Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why it is that we have such a fascination with Superheroes? I am always pushing others to ask the big questions in life and this is clearly one of them! Why do we love Superheroes? If there was any question as to whether or not we do, one number is all the proof needed: 22.5 Billion. That is the amount of money made to date on the movies that comprise the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That is a lot of popcorn!
While the “why” behind our following of muscled, spandex wearing heroes is probably as individual as we are, I imagine there are a few common answers that would be given to the above question:
In a world that so often feels out of control, we like the thought that someone can bring order.
We need an escape from our day to day lives and these stories are so far from what we normally experience that they provide that escape.
We enjoy the creativity of a well told story.
It is nice to hope, at least for a few hours, that good will ultimately defeat evil.
And for those that like to make spiritual application, these are just literary and cinematic depictions of the real fight between God and the Devil.
While all of these are valid reasons for escaping from time to time into the world of the impossible, I sometimes wonder if there is not another reason for the incredible rise in the popularity of these stories at the same time we have a fairly universal rejection of the principle of personal responsibility?
*Note: Before I go any further and because I do not have enough friends to make the ones that I do have mad-I do not dislike superheroes! I do think it is strange that adults like to dress like kids and pretend that they have superpowers and argue about which made up character is better, but maybe that is more my problem?!
Back to my point. I am afraid that often, apart from the simple entertainment we receive from these stories, we like the IDEA of superheroes because, if we are honest, we like the idea that there is someone out there that can rescue us! Have you ever seen the non-heroes in these movies? Most of the time they are either running for cover or hiding in a corner hoping the bad guy, or alien, or demigod does not find them. There is absolutely nothing they can do to change their situation other than hope someone comes along and takes care of them.
We like heroes because we, in our own lives, wish that someone would rescue us from the messes we have created.
All the other messes we get ourselves into
Because having someone rescue us means:
We do not have to accept responsibility for the mess.
We do not have to do the hard work of moving forward.
I do not here mean to imply that I think we can fix all of our problems on our own. Sometimes the most heroic thing we can do is reach out and find the help we need to get going. What I am saying is that hiding in a corner and waiting for an otherworldly character in tights to find you and carry you to safety is never the answer! This is how people get stuck. They wait for someone else to solve their problem without taking the necessary steps to get things moving. Instead of accepting responsibility, they wait for a hero that never comes.
I believe in heroes-people that step outside of themselves to help others. I am thankful for these people and even hope that I can be one to those in my life. I think there are heroes all around us and that without them the world would be even darker and more difficult than it already is.
I am for being a hero but against being a victim! Perhaps, instead of waiting to be rescued, we should do what we can with what we have and start to become the hero we were waiting for.
And, jumping into the age old argument about the greatest of all superpowers, I believe its really pretty clear. What is the greatest superpower? Personal responsibility.