To borrow a phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” What most people don't realize is this remains true even after you lose all your baby teeth. After a while, the intent of that phrase mutates into another phrase: “No man is an island.” Both mean roughly the same thing:
People need people.
Regardless of how independent a person you are, you still require people around to help you in an emergency, and other people who need you. When you're younger, your family fills this role; however, as you get older, your circle of friends become more and more important. This might be part of the reason superhero teams such as the Justice League and The Avengers are so popular.
They show that certain people have certain strengths and when combined, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Much like the newest version of the Justice League, it's crucial for people to have a wide variety of people in their own life.
The important thing to remember is that by no means is this list definite. The Justice League is always in a state of flux, and so will your circle of friends. You should always be willing to meet new people, and these relationships are usually built on some type of mutual back and forth. You help them with something, they help you with something, even if it's just the happiness that comes from enjoying each other's company. So obviously, your circle could have more or less people, and some people might take multiple roles (including you.)
Superman in recent years, has had a little trouble being relateable to audiences, and a lot of people chalk it up to the fact that he's too perfect. He doesn't have any real flaws (with the obvious exception of Kryptonite) and people feel that makes him less relateable compared to others. What they fail to understand is… that's the point.
There's a common belief that you are the average of the five closest people to you. In terms of health, wealth, success, and even happiness, the people in your life have a large effect on most parts of your life. This is why you need your own personal Superman.
You know the type. Well-paying job he loves, healthy relationships whether he's married or dating, in good shape, talented, successful. When you first meet him, it's perfectly common to hate him a little bit. However, rather than pull a Single White Female and kill him to steal his life, you should be looking up to him. He'll bring up the average of your circle, and eventually it will seem like some of his good fortune will rub off on you.
Batman's entire mission in life can be summed up in two simple words: “Save Gotham.” As the Caped Crusader, he's constantly saving the people of Gotham City from the likes of the Joker and the Penguin. However, even when he's not wearing the cowl, he's still trying to save the city as Bruce Wayne, trying to use his wealth and status to rebuild the city and help its citizens. His two different identities approach it different ways, but the intent is the same for both of them; do whatever they can to help the cause they believe in. You need someone with similar convictions to Batman in your life.
Many people experience a “quarter life crisis” in their mid-20's. Some go through a mild depression after college once they realized they've reached their last pre-planned stepping stone, and are now on their own. Others go through the more typical existential “what's the meaning of it all?” melancholy. This is the very reason you need a Batman in your life, to show you the meaning of it all.
Whether they have a specific cause or they just generally devote large amounts of time to charity work, having someone like Batman in your life is crucial. Alongside the fact that they'll get you off your couch and doing things for other people (which is frequently shown to be the most effective way to feel better about yourself), they'll give you a healthy dose of perspective and remind you there are things worth fighting for in the world.
Try as they might, the Justice League has always been something of a boys' club. They've tried to even things out with Hawkgirl, Zatanna, and Black Canary, amongst others, but in many versions, including the most current, Wonder Woman has been the sole representative of the Fairer Sex, and in most original incarnations, she was usually used as the Justice League's secretary. This (thankfully fading) viewpoint did a massive injustice both to Wonder Woman and to women in general.
While it's argued that it's a physical impossibility for men and women to be “just friends,” you should try to have people in your inner circle of both sexes.
Obviously, women are just as smart and capable as men in almost every field. In fact, it's entirely possible that women can fill any number of the positions mentioned here. However, alongside that, platonic female friends can give you some valuable insight into the mind of the opposite sex. If it isn't painfully clear from sitcoms, romantic comedies, and most other media, men and women think differently. Having a platonic friend of the opposite sex who is willing to be brutally honest can help you understand the other women in your life (not just in relationships, but also with your boss, coworkers, and maybe even your relatives.)
(NOTE: While this was written from a male perspective regarding women, the same holds true in the opposite direction as well.)
