Are Superhero Stories Science Fiction?

Here’s a question that’s been consuming a lot of brain processing cycles lately: Are superhero stories science fiction, or can they fall under another genre?

I ask this question because I have written a hero story of my own, and I’ve noticed that there are fewer agents that accept science fiction than other genres, e.g. mystery or romance. It would seem that the deck is stacked against me, as it were.

Some stories, like the Avengers film that came out last summer, are clearly science fiction, as the plot centers around the good guys fighting off a larger than life invading space armada. Spider Man stories center around a teen who is gifted with powers by a spider bite. These are fairly obvious.

What about non-powered heroes? Batman has no powers, other than a HUGE bank account to buy or make anything he can imagine. Definitely fiction, but is it science fiction? A lot of the Bat toys do have their basis in existing technology. The Huntress, who also hails from the Batman universe, is an Olympic class athlete who fights crime without powers. The Punisher is a Special Forces veteran who fights organized crime with military weapons to avenge the death of his family.

How about a hero who has no powers and relies on his martial arts skills to fight bad guys, specifically organized crime, in present day Chicago? Does his wearing a mask automatically put him in the science fiction category? Does the setting influence categorization?

What do you think? Please participate in the poll below. Thanks!

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