There’s Something About Superheroes
June 8, 2011 2 Comments
I just got done watching X-Men: First Class with my brother. Though I am a big superhero fan, I have never seen any of the X-Men movies, so I decided this would be an appropriate one to start with. Let me just say that after seeing First Class, I want to see all of the other X-Men movies now.
As I was driving from the theater to the Fort Smith Public Library to get some work done for Agricultural Food Systems, it hit me: there’s something about superheroes that people relate to. When I leave a well-made superhero movie (Spiderman 3 & Thor don’t count here…), something inside me wants to be that superhero (So, if you see me walking out of Batman, clear the road because my Dodge Avenger is now the Batmobile). What’s great about superheroes is that they notice that the world is that it is not the way it’s supposed to be, but rather than sit idly by and watch, they take it upon themselves to change things knowing that if they fail, many in the world will suffer (This is one of the reasons I did not like Thor; if he failed, the only people in trouble was that little town in the middle-of-nowhere). In order to save humanity, superheroes outfit themselves with costumes worth of a GQ cover and with the latest gadgets that will be coming to a Best Buy near you… in several decades.
However, being a superhero isn’t as always as sexy as it seems. Despite all the great superhero perks, the job (or “great responsibility” as Peter Parker’s uncle would put it) involves great personal sacrifice and/or being ridiculed by society for being a “freak.” For example, Mystique and Beast both struggle with being accepted by society despite their physical mutations. At one point in the movie, Beast in human form (aka Hank) tries to develop a serum that will cover up his mutated feet and make him look normal. He offers Mystique/Raven some of the serum in order for her to look “normal” all the time also saying “Society will never think you are beautiful [when you’re blue].” Many other superheroes struggle with how to fit into society despite their special abilities too. Usually they are forced to assume an alter ego (ie Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, or Peter Parker) or isolate themselves from society for the most part (ie X-Men). Being a superhero can be a very lonely experience.
So, what is that “something” about superheroes that draws us in, keeps us hooked, and makes us write blog posts about them? From my observations, it’s something that I will term “The Super Factor.” The Super Factor is the longing that most people have to be able to “save the day” for a person, group of people, or cause. Like Enrique Iglesias, we want to be someone’s hero so we can “kiss away the pain” and “stand by you forever.” We want to make a difference with our lives. It’s one reason why we go to college, join organizations, work 40+ hours a week, or risk everything for someone special. (For Christians, this takes on a redemptive aspect as we work alongside Christ in redeeming a world tarnished by sin and the Fall.)
In addition to wanting to have The Super Factor ourselves, we desire to have someone/something else with it in our lives, just in case we need saving. Some look for this Factor in people (ie spouse, parents, friends, role models) while other try to find it in material objects (ie money, weapons, “stuff”). As finite beings, we realize that we are not invincible: one day we will have health problems, face danger, experience emotional anguish, or financial difficulties. When that day comes, who or what will you turn to to save you?
That is one of the more important questions in life and the one that inspired me to write this post as I was driving to the library. So, be honest with yourself… who or what is the superhero you turn to when faced with danger?
Learn It. Love It. Live It.
[image credit: Andrew Becraft on Flickr]