Poor Flash. He seems to constantly be in a losing battle of “Anything you can do, I can do better.”
People debate frequently whether or not he's actually faster than Superman, and even if he is, he doesn't have any of his other powers like flight, strength or invulnerability. However, that very reason is the reason you need someone like the Flash on your side.
Since he doesn't have as many powers as Superman, this has forced him to get crafty. He has been able to use his speed abilities to vibrate so fast he can phase through walls, something that Supes likely never would have thought of, since his strength and durability make it easier to simply knock them down.
Because he didn't have other abilities to fall back on, he was forced to maximize what he did have. People like that can be essential in life. When they've been backed into a corner, they find creative ways to fight back. These people have learned to maximize their own personal potential. They may be slightly short on talent, but have learned to compensate with dedication and drive. They might not be the best-looking person, but they've learned to use humor and charm instead.
Not only can people like the Flash give new perspectives on life, they also can help you learn new ways to address problems you might not have thought of yourself.
Green Lantern might be the world's best testament to the power of imagination. Given a ring that is activated by willpower, he is able to bend light into anything his mind can conjure up. The only limit to his abilities as the Green Lantern is his own mind. The abilities of the Green Lantern highlight another essential fact of life: A creative mind is a necessary and powerful tool for anybody to have.
While people are saying left and right that creativity is useless and degrees in fields like English and art are worthless in the modern world, people don't seem to realize just how much creativity is threaded throughout everyday life, and how essential having someone creative in your social circle is. Aside from the more obvious details like helping to punch up your resume to make it less dull to helping you write your wedding vows, creatives are able to see the world in ways that more analytical minds can't, and can find solutions to problems that might not be so obvious to others. Having someone with a creative mind can be more valuable than most people give them credit for.
Aquaman can't get any respect. Holds dominion over the majority of the earth's surface, strength and durability to survive living in the depths of the ocean, and the ability to control sea life up to and including killer whales and sharks, and yet he's still best remembered as the goofy “talks to the fishes” guy he was back during a cartoon from the 70s. His newer writers are trying to undo this reputation (and succeeding pretty well) however this ignores something very valuable to have in a friend: What he does, he does very well.
Nobody can do everything well. Even The Ace mentioned above has something they can't do. Lousy cook, not a “people person,” bad with money, everybody has something that they aren't good at. Someone who's very good in a specific field that you aren't can be a valuable person to know.
I remember an incident a while back. My cousin was having a back-breaking time painting his porch until my uncle (a carpenter) suggested he unscrew the broom handle to see if it fit on the roller. It seems laughably easy in hindsight, but without my uncle's mechanical mind, my cousin never would have thought of it. There are multiple ways to get from A to Z, and people with different specialties can think of unique ways to get there.
They can frequently help when you find yourself needing their help. Furthermore, people should always be trying to learn and improve themselves, especially trying to bring up their weaknesses. Usually you can learn from them and better yourself in the process (and possibly teach them something they're not good at in return.)
Cyborg might be the ultimate upgrade. Mutilated after a disaster, the majority of his body has been replaced with mechanical implants. In more recent versions, he's also able to interface with computers and can hack into almost any computer he comes across. As the world has gotten more and more connected, knowing someone like that is more and more crucial.
I'm not saying you should use this friend as nothing more than a source of free tech support. However, since everything from paying bills to job hunting to dating is now done online, it can be incredibly crucial to have someone “plugged in” who can help you put your best foot forward. They can help make sure that those embarrassing photos on Facebook don't come back to haunt you at the worst possible time. They can help you set up that Skype interview with your potential new boss, and can generally help with those thousand and one things that could go wrong at the worst possible time.
Obviously, the most important thing about your friends should be that they're good people who you care about, and who care about you. That being said, part of the basis of a friendship is helping each other. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses, and everybody needs people. Finding other people and helping each other is what friendship boils down to in the end. So round up your team and get ready to rule the world.
Drawings by Alex Ross