Superheroes are very much ‘in’ at this moment in time; in fact I doubt there’s been a single week in the past few years in which there wasn’t some superhero flick showing at the cinema where man/boy x gains power y to defeat evil z whilst getting with girl b usually having an initial run of successes with his power then a major defeat which forces the hero to re-think/re-evaluate some part of his life or character which he then overcomes in a dramatic finale to beat the bad guy, win the girl and set up a sequel.
But this isn’t the time or place for a rant about the predictabilities of the genre. Instead I want to dig a bit deeper and investigate what superheroes represent in today’s culture. Fundamentally, superheroes are an admission of the powerlessness of the ordinary man. When faced with the big mad mess of the world that we live in then it is obvious that we are severely lacking in control.
To use an obvious example: there is precisely nothing that I can do to fight violent crime. This is because not only is it illegal for me to be a vigilante I also have none of the skills required to be a successful one. There is nothing I can do about the evil regimes of the world and their leaders. There is nothing I can do if an earthquake struck; I couldn’t for example turn back time by flying really fast around the world. I’m not Batman, Spiderman, Superman or any other man for that matter. It’s just me and my powerlessness against the world.