How Prince Became a ‘Super Hero': 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
Prince's fascination with superheroes didn't begin and end with his work on the Batman soundtrack. A few years after "Batdance" stormed the charts, he wrote "Super Hero" for Earth, Wind & Fire's 1993 album Millennium.
Many comic book heroes are regular citizens who, through a freak accident, wind up with extraordinary powers which are then used to fight crime. Prince takes a different approach to this by creating an African American protagonist who says he can achieve great heights if given the same opportunities as whites: "I am lucky if I learn 2 read and write / Where I live U must first learn 2 stand and fight / I'm the product of the system, I'm aware / What's my name, don't matter-nobody cares."
But the chorus shows that the narrator has not given up hope: "I will be your super hero / But U must understand / If I'm 2 be your super hero / U must give me half a chance."
A year after Millennium, Prince worked on a new version of the song with the New Power Generation and the family vocal group the Steeles. It appeared on the soundtrack to the 1994 comedy Blankman, a Damon Wayans vehicle about a socially inept man who turns himself into a superhero to rid his city of crime and corruption. The movie, which also featured Wayans' In Living Color co-star David Alan Grier, Robin Givens and Jason Alexander, was both a critical and commercial flop.
If Prince's talents as a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, singer and performer weren't superhuman enough, he was twice turned into a superhero by Piranha, a now-defunct imprint of DC Comics. The first, 1991's Alter Ego, found a man from Prince's past, Gemini, coming back to Minnesota and spreading hatred with his music. The two men engage in a guitar battle, and Prince, of course, prevails.
The same creative team returned in 1994 for Three Chains of Gold, which saw Prince and the New Power Generation going to a fictitious country in the Middle East, where his music causes controversy. But he also meets and falls for Princess Mayte, who gives him a chain as a sign of her affection. However, the piece of jewelry is part of the titular set that designates who gets to rule the country, and Mayte's power-hungry brother attempts to get the chain from Prince after he kills his own father. Elements of the story were also part of 3 Chains O' Gold, a home video that wove the songs from the Love Symbol Album into a story.