I know I’ve talked about this before–all the superhero movies that are so popular right now.
I know part of the reason is that we now have the technology capable of really showing live action movies where people can fly and turn into giant green monsters and walk through walls and have realistically rendered feathered wings. So for that reason alone it makes sense that Hollywood has been churning them out, one after another. But if you recall, we had superhero movies in the 70’s, the 80’s, and the 90’s. It just seems like now every single blockbuster movie is about a superhero. (Either that or it’s a Disney film.)
Superman was huge when it came out. I remember that. And the first Batman did pretty well. But other than that, superhero movies didn’t really capture the interest of people other than those who liked comics to begin with or just liked action movies in general.
But look at all the remakes of Superman in the last ten years (and Spiderman. And Batman.). And then there’s the whole Marvel production of all the pieces of the Avengers, both featured in their own separate movies (Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, etc.) and all together, and now even with a TV series on top of that. They’re producing more movies than ever before in this genre. And America is eating it up.
So why are we so desperate for a hero?
I suspect there are a few reasons, but here’s a couple off the top of my head. First, we don’t have the kinds of heroes that America used to have. In the forties, you had the war heroes, and leaders like Churchill and FDR and J. Edgar Hoover and the G-men. You also had a clear cut enemy–the USSR. In the sixties there were people like JFK and MLK. Plus there were a lot of sports heroes with squeaky clean reputations. We lost our innocence as a country after that, with scandal after scandal after scandal. Who are our real-life heroes now? Firemen. I think we can still count firemen, especially with 9-11.
I can’t think of any others. We support our military in general, but often not in specific conflicts like Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else. Most of the sports heroes are drug addicts, womanizers, or something else. Don’t get me started on politicians and supposed “political leaders.”
And then we have our modern world. There’s constant threat abroad, whether in the Middle East or North Korea or nowadays even Russia is something to be concerned about. No one has any illusions; any day some wacko could walk into Times Square with a dirty bomb in a briefcase. Goodbye New York. Generationally (if you believe things like Straus and Howe’s generational theory), we’re about to hit a crisis soon. It’s like the 1930’s, after America was recovering from the Great Depression and Germany and Japan started quietly swallowing up other countries. The Balkans? Yeah. It makes me wonder. And if you look back at the 1930’s, that was the beginning of Superman and Batman and all the comic books.
So with those things in mind, maybe it’s not such a surprise after all. We feel threatened. And we look around, and there aren’t too many heroes.
Me, I vote that we find either Captain America or Batman. They tend to make less of a mess of the city than some like Superman or the Hulk.