As you know if you’ve been anywhere near a movie theatre this year, everybody loves a superhero. Superheroes are cool. They’re wish fulfillment fantasies for us and role models for our kids. They fight evil, wear colorful outfits, deliver snappy one-liners, and always, always win. What’s not to like, right?
I’ve loved superhero movies ever since I was a pre-teen (which was when the genre first started making obscene amounts of money). I loved stories about great heroes long before that…probably ever since my parents read me my first fairytale. But as I’ve learned since then, there are many different kinds of heroes in fiction. Superheroes are the kind the Greeks used to write poems about–strong, powerful, immortal, and also quite flawed. They’re not quite gods, and not quite human. So the evil they fight is always cosmic in scope (making for some really cool battles), but they still have to deal with ordinary human problems like dating and jobs (making them sympathetic). When done well, superheroes are both what everybody wants to be–indestructible crimefighters with all the cool toys–and what everybody already is–regular schmucks who struggle to balance their work and personal lives and sometimes lock their keys in the car. Of course, some heroes lean more toward the god-like side of the scale, and others sit closer to the regular schmuck side, but the tension is there somewhere in every superhero story.
This month, I’ll be posting about the superheroes whom I love the most. These are the guys (and yes, sadly, they are all guys, because I don’t read comic books and Hollywood is sexist) who have figured out how to balance being a Greek god at night and a normal person by day–or at least are trying to. They’re true heroes, who hide a courageous, selfless heart underneath that suit of armour. And they also have wicked cool suits of armour. They’re the guys you wish were protecting your city from aliens and bank robbers and psychos.
What are their names? Ah, just pick your favourite scary animal. It’ll probably be on the list.