“I’ll give them heroics. I’ll give them the most spectacular heroics the world has ever seen! And when I’m old and I’ve had my fun, I’ll sell my inventions so that *everyone* can have powers. *Everyone* can be super! And when everyone’s super… (chuckle) no one will be.”
~Syndrome. The Incredibles
Among my circle of friends, Man of Steel has created a LOT of discussion. The common thread was a lack of ‘heart’. All the parts were there, but it committed the sin of taking itself too seriously. Make no mistake, the plot, characters and motivations were spot on. The direction was solid. It was just so serious. Not a giggle, not a laugh, just bleakness.
This is a story about our ideal; a man with god-like powers who is completely uncorrupted by it.
We hate that and we have to bring it down. Have we stopped looking up at what we can be and instead look up to see what we can pull down to our level?
Don’t believe me? Read the news. Who are our heroes? Do we have any left? While I don’t condone making sports figures heroes based on their actions on the field, do we have any left? We’ve got a few hundred thousand (maybe more) military heroes, and we don’t cover their heroics. We cover PTSD, the ones who crack, the ones who failed in their homecoming. Go watch TV; the big shows, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, A Game of Thrones. The heroes aren’t always good guys, the bad guys aren’t always bad, and message is just so muddied. Writing this, I can’t think of any ‘common’ literary heroes.
Even listen to a DC fan and a Marvel fan argue? “DC heroes are too powerful, they’re boring, Marvel heroes are flawed, like the rest of us.” “Marvel heroes forget about the joy of being a hero…I worry about paying the rent, I don’t want to read about Spiderman not making ends meet.” Let’s not forget that it too FOUR X-men films before you saw characters showing off their powers to one another for fun. Make Batman suffer, make him the villain in Gotham City! Strip ’em of all but the pain…that’s what we want to see.
Is it the economic conditions of the past few years? Is it a 24 hour news cycle that requires something newsworthy every 20 minutes? Is it the peanut gallery dynamic of the internet? Is it the reality of “everyone gets a medal’? Everyone gets to be ‘super’, so that no one really is. When someone truly is a hero, it makes us uncomfortable, makes us question ourself…and we hate feeling like someone’s better than us.
Screw that. Someone’s always better. We need them to be! If there’s any hope for our society, we need to have role models…we need to have people who do the things that make them better than the average folk. We need to have someone who us what we can be! Will they have human failings, absolutely! Will they be a shining beacon of purity in all facets of their being? No way. Will they show us how strength, courage and hope can guide you out of the darkness? You bet.
Do we hate our heroes? I want to think we don’t. I want to think that we hate the parts of us that don’t measure up, and choose to close that gap by finding common ground, or some flaw we can exploit Sour grapes, nothing more. “Nobody can be THAT successful in athletics without steroids.” “All those stories were written when he was high as a kite.” “Clark Kent is how Superman sees humanity.”
Heroes are our goals. For anyone that’s EVER achieved ANYTHING, was it possible without a goal?
“Live as one of them, Kal-El, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way.”