Why Heart beats out Fire, Water, Wind and Earth as the coolest Planeteer Ring
Earth, Fire, Water and Wind. These four classical elements are the building blocks of our world. So powerful that just three of them can still create one of the greatest bands of all time. These four natural forces have the ability to sustain us or destroy us depending on how they are used. Therefore, it is no surprise that the infamous Ted Turner choose to use these four elements to power his environmentally-conscious superhero Captain Planet.
For those of you that are unfamiliar, Captain Planet is a 90s superhero TV show centered around a muscular blue man with a green mullet. Amongst his many powers were flight, super strength, the ability to control nature and apparently a likeness to the actor Don Chedele. He did all of this while wearing a red costume that consisted of your standard spandex underwear, boots, abnormally long gloves and very tight crop top that had a yellow oval in middle. This was the 90s people. We were pretty kinky as a country but still 20 years away from the whole gender fluidity thing.
While the show was called Captain Planet, Mr. Planet wasn’t the main focus of the show. The main characters were actually five teenagers from around the world who possessed rings that controlled each one of the elements of nature. With these rings, they would fight against polluters and when they couldn’t defeat the bad guys by themselves (which happened every episode) they would combine their powers to summon Captain Planet.
You’ve probably noticed that I said there were five teenagers but only mentioned four elements at the beginning of the piece. Very astute of you. The first four had the cool abilities to control Earth, Fire, Water and Wind. At this point you’re probably thinking what is the fifth element? Is it the ability to control lightning like Thor? Is in the ability to make plants grow like FernGully? Is it the ability to stay eternally young like Pharrell? While all these would have been very useful, none of these came to the minds of the writers. The mysterious fifth element of nature was….Heart?
As kids, we watched Captain Planet and used to think that Heart was clearly the worst ring to have. But now that I’ve grown up and have a blog where I re-examine everything from my youth, I’ve come to realize that Heart is actually the BEST ring to have out of the five. Power isn’t always about the physical and the Heart Ring’s ability to control the non-physical makes it the ring I’d most want to have.
To understand why the Heart Ring is so special you need to understand its owner, Ma-Ti. Ma-Ti is an orphaned twelve year old who lives somewhere in the Amazon with his pet monkey, Suchi. Basically he’s a pre-pubescent Brazilian Aladdin. His parents died under mysterious circumstances, so he is now being raised by a mysterious Shaman in his village (resist the urge to make a catholic church joke). Ma-Ti is the youngest and smallest of the Planeteers. But what he lacks in physical size, he makes up for in….yeah you guessed it…heart. We are introduced to him in the first episode when he bravely saves his monkey friend Suchi from a ferocious jaguar. Ma-Ti is bad ass.
It’s because of the traits mentioned above that Ma-Ti is given Heart. His underdog drive, his compassion for animal and man, and his youthful innocence makes him perfect for the Heart Ring. He is someone that won’t let the power go to his head. You see this ring does WAY more than just make people feel good about nature. Let’s delve into some of the mind-blowing capabilities that come with this “weakest power”
The ability to read minds, sense feelings and communicate telepathically (A Hero for Earth: S1, E1)
- This comes from the very first episode of the series. While everyone else is learning what their powers is, Ma-Ti had already read everyone’s thoughts and probably discovered their darkest secrets. If Captain Planet was a Christopher Nolan movie, he would have already Inceptioned everyone’s mind so that they couldn’t distinguish their dreams from reality anymore.
The ability to track where some is (Beast of the Temple: S1, E3)
- If you think the NSA is bad, it doesn’t hold a candle to Ma-Ti’s powers. By just concentrating on a person, Ma-Ti can figure where they are and what they’re doing. Do you know how much money I could make from this just by tracking down cheating spouses? The only downside is that Ma-Ti’s power weakens when evil is surrounding the person he’s trying to track. So I guess it’s useless for me since I live in DC.
The ability to control animals (Heat Wave: S1, E26)
- In this episode Ma-Ti forces a whale to do his bidding. How awesome would it be to control any animal. Somebody cuts you of in traffic? Make those birds poop on his car. Are you trying to leave but someone won’t stop talking to you? Spray over here Mr. Skunk. You can be your own evil Disney Princess with animal helpers.
The ability to control people’s minds (Two Futures: S1, E 25)
- Captain Planet is a 90s TV series and every 90s TV series has at least one episode that shows an alternate future. In Captian Planet, we see a future without Wheeler accepting the Fire Ring. In this episode, Ma-Ti as an adult living in an unnamed city. Unfortunately, Ma-Ti is homeless but that OK because he still has his ring and FORCES PEOPLE TO DONATE MONEY TO THE HOMELESS! This really begs the question, if he could control people’s minds the whole time, why didn’t he just mind-control the villains at the beginning of each episode and save everyone the stress of nearly dying each and every time?
Looking back, I’m baffled that I ever made fun of the Heart Ring. Honestly, which power would you rather have? The ability to shoot fire or the ability to CONTROL PEOPLE’S MINDS? But with great power comes great responsibility and therein lies the brilliance of the Ma-Ti character. We didn’t know that Heart was the most powerful of the five rings because of how Ma-Ti chose to used it, or rather how he chose not to use it.
It’s ironic. While Ma-Ti’s Heart power is the most impractical, it is also the one we can most closely replicate in real life. Ma-Ti’s love for humanity and nature allowed him to be the person that all of the other Planeteers looked to when they needed help. As we look at the world today, we know that having empathy and compassion for one another is the only way we’ll be able to solve complicated issues like racism, climate change and rompers. So I ask, how can we all be more like Ma-Ti each and every day?
And with our powers combined, we too can use the power of Heart to save the world.