The meaning of superheroes

18 Apr

Superheroes are an important part of our culture and have existed for such a long time in different proportions (Superman, Robin Hood in English culture, Hercules, Odysseus,…). Even today they are present in a more lucrative and entertaining way, namely in blockbuster movies. In which the best example is the upcoming film The Avengers, which unites many distinct heroes for a common cause.

Heroes have played an important role in people’s lives. Though its true that nowadays we see heroes in a light of superpower and with all the flamboyancy that comes with them, not always have they had that meaning.

Heroes came to exist, since times past, as a way for people to relate to something they could not at time achieve. Heroes came mainly as characters with powers, muscularly built, and most of the times, with a keen sense of justice. All these traits were the ones people aspired to, but if we analyzed life, say, in the 17th or 18th Century, for the big majority of the population, life was not always fair and just. So, having someone who would step up for them and have a sense of justice for those who deserved it (Robin Hood), gave hope and sense in living for many.

Times passed on and the heroes that existed principally and ideally for each culture started to be left behind more as a legend and innate part of their own history; all of these to give rise to new heroes: Superman is one of the early modern superheroes that existed and was known in a more global scale that catapulted little by little to such popularity. Some say Superman exists as a way of American pride and patriotism (colors of the flag in his uniform); others say that it had an intrinsic value to their creators (Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster) to impose justice were there was none; and other meanings to him.

After Superman, a myriad of other superheroes came to arise form American and other cultures to stand on the world stage; what is true is that heroes adapt to the times in which they are created. Since this millennium has been, among other things, about gender equality and the rights of women equal to those of men, we could say that a new, among many other heroines has arise.

We are referring to the trilogy by Stieg Larsson, The girl with the dragon tattoo and the way in which this Swedish girl takes justice into her own hands. This books had such popularity that they are now on the big screen, and we are talking right now not of a heroine who masks herself behind a fancy and tight costume and has superpowers. The beauty of this, is that she is a girl like anybody else that hides behind her tattoos, and her being dark, who has exactly the same capabilities as anybody else and that has lived injustice in her won flesh.

We see how she finds her own way, her own resources to avenge her own past and fears. We truly start to see a new era in which they are sending a message to women and men alike, in which those times were a superpower was needed, being born on another planet, or any other external resource, now we are shown that the resource is within you, you need to be good at something and find a way to be your own superhero and savior, that is the main message this movie and books convey. For those out there that have not read or seen the movie, I invite you to see it and analyze it from that perspective, in which you will find a new message directed to the viewers


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