The trouble with super-heroes

I’ve been thinking today about super-hero movies, and what they represent in our situation today. Basically, these are modern fairy-tale stories. In reality they’re under the fantasy genre, rather than true sci-fi.

But that’s just a classification detail. What bothers me with these movies is that they’re too character-centered, individualism reels in them. And not the good kind either. I mean, you think Tony Stark or Batman have problems? They’re billionaires, living the life. Captain America has problems, for jumping into the future? Boo-hoo, sorry for being viewed as a hero. Heck, Loki has problems? It was his decision to not go back to his adopted family that still loves him. Their personal problems sound like they’re all fucking cry-babies.

I’m sure that the reason these movies are so successful today is exactly because they’re so character-centered. But their personal problems are stupid, they’re shallow. And this says something about the people today, and how small they think. I mean, how about making Batman a drug addict, how about making Peter Parker keeping some of the money he rescued from a bank robbery in order to pay his rent? Interestingly, such plots and twists have been explored from time to time in the comics, but in the movies, the heroes remain “clean” most of the time. In fact, Wolverine’s character was always one of the most popular in the super-hero universe, exactly because he’s not always the good guy. Also, The Punisher is one of the most interesting Marvel stories. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Frank Castle doesn’t have any super-powers, so the rules of the game are different?

As for the mortal threats that the heroes are facing from enemies are meant to sound grand (and in practice they are), but at the end these are all simple stories of good vs evil. It’s the known recipe of fairy-tales. Instead of having super-baddies who simply crave for power and glory, how about battling a race or person who MUST consume the Earth’s resources, or otherwise it will go extinct? At some point we should be asking questions that don’t have an obvious answer. It’s the way to move forward as a society.

This doesn’t mean that there’s no good or evil in the world and that everything is gray. If there’s gray, by definition, other… colors exist too. But my point is that we should raise our standards. We should make serious movies that explore more complex situations and characters. Characters that aren’t so sensational over nothing, and situations that are more believable, gray and grand.

Basically, I say, enough with fantasy, let’s go hyper-real. This is the 21st Century, we ought to do better than that, rather than rehashing traditional fairy-tale stories in new clothes.


Michael C. wrote on June 5th, 2012 at 8:01 AM PST:

Yanni wrote on June 13th, 2012 at 2:40 PM PST:

Excellent points.

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