Superhero Films and Human Longing
by Brandon Smith
I was nearly eight years of age when I rose early on a Saturday morning to watch the premiere of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. My Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fascination was coming to a close and I needed a new fix. The Red Ranger was the fearless leader, and my friends and I would argue over who would pretend to be him and who would get stuck as the nerdy Blue Ranger. (Of course, back in my day, we went outside to play!) On top of that, I loved superhero comics and television/film incarnations, especially those starring Batman. Let’s not forget that Emmitt Smith was a superhero in his own right, seemingly invincible on the football field. I was a boy’s boy, not much different than your average boy today.
But is this superhero fixation merely a boyhood fantasy? Shouldn’t we grow out of this?
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The Transcendency of Superhero Worship
In the past decade, superhero worship has been revived largely due to the plethora of films starring such characters as Batman, Superman, The Avengers and related characters, and Spider-Man. Since Spider-Man dominated the box office in 2002, superhero movies have amassed double-digit billions in ticket sales. Most recently, The Avengers and Dark Knight Rises have combined to gross $1 billion in just three months and are not near finished. These crowds have not consisted of only forty-something comic book junkies and young children. These spandex-clad giants of the big screen have transcended gender, age, race, religion, and socioeconomic status. At the midnight showing of Dark Knight Rises, I saw a black man wearing a Batman costume and a high school girl dressed as Joker. I witnessed a family including children and elderly saving seats for the corporate affair. There we were, all over the map demographically, begging Bruce Wayne to convince us how “anyone can be Batman.”
Beyond the action, comedy, and cinematic wonderment exists a much more telling indictment of the human condition. There is a reason that the intrigue of superhuman ability surpasses all demographic boundaries…
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