How to be a superhero

Following the huge success of Marvel's latest film 'The Avengers', it looks like there is no end in sight when it comes to the current boom in big-screen comic book adaptations. So given that we now have plenty of cinematic examples of superheroism to draw on, and presumably many more ahead of us, what have films taught us about being a superhero and what are some of the worst cliches of the genre?

Be wary of your friends

From Peter Parker battling Harry Osborne in 'Spider-Man 3', to Magneto vs Professor X in the X-Men series; if there's one thing superhero films have taught us, it's that your emotionally unstable friend will probably become your arch nemesis. However, if you're the one that's emotionally unstable, then your friend might have a pretty good reason to want to smash your face in. The X-Men had little choice when they took down former ally Jean Grey in 'X-Men: The Last Stand' and War Machine was justified in fighting a sozzled Tony Stark in 'Iron Man 2'. So don't trust your friends - unless you're an alcoholic or have developed a split personality, in which case it's probably best to let them win.

Prepare to be rebooted

Is your life becoming more and more clich├ęd? Do you get the distinct feeling that your enemies are running out of original ideas? Chances are you're soon going to be rebooted. This will usually involve a veneer of gritty realism descending upon your world. Suddenly relatively light-hearted battles against camp riddle-makers and dome-headed ice men turn into horrific ordeals where bombs get stitched inside stomachs, and you end-up hounded out of town by the people you just risked your life saving. It's happened to everyone from Batman to The Punisher - and next in line is Spider-Man.

Don't fall in love

This one should be painfully obvious by now. If you fall in love, even the platonic love between a boy and his aunt, then you're just creating problems for yourself in the long-run. Don't think your enemies won't use your loved ones against you, they're your enemies for a reason - they're evil. So either stop falling in love, or only fall in love with people who can defend themselves.

Don't be a sidekick

If you happen to get imbued with superpowers and are invited to fight crime with another hero then make sure it's an equal partnership and that you're not the sidekick. No one likes sidekicks, especially not the film industry. You'll either be thrown off a cliff, like poor Bucky in 'Captain America', or you'll star in one of the worst films ever made - 'Batman & Robin' - and earn the eternal wrath of Christian Bale.

Less talk, more kill

There's nearly always a moment in a superhero film where the noble protagonist attempts to talk the villain out of executing his evil plans by using reason and compassion. Spider-Man tried it with the Green Goblin in 'Spider-Man', Prof X tried it against Magneto in the original X-Men film and Batman attempted the same trick with Harvey Dent in 'Dark Knight'. This will never work (mainly because it would make for a terrible climax to a superhero film). So next time you and your nemesis are engaged in a dramatic duel to the death and you have the urge to lecture them on morality, don't bother.