Superheroes and the age of Netflix
Superheroes are all around us, everywhere, everyday… and this isn’t necessarily a new trend, at all, but it has certainly grown in popularity as a sought out genre of sorts. They’ve always been a huge part of pop-culture, even when they were mainly confined to the pages of our favorite comic books. But it’s Netflix and chill time right? Superheroes are now on TV shows on almost every major network, and starring in some of the top grossing movies of all time! Again, they have always been here…but now they are taking over! in 2016, 5 of the top 10 grossing movies have been superhero based productions (Captain America: Civil War, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Deadpool, Suicide Squad, and X-Men: Apocalypse). Also, networks such as the CW continues its stronghold on the DC Universe with shows like Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl. So what is it, exactly, that has so many people tuning in to the surreal antics of their favorite superheroes? The personification analogy with their own lives and “everyday correlation”? Let’s take a look…A step beyond “they’re just cool”.
Modern “Superheroes” VS Yesterday’s Mythical Creatures?
As far as we can tell, the human mind has sought the comfort of entertainment since the beginning of recorded history. It goes way beyond the obvious written story that we know of today. There doesn't’t have to be a shiny cape and masked face to be a “superhero”. The greatest stories throughout ancient mythology prove this theory to us over and over again. Greek mythology, for example, tell stories of men and gods alike who make good or bad moral decisions, then deal with the consequences of those decisions. Because the figures are larger-than-life, the allegories bear more meaning (and are more entertaining, at that). Some of our very first introductions to “superheroes”… Our modern day “superhero” can be seen as a direct comparison to these ancient god-like figures. Providing culturally significant life-stories and real life drama portrayed in an other-worldly display. There are different types of superheroes…are you for the good or the evil? Either way, a power possessed puts the character into this realm…to protect and serve or pillage and plunder?
The Big Three as to “WHY?”
In General, through the eyes and mind of fiction fanatics, an ordinary human being can be thrown into Superhero-dom via three different avenues. First we see “Trauma/Traumatic Experience”. Such a case is Batman. Bruce Wayne, at a very young age had to witness the very gruesome murder of his loving parents. This traumatic experience lead his fragile mind into a whirlwind of emotion where standing down was simply not an option. Granted, the millionaire status and ability to buy lots of cool toys may have helped with the development of Batman as well…but the roots stem from this grizzly day in the Gotham dark alley. Second, we have “Chance and circumstance”. This notion can be best understood when looking at Arrow’s Oliver Queen. When marooned on an island his survival skills are put to the test as well as his thirst for vengeance. This raw type of training is the perfect formula for a streamline vigilante! Third, we see “Destiny and Fate”, such as Supergirl being sent to Earth to protect her then-younger cousin, Superman…never mind the detour to the Phantom Zone. There is a common thread amongst all who achieve the status of superhero…
Overcoming adversity and changing a problematic agenda. They must deal with the moral, emotional, and even physical challenges presented to them in this new situation…One that they take on without a moment’s repent! From a societal point of view it makes “US” the viewer/reader/fan feel good to see someone else overcome their own challenges, because it gives us better understanding and a better chance at overcoming our own adversities! Of Course there are more categories than this but that seems to be the big three. I mean…Spidey got bit by a, well, spider…is this fate? Destiny? Chance? Trauma? All of the Above?
To Escape Everyday Life…
Back to the “societal” aspect of Superhero fan-dom. Many believe that the reason for the existence of such fictional heroes is a mere path of “escapism”. The average human being faces everyday real-life situations that can be quite daunting and miserably mundane. So what better way to escape the doldrums of everyday mindful mutiny than to absorb into a magical land of make believe where a “hero” swoops in to rescue the masses, save the day and put the shining sun back into proper orbit? The viewer/reader/fan can escape their everyday via the intoxicating tales and live vicariously, even if just for an hour, through the mask and body armor of their hero of choice! Viewers can get lost in a fantasy world, distracted from their own problems and stresses, and fully immersed in a world where the impossible is possible. Often times it is the little piece of reality attached to our favorite superheroes that keeps them so appealing…so relatable to our actual lives. For instance: Ironman can do just about anything in his suit but battles demons of alcoholism when the suit comes off. Spiderman is shun and bullied when the “tights” come off…and so on. It brings us back to the notion of reality while immersed in this world of fantasy.
Maybe They are just Cool and FUN!?
We simply cannot overlook something quite obvious: Superheroes are flat-out FUN to watch and read. There really is no other way to put it! They wear flashy outfits, have awesome toys to help them carry out their missions and they usually get the girl! Or boy! The material is endless. They are always in a beyond surreal situation that is just so fun to watch through the developmental phases of the storyline. I mean, seriously, Imagine having a batcave with all of that tech and a butler to help keep your actions in line? Where do I sign up for this?
In conclusion, there isn’t a conclusion. There simply isn’t a simple answer as to why the human mind seeks out such levels of make believe, surreal adventures. Everyone is different in their reasoning but I truly believe that it just flat out comes down to fun. Our modern-day mythological creatures supply us with endless situations filled with wonderment and fantastically bizarre agendas. For a few brief moments in time we get to step into the lives of something that is so magically off-centered and awe-inspiring…something that a typical 9-5 work day certainly lacks! What is it about superheroes that draws your attention? That drew you into this article in the first place? The fancy “costumes”? The on-screen carnage? Cheap thrills at someone else’s expense? The complexity and build-up of characters in the making? Do you feel empowered by these shows and comics? Do you relate these situations to your own life and daily struggles? Well if you are anything like me I think you will find that there isn’t really one straight forward answer…it’s a pinch of this and a dash of that that makes this magical land of make-believe so enticing! The stories keep coming…new and old. Up Up and AWAY!!
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