For as long as I can remember, superheroes have been a part of my life. The Adventures Of Superman, Batman, and The Super Friends were there on the good ole boob tube, though I couldn't tell you the days or times for many of them. There was Spiderman making his appearance on The Electric Company, The Incredible Hulk, The Amazing Spiderman, and so forth, so on. Most of the stuff on back then were cheesy, but we still watched.
The comics themselves were so much better than what we saw on tv, but what was it about these characters that kept us coming back for more?
The truth is, we all have our own reasons for taking to particular heroes. It didn't matter if we were the most athletic kid in school or the biggest geek; we still had our heroes.
The truly great heroes have one thing in common. They have backstories that resonate within all of us. Superman is the loner, an alien struggling to fit into a dangerous society. Batman is the wealthy businessman, who doesn't like what he sees and decides to take matters into his own hands. Spiderman is your awkward teenager, who's trying to balance his real life with his secret life. A kid who can't escape his outcast background.
So we understand they have a great backstory. They've also got really cool abilities. Abilities that really dig their claws into our imaginations. I, personally, can't pick a favorite, because there are just so many cool abilities to choose from.
Our favorite heroes also have someone special in their lives. Someone that truly enhances and enriches their stories. I don't care how alone a hero is, they still have or had someone to push them along. A nurturing soul, you might say. Why are these characters so important? We all have someone who loves us too, so it's another powerful tool to help us further identify with our heroes.
Finally, an arch nemesis! We've all had someone who's been a thorn in our side. Our heroes have to someone who likes to ruffle their feathers. We just wouldn't be able to relate to them if they didn't. Many times, the antagonist isn't even an actual person. Why? Simple, we face the same dilemmas every day.
So the short answer is this....we are our heroes, without their abilities. They are our heroes, because they allow us to confront our own demons in our own imaginations. They're our imaginations comfort food, and we all know how much we love comfort food.