Confidence and success are thought to go hand in hand. If you feel good about yourself, then you’re more likely to achieve what you want in life. But confidence isn’t a limitless resource and there are times when everyone has struggled with low self-esteem. Superheroes are just as prone to losing their self-worth, which is why they are relatable. It’s even more devastating when your superpowers are linked to self-belief. A comic character who represents this concept is Gladiator. Considered to be one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe, Gladiator is only as strong as he believes himself to be.
A homage to Superman
Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum created Gladiator as a tribute to DC’s Legion of Superheroes and Superman. The character’s name, Kallark, is combination of Kal-El and Clark Kent. From the beginning, Gladiator was meant to represent the boundless possibilities of inner strength.
A member of the Strontian race, Gladiator was born with a range of superpowers, including invulnerability, superhuman strength, flight, speed and healing. Strontians could only use their powers when they were completely devoted to a purpose. The Shi’ar Emperor feared a Strontian rebellion, so he ordered Kallark to kill the elders. Kallark proved to be dedicated enough to wipe out his race and he became the leader of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard.
For years, Gladiator served as the bodyguard to the Shi’ar royal family. He’s fought against and with a number of superheroes, such as the X-Men, Thor and Jean Grey. Gladiator’s powers are so impressive that he’s been able to shatter a planet, rip apart a black hole and survive direct attacks from the Phoenix Force and Mjolnir. Gladiator’s dedication to protecting the Shi’ar is the reason why he’s such a powerful character.
Superpowers and self-belief
Although he’s an alien, I think Gladiator is a relatable character because of his powers. Confidence is the source of his abilities and during times of self-doubt, Gladiator has been weakened. This has allowed him to be defeated by the Fantastic Four and Cannonball, a member of the X-Men. During a fight with the Fantastic Four, Gladiator lost confidence in himself when his eye beams were unable to penetrate a shield that Mister Fantastic created. The distraction meant he lost all of his physical strength and he was overpowered by the team.
The power of confidence shouldn’t be underestimated. Having self-belief can make a difference in a job interview or when you’re planning to ask someone out. Confidence attracts people, creating new opportunities to move forward. At the same time, low self-esteem can came from anywhere. It’s why a character like Gladiator can be a role model for anyone who suffers with a lack of self-belief.
It could be argued confidence is the superpower that humanity has given to itself. It allows us to achieve incredible physical and mental feats. Your life may not depend on confidence like it does for Gladiator, but your life will certainly be enriched for the better.