Trust and love in our world’s mightiest heroes have been irreversibly seared into our brains, and that’s probably a good thing.
You can’t go anywhere in the world without seeing a poster for Batman, Spiderman, or Morbius right now. The dominance of superheroes in mainstream storytelling transcends all other brands of heroes because their appeal is immediate and universal. Their powers capture our attention and imagination, their complicated aliases and alter egos arouse mystique–and let’s not even talk about their star-crossed romances.
To be honest, for a long time I was cynical about all this. I thought that because everyone liked them, that automatically made the stories shallow.
But I was missing the point.
In our love for them, they unite us.
Last summer, I had a class that, for the first 30 minutes of the first session, wouldn’t say a word. Their mics and cameras were off and they weren’t even chatting through Zoom.
But then I mentioned Hawkeye.
Immediately the mics were on, the videos were rolling, and there were six kids squealing in delight recounting that one time Hawkeye (who never misses) shot an arrow through that tiny little space and sent the entire evil alien spaceship plummeting to earth, or something.
The point is, the superhero myths bind us together, give us common talking points, references, and values.
So next time you see a group of laser-swinging five-year olds exiting a movie theater, see them for what they are: connected through a powerful story.