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So the movie industry looks at the massive rush of superhero films and is petrified. ‘How long can we keep this up?’ ‘Are people gonna get sick of these?’ ‘Aren’t there too many movies?’ Execs and marketing people wonder how long before the bottom falls out and even Robert Downey Jr. can’t save the next Avengers sequel. What do the numbers say? What do the graphs and surveys mean? Dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria! (Sorry, I’m crossing streams in a big way but I couldn’t help it.)

But maybe the answer isn’t in the graphs, charts, and last years’ box office receipts. Perhaps what should be surprising is there aren’t more of them. The popular idea is these films are an escape from our dreary world. I’ve got a different hypothesis. They are not an escape. They are a reminder that as dark as things may be, we are more, can BE more.

Is the world a horrible place? Not always. We’ve seen the countless memes and viral videos of people doing good deeds, first-responders fighting the good fight, et al. It’s not like the world has gone completely to Muspelheim.

Be that as it may, it can feel like we are living in Hades. Multitudes of supremacists groups make the world seem like it’s filled with armies of folks looking to cleanse the planet of everyone else. The likes of the Green River Killer make Hannibal Lector seem like an amateur. To top it off, it is election season. Yeah, I see you wincing and groaning and reaching for a brick to fling at the TV.

What does this have to do with the cape and cowl sect? Quite a bit. Maybe at times like this we’re looking for more than an escape from the real world, we’re trying to remind ourselves we can defy what the world seems to be and transform the world and ourselves.

‘Well, duh, that’s what superheroes are for. But they’re all so ‘grim’ now! Everyone’s all dark and whiney!’

Point taken. So why are heroes suddenly as moody as a teenager? Because we aren’t. As Mick Jagger sneered decades ago every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints. In the end the last thing we mortals need is heroes who are NOT us, heroes who do no wrong, who are PERFECT. What’s the point? There are days we’re lucky if we can put our socks on right, do we need anything else to remind us how puny and sucky we are? Just as Superman must deal with blood on his hands, Batman is whiny, Tony Stark really has to stop being snarky, and Thor is way too pretty… ok, he can NEVER be too pretty, but you get the idea.

We need these films in a dark world to remind us that we can face the demons of the world, whatever they may be. A world that is like ours, a world where heroes are not the paradigm of humanity. Instead, they’re just human, with all their follies.

A world where the most skilled warrior on the planet uses her skills to defend the weak and fight for peace.

A ‘Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist’ can take that talent to create something to save the planet, not just make profits.

Someone who saw his parents slaughtered by gun-fire decides to take the terror and loss and become a guardian for a city.

An assassin with so much blood on her ledger can still redeem her soul.

These films and heroes are a reminder that we can become more than mortals who go through day-to-day lives and hope the world doesn’t fall on top of us. Nothing is perfect, bad things do happen to good people, certainly. But there is also light that fights through the darkness. People who are there when we need them most. Each of us can reach and grow and become heroes ourselves. Perhaps that’s the most important lesson, that in ourselves, we must find our heroes. Find them, nurture them, and fight the good fight. For ourselves, and for each other.

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
aeb
Mar. 19th, 2016 10:34 pm (UTC)
Maybe you're right. Perfect heroes aren't the most interesting. The flawed heroes who still can handle things better than anyone available seems able to... now those are interesting. {Smile}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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