spock’s stoic race is undeniable. For that matter, Keebler cookie employees could also reasonably qualify as relatives.
Santa’s helpers may be like the elven races depicted in JRR Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings. Maybe they wield magic as expertly as those formidable figures. I doubt they’d be much battle help against Sauron, but Lego blocks – stepping on em in bare feet – or tinker toys – sharp buggers – can be fashioned into truly mean weapons.
Perhaps they’re much younger compatriots of those mystical folk – or even less advanced or sophisticated. Maybe, like a myriad of our own human races – the Pygmies, Native Americans or those snow magicians, Eskimos, a harsh, demanding cultural environment helps to determine their unique abilities, and thus they naturally fit in with Santa Claus and his altruistic agenda, eventually finding themselves happily in his centuries old employ.
Let’s all sing it now. Grandma got run over by a reindeer…
If she did, there’s a good chance it had nothing to do with Santa’s fabled flock. His sure footed, swift wind walkers – led by the legendary ruddy nosed Rudolph – don’t spend much of their holiday heavy time clod hopping on roads. These are lofty beasts who make the swooping Pegasus brilliant Rudolph red with jealousy while showing off their aerial acrobatics.
Similar to the high flying convenience of those saucer eyed flappers, the Harry Potter owls carrying around and delivering important messages in hallowed Hogwart’s, the countless ocean dwellers who assist marine man Aquaman, or the combat ferocity of the winged dragon like Zok, primary member of the super hero team, The Herculoids, Santa’s reindeer remain essential to his mission and wholly indispensable in our embracing of his cultural myth.
Santa’s iconic sleigh – powered by his magical eight beasts of burden – traditionally ferries the broad backed Claus and countless bags of toys as one mammoth contraption. However, we’ve seen Santa take flight on a single one of his animals. In the beloved Rankin & Bass holiday TV special, The Year Without A Santa Claus, the big dude is routinely depicted as taking only one of his reindeer and using him as his flying Pegasus like companion.
Can reindeer do more than simply Uber Santa’s plump buttocks around the planet? Maybe they also act as vigilant guard dogs – valiant, super powered protectors, if and when the big man is ever threatened by terroristic villains, or menaced by that always ill tempered bad boy Claus clone, Krampus.
Transportation & Additional Super Powered Abilities
Please keep your VR goggles, Google Glass, Skype and Apple Facetime for those lesser evolved social beings. Santa Claus isn’t digital. He’s all about getting and being there, and he does it far better than the USPS, Fed Ex and Amazon combined. But there’s gotta be more to the whole deal. Reindeer gets you from place to place, country to country, town to town, but what of getting inside all of those houses?
Plopping down the chimney angle is way too old fashioned, since most of us rely on electric heat and don’t even live in a house. It’s always been a burning question: How does Santa gain residential access to stuff our stockings? Inter-dimensional travel? Nightcrawler of The North Pole. Simple energy and matter teleportation, courtesy of a super tech gadget like Starfleet crews do on Starships? Maybe magical elves use a kind of elven dust akin to TInkerbelle like fairy dust.
Santa’s not simply about boasting as the ultimate deliveryman. He’s got more than enough cred in the physical muscle department. How does Santa keep ‘going, and going and going’? He lugs heavy bags of toys down all sorts of things. He does it all night. Super strength, anyone? I think he could go toe to toe with Hulk and Thanos, and still have some choice energy left to tangle with Thor.
A Christmas Birth: The Spreading Of Girth & Mirth
Santa spreads his jolly brand of joy and merry mirth wherever he goes. His great bodily girth his matched only by his enormous mirth output. If that doesn’t qualify as being an inspired super hero, what does?
Super heroes, as a modern storytelling character device, evolved into everything from the vigilante darkness of Batman, and even the ever rigid boy scout Superman, being less than judicious, or even less merciful in the way they handle complex, criminal spawned situations.
Avengers let’s us see the mighty clashes of Iron Man and Captain America battle over just who is more ethical of the super powered bunch. Watchmen projects the godlike Doctor Manhattan and his colleagues shaking up just what it means to be heroic. Does their great powers and intellect over shadow our own notions of good and evil? In the final analysis, doesn’t the hero in such a powerful cultural concept assure us that these symbols of our good conscious and pulp fiction embodiment of our better angels deserve to always be on our side – doing good as best and well as they can manage it? If so, then our dearest Santa Claus qualifies as one of the most fantastic necessary super heroes of all time.