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Who wants to be a Superhero?

To his son, West Linn's Mike Watters is a 'Volunteer' of super proportions. Son Chris hopes to be a superhero himself, on a new Sci Fi Channel reality series July 27.
by: F. Scott Schafer, Chris Watters in his Major Victory costume is one of 11 finalists on the Sci-Fi Channel's new reality series "Who Wants to be a Superhero?"

Chris Watters really wants to be a superhero.

And his dad, West Linn resident Mike Watters, believes his son is definitely in the running to reach his goal.

'I think he has a real strong chance of getting it,' Watters said, of his son's chance to win it all in an upcoming superhero reality show. 'I'm very proud of him.'

Next week, on July 27 at 9 p.m., Chris Watters will debut as one of 11 finalists on the Sci-Fi Channel reality series, 'Who Wants to be a Superhero?'

Close to a thousand aspiring superheroes auditioned for the series, in which comic book legend Stan Lee - creator of Spiderman, X-Men and the Hulk - will choose one character to immortalize as a comic book hero. The winner of the show also will star in a Sci-Fi Channel movie based on his or her character.

Watters, 38, in a phone interview from his home in Los Angeles last week, said he was thrilled to be chosen as a finalist.

'I was happy that they liked the character,' he said. 'There's a real sincerity to it and they liked that and they liked, I think, me as a human being and what I had to say, too.'

Watters' character is named Major Victory, and his superhero strengths include the ability to jump 375 feet straight up, levitate and manipulate sound waves.

His weaknesses are deafness in his left ear and lactose intolerance.

And what is Major Victory fighting for? Simply put, the benefit of all mankind.

The Major Victory superhero actually is a promotion of sorts from Watters' first concept of the character - which he said he created with friend Ron Major - originally named Captain Victory.

'What was so cool was when I first met Stan Lee, I shook his hand and he said, 'Let's see if we can promote you to 'Major Victory' by the time the show airs,' and it just came to be,' Watters said. 'It's like the whole show has been like that - it's like the stars lined up on this one, and I'm really excited that it's coming out.'

'Who Wants to be a Superhero?' is a six part series, and each week the hopeful heroes will face challenges, 'designed to test their true natures … superheroes will be tested for courage, integrity, self-sacrifice, compassion and resourcefulness - all traits that every true superhero must possess,' according to the show's Web site.

Watters said the show's format is similar to 'The Apprentice,' with Lee making the decisions on who stays and who goes on each episode.

'But you're not winning a company, you're being immortalized forever as a comic book character,' Watters said.

Similar to Donald Trump's comment, 'You're fired,' as finalists got booted from the show, Watters said Lee's catch phrase to let contestants know they had to go was, 'Turn in your costume.'

Watters said he and the other 10 finalists - characters including The Iron Enforcer, Cell Phone Girl, Monkey Woman and Nitro G - got to know each other well during the shoot.

'We all lived in the same room, in a rundown neighborhood down in L.A.,' he said. 'And it was absolutely perfect because inside the place - this factory - was this great lair - the Superhero lair.'

The experience was disconcerting at times, Watters said, because they never saw Stan Lee, except on a TV screen, and they never quite knew what the challenges would be.

'It made you kind of paranoid,' Watters said. 'He was like this Oz figure and he'd show up and you'd always have to be prepared.'

Watters didn't want to give too much away about the series, but he said that one of the first challenges was that all of the characters, one at a time, had to be attacked by two Belgian Shepherd dogs.

'It was incredible,' he said. 'The smartest guard and attack dogs and they work in tandem to take you down. So we had to battle these dogs, and after that, that just set a precedent for anything can happen on this show.'

Watters, who is currently a disc jockey at The Highlands nightclub - near Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood - and has had bit parts on TV in soap operas and on 'CSI' shows, said that there is a difference between 'Who Wants to be a Superhero?' and other reality TV shows. The contestants on 'Superhero' weren't really working against each other, but instead were working toward their personal best.

'This wasn't like 'Survivor,' where it's me pitted against this other guy or this other team, it's pretty much just trying to find out who's a really good person,' he said. 'What ends up happening is they really find just a super, human being, I think, at the end of this show,' he said.

As to why people should watch 'Who Wants to be a Superhero?,' Watters has a couple of reasons.

'The main thing is the comedy of seeing all these people running around in tights and not taking themselves so seriously, but at the same time being really serious … it's kind of funny,' he said. 'The other thing is the challenges are really amazing and the heightened reality that takes place is entertaining to watch.'

Back in West Linn, Mike Watters will be watching his son's Superhero debut next week with lots of friends.

'We will have a 'soup-er hero' sandwich party,' while watching the show, he said.

Watters, along with another son, David, and his family who will be visiting from Tennessee, neighbors and 'a couple of friends who know Chris,' will feast on a variety of soups and hero sandwiches at his home in Bolton as they watch the show's premiere.

Mike Watters is apparently a superhero of sorts himself, at least in his son's eyes. Chris had a cartoonist he met while working on the show immortalize his dad as 'The Volunteer' in a drawing he gave him for a Father's Day gift this year. (See photo, A1.)

'He truly is a superhero to me,' Chris said. 'He inspires me to be good and to volunteer and to give back.'

The elder Watters, who is past president of the West Linn Lions Club and president of the Friends of the McLean House, among many other volunteer activities, appreciated the gesture.

'I thought it was really neat,' Watters said of the cartoon likeness. 'I was very touched by his thoughtfulness.'

For more information about 'Who Wants to be a Superhero?,' which debuts July 27, 9 p.m. on the Sci-Fi Channel, visit the Web site at www.scifi.com/superhero.