What Our Superheroes Say About Us (And Why We Probably Don’t Need Another Batman)
You’ve probably imagined which superpower you’d choose if ever the option presented itself. For me it would be flying. I can’t even imagine how cool that would be to experience, let alone how efficient it would make travel.
You may not know that Superman originally could NOT fly. When he was created in 1938 this wasn’t on his original roster of skills. Evidently he wasn’t even all that good at jumping.
I love a good superhero movie as much as the next person, but it’s also interesting to me which of our heroes seem to capture our imagination more than others. For example, I saw there is a new trailer for the next reiteration of Batman movies with Robert Pattinson taking over the role. I feel like it was moments ago everyone was complaining about Ben Affleck becoming Batman and here we are with another one (and everyone knows Val Kilmer was the best Batman).
I’m sure Freud would have a heyday analyzing why we are drawn to certain heroes. I can’t help but wonder if Batman in particular captures something about the American ethos. All problems can be solved with money, guns, and a bit of brute force. And that’s what I’ve never quite understood about Batman: he has no superpowers.
There’s something there we can relate to, in that we also feel unremarkable. But sadly, we can also turn to the same narrative of money, guns, and force to solve our problems as well. What if Batman just used all his massive wealth and influence to try and invest in a better Gotham for everyone? What if he empowered others? One can’t help but wonder what other options would be available if movie plots weren’t on the line.
Most significantly, any other solution would decenter Batman in the story. He wouldn’t get to save the day. I fear we are often drawn to options that center us as the solution. Superman can’t ‘share’ his powers with others. No one else has his strength or flight. That’s why we don’t quite relate with him the same way. But Batman? That’s a different story. We can all be Batman.
I suspect our superheroes say a lot about us and our ideas of how to create a better world.
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