I was sitting in the movie theater watching “Captain America: Winter Soldier” (for the second time) and started thinking about why we have superhero stories and why we need them. The reality is we’ve always had stories about heroes who are larger than life and preform super human feats.
In mythology we have heroes such as Hercules, Achilles, Ulysses, and countless others who preformed heroic deeds, fought evil and inspired us. In early America there are folk heroes: John Henry, Davy Crocket, and Paul Bunyan. And now we have superheroes, which are only the newest manifestation of our desire to have beings beyond us fighting for us and teaching us important lessons about right and wrong, good and evil.
Superheroes inspire us to be better by raising the bar beyond what we are humanly capable of. They are an ideal. They allow us to explore ideas of right and wrong on a grand level. They help us in our struggle with the big questions of morality. Despite their superhuman status, they are still human, they make mistakes and fail. But they teach us to stand back up, to keep fighting, to do what’s right. We have an innate human desire to have heroes and this appears in all storytelling, it’s just not always as pronounces as in tales of superheroes.
Superheroes are an important part of our culture, because they are glimpses into who we want to be.
~~Lady of the Pen~~