*I thought for my last blog I would do something a bit more fun. It’s a little different but I hope you all still enjoy it. *
As a little kid I would always dress up for Halloween. My dad would pick me up and throw me into the air and I could pretend I was flying. I would spend hours in the backyard fighting invisible enemies, kicking and punching the air, pretending like bad guys were at my mercy. I was the protector of justice, the keeper of all that was good. Superheroes, to me, were the combination of all positive qualities people all mushed together and multiplied a hundredfold. Their moral aptitude, courageous spirit, and unbelievable strength kept me entertained under the blankets with a flashlight reading comic books for hours after bedtime.
Some had superpowers, burdened by the responsibility of being great. For example in the 2004 animated feature film The Incredibles, directed by Brad Bird, each character has a certain superpower. Mr. Incredible has the gift of super strength, lifting cars and bench-pressing trains. His son, on the other hand, has the gift super speed; the ability to run so fast he doesn't break the surface of the water as he jets across. Superpowers aren’t necessary, however. Take, for example, the 2005 live action film, Batman Begins directed by Christopher Nolan. Nolan portrays the superhero as realistically as possible; the character of Bruce Wayne, a billionaire industrialist, having no outstanding powers other than his fervent determination and sharp intelligence. Whether a serious dramatic portrayal or an animated spoof, a Superhero represents the archetypal being; a societal desire to strive for the unreachable: peak physicality and mental prowess, highest regard for values and morals, and immortality in the face of uncertainty and fear, all attributes transcending the limits of human ability.
Adversity, a common theme throughout superhero cinema, is mainly used as a catalyst for greatness; pressure on a character to have them rise to the occasion. In Batman Begins, for example, Bruce Wayne witnesses his parents murder and struggles internally with vengeance against the perpetrator. “My anger outweighs my grief” he states as he plans to kill his parents murderer, clear that he is not fighting against injustice but for retribution. His struggle with this uniquely human characteristic creates him as a distinct mortal character, a trait that causes him to be relatable and dimensional. On the other hand, The Incredibles, an homage to classic superhero cinema, instead shows adversity through the downfall of the great superhero time or "The Golden Days". Like pressure on a coal to make a diamond, adversity on the hero forces them to develop, in this case, by forcing them to settle down and create a family, the greatest strength that one has throughout life.
Strength, for the hero, comes both physically and mentally. Mr. Incredible and his family have certain powers that transcend human capabilities while Bruce Wayne, although having no natural extraordinary ability, continually trains to be in peak physical shape. Mentally, each superhero must be sharp and able to use the surroundings to their advantage. For what Batman, a human and mortal, lacks in superpowers he more than makes up for in intelligence. He knows he can only become so physically adept and must use his brain (and endless money) to design equipment to transform himself into a superhuman.
Being mentally adept is only half the battle, however. Each must also street savvy and resourceful. The downfall for most super villains is their inability to think outside their " Master-plan". Syndrome, the main nemesis in The Incredibles, did not account for the fact that the robot he built could learn so well that he would become unable to control it. The Incredible family, however, uses their combined strength as well as their surroundings (ex. flinging the manhole cover at the root robot to disable it) to their advantage. Bruce Wayne, after learning of his mentor’s plans to destroy Gotham City (his hometown) uses his environment to destroy the training facility and keep the plan from being executed.
This classic superhero code is to protect and aid those in need. "I seek the means to fight injustice, to turn fear onto those who prey on the fearful", Bruce Wayne states proving that stalwart morals and a powerfully strong code of values is paramount. Even 15 years after society shunned them, Mr. Incredible and his super pal “Fro-Zone” still perform weekly super deeds such as saving innocent civilians from burning buildings. The morals do not only extend superficially as well, the topic of lethal force inherently opposed. Batman's one principle throughout Batman Begins is a strong conviction against lethal violence. The Incredibles show this mercy too when Mr. Incredible refuses to kill Mirage, Syndromes assistant. Heroes cannot only use brute force to defeat their enemies or they themselves would be as problematic as the enemies.
All too often fear equals mortality. For superheroes, however, they must be impervious to fear and thus invulnerable. "No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again,” Mr. Incredible explains. Every time the hero gets hit, they get right back up, always choosing to face fear head on. Much of what we fear comes from our own mortality. Why does a gun command so much fear? We all fear death. Humans are mortal. Superheroes, on the other hand, and their continued timeless existence, even through the greatest of adversity, teach us that we don't need to be afraid. Bruce's father explains the truth, "You know why they attacked you, don't you? They were afraid of you...All creatures feel fear.” The entire point of superheroes is to instill a passion to do what's right and to support the belief that anything is possible. The ability to overcome fear and do what is right is pivotal. Mr. Incredible feared losing his family, in the end. Batman, himself, creates his entire persona out of his greatest fear, the bat. Without fear, Batman is immortal." As a man, I'm flesh and blood. I can be ignored. I can be destroyed. But as a symbol...As a symbol I can be incorruptible. I can be everlasting"
Superheroes are ideals, artwork carved from fantasy; an idolization of the unattainable. Their purpose though is not to create faux heroes in real life but instead instill the belief that anything is possible if you always fight for good. They are role models that always have (and always will have), in the face of fear and adversity, conquered their foes. Everyone faces struggles and difficult times. It is how you react to those struggles into that adversity that makes you a hero. "Not every superhero needs powers you know.”
Much thanks to Creative Commons and the public domain images used. Creative Commons in no way endoreses any opinions expressed in this blog. Any opinions, views, or ideas are soley of the poster.