How to keep your superhero team together

AJ Mastav
11 min readSep 16, 2021
This may look like a unified fighting force, but internal tensions are pulling them apart

Given the many cinematic and streaming TV network opportunities available to today’s super-powered crime-fighter, it is harder than ever to keep a tight-knit group of heroes together. Unless your team is a Dirty Dozen-style ensemble made up of hardened convicts, supervillains, and/or rogues forced to undertake a mission in order to avoid execution by firing squad/asphyxiation/banishment to a phantom dimension, you most likely find yourself working with what are, essentially, a bunch of volunteers. What keeps them motivated? How can you ensure that they will be there, as a functioning unit, still talking to one another, three years from now when aliens invade, or an AI plots to wipe out humanity, or a race of underground dwellers takes over the surface world?

A superhero team is an extreme form of what political scientists refer to as a “stag hunt”. Like the better-known Prisoner’s Dilemma, the stag hunt uses a few variables to explore a complicated question. In this case, the problem is this: suppose you’re a hunter, spending all day trying to feed your family with whatever game you can bring home. Rabbits are plentiful and easy to catch, but they don’t provide much nourishment. A mature deer, on the other hand, would make for a feast and would provide food for several days. But hunting stags is hard: you need a partner.

Like the Prisoner’s Dilemma, the question is: can you count on another person to stick with something difficult? Can they count on you? It boils down to trust and accountability but also knowing that there is a plan and that it has a decent chance of success. The stakes are high in the stag hunt: failure means that you and your family go hungry. You want to know going in that you’ve got a rock-solid team with the right skills and the ability to function under pressure in spite of personality clashes.

The following tips are provided in the interest of keeping teams everywhere on track in their fight against chaos and disorder.

#1 Exchanging Vulnerabilities

Imagine how much easier Superman’s life would be if no one knew that kryptonite was his weakness. No kryptonite-laced food, no Lex Luthor coming at you in a kryptonite-powered suit. On the other hand, to suddenly stumble into it would be that much worse — no one…

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AJ Mastav

Professional planner, unprofessional writer. Member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Also, a former Sunday School teacher.