Superheroes becoming the new obsession

The majority of the Marvel Universe. Courtesy of Marvel.

The majority of the Marvel Universe. Courtesy of Marvel.

Carolynn Green, Staff Reporter

With the explosion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and CW’s line of DC Comics shows, one has to ask what is our culture’s obsession with superhuman abilities?

Since 2008 Marvel has released more than twenty-five live action movies, with five currently in production, and more than fifteen shows finished or still in production, according to the Marvel website.

As for DC Comics, their website say that they have currently made over one hundred movies, both live action and animated, and more than seventy shows, also both live action and animated.

English teacher Jeffrey Beal commented on the subject, saying he was interested as a child and found comics at the age of six. “My family moved from Chicago to Schaumburg and there was a comic shop within walking distance from my house. They had a ten cent bin, which, if you’re making a two dollar a week in allowance, is a game-changer. One time I found a Luke Cage #1 in great condition in that bin! Not sure how I got away with it, but I did.”

Senior Kaitlyn Miller said she was also a child when she discovered superheroes. She said what kept her interested was their “perseverance and selfless acts. It was reassuring to know that know matter if there’s evil there will be someone truly good to stand up for what’s right,” added Miller.

The question then becomes is it just children who are interested in the superhuman powers? Beal said that when he was a child “superheroes were kid stuff. If you saw an adult in the comic store, he or she was thought of as nerdy and out-of-touch.”

However, today most of the superhero movies and movie theaters are filled with teens and adults with rarely a kid in sight. “The script has flipped, needless to say. Now superheroes and similar intellectual properties rule the greater part of the media landscape, from movies to TV to the gaming world,” added Beal.

With the audience changing to the more mature aspects of society, why do they hold interest to adults and teens? Children were the target audience, after all. Miller stated that she believed it was a great way to “escape our reality and to be able to imagine a world where things like powers and the supernatural exist and anything can happen” and therefore applies to a more mature audience.

The majority of past and present DC Universe media. Courtesy of DC Comics.

Beal had a similar view, saying, “I think it has something to do with people like me not giving in and ‘growing up’ as people of my parents generation did. I think a lot of it has to do with studios and media conglomerates cashing in on people like me, who they know will fork over cash for films, comics and associated content.”

Trinity Bauer (12) thought it was relatively simplistic and believed that it was merely because “secretly we all want a superhuman ability. We are bored with the way we are and want something exciting and cool.”

Reality escaping. Never growing up. Something different. The answers run along the same line but it’s not all for the same character. Names like Superman, Joker, Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, and Wonder Woman draw people into their worlds and entertain.

When asked what his favorite character was and why, Beal said it was Batman. “He’s absurd. He’s driven by filial vengeance. In most depictions of him (prior to the 1989 Tim Burton film) he is an out-of-shape guy in a cloth cowl, he battles a clown and an anthropomorphic bird-man, he has a live-in child sidekick and a cave beneath his house. No matter how you depict that, it’s as strange as it sounds.”

Despite how “absurd” that sounds there are good aspects to him. Beal says, “There are so many unique moving parts in the world of Batman, I just never get tired of it. I love looking at him through the lens of other cultures, namely Jiru Kuwata’s Batman manga series. He battles a villain called Lord Death Man, an immortal skeleton who is basically unstoppable.”

For Miller it was Spider-Man who drew her attention. “I admire his tenacious and caring personality. Not to mention his unwavering need to help someone. His motto is ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’ He feels that if you have the power to help someone then it’s your responsibility to help them and do the right thing. Not only that but as one of the younger heroes you get to see the struggle between being a hero and trying to live a somewhat normal life as a teenager and full time student.”