The movie screens are full of superheroes. From rich vigilantes who like to dress up in costume, to billionaire businessmen who create their own body armor to scientists who went too far to aliens who protect us from their fellow alien bad guys, superheroes are everywhere.
Granted, the comic book generation has been around for a long time and the stories and characters have seeped into the collective conscious. And that generation has grown into adults and are able to make decisions as to whether to make a move about superheroes or pay to go see them. It’s a super storm of heroic behavior.
However, I think there is more to it than that. I think we use our entertainment to fill what is lacking in our lives.
In the 1970s we used it to distract us from a increasingly bleak world by watching mindless comedies. Tired of being criticized as a nation, in the 1980s we used it to show of how tough and macho we were with bulging muscled action heroes killing bad guys with an American flag waving behind them. In the 1990s we grew tired of the fluff and excess and wanted stories and songs that wretched at our hearts, bringing tough realities into our comfortable lives.
And, since 9/11, we live in a world full of political correctness where everyone is worried about being offended, but no longer care if they offend others. We live in a world where journalist no longer stand for truth, but prop up opposing political agendas. We live in a world of ambiguity and no moral truths, of wars with vicious enemies who have no rules, and we long for clarity.
Moral clarity. Goal clarity. Achievement clarity.
Enter the superheroes.
We live in a world where everyone who is raised up is quickly torn apart. Where everything you do, including your stupid mistakes, will be searchable online forever. Where everything you say can be thrown in your face at some point in the future. Where the world is more distracted by famous people who have no history of achievement than an unstable world with weakening allegiances.
In a world where wrong is promoted as right and right is promoted as evil, the world needs someone who stands up against those forces with unabashed confidence and unyielding ability. We want someone to stand up for our families, our faith, our country or our world in a way that we can’t.
Enter the superheroes.
As long as the world remains dark, we will search for the light. For some it is their faith. For the faithless, it will be something else. At the end of the day, everyone longs for a savior, whether that be divine, alien or just a smart rich guy with a bad attitude and a lot of toys.
We’ll know the world is in a better place when superheroes lose their influence. Until then, we’ll grab onto the nearest cape and hope they can fly us somewhere the world makes sense, where right and wrong are clearly defined, and where hope still exists in our everyday lives.
We’ll rely on superheroes until we can find real heroes in our lives.
Here is an audio version of this blog: