I was watching Superman the other day and I was asked why I watch that childish stuff. And you know, I smiled and told that person I'd have to think it over. I love superheroes, science fiction, and really anything that takes my brain to another place, another universe. For some people, it's an escape, an oasis where crappy things don't happen and you can write yourself a great ending. For others, it's for the thrill of being the hero, of seeing your favorite hero beat the odds and save the planet. For me, it's about these five things:
1. The Artform
Everyone has a different idea of what art is. Some don't include comic books, or literature, or photography. I define art as anything that envelopes the mind and the soul. Comic books, and superheroes, are art to me. When I see a comic book, one that I know was penned and written painstakingly, I treat it as if it's a Holy Grail. I look at how each scene is drawn, how it conveys the emotions it needs to express, and how the images make me feel. I immerse myself in that hero, and for a short time, live in my imagination. Anything is possible at that point, and it's so fleeting, but so amazing, that I want to experience it over and over again. I want to read the storyline, and feel the character's pain, I want to root for their ultimate success (or failure, depending on what character I'm rooting for). I love to see how a character is formed, hoping to derive some ounce of what I perceive as inside knowledge into how the superhero mind works. To me, that's art. Total immersion in something else, so deeply that you can lose yourself.
We all struggle with something. We all have vices, addictions, and bad tendencies. So do those who are supposed to be the pinnacle of Justice. Superheroes have the audacity to stand tall, to seek out evil, all the while dealing with their own personal struggle. They struggle with what the right choice is, and how much power they should actually have in that choice. Superheroes are written to bear the brunt of the worlds issues, and deal with their own at the same time, while keeping both balanced. It becomes relatable, something we can fall back on.
3. The Thrill of Exploration
Maybe exploration is the wrong word, but it's the only one I can honestly think of right now. To me, exploring the inner workings and relationships of a world with superheroes makes them in and of themselves amazing. The thrill of exploring, via written scenes or panels, how superheroes do what they do, and the world they have shaped, fascinates me. How's it relates or has changed the world we live in. Wonderful new world and galaxies, species, and subsections of the universe, a when I see that,I feel like I'm there like I'm exploring it too. I love that. Exploring technology that has been thought up, and seeing things I couldn't have dreamed of in my wildest imagination, it's such a thrill. It's such an amazing thing to see such advancements, almost like you can see and feel it right in front of your face. Exploring just relationships between heroes and normal citizens, I feel like it's a social experiment, wondering how people would react to something so fantastic.
Look, most of us know we won't ever be in space. We won't ever meet new species, or fight giant dust clouds in space (yes, that's a dig at the green lantern movie). We know that our lives will be led right here on earth and that's ok. However, superheroes take us on a journey to exactly that. To the far reaches of the universe, to giant wars without threats of danger, and it's exhilarating. It's exciting to think about what it would be like to meet Superman and meet the people of Kandor. Or meet Asgardians. It's exhilarating to think about. It sometimes feels like we are there, fighting alongside The Avengers or the Fantastic Four. It's a rush, or can be, to just feel like you're in their presence.
The most important one, and I think one of the reasons superheroes exist. To give hope. To give hope that no matter what the odds are, people are inherently good. That one person can make a difference. That even with no superhuman powers, one person can make a difference. That having powers doesn't automatically make you better than anyone. The fact is, that's why I love them. Because I get inspired by them, they give me hope. To never give up, even when the task seems daunting. In the end, that's what we all want right? The hope that anything can happen. That maybe one day a ship from another planet crashes carrying a child from another world. That one day a billionaire genius decides to help humanity instead of hurt it. That we can work together and make the world, hell anywhere, a better place. Superheroes aren't a pipe dream, a waste of time. They are so much more. They are a constantly evolving heartbeat, something we and I, hold so dear to us, because it allows us to believe again.
What do you think? Why do you love superheroes? What makes you come back over and over again?