Superheroes, why do we like them?

Hey there guys, as the title says this article is about superheroes, and more in detail about why we like them. It struck me a couple of weeks ago that almost the whole world likes superheroes and I really had no idea why. Maybe it’s the tight latex suits (Watchmen anyone?), the superpowers, the fact they do things we can’t? Keep on reading and you’ll find out!

The idea of creatures with superhuman powers and skills is almost as old as man itself. The origins of our current ‘men in tights’ go back all the way to Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Just think of the countless gods and goddesses, not to mention centuries of myths and legends about people with superhuman traits. People back then listened in awe to these stories as they were told year in year out and carried on from one generation to the next.
 
But why did these stories survive and how come they were so popular. I honestly don’t think it’s just because of the story itself I mean, everyone can write a story in a fantastical setting but that doesn’t mean people will like it or even relate to your main character.
 
I believe we like these so-called super humans, not because they are something we do not see in real life, but because they are different from us, special if you will. Superheroes are often portrayed as people who transcend normal values and ethics. They apparently do not get affected by greed, misery or thirst for power (as opposed to the villains). Above all, heroes inspire us. Reading about their heroic acts inspires the average Joe to do their share and uphold the same principles, some kind of role model if you will.
Another thing that might aid in the popularity of a hero is how they got their powers. In many cases, these were just ordinary humans like you and me, but something happened that changed them. Just think of Spider-Man who was bitten by a genetically altered spider. And in some cases, they’re still humans without superpowers, who can bleed just like us. Think of Iron-Man who is just a man in a suit.
 
Even though a heroes’ popularity is dependent on their range of superpowers, but it’s also decided by the setting they are placed in. Just think of Batman and Gotham City, a dark and damp place full of corruption and crime. Batman is a perfect fit for such an environment as he is ‘The Dark Knight’ who deals with criminals head on, without much talk or mercy which is very different from heroes like Superman. As a quick note, Superman might be too perfect to actually view as a role model. Most recent developments in superhero lore is that they have just as large an amount of flaws as we do, while Superman still remains perfect.
 
As a final reason, we are attracted to superheroes because they often lead 2 lives, one as a normal person with a job, or even a family and another life as a superhero who spends his time swooping in to save the damsel in distress while juggling 20 thugs in one hand doing the macarena with the other. The concept of having a secret life is appealing to a lot of people I believe, because you can become whoever you want to be.
 
Although, I realise all these reason might sound a bit utopian and that it’s mostly children who really like superheroes but you can’t deny that secretly you still look up to Superman and hope that maybe, one day you’ll be able to do the things he does and be a role model yourself.
But, in real life people with superpowers don’t exist but that does mean we don’t have heroes. And this will sound really corny, but the real heroes of the world are parents, teachers (ok, maybe not teachers), firemen and policemen.
 
If you have any comments or thoughts on this, or any other topic, don’t hesitate to leave me a note in the comment section.

/Niels

Author: Niels Van Hellemont

Hi, my name is Niels and I'm a long time fan of movies, anime, comics, games and whatnot. Could say that I'm a bit of a fanatic when it comes to the above mentioned things. I'm currently studying for a Bachelor After Bachelor in Advanced Business Management - Human Resources Management.

1 thought on “Superheroes, why do we like them?”

  1. Well done, indeed! I would focus too much on the role model-related stuff, the ideals you see in someone and you want to see in your own life, those things. 🙂

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