Nerd Factor: Build High for Heroism

Dr. Mike ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

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I like to look at really expensive residence ads. Like everyone, I guess I’m a bit of a lottery-win dreamer. I also like to do this from time to time because it really confuses the heck out of my advertising algorithms. 

Recently I was looking at an ad for 217 W. 57th St. Penthouse, a new $250 million residence in New York City. To some seriously epic sounding music, the video ad for this place argues that this is the “highest residence in the world.” As one might expect for a quarter-billion bucks, the domicile has a number of bedrooms, all sorts of amenities, and its own ballroom. 

Do you know what’s missing? A place to put your flying car, supercomputer, and space jet. As an old school comics fan, I can’t help myself. I see every skyscraper as a potential superhero headquarters. 

Back in the day, there were basically two terrestrial choices for an urban super team looking to centralize. Superheroes built up or superheroes built down. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes had Avengers Mansion, a swanky residence donated to the team by gazillionaire Tony Stark (back when people did not know he was Iron Man). There was something undeniably cool about the fact that a person could just be walking down the sidewalk, turn through a gate and go up to the Avenger’s front door (after being secretly scanned by security devices, of course). In order to make all of this work, the Avengers dug down into the solid bedrock of Manhattan Island to store all of their equipment and vehicles.

As much as I love that old mansion, I was always more impressed by a tall building. I guess that is the suburban kid in me. Modern fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe grew up with Avengers Tower, but for me it was the Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building headquarters that started the association between high-rise and heroism. 

That square skyscraper housed multiple floors of residences and laboratory space. Cutaway diagrams made for the fans by the regular artists would show just how cleverly the genius Mr. Fantastic had organized the space. There was even room for a long-range flight vehicle in there that Mr. Fantastic had modified from an intercontinental ballistic missile. 

The vertical plan offered some security advantages as well. Admittedly, the Fantastic Four were probably attacked at their headquarters just as much as the next superhero team (well maybe not the X-Men whose upstate mansion was constantly invaded it seemed), but the altitude made the villains work a little harder to do it. And sure, things fell off of or out of the building constantly, thus endangering the people who rented on the lower floors or who were just walking down the street. That’s just life in Marvel’s NYC though. If people didn’t want that, they could go live in Jersey, right? 

I’m not sure I could ever win enough money to buy that Penthouse I saw. But if I did, I swear I’d paint that ballroom window with a giant 4 logo. 

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