Like any decent pre-Internet teenage boy, I got hooked on comic books when I was in junior high. By hooked, I mean I would spend my entire $20 allowance on comics without thinking twice. I very carefully read every word before placing them delicately into a plastic cover with a cardboard backing and putting them in their appropriate section of the very large box in the bottom of my closet. All of this attention to detail, and decades later, I have no idea what became of my comics. There’s a story there that I’m not ready to tell quite yet…but I digress.
I was mostly into Superman and Batman with an occasional foray into Spiderman. I also had a few Dark Horse comics here and there. This obsession lasted for about two years, and then just as fast as it appeared, it was gone.
But the impression that comics made on me was lasting. I think we all want to believe that there is someone (or something) watching over us to right the wrongs of society and/or help us when we are in need.
Of the superheroes that I followed, Batman was, by far, my favorite. At his best, Batman has a dark humor about the life he’s been dealt, and he uses his past hurt as motivation to do what’s right. At his worst, Batman still kicks ass.
I think on another level, I felt like I could relate to Batman better than any of the other characters that I read. Okay so I’m not rich…or suave. I don’t have a lot of really cool gadgets, and my parents weren’t murdered by a deranged criminal. But Batman is a proud nonconformist who does what he thinks is right even when others disagree with him. I can relate to that.
As an adult I’ve been drawn to Captain America. I watched Avengers: Endgame last night at an early screening (It’s pretty fabulous!), and I’ve seen all of the other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies multiple times. Much like with Batman, but for different reasons, I can relate to Captain America in the way he constantly struggles with the conflicts of life and his place in the world. We all tend to struggle with those types of issues, even if we don’t have super human strength.
I think with all of the hype surrounding movies based on comics (especially the MCU), it shows that, yes we like to be entertained by cool visuals. But we also want and need something to cheer for. These movies are a common ground for us all, no matter what your beliefs, feelings, or politics in the real world. You can have philosophical discussions about what’s right and wrong without implicating anyone or anything in real life even when there are real life parallels.
All of these superheroes (no matter which brand) have something in common, and it’s something that we can emulate in here in the real world. This was summed up best by a quote attributed to the late, great Stan Lee.
“Another definition of a hero is someone who is concerned about other people’s well-being, and will go out of his or her way to help them — even if there is no chance of a reward. That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.”Stan Lee (http://www.cyberspacers.com/exclusive/08020302.html)
It’s as simple as that. We all can be superheroes if we really want to. We just need to care enough to want to do something when we see a need.
But if you are going to be a superhero, just remember: No Capes!