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We can be made from addition or subtraction
Our best are often a popular attraction

Some you can touch,
and some you cannot
One with a dozen will heal you
Another, inumerable, shan't be bought

Some of us have thousands, and some, just a few
We all can change one's point of view
But, y'know, sometimes words have two meanings

Most of us have utility
but others are for show
Like one befuddling, three worlds all in one
made 'round sixty years ago

By now you may have guessed what we are
so we ask that you find our brother, a movie star

He watched a broken man escape from prison
who let fear find him, and now is risen.


This riddle follows a similar format to my most recent riddle. About half of the lines describe the group itself, and the other half make various cultural references to famous members of this group. The accepted answer will explain at least three of the cultural references described, as well as the identity of the famous brother from the final stanza.


Hints:
For the first line, I'll elaborate:

These things used to be made using "subtraction", but now, almost all are made from "addition".

The second line:

Take this line literally. Some of these things are uninteresting, but others are very popular.

The second stanza:

The answer (for the group's name) is a word which is used literally ("can touch") or figuratively ("some you cannot")
The last two lines of the second stanza describe "some you cannot" touch.

The third stanza:

This contains true statements regarding this group of things, as well as a cultural reference shared with another stanza.

The fourth stanza:

The "one befuddling", made "for show" (not "utility") was made in the 1950s.

The fifth/sixth stanzas:

The brother is in a movie but is not acknowledged in the credits.
The word "watched" was chosen for a reason. This rules out Bane and Bruce Wayne as correct responses.

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8
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Ok, with a little help, answer complete.

What are we?

Stairs

We are made from addition or subtraction
Our best are often a popular attraction

Stairs used too be carved out of things: Subtraction.
Now they are generally built: Addition
I guess some can be an attraction? Not sure about this line

Some you can touch,
and some you cannot
A dozen will heal your illness
Another shan't be bought

Some stairs are actually just stairs, some are figurative.
A dozen will heal your illness: The 12 steps to Healing
Shan't be bought: The Stairway to Heaven

Some of us have thousands, and some, just a few
We all can change one's point of view
But, y'know, sometimes words have two meanings

Some stairs have thousands of steps or just a few.
Change point of view quite literally, by making you higher or lower.
"But, y'know, sometimes words have two meanings" -> Stairway to Heaven reference

Some of us have utility
but others are for show
One befuddling, three worlds becoming one
made o'er fifty years ago

Stairs are usually made to get to places, but some can be ornamental The "befuddling" is Relativity by Escher. 3 worlds = 3 gravity sources

By now you may have guessed what we are
so we ask that you find our brother, a movie star

He watched a broken man escape from prison
who let fear find him, and now is risen.

So clear reference to the Dark Knight Rises, and the Pit. The pit was filmed at/based off the Chand Baori step-well in India. This is the brother.

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  • $\begingroup$ You have the answer! Good work on many of the references! The "popular attraction" line refers to things like the Spanish Steps in Italy, and many other tourist attractions, so don't bother with that line. $\endgroup$ – Roland Aug 7 '15 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ You're only missing the last two! The "one beffudling" is rather famous; both the thing and the artist famous for it are mentioned regularly in pop culture. It has its own Wiki page. The last one isn't just ledges. It has a name, and again, its own Wiki page. I'll accept your answer once both of these Wiki pages' links are present. $\endgroup$ – Roland Aug 7 '15 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ You've found Escher, but one of his paintings fits "three worlds becoming one" best. Upon further research, there is a lithograph by Escher exactly titled "Three Worlds", which I did not intend. See "Relativity" for my intended solution, and apologies for the confusion. $\endgroup$ – Roland Aug 7 '15 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ ok, Relativity was my next guess. The 3 sources of gravity being worlds just clicked for me. $\endgroup$ – Cain Aug 7 '15 at 22:01
  • $\begingroup$ To finish up this riddle, the Wiki page for the last stanza is also a proper noun, not something like "ledges". It is the name of a remarkable set of steps. $\endgroup$ – Roland Aug 10 '15 at 15:22
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Partial answer that explains some of the stanzas:

What are we?

Numbers

We are made from addition or subtraction
Our best are often a popular attraction

You add and subtract numbers. Our 'best' could refer to famous numbers such as Pi, and E

Some you can touch,
and some you cannot
A dozen will heal your illness
Another shan't be bought

You can touch Real Numbers. You cannot touch Imaginary Numbers. There are such things as personal and healing numbers. Infinity is a number, and you will never be able to buy an infinite amount of any thing.

We all can change one's point of view
But, y'know, sometimes words have two meanings

You can always place a negative sign (-) in front of a number, giving it different meanings and changing the point of view.

Some of us have utility
but others are for show
One befuddling, three worlds becoming one
made o'er fifty years ago

Not sure. Might be referring to some numerical constants.

By now you may have guessed what we are
so we ask that you find our brother, a movie star
He watched a broken man escape from prison
who let fear find him, and now is risen.

Wild guessing here: Life of Pi, or the show Numb3rs. I haven't seen either, so I'm not sure if their plots line up with this.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nope, not Numbers. Let it also be known that infinity is not a number, and your statement to the contrary might meet harsh criticism from the mathematicians on Puzzling. $\endgroup$ – Roland Aug 4 '15 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Roland ...except in certain advanced mathematical contexts, where infinity CAN be treated as a number! :-) $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Aug 5 '15 at 20:49
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I believe that you're talking about Chess Pieces.

Made from addition or subtraction. Not sure about the addition unless you're talking about starting a new game, but pieces are subtracted regularly over the course of a game. The best chess matches are often a popular attraction, even if it's just two old men playing in a public park.

some you can touch and some you cannot. The king can never be captured, only held in checkmate or stalemate. Technically it's more than a dozen, but there are 16 total pawns and they can "heal" missing pieces through pawn promotion.

words having two meanings? that's coming up.

Chess is certainly a game over 50 years old.

Their brother, a movie star, is The Dark Knight. And in The Dark Knight Rises, Batman does indeed bust out of jail, and in the process lets fear find him again.

Not sure about the pieces just for show, because even the most elaborately designed and expensive sets are certainly played with, I would assume. Though chess pieces are a very common theme used in the design of artwork in games and buildings. I would say the most commonly used might be the Rook and the Knight.

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  • $\begingroup$ Not chess pieces, but you correctly identified the movie. $\endgroup$ – Roland Aug 5 '15 at 19:29
2
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What you are:

The Secret Six

Where your brother is:

Unless I'm missing some connection with the Hardy Boys, your "brother" in arms is Bane, and given what's occurred in the last stanza, he is dead.

We are made from addition or subtraction Our best are often a popular attraction

Six can be made by adding or subtracting. Not sure about the best part.

Some you can touch, and some you cannot A dozen will heal your illness Another shan't be bought

There have been three Secret Six teams, and it looks like at least some of the members were doctors, but maybe not a dozen.

We all can change one's point of view But, y'know, sometimes words have two meanings

I got nothing.

Some of us have utility but others are for show One befuddling, three worlds becoming one made o'er fifty years ago

The original Secret Six all have utility belts, but otherwise uninspired costumes, while the following teams were a bit more showy, with typical comic costumes. There have been three teams all called the Secret Six (kinda befuddling), the first one from 1968-69. Not quite o'er fifty, but pretty close.

By now you may have guessed what we are so we ask that you find our brother, a movie star He watched a broken man escape from prison who let fear find him, and now is risen.

Bane was a member of the Secret Six in the latest iteration. He is also prominent in the movie The Dark Knight Rises, in which a broken-backed Batman (who embraces fear from bats to darkness) rises from a pit of a prison. Bane doesn't survive the film, so where he is is dead.

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  • $\begingroup$ Not The Secret Six, but it did fit some of the clues well, +1. Bane, however, did not watch Bruce Wayne climb out of Pena Duro in the film. $\endgroup$ – Roland Aug 5 '15 at 19:31
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Let's give it a shot. You guys are:

Notes

We are made from addition or subtraction Our best are often a popular attraction

The monetary ones can be summed or subtracted, and the bigger ones are sought after

Some you can touch, and some you cannot A dozen will heal your illness Another shan't be bought

This was what pushed me harder towards the solution. The only two things I can think of existing in 12 are notes (all the possible musical tones) and hours. You can touch the monetary ones, and the music can cure you, so that fit better.

We all can change one's point of view But, y'know, sometimes words have two meanings

Bribery

Some of us have utility but others are for show One befuddling, three worlds becoming one made o'er fifty years ago

Money is useful. Music is for show. No clue about the befuddling part :/

By now you may have guessed what we are so we ask that you find our brother, a movie star He watched a broken man escape from prison who let fear find him, and now is risen.

Money are an important part of Batman's powers!

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2
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Are you:

Marvel Superheroes?

We are made from addition or subtraction

Marvel superheroes are being created all the time, and many are also killed off

Our best are often a popular attraction

How many Spiderman films have been made? 'nuff said

Some you can touch, and some you cannot

I get the feeling that touching Human Torch from Fantastic Four might not be the best idea anyone's ever had.

A dozen will heal your illness

Superheroes, lol

Another shan't be bought

Could reference any number of plots in Marvel stories I imagine.

We all can change one's point of view

Gripping comic book stories can have that effect.

But, y'know, sometimes words have two meanings

PLOT TWIST!

Some of us have utility

Like, most of the heroes

but others are for show

Black Widow? :P

One befuddling, three worlds becoming one

Pass...

made o'er fifty years ago

Marvel was made over 50 years ago.

By now you may have guessed what we are

Superheroes

so we ask that you find our brother, a movie star He watched a broken man escape from prison who let fear find him, and now is risen.

Already been suggested it's Batman. Another superhero so, "brother from another mother"?

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  • $\begingroup$ Nope, not superheroes. But if you think it fits, go for it. $\endgroup$ – Roland Aug 6 '15 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Roland Added descriptions $\endgroup$ – Jamie Barker Aug 6 '15 at 21:40
2
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I thought you were:

Elements, notably artificial ones

We can be made from addition or subtraction

Nuclear fusion & nuclear fission

Our best are often a popular attraction

I genuinely felt like I was onto something at this stage. Many elements like carbon are interesting and create lots of news articles and science showcases.

Some you can touch,

Hydrogen etc etc etc

and some you cannot

I wouldn't want to touch mercury

One with a dozen will heal you

Magnesium has 12 protons and is important to biological life, though that's a bit contrived and doesn't "heal you" per se.

Another, inumerable, shan't be bought

You can't buy uranium, which has many protons, nor many other elements which are banned or too difficult to produce/keep stable.

Some of us have thousands, and some, just a few

Most substances have (millions of) thousands of atoms, whereas some, like carbon nanotubes have much fewer

We all can change one's point of view

Light reaching our eyes is influenced drastically by what type of matter it interacts with on the way, though again a little contrived.

But, y'know, sometimes words have two meanings

Didn't match it to this line

Most of us have utility

Most elements are used for something!

but others are for show

Lots of elements are quite boring (noble gases particularly so afaik) and some can only be seen for brief periods on labs, so have little utility.

Like one befuddling, three worlds all in one

I again didn't match this line with anything, and figured that I just wasn't thinking it through well

made 'round sixty years ago

Mendelevium was created artificially 60 years ago. Anything past this point I had no clue about, but figured there was some play on words with the name of an element for each of them.

By now you may have guessed what we are so we ask that you find our brother, a movie star

He watched a broken man escape from prison who let fear find him, and now is risen.

I was certain I was onto something! My first contribution to this StackExchange site so I hope I did it correctly! :)

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to puzzling.se. Yes, you formatted your answer correctly :-) $\endgroup$ – Len Aug 8 '15 at 0:58

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