Cancer isn’t so scary if you’re the Batman.
The Caped Crusader, along with Superman, the Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman are helping children at the A.C. Camargo Cancer Center in São Paulo, Brazil, overcome their fears with a superhero's strength.
To help the children better understand their cancer and chemotherapy, the cancer center's ad agency, JWT, partnered with another of its clients, Warner Brothers, to get the superheroes involved in the fight against cancer.
Luciana Rodrigues, head of client services for JWT Brazil, said the idea was cooked up in January by the firm’s creative team. It’s been a runaway success since its launch a month ago.
“What’s really amazing is that everyone wants to participate. They feel like they are part of the team,” Rodrigues said in an interview with Healthline. “For cancer patients, hope is everything. We’re proud to be part of that hope.”
The Heroes the Children Need
Artists with DC Comics in Burbank, Calif., are working on custom comic books and illustrations specifically for the project. In the story lines, each Justice League member undergoes a life-threatening ordeal similar to that of a child with cancer.
Like the children, the fabled heroes regain their powers through a "super serum" delivered intravenously. (Settle down, comic purists—this one’s for the kids.)
The stories jump off the page and into the exam room with medical grade plastic coverings that disguise the children’s chemotherapy bags to look just like the formulas that nursed the Justice League members back to health.
“Yesterday, one of the young boys was wearing a Batman costume and said to me, ‘I want my superformula because I’m Batman!’,” Rodrigues said. “I almost cried in the end. He wanted to show me his superformula and it was his chemo.”
The goal of the project was to find a way to explain cancer and its treatment to children in a relatable way. Those involved say it’s been even more powerful than the Green Lantern’s fabled ring.
“I think that many children are now going to understand how this treatment can give them a magic power through this ‘superformula,’” Yelma Jacob, a pediatric oncology nurse at A.C. Camargo, said in a video about the project.
A Hall of Justice for the Littlest Superheroes
The cancer center’s game room has also been decorated to look like the Hall of Justice, where the children’s names are listed as honorary members. The children’s ward bears the insignia of the Justice League throughout, including at a special entrance for the littlest of superheroes.
This project exposes the human side of superhuman strength, proving to young children that you don’t have to be The Man of Steel or an Amazonian demigod like Wonder Woman to stand up to a foe like cancer.
“At first glance, I was like ‘oh my god this is absolutely perfect,’ because we know chemotherapy is the hardest on not only the parents but the children as well,” Rodrigues said. “I’ve never seen such a powerful program, especially for children’s oncology.”
Barry Ziehl, senior vice president of marketing of consumer products for Warner Bros., called the program “very cool,” but said there were no plans as of Wednesday to expand it beyond Brazil